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COVID-19 and my road to recovery
I have (probably) had COVID-19. I spent the entire duration of my illness at home, and not in a hospital so I, like many others, have not been tested. I am pretty sure that I have had it though, and I will be very glad when the immunity tests are made readily available.
I became unwell before lockdown actually started, on Friday 13th March. I took to my bed with the shivers, a raging heavy headache, and overwhelming fatigue, I lay there unable to move for five days, before feeling slightly better, enough to potter around the house for an hour or two before returning to bed. However, after a couple of days thinking I was on the mend, I was struck down again. This vicious virus had gone to my lungs. My symptoms were far-ranging; I didn’t have the classic cough and fever, but symptoms included loss of smell and taste, a headache, a sense that I had stones in my chest, a burning sensation, racing heart, upset stomach, dizziness, confusion and heaviness in the body (I couldn’t even sit up but had to lie flat on my back) and chronic fatigue. My breathing was laboured, I could barely walk to the bathroom and back. Weeks more were spent in bed, with several calls both to my own GP and to 111 and I was ultimately given a prescription for bacterial pneumonia.
For most of the time, you are very alone with this virus, no one seemed to be able to help or offer advice other than stay at home. I was frightened, especially when I found it so hard to breathe and without trying to sound too melodramatic I genuinely thought I might die at one point. Again, there were periods when I felt slightly better only for it to roar back in force, I struggled for breath and my brain was in a total fog. My family wasn’t sure what to make of it. It was agonisingly prolonged, but now having spoken to others who have also had the virus, it seems that the persistent reoccurrence of symptoms is remarkably common with this illness and the medics are beginning to see cases like mine that go on for months. It is definitely unlike anything I have experienced before!
I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I am pulling through although nine weeks on I am still recovering. It has been a very slow process and I still suffer from chest pains and fatigue. I have good days and bad days and like most people living in lockdown, I have times when I feel quite low. Rest, meditation, keeping hydrated, good nourishing food and the love and support of my friends and family have been the recipe for my recovery (the green smoothie and flowers above were brought to me by my son on Mothers day). I now try to take regular walks, (I have found nature very therapeutic) and I do gentle YouTube yoga classes in the comfort of my bedroom.
The Yoga for Life Project: Breathing Through COVID
Throughout my illness, I was aware of the importance of exercising my lungs. I tried to do an exercise, which you may have seen in a video that went viral on social media where a UK doctor recommends taking a deep breath on the count of 5, holding it for 5 before releasing it. The doctor suggests repeating this five times, before finishing a final round of breathing with a big cough.
I have also been doing an excellent on line Breathing Through COVID and Deep Relaxation Zoom class with Claire Whalley, who runs a free weekly class on Thursday afternoons through The Yoga for Life Project, which I can really recommend. This was a very welcome discovery. Claire explained that the inspiration for these classes came from her personal experience after her husband Tim fell ill with COVID. Tim had previously been fit and healthy and he had never had breathing problems before, she witnesses just how awful it was for him to struggle on week after week in the face of no advice.
The friendly, gentle approach Claire takes is very therapeutic and I felt that the deep breathing exercises were really helpful for my chest and lungs which are still very weak after the illness. The whole class is done seated and the instructions are easy to follow. It has given me the opportunity to gently restore my lung strength and curb my anxiety and at the end of the class, you have the opportunity to talk to others who also recovering from COVID 19. I found this very valuable and I felt much less isolated and strangely comforted to talk to others who like myself had struggled through this vile illness with a host of strange symptoms.
The Yoga for Life Project also offers other free classes which can definitely help people at the moment including a community class for people totally new to yoga on Mondays 11 am which is accessible and can be done from a chair or a mat. Caring for Cancer Yoga is on Fridays at 11 am – Claire runs the class with an oncology nurse for people with cancer and their carers. There’s also restorative yoga for NHS workers and others on Fridays at 6.30 pm. In addition, Yoga for Life has yoga for mobility, anxiety, wellbeing, mindfulness, and LGBTQ+.
