How it Unfolded for Me
Tuesday, 9 February 2021 – the day of my first dose of the vaccine had arrived and I set off at a brisk walk for the slightly over half-mile outward journey to the medical centre. I say brisk! Well, it was for me! I was really striding out; although I was overtaken, on the opposite side of the road, by a guy on an every day normal walk! I had not walked further than 25 yards for several weeks so my old legs were not conditioned for a fluid, effortless float across the pavement! However, I pushed and persisted until the medical centre came into sight and I dropped to an amble. During my jab I discovered that, despite the cold, I had worked up a bit of a sweat! On the return journey, I found that I could not maintain the same pace. In fact, my calves and hips, as well as my knees, began to naggingly complain, then I slowed drastically over the final 50 yards as my legs lost all energy!
Wednesday, 10 February 2021 – I’m laid on my back running though a series of core and back exercises when I notice that my calves and shoulders were aching – and, generally, my whole body was feeling unresponsive. I wondered if it was a side effect of the vaccine – then decided that it was more likely due to the unexpected effort of the previous morning’s walk! Things do improve the following day.
Friday, 12 February 2021 – My wife, Margaret develops a nagging dry cough.
Saturday, 13 February 2021 – Part way through the morning, when I think Margaret has left to go supermarket shopping, I find that she’s actually gone back to bed feeling extremely rough.
Monday, 15 February 2021 – Margaret goes for Covid-19 test.
Tuesday, 16 February 2021 – Margaret is informed that her test was positive, test and trace speak to all four members of our family and we start ten days in isolation.
Wednesday, 17 February 2021 – A dry, nagging cough and mild sore throat come my way. 9:15 pm: I’m drained of energy and I’m cold, despite the indoor temperature being 74 deg. F and I take myself off upstairs. I have difficulty putting toothpaste, from the tube held in my shaking left hand, onto the toothbrush held in my shaking right hand! Once tucked up in bed I warm quickly.
Thursday, 18 February 2021 – Despite taking to bed so early the previous night, and experiencing some weird dreams, I don’t get out of bed until 11:30 this morning. I don’t feel up to doing anything so I don a dressing gown, make my way downstairs and wash down my medication with a glass containing a mix of half beetroot, half tomato juice, then settle at a comfortable angle in the reclining chair. I remain there, without moving, listening to and watching the TV through frequently closing eyes until 2:30 pm when I start to chill again. The chill turns to shivers and, because I have no appetite, I decide to get back in bed to warm up.
Although there is a Smart TV in the room, I have no motivation to turn it on, I get under the covers. Once there, I warm up, the niggling cough and sniffles abate and I settle in. I have no interest in anything, nothing is playing on my mind, so I eventually drift off sufficiently for some more weird dreams to visit me. Dreaming is not something I have ever done often and, when I have dreamt, I have never been able to recall details. These recent dreams follow that pattern, in that all I recall is a theme, which is common throughout the dreams: I’m trapped within the dream; I can’t wake, I must find the solution! Tests being repeated, round and round, arriving at the same negatives and no closer to a solution to whatever is the problem. Somehow, around 6:00 pm, I break free of the dream and, feeling uncomfortable in bed, I’m wrapped once again in my dressing gown, and in my reclined position in front of the TV. With no appetite for food or drink I stay, but for a couple of toilet breaks, in that chair until 1:00 am.
Friday, 19 February 2021 – I rise at 9:00 am, spend most of the day in the recliner and manage to stay up until 11:00 pm.
The coughing, sore throat and onset of chills are mild and easily controlled by remaining still and relaxed and, when necessary, getting under the duvet. What is strange though is my lack of appetite; I go three days with nothing but my juice mix to wash down my medication each day – it feels like I am fully nourished! The evening of the fourth day, Margaret persuades me to try a piece of toast with a scrambled egg, which is enjoyable and enough to sustain me for a further day. The following evening I drink canned soup from a mug and enjoy it; it does not though stimulate me, as an appetiser, until the next evening! On this occasion the soup covers a bakery purchased pie! The next four days follow the morning juice, light evening meal pattern, culminating in a ‘Friday Chippy Tea’. After telling Margaret that I may be able to manage a third of a fish and a handful of chips, she gives me a full fish with a few chips and tells me to leave what I don’t want. Progress is slow, but I’m not feeling bloated, enjoy the meal and clear the plate! Over the weekend and coming weeks I am able to add light lunches each day, then re-introduce a banana at breakfast as well as a Skyr with the evening meal.
Disruption to Routine
It is not just my appetite that has been disrupted! To manage prevention of recurrences of sciatica; other debilitating back and core problems I have experienced; together with cardiovascular and osteoarthritic diseases acquired as I aged, I have developed a very structured approach to my week. There is a slight variation to each day, which is fitted around a general regimen broadly as follows: Take tablets, check social media on phone, put phone on charge, open audiobook on phone and listen to it whilst carrying out exercises, stretches, then preparing, eating and clearing up after breakfast, reading the newspaper – completing the Battleships and Keijo puzzles, lunch, check social media on computer, fit in a cycling activity, final social media check on computer, evening meal, evening tablets.
