Just before Christmas 2020, I tested positive for Covid-19. I have had so many questions about what it is really like to have what is considered “mild” coronavirus and to manage the symptoms and recover at home;
What is it like to have covid?
Which symptoms of covid 19 came first?
How long does it take to feel better after coronavirus?
Keep reading or check out my answers to these questions and more.
Please remember that I am not a doctor, an expert or government professional. The information I share in this post is purely based upon my own experience. The guidelines and information about coronavirus and the rules and restrictions that go along with it are changing almost daily. For up to date information and advice, please visit the government & NHS websites.
More than anything, please remember to wear a mask, socially distance, follow the guidelines and wash your hands. My experience with so-called “mild” coronavirus was horrible and I would not wish it upon anyone. Stay safe guys!
Now, let’s answer some of the most commonly asked questions about my experience with “mild” coronavirus.
What Is Mild Coronavirus?
As I said, I’m no doctor, but I would consider my experience of having coronavirus to have been “mild” as I was able to manage my symptoms at home and did not require medical attention or hospitalisation. For this, I count myself lucky. Perhaps not as “lucky” as those who experienced almost zero symptoms, but in pandemic terms, I was grateful to be able to recover at home.
The experience & the symptoms, however, I would describe as far from “mild”.
What Were Your Coronavirus Symptoms Day By Day?
Once of the characteristics of covid 19 seems to be that every person experiences very different symptoms and a different severity of the illness. Here is a timeline of the symptoms that I personally experienced day by day.
Towards the end of the day, I began to feel under the weather. My throat felt sore (not uncommon for me during December) and I wondered if I might have been coming down with a cold, but nothing more. Zara (my 3 year old) was coughing intermittently. I made a mental note to keep an eye on her and get her tested if her cough became “persistent”.
I woke up feeling decidedly worse. My head was throbbing and I felt achy. My throat was increasingly sore. When Zara, who had coughed all night, got up, I took her temperature. Her temperature was normal and she had no fever. As the thermometer was in my hand, I took my own temperature and was surprised to see that it was high and I did indeed have a fever.
What Are The Main Symptoms Of Coronavirus That Require You To Get A Test?
If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), get a test as soon as possible. Stay at home until you get the result.
The main symptoms of coronavirus are:
a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms.Source: NHS
So on the morning of day 2, I decided that we needed to book a covid test, just to rule out coronavirus, as both Zara and myself each had one of the 3 symptoms that require people in the UK to get tested.
I was pretty sure that it wasn’t covid. I hadn’t been anywhere since the children had finished school an entire week before so had no idea where I could have picked up covid (or anything else for that matter) from.
Back in September when the children started back to school, the 3 little ones became unwell. Check out the video below to learn about our first experience with getting tested for covid.
When they were tested in September 2020 they were negative and I was pretty sure the same would happen again. Still, the rules dictated that we needed a test so a test was booked.
I mangled to secure a test slot for later that afternoon. As the guidelines said that an adult had to sit in the back of the car in order to test Zara and we would not be able to get out of the car at the test centre, my husband had to come with us in order to drive. As we didn’t have anyone else to watch the other children, the whole family went for the trip. More about our experience with testing in a bit.
By the time we were back from the test I was still feverish, aching all over and nauseous too. I spent the rest of the day feeling incredibly rough and running back and forth the loo to be sick.
One of my symptoms that started in day 2 that lasted for ages was the covid “brain fog”. It was like I just couldn’t think straight.
On day 3 I was much the same as day 2. I felt feverish, achy all over and had a banging headache, plus I still felt sick.
On day 4 my fever had broken, yet I felt worse. It was almost as if one illness had ended and another had begun. The aches and pains got so much worse and I began to experience shortness of breath if I did anything at all. I had a horrendous headache that I just couldn’t shift. The brain fog persisted too.
On day 5 I was much the same as day 4 and aching from head to toe. Where the pain was most intense would randomly shift from place to place in my body with no apparent rhyme or reason.
Six days in I noticed my sense of smell diminishing. While it had not disappeared entirely, certain smells seemed suddenly harder to notice than others. I had extreme fatigue and was still suffering from headaches and was aching all over.
