Key worker, poet, and regular contributor to The Jumble Magazine Daniel Healy has recently received the all clear after battling a confirmed case of COVID-19. I interviewed Daniel to discuss his experience and his advice to others throughout this age of social distancing and worry.
So, Daniel, glad to hear that you are on the mend, would you mind explaining the timeline of your illness?
It was the day before Good Friday (9th April), during the weekly Thursday night clap for carers. I wanted to go out but I couldn’t. I felt really unwell, exhausted and unable to get out of bed or move much at all. It was intense fatigue. On the following Tuesday I started to develop a cough, a phlegmy one, not a dry one. This symptom is not very common, which led to some confusion. I was pretty unsure of what was wrong with me because more than anything else, even more than the cough, I was just very tired. I didn’t have the trademark dry cough that I had seen constant warnings about, but the intense phlegmy cough lasted for the whole week. It took about a week and a half before I started to lose my sense of taste and smell, and after that second weekend I got the test. The next day it came back positive.
What was the incentive to get tested? Did you decide to get tested yourself or did someone else instruct you to do so?
I was already worried that I had contracted coronavirus, but the urgency really hit me when I started to lose my sense of taste and smell. I called my GP, telling them about my concerns and asking for advice, following that I called work and they sent me for the test, but I made that step to let them know.
How was the testing process?
I’m a key worker, so my work pushed forward for me to be tested. I got to the SSE Arena, the testing area is separated into bays, and communication is done through phone calls so we don’t have to interact with anybody face to face. You call a number that’s printed on a wall and give your details over the phone; your symptoms, who you work for, etc. Things for data collection. They drop the test into the back seat and you go to the car park and test yourself with the swab, and then drop it off.
How are you feeling now?
I am still pretty tired, but the cough is gone, the sense of taste and smell still isn’t great, but that can linger for up to 2 months as far as I know. Emotionally, I’m feeling surprisingly okay, beyond the overwhelming tiredness I am just grateful to be alright.
What was the isolation period like?
I couldn’t leave the house at all for two weeks, which is obviously difficult. Myself and my partner relied a lot more on loved ones dropping off food with no contact, and it didn’t help that it was so sunny for those two weeks. We live in a flat with no balcony, so it can be really difficult to get any fresh air, and to be honest I did feel like I had a bit of cabin fever.
Do you have any concerns about leaving that strict isolation period now that you have the all clear?
Getting the all clear to be able to go back into the world is a bag of mixed emotions. Obviously, I am so relieved that I have recovered. In terms of the virus, I am hopeful that I now have possible immunity. The anxiety is a little bit reduced there. However, as a key worker, I am concerned about going back to work while I’m still feeling so fatigued. I work long shifts and I’m worried I will be constantly exhausted. Likewise, having not left the house at all for two weeks there’s a weird feeling of trying to get back to the rare cases of being able to go out for exercise or shops. Getting back into the swing of it is strange.
Is there anything you would like to tell people as someone who has had coronavirus and has now recovered?
I would stress the importance of checking the advice local to you. The NI Coronavirus app is a really great resource, and it gives a lot more localised advice. NHS guidelines can differ between different areas, and the NI app is a great way to keep up to date with your own local advice. Having tested positive I would tell everyone how important it is to get on that app. I have asthma and I seriously advise anyone else with long term conditions to be extra careful and take these measures seriously. My steroid inhaler was increased as a preventative measure so that my chest didn’t get worse, and I had an antibiotic prescribed to prevent a secondary bacteria infection. But even if you’re young and healthy be careful. Even though I am okay now I was lucky, and my experience of coronavirus was very, very unpleasant, and it could have been worse. For the sake of yourself and everyone else follow the guidelines seriously.
Interview by Sam Dineen