Finally, there’s the Yoga for Anxiety Class with Bollywood actress, model and specialist yoga teacher Himarsha Venkatsamy on Thursday between 5.30-6.30pm – she has a really interesting personal story which brought her to yoga and a specialization in mental health.
I am joining Claire’s Yoga Nidra class which runs on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. It’s the equivalent of 4 hours sleep – your body goes into delta sleep brain wave state but your mind stays awake – it’s enormously therapeutic and very good for stress, anxiety, and insomnia and in turn supporting your immune system.
Link here to classes: https://www.theyogaforlifeproject.co.uk/online-classes
Preparing for the new normal
Living in lockdown has become the new normal, and I sometimes find it hard to imagine returning to the life I had before. But as the government slowly eases restrictions and we take tentative steps into the new world, outside and beyond the safety of our own homes, it’s good to be prepared and have a handbag full of post-lockdown essentials.
Here is my pick of the best for your bag:
A reusable face mask: Medical opinion is still divided on the use of face masks. However, with the latest recommendations to wear a face mask on public transport and in enclosed spaces, mainly as a means of lessening the spread of cough or sneeze droplets from the wearer, it’s good to have one at the ready in your bag. There are plenty to buy online or you can get creative and make them at home out of almost anything. I am supporting a local lady who is making very pretty reusable cotton masks in a great selection of fabrics. I have kitted out the whole family with them. Of course, regular handwashing with soap and water is still the best way to prevent the spread of the virus.
Alcohol swabs: My son bought a box of alcohol swabs at the start of lockdown and we have all been using them religiously to clean our phones. It’s a good idea to carry around a few of these to wipe down anything you want; your phone, computer, doorknobs, surfaces, or objects you might be in contact with. There are many available from medical supply shops or you can get something a bit trendier like www.iwype.com £9, for 100 individually packed alcohol wipes.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an important nutrient that keeps your immune system functioning properly. It is found in fruit and vegetables and it may help shorten the duration of the severity of colds. High doses are being studied for their potential to decrease lung inflammation in Covid patients. According to a report published by the Shanghai Medical Association, high dose IV vitamin C may improve lung function in hospitalized people with COVID-19. There’s no proof that oral vitamin C supplements will help treat or prevent COVID-19, but we do know that it boosts the immune system and I have been taking regular supplements both during my illness and now as I recover.
Sachets of Altrient liposomal vitamin C: Not all vitamin C supplements are created equal, it can be hard to absorb in regular forms and is often full of unnecessary additives. Altrient liposomal vitamin C is the world’s first liposomal vitamin C, uses a patented process to encapsulate high-quality vitamin C in microscopic bubbles (liposomes) that protect the vitamin C molecules from being destroyed by the digestive system. These liposomes smoothly transport vitamin C into the bloodstream and to the cells where this vital defence nutrient is needed most. Altrient sachets are easy to carry around with you and take on the go with a little water. Altrient C contains no sugars, glycerine, sucrose, sweeteners or any other unnecessary additives, it is pure, potent and premium with dedicated fans including Bella Hadid, Gwyneth Paltrow, The Kardashians and Justin Bieber, who have all taken to social media in recent times to show their support for this brilliant product.
www.abundanceandhealth.com Box of 30 1000mg sachets, £39.99
A bottle of Results RNA ACS 200 colloidal silver spray: Silver has long been used in the medical industry as an antibacterial agent and surface sanitiser. This little bottle of antimicrobial nano-particle silver spray can be spritzed anywhere, on any surface and on the face and hands to offer an extra level of defence. ACS 200 is the leading silver preparation available and the only one with stringent independent testing. www.abundanceandhealth.com 60ml £33.33
A travel-size alcohol-based hand sanitiser: It’s not easy to wash your hands on the go, having a good hand sanitiser close by is a good idea. Choose one with at least 70% alcohol and added moisturisers to prevent your skin from drying out too much. There are so many to choose from, this one looks rather good. www.purdyandfigg.com Purdy & Figg Hand Sanitiser 50ml £5.99
We are still in the middle of a pandemic, it’s early days and we have a long way to go before we beat this virus and begin to understand it better. So, the message still remains…. stay well, stay safe, and protect yourself and others.