That disruption is further broken down below, to emphasise just how much of an affect it had on me. I had an absolute loss of desire, to get on with my life, whilst caught up in a perceived need to switch off to everything, other than that which is keeping me alive, until the malady passed!
I stop checking my social media! In fact, I turn on neither my phone nor computer for seven days!! The same is true of the daily and weekly papers, also for which I have no interest for seven days.
Morning Leg Stretches
Monday, 8 March 2021 – 20 days have passed, I feel comfortable to resume Leg Stretches every morning, Monday though to Sunday. The audiobook is fired up as I carry out quadricep, hamstring and calf stretches during breakfast.
Monday, 15 March 2021 – Having successfully completed the week of resumed leg stretches, I feel confident (enthusiastic?) enough to attempt a resumption of my back strengthening and core exercises, Monday to Friday, regime. After taking my morning medication, but before breakfast and my leg stretches, I launch through various moves, stretches, a one-minute bridge, and a one-minute plank but decide to hold back on re-starting push-ups for another week.
Monday, 22 March 2021 – It’s week two of the satisfactory resumption of Floor Exercises and Leg Stretches and I am ready to bring back the Monday, Wednesday and Friday press-ups to the session. Monday I do 20 press-ups, Wednesday I do 25 and on Friday I’m back up to the usual 30.
Sharing my three-bedroom-one-bathroom household are my wife Margaret, eldest son Mark and youngest son Chris. Margaret takes six weeks off work, from where she picked up the infection, to recover before returning to a much tighter controlled and lower staffed environment. Mark, who has been working from home since the outbreak, also exhibits symptoms but is clear after three weeks. Chris, who is working nights, virtually alone at work, and mixes very little with the remainder of the family, remains unaffected.
Monday, 12 April 2021 – It is now eight weeks since I first developed symptoms and I have completed a gradual, stepped return to my previous day-by-day routine. This morning, I added muesli, Manuka Honey and milk to my morning banana and I have just completed a 15-minute spin on my bike on the trainer. Margaret says that today is also the first day that she has felt some enthusiasm to do something for herself rather than out of necessity. There is work to do yet on building up our strength and immune systems to previous levels through walking and exercising.
Although we are both still visited by a brief tickly cough several times a day, our symptoms have not been severe. In fact, I have had much more intense flu and even heavy colds have seemed worse. What is extraordinary though, is that the worst of those more debilitating illnesses have not taken as long to shake off as this illness! It certainly puts into perspective the degrees to which those inflicted with more severe Covid-19, including hospitalisation and even the need for ventilation, must be suffering in their protracted periods of recovery.
Thursday 15 April 2021 – It’s warmer, bright and sunny so I take the opportunity to mow the lawn. We have a large lawn which takes me around an hour to mow, after which my body is hunched over and walking is laboured. A little spin on the ElliptiGO, followed by a warm bath usually straightens out my back and loosens off my legs. Today, because of the nice weather, I decide to ride outdoors on my ElliptiGO 11R, rather than in the garage, on the trainer on my ElliptiGO 8C. Today’s ride is a local amble to investigate nearby pathways and their viability for ElliptiGO riding, as well as nosing around at the progress of new building developments!
On an ElliptiGO, as it has no saddle, it is not possible to just raise the standing foot and start to pedal, nor to just place a foot down when stopping: it is necessary, after having placed a foot on one platform, to step up to mount the other foot, so that both feet are on the platforms before balancing, whilst applying pressure to each platform in turn, to provide forward motion and to maintain the upright stance of the ElliptiGO. When coming to a halt, at a junction for example, a step-down is required to get a foot on the floor. This of course means re-mounting that foot when starting forward again! I step up so both feet are on the platforms: there is sharp pain in my driving knee and I can’t gain any forward momentum; the bike is about to fall over and I have to step down immediately! After changing down three gears from my normal mounting gear, I make another attempt, which this time is successful, though still painful.
The ride is disjointed and haphazard as I haven’t planned a route and change direction/double-back as I change my mind on the fly. There are several calls for me to cautiously step down then step back up and my knee is tested, becoming a little more tolerable as it adjusts. Styles and kissing-gate obstructions add to the stop-go nature of my ride, keeping momentum, speed and energy consumption down. Even so, after just over an hour, I arrive back home pretty much wiped out!
Saturday 3 July 2021 – It has been several weeks since I last edited this post. Having cycled 237.75 miles in 17 rides (3 outdoors) during that time, I’m still looking to establish a sustained build-up in my training. My mojo is sadly some way away! Noticeable too has been the dearth of walking on my part; walks I undertake quickly become uncomfortable, troubling any combination of my ankles, knees, hips and back. Three days ago, we said goodbye to Ruby, our dog, family pet, friend and walking companion. I put in a couple of solo walks and determine, for the short term, to turn my focus to walking. I’m hoping that the temporary change of direction will strengthen the underused muscles, joints and tendons, as well as taking the pressure from the need to improve on the ElliptiGO.
My purpose in this post is to log how what felt to me, initially to be a mild infection, has dragged on and on! Who knows how much longer it will be until I feel completely recovered or if indeed I will fully recover? I must leave that question unanswered in order to get this post published. Further progression is reserved for a later post. In the meantime, I plan to start work on a post celebrating our life with Ruby.