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C6/7 Incomplete Tetra with Tracheostomy *Suspected* COVID-19 Journey

A big thank you to Tess for sharing her journey with *suspected* COVID-19 with us. Tess is a C6/7 Incomplete Tetra with Tracheostomy. We’re glad you’re feeling better. Over to Tess…

Tess wheeling under a bar outside
Tess wheeling under a bar

I came into contact with someone who had just seen someone with a case of Covid-19 on 10/3/2020, and although this individual didn’t have any symptoms, I became symptomatic approximately 72 hours after this exposure.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to be tested as luckily didn’t require hospital treatment, so this remains a *suspected*, not confirmed case. Despite this, I was told by healthcare professionals that it should be treated as Covid-19 due to the matching symptoms.

I didn’t blog every day, due to feeling dreadful to begin with (I started on the third day of symptoms), and not much changing at the end. At 19 days after the initial symptoms, I am almost completely recovered.

Day 3:

Symptoms: temp 38.1, slight shivers hot and cold, dry, unproductive cough, chest tightness, body aches (shoulders, neck, back), splitting headache.

Differences from yesterday: Temp is pretty slowly increasing (normal at 37.7 last night), shivers.

Same as yesterday: apparently everything else! Cough is annoying and I need some assistance, chest tightness is uncomfortable, aches and headache annoying but helped by taking paracetamol and ibuprofen. I also have cold gel packs living in my fridge for when I need them, and my rugby spray bottle.

Other news – my wife is currently showing symptoms of a bog standard cold (runny nose etc), but not Covid-19 so much. We can’t isolate from each other as live in a very small house with one kitchen, toilet and bedroom, and as she had been in close contact with me from the suspected initial exposure we decided for her to stay home as if I have it, she probably already does. After advice from 111, she has been told by work to only self isolate if she gains the classic cough/temp.

In summary, it’s completely manageable at the moment, I’m not yet worried, and have to stay at home until next Friday. Luckily I organised my online shopping at the beginning of this week to come on Tuesday cause now there are no short notice slots left. I’ve bought some dvds on amazon. Also never fear, I have enough tinned tomatoes and toilet roll 😂

Day 4 & 5:

Symptoms: Temp 38, chills and shivers, wheezing (but no breathing difficulty), feeling both hot and cold at once, chest tightness, chest pain & discomfort, body aches (neck, shoulders, upper arms, face), dry, unproductive cough, sore throat, more fatigue than usual – transfers are taking it out of me a bit.

Differences from Sunday (day 3 of symptoms): Chest pain & greater discomfort is new (feels almost like severe muscle aching but deeper inside the chest cavity, it’s hard to explain), as is the face and arm aching, wheezing and hot & cold, sore throat and cough is worse and sounds a bit ‘chestier’. (I’m not sure that’s a word!). I also need more assistance to cough more regularly.

Things I’ve found to help/ease symptoms: paracetamol, cold gel packs from the fridge, rugby spray bottle, having a nap.

I’ll be honest I’m feeling pretty awful, but still am not yet worried. I’ve felt worse from other illnesses. They are no longer testing people with milder symptoms (which I class mine to be), and only testing those in hospital or with symptoms bad enough to require hospital treatment (such as breathing difficulties). I am now considering calling 111 or my GP back to ask for advice regarding the chest tightness and wheezing. If I do I’ll update with their advice.

My wife is now showing symptoms and they appear to be beginning as mine did (dry cough, full body aches), but she doesn’t yet have a temperature. She is now also in self isolation from work following government guidelines as she works in pharmacy and would otherwise be in contact with people in the higher risk categories.

Summary: I feel pretty ill but definitely am not yet fearing hospitalisation, there is definitely no need for panic, I shall update if I ring for more advice today, and am going to watch Spiderman Far From Home. Happy Tuesday everyone, look after yourselves!

Day 6:

Symptoms: temp 37.8, dry unproductive cough, chest tightness and wheezing, slight shortness of breath, central deep chest pain, fatigue, headache, aching, chills, sore throat, lack of appetite.

Differences from yesterday (day 5 of symptoms): cough is a bit worse and is starting to sound chestier, chest tightness and wheezing is a bit worse. Temp has gone down slightly (but is basically the same). Fatigue is quite a lot worse today – transfers are really tiring me out. I’m sitting on the sofa feeling miserable and knackered. Sore throat isn’t as bad as yesterday.

Things I’ve found to help: continuing to take paracetamol, cold packs are helping both the temp and my headache, and am drinking plenty of fluids. I’m also planning to do some saline nebulisers (although I appreciate not everyone has one of these machines!)

