Two weeks before the kids were due to break up for the summer holidays, some of us felt a bit ill. Nothing too serious. Blocked noses, headaches, sneezing. My youngest had a few days off school just in case and then on the Tuesday my oldest daughter felt worse so we decided to do a covid test. To our shock it came back as positive. She did a second just in case and that was positive too. The rest of us did tests which were all negative but of course we all had to isolate for ten days just in case. One by one in that time period we all started to test positive and my husband developed all of the classic symptoms. He got quite poorly with a suspected lung infection which luckily the doctor was able to diagnose over the phone and prescribe antibiotics for. My mum was able to collect them for him. We had to isolate for two weeks in total and as you can imagine, this didn’t go down too well with my teenagers who were so looking forward to enjoying the summer with their friends. We finally came out of what felt like the longest two weeks of our lives last Wednesday.
It feels ironic that almost a year and a half after the pandemic began, after three lockdowns, masks, hand sanitising, social distancing and vaccinations, Covid finally caught up with us just as ‘freedom day’ was announced. If you’re not in the UK you might not be aware that our government has decided that we can now all just make our own minds up about covid precautions and restrictions. Masks are no longer mandatory, neither is social distancing and in September, the children will no longer be organised into bubbles at school or sent home to isolate if a classmate tests positive. I think the idea is that as most of the population are now vaccinated, we need to learn to live with the virus and take responsibility for our own precautions.
For me, it all feels a bit futile. We did everything we could to avoid catching it but we caught it anyway. And now, the safety nets are being withdrawn so it will be sink or swim for many people out there. And yes, I know that for the majority of people catching covid means a week or so of feeling poorly. But my mother-in-law and my mother are both extremely vulnerable with on-going and serious health conditions and the thought of either of them catching covid now is a huge worry for us. Learning to live with the virus for them may mean staying at home for good in order to stay safe.
It also needs mentioning that catching covid once doesn’t mean you won’t catch it again and having to isolate each time you catch it means a significant loss of income, as sick pay in the UK is terribly inadequate. Despite being double jabbed, I am probably more frightened of catching it again than ever before. We simply cannot afford to be ill.
I didn’t feel particularly ill. When I first tested positive on the lateral flow test I had no symptoms at all, other than the cold I’d had the week before when I was negative. The PCR tests came back promptly and confirmed the positive results. A few days later I had a couple of days of feeling light-headed, queasy and just ‘not right’. It felt a bit like a hangover, to be honest. Every time I tried to do something my head started to pound and I would have to sit down again. Luckily this passed after a few days and I am completely fine now. It took longer for my husband to recover but he is now back to work and feeling a bit more tired than usual but otherwise fine. Hopefully this means no ‘long covid’ for us, as we really could not afford any more time off work.
I did not have serious symptoms at all, but I had to stay at home and watch my children suffer. My youngest two have missed yet more schooling. My eldest has missed work and lost money. My other daughter reacted very badly to having to stay home when she has already missed out on so much. She did not get to sit her GCSE’s last year, or have a leaving prom, or sign leaving books…She started college in September and after that we had two more lockdowns and online learning. She did not get to socialise with friends last summer and she is overwhelmed right now with the feeling that she will not get a summer again this year. Her mental health has taken a battering and I have no way to fix it for her, other than call the doctor for help and keep her talking. I feel so useless.
When covid came to call, it finally found a way in. It got past our defences and our masks and our jabs and turned everything upside down again. When covid came to call it revealed a frightening truth about our daughter’s fragile mental health and an even uglier one about the lack of mental health support for young people in this country right now. It’s nothing short of criminal. When covid came to call, it arrived during an oppressive heat wave we could do nothing to escape from and forced us to look on while friends and family on social media posted pictures of fun days out enjoying the freedom we now have again. When covid came to call, it reminded us of why we were so frightened to catch it in the first place: we cannot afford to lose work or income.
I am relieved that we all got through it with our health still intact. We are all choosing to continue to wear face coverings and sanitise our hands as often as we can. We eat healthily and do all we can to boost our immune systems naturally. But we are all genuinely terrified of catching it again, purely because we will have to isolate again, lose work, lose income and sit trapped inside our home once again. No thanks! I don’t think we could do it again! It was much harder than the lockdowns because you knew the whole country was stuck at home. Isolating is something else entirely. It would be doable if it were just me…I would spend the time writing, reading and gardening, but when you have three teens who want to be out enjoying the summer, mental health not at its best and a seven year old who is hard to entertain at the best of times….Ugh, no thank you. We will be doing all we can to avoid catching it again!