On the evening of day 7 I experienced one of the most sudden, unusual and alarming symptoms that I have ever had. It was as if I had suddenly inhaled bleach and the inside of my airways had been burnt with chemicals. Although I was clearly still able to breathe, it was as if I could not feel the air entering my nose. I’m not sure if I am even explaining this properly. I just know that I was very close to having a complete panic attack. I had to stand near an open window as I felt like I just could not get enough air. It was strange and I had to work hard to calm myself and remind myself that I could in fact breathe, even if I could not feel it properly.
On day 8 I finally felt a little better. I felt far from “well”, and I was still exhausted and achy, but it was the first day that I saw any sort of improvement.
By day 9 I felt that I was in recovery. I was still drained and exhausted and quite short of breath, but it was encouraging that I was feeling a little better. I still had a headache and brain fog too.
Days 10 – 14
The shortness of breath and headaches persisted, plus it did not take much to wear me out, but the aching had gone at least.
Day 15 & beyond
On day 15 I managed to do a fair amount of sorting and cleaning in my house. It wore me out but I managed it. From there I still suffered from headaches on and off, plus shortness of breath while exerting myself plus excessive tiredness.
What Was The Coronavirus Test Like?
Check out the video below for a detailed description of the coronavirus testing process.
As it explains in the video, the test involves taking a swab of the tonsils then up the nose with a sort of long cotton bud type device. if you go to a drive-through testing centre, the video and other online instructions state that you will have to administer the test for yourself and any children you have with you, yourself.
My experience of the testing process, however. has been varied.
1st Experience Testing For Coronavirus
When I took the children for tests in September (the ones that came back negative), I was expecting to have to swab them myself as it shows in the video. When we got there, however, I was asked to drop the window and a nurse in full PPE swabbed the children through the window. I was expecting to have to do this myself and it was quite a releief at the time to think that it had been done “properly” by a professsional.
Subsequent Experience Testing For Coronavirus
When we went for tests in December, the process was closer to the one described in the video. We were asked to drop the windows only enough to post a testing kit through then administer the tests ourselves.
As an adult, I was asked to swap my tonsils without touching any other part of my mouth, then to swap up my nose with the same bud. It made me gag and I wasn’t sure I had done it right, but I did my best.
By contrast with the first testing experience, they said that children only had to be swabbed up the nose and not on the tonsils. Zara cried a lot and again, I wasn’t sure I had performed the test perfectly, but I did what I could.
How Long Did It Take To Get The Test Results?
The test results came back via both test message and email within 48 hours each time we were tested.
How Did You Feel About The Covid Test Results?
In truth I was shocked. Zara, who had developed what I would consider a pretty “typical” covid cough tested negative (although I had my suspicions that this was a false negative and I had done the test wrong).
I was even more shocked that I had tested positive. I had been SO careful and had not even been to the local shop since the last Welsh lockdown in October. I had been to the school to collect my children, outside while wearing a mask, but even that had been a week before my symptoms.
Were You Scared When You Had Coronavirus?
If I’m honest, I have been anxious and a little scared from the start of the pandemic. In spite of the member son my family being considered “low risk”, I have been terrified that one of us would be one of the unlucky ones that would end up in hospital.
I assume that this excessive anxiety stems from the experience that I had after Zara’s birth, where I needed up rushed into hospital with sepsis which I discuss in the video below.
Although my sepsis after Zara’s birth had little to do with coronavirus, that experience of being rushed into hospital unexpectedly gave me massive anxiety that the same might happen again. I had visions of one of us shipped off to a field hospital and the rest of the family not even knowing where they were. This thought kept me awake for many a night.
Once I had my positive result, if I am hoist I was a little scared. I had heard that “day 5” was the worst and convinced myself that if I could get beyond that point, then I would be “ok”. I have no idea how much truth there was in this, but it’s what I was thinking.
Did You Ever Feel Like You Needed To Go To Hospital?
Other than the “bleach nose” incident where I was very close to panicking about my breathing before managing to calm myself down, I didn’t feel as though I needed to go to hospital. That is not to say that I didn’t feel rough as if I’m honest, I felt horrific.
How Is Your Sense Of Smell & Taste?
Although my sense of smell diminished at times during my illness, it never went completely. Many people have reported that they have drunk vinegar and tasted nothing, or couldn’t smell strong smells such as cooked bacon. I definitely didn’t experience symptoms of this severity.