I’m currently on the phone to 111 for advice regarding the wheezing and trying to get tested due to being in the high risk category, and I’ve currently been on hold for 37 minutes (to be precise 😂). I called by GP first to see if the Dr would do a phone consultation for some advice, but was told in no uncertain terms by the receptionist that they aren’t providing that service and I had to call 111 and see what they say instead. Seems a bit silly to me as my GP knows my medical history, but let’s see what happens!

My wife’s symptoms have also progressed somewhat and she has the cough but no temp, has significant fatigue and is now feeling breathless doing normal activities such as climbing the stairs, but is fine sitting still.

I’ll edit / update with their advice if and when 111 answers the phone! I’m still not worried, my oxygen sats are still fine, but do now think maybe an inhaler / salbutamol nebuliser may be a good idea for the chest symptoms. I’ll let you guys know!

*Update – after being on hold to 111 for just over an hour I had to hang up to use it for something else. I’ll ring back!*

Day 7 & 8:

Symptoms: temp 37.9, dry, unproductive cough, aching (today neck, upper arms and back are the worst), headache, tight chest & wheezing, deep central chest pain & aching, slight shortness of breath, sore throat, fatigue.

Differences from Wednesday (day 6 of symptoms): yesterday was rough! Sorry for not doing an update – I mostly slept on and off. Today I’m not actually feeling so bad yet – temp has gone down slightly, sore throat and headache slightly better, chest isn’t quite as tight.

Things I’ve found to help: honey for the sore throat (both eating it off a teaspoon and dissolving in hot water), paracetamol is helping the pain, temp and headache, cold packs, increased assisted coughs, saline nebs. Napping is definitely not overrated!

Update regarding attempting to get tested: so this is an ongoing mission. Wednesday I rang my GP to ask for a phone consult with the Dr for advice. Was told in no uncertain terms by the receptionist that I had to call 111 as the GP is not dealing with anyone with C-19 symptoms. Rang 111, was on hold for an hour. Rang my GP back and explained, got a different receptionist who refused further, and simply kept repeating that the Dr would give exactly the same advice as she was, but ‘I should probably be tested’. I didn’t have the energy to argue with her, and explain to her that she was not medically trained to give advice while the Dr was. I therefore rang 111 back and put my phone on loudspeaker to wait. That time I was on hold for 2 hours and finally gave up. Yesterday I didn’t have the energy to fight with them again, but definitely wasn’t ill enough to go to A&E.

So, today – I’m definitely feeling better than yesterday, but still think advice for the chest symptoms would be a good idea (and trying to get tested!). My next plan is to ring my ENT outpatient department – I see them once a month to change my trachy tube so the nurses know me well, and I feel will be more helpful. I’ll let you know what they say! Unfortunately I suspect it’ll be ‘ring 111 or go to A&E if you need to’, but I’m going to try.

In summary: still no need to panic! Yesterday was rough, but no worse than previous serious illness such as average flu. The main symptoms bothering me today is the chest tightness and pain – my oxygen sats are fine but it’s uncomfortable and important to monitor. The aching is also a pain in the backside (not literally 🤣). Stay safe ladies and gents 🙂

Day 9:

Symptoms: temp 37.8 (down to the lowest end of ‘fever’), aches, dry cough, very slight chest tightness, wheezing and pain, fatigue.

Differences from yesterday (day 8): temp has come down a little more and is now only on the lowest end of fever, headache & sore throat almost gone, aching not as bad, cough isn’t quite as severe, chest symptoms are not as severe and I’m hardly breathless at all. Still pretty tired (transfers and bowel routine are taking it out of me), but this morning I managed to have a shower.

My wife is still feeling pretty awful but is a couple of days behind me, so hopefully will also show the same slow improvement.

I’m starting to feel quite a lot better, and no longer feel bad enough to try and get tested or go to hospital for treatment. I’m keeping a close eye on it though 🙂 fingers crossed it’s the beginning of the end for the virus! Stay safe guys 👍

Day 12:

Symptoms remaining: dry cough, chest pain & tightness with slight wheezing, fatigue, aching.

Symptoms which appear to have cleared up: temperature over 38, headache, sore throat.

I’m continuing to feel better. I still haven’t managed to get through to 111, but don’t feel ill enough to continue trying anymore (unless things get worse again). My neck is seriously achy and chest is still tight and painful, but most other symptoms have pretty much gone.

Thanks for all the nice comments throughout this little blog, they’ve been cheering me up. Hope everyone else is feeling ok!

Day 18:

Remaining symptoms: cough (much better than it was), slight chest tightness, headache, really really achy neck, fatigue (also better than before).

I’m feeling a lot better! The above symptoms are hanging on but all better than they were originally. Most other symptoms (eg fever) have gone.

Tess sitting her wheelchair outside

I’m just plodding along as we all are now 🙂 hope everyone’s doing ok!

– Tess Edwards