Did You Have A Cough With Covid 19?
Although I was coughing, it seemed to be brought on by the shortness of breath after exhorting myself. I did not have a typical “persistent cough”.
How Did You Get Coronavirus?
The truth is, I have no idea. I was honestly so careful. I have not had my hair or nails done since the start of the pandemic. I had everything delivered and had not been to a shop since before the Welsh lockdown in October. I took my children to school (all outdoors, wearing a mask) and they had not resumed any face to face extracurricular activities.
Could it have come in on a package? Did another family member have it first and pass it onto me? Who knows!
Do You Think Your Husband Could Have Been Asymptotic & Got It At Work?
In a word yes. He hadn’t been anywhere “unnecessary” but had been out of the house for work purposes, plus to return something to a shop.
After I developed symptoms (although the covid brain fog prevents me recalling which day it was), he received an alert from his NHS Track & Trace app instructing him to isolate for 3 days. As the required time for isolation following contact tracing (at the time) was 10 days and he was only instructed to isolate for 3, I can only assume that he had been in contact with the person 7 days prior to the alert and the system had failed to notify him. This means that he could have been infectious before me and therefore passed it to me. Whether this was in fact the case, I am sure we will never really know.
Did Anyone Else In Your Household Get Coronavirus After You Tested Positive?
Several days after I was tested, my teenage son complained of feeling achy. I took his temperature and it was slightly elevated. I gave him 2 paracetamol, the symptoms disappeared and did not return. Still, I felt it was important to get him tested.
Around the same time, my husband said that he was struggling to smell his aftershave. He’s always a little bunged-up this time of year so wasn’t sure if it was a symptom. I thought it was best to test him anyway.
Zara was still coughing and had a fluctuating temperature. I was pretty convinced that the first result was a false negative and decided to get her tested again along with my husband and teenager.
I tested Bella (then 5) and William (age 8)’s sense of smell with asking them to smell a candle. Will said he could smell it and Bella wasn’t sure. As only people with symptoms are eligible for tests, I booked tests for the 4 with symptoms on the list.
When the results came back, I was astonished to learn that my daughters (age 3 & 5) had tested negative for coronavirus (even though Zara had the most “typical” symptoms) and my husband and teenager had tested positive. My husbands only symptom was a slightly diminished (though not totally absent) sense of smell. My teenage son felt very lightly under the weather for under an hour. Luckily, neither of them felt ill the way I did.
With this in mind, it is highly likely that my husband had in fact picked it up first, been almost asymptomatic, then passed it onto me.
What Was Your Experience With Track & Trace?
The Track & Trace App
Once I had my positive result, I put the code that came along with it into the NHS Track & Trace App in my phone. This is then meant to send a notification to any phones that have been near the “infected” phone a notification to isolate.
My teenager’s phone received a notification that day to isolate for 10 days. Worryingly, my husband’s phone received no such notification. His phone was still counting down from the 3 days that he had been asked to isolate for having been sent a track and trace alert previously, but did not update after my results.
In fact, before our family isolation period was anywhere near ending, his phone notified him that he was free to go out! He obviously took no notice of this and continued to isolate, but it was a little concerning that his app never updated with my diagnosis.
Track & Trace Telephone Service
Following each positive test result, I also received a phone call from the telephone track and trace service, which apparently is totally separate to the app. They asked about where we had been 48 hours prior to symptoms starting so that possible contacts could be notified.
How Did You Manage With 3 Young Children? Did You Manage To Isolate From Them?
The guidance is to “isolate from other members of your household where possible”. For a number of reasons, this was not possible for my family.
Even the lady who called from track and trace said: “I’m supposed to advise you to isolate from the rest of your household wherever possible, but I understand that will be close to impossible with 3 young children”.
What Did You Do To Ease Your Coronavirus Symptoms At Home?
While there is a fair amount of information to be found online about which symptoms we are required to look out for that require us to get tested, I found little concrete information from reliable sources about exactly what to do to aid recover at home.
Left with little but advice from my Instagram DMs and a few blog posts from small websites, to say I felt a little under informed is an understatement. My best advice is to contact your own GP and ask what you should do to ease Covid symptoms. I’m personally not a doctor, but here’s what I did to try and help my symptoms.
I took either paracetamol or cold and flu tablets along with ibuprofen to help with my headache, aches and temperature. Please speak to your own doctor before taking any mention.
After the “bleach nose” incident where I could not “feel” the air in my nose properly, I decided to use some vapour rub to open my airways. It Amy have been a placebo, but wither way I felt it helped me personally.
Obviously if you are concerned about your own breathing in any way, call for medical advice immediately.
Sleeping Propped Up
I’m not sure about the medical accuracy of this one, but lots of people said to avoid sleeping on my back and to sleep propped up. I react sleep on my back anyway (a habit from being pregnant so much with 4 children), so I added a pillow to prop myself up. I figured it couldn’t hurt!
The NHS suggests that clinically vulnerable people who are at higher risk of covid should take a vitamin D supplement. Although my family were not high risk, we had all been taking vitamin D regular alongside a normal multivitamin for some time before I became ill.
If You Get Ill Again Would You Get Tested Again?
I was informed my track and trace that you can test positive for coronavirus for up to 90 days after your first positive test, so not to get tested again during this period. If I came into contact with someone with covid, I would still have to isolate as normal.
Did You Have To Isolate From The Day of Symptoms Or The Day Of Tests?
At the time the advice was to isolate from the day symptoms started, or the day of the test if no symptoms were present. We went from the test day, just to be sure.
When Were You & Your Family Allowed Out ?
The rules at the time when I got ill were that I had to isolate for 10 days. If no-one else in my family had symptoms, we would all have been free to leave the house after this period.
As my husband and eldest son tested positive after me, but the other 3 children did not, it meant myself and the little ones were technically allowed out before my husband and teenager, as explained in this graphic from the BBC.
As a family, we decided to continue to isolate together until every one of us was allowed out, just to be on the safe side and stop the spread.
How Many Days Were You So Bad That You Couldn’t Do Anything?
Days 2-6 were by far the worst. As a mother I didn’t have the luxury of doing “nothing” even when I was feeling my worst, but these were the days where I wanted to do nothing but go back to bed as soon as I was able to.
Do You Feel Any Relief Now That You have Had & Survived Coronavirus?
Yes and no.
I am truly grateful that I managed to recover from covid at home without hospital treatment. I was terrified one of us would be so ill that we’d need hospitalisation and I’m relieved that this was not the case. It is my hope that if we were unfortunate enough to have it again, we could be equally fortunate.
Will having had coronavius make me drop my guard? Absolutely not. Between the new variant and how relatively new this virus is, there is no way we can predict where it will go from here. Having had it once provides no guarantee that it won’t be contracted again or that it would be any better or worse the second time around. On top of that considering that even an immunised person can transmit the virus on their hands or clothing, I don’t think that this is the time to stop taking precautions.
Do You Regret Being So careful All Year Just To End Up Getting It?
Absolutely not. As a family, I feel that we have done our bit this year to minimise contacts and protect the NHS and we will continue to do so.
Was It Worse Than Flu?
Have you ever had real flu? Lots of people say “flu” when all that they have is a heavy cold. Real flu makes every bit of you hurt. Even your hair follicles. My experience of Coronavirus was like that, with the added bonus of the bizarre symptoms that I have already spoken about.
The biggest difference between flu and covid is how I managed to catch it. I’ve only had “real flu” a few times in my life and at these times I was out in the world leading a normal life. Covid managed to get to me even with the obsessive hand sanitising and going almost nowhere.
I’m 37, female, caucasian with no underlying health conditions. I’m considered very low risk for coronavirus and still it knocked me on my backside. Please don’t let your guard down people. Wear a mask and wash your hands.
Have The Covid Symptoms Lingered? How Exhausted Are You Now?
At the time of writing, it’s a few weeks since I tested positive for coronavirus. I wouldn’t say I am still “ill” but I don’t feel normal either. I’m still getting headaches & I still have fatigue. I feel quite unfit and I get short of breath doing things that would never have been an issue before.
I know it might be a bit of a journey to get back to feeling as I did before, but I’m convinced that if I build it up gradually, I will be able to regain my fitness.
I’m one of the lucky ones. Covid was horrible, but I’m on the mend now. I’m lucky that it didn’t get worse and I’m so grateful that my family are ok. Not everyone is as lucky, so please remember to stay safe loebvly people.
Love Rhi x