If you think that being young is protection enough from COVID, think again. 28-year-old writer and photographer Dani Bacon, who had no pre-existing health conditions, recounts her ongoing battle with the virus she contacted back in late July...
Before I fell victim to coronavirus, I was a healthy 28-year-old woman. Now, following my experience I can’t help but feel frustrated at the people insisting that the pandemic is a hoax. However, I try to look at it another way, most people aren’t fully aware of the variations of COVID and that it can affect anyone at any age. So, I wanted to share my story, just one person’s ongoing nightmare of living with COVID-19.
Like most of you, I was under the impression that coronavirus was predominantly an issue for the elderly and vulnerable. But I still took precautions, followed guidelines and kept my distance throughout lockdown.
Once restrictions had eased, I returned to work in my office as an editor for a small local Nottingham newspaper, wore my mask, washed my hands and tried to be careful.
On the evening of Tuesday 28 July, I developed an awful headache. The next morning, I woke with a migraine coupled with vomiting, I was hopelessly dizzy and couldn’t stand up properly. By Friday I felt better but extremely hot and lightheaded.
Saturday 1 August felt like a Jägerbomb hangover. I felt immensely dizzy, hopelessly thirsty, tired and my heart rate was abnormally high. I called 111 who advised that I was likely anaemic. By that evening, I could barely walk up 3 steps before my heart began rapidly beating and I felt that I couldn’t breathe, it was terrifying. My family called a paramedic who ran some tests and took me to hospital. I spent 7 hours in A&E and after some blood tests and an ECG, I was told that I was slightly anaemic and probably anxious, and I was sent home.
I woke up feeling slightly better. By that evening, I started having hot and cold sweats, I was shaking, my chest was tight and the skin on my limbs went numb, I thought I was having a heart attack. After calling 111, they advised me to go to A&E straight away.
I arrived at 8pm at Queens Medical Centre. I endured many tests, including a blood test, another ECG and a chest x-ray. By 11pm I was in a separate ward surrounded by people in beds. I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but my anxiety was through the roof, I was fearing the worst. By 4am, the doctors informed me that they were worried I either had a blood clot in my lungs or worse, cancer. They gave me a blood thinning injection to my tummy (for the potential blood clot), booked me in for a VQ scan of my lungs in a couple days, and sent me home terrified and exhausted.
The next day was a blur, I remember feeling like I was in and out of consciousness and that I was hopelessly exhausted but scared of sleeping. I was disorientated, my head felt fuzzy, I couldn’t breathe, and my heart raced when turning over in bed.
On Tuesday 4 August I had the VQ scan at QMC, it wasn’t pleasant but by this point I just wanted answers. The scan came back that afternoon all clear. I remember the doctors asking me, “You’ve had a coronavirus test, right?” – I hadn’t. So, they swabbed me.
I was woken up early by a text, “Your COVID-19 swab is Negative.” I started to cry because I just wanted to know what was wrong with me and if it wasn’t COVID, what was it? I was in limbo.
After speaking to a doctor who, after reviewing my records, said that I must have a ‘respiratory virus’ and that I should be better in a week or so. A week came and went, I still struggled to walk, I developed a dry cough, my chest was tight, my taste kept changing, my hair started falling out, I was dizzy and had to take two naps a day.
Monday 17 August: Utterly fed up, I called the doctors who organised my 3rd set of blood tests. This particular doctor said that she had seen a couple of patients who were going through something similar and they had confirmed COVID. She also mentioned that the COVID-19 swab test is only reliable if you take it within the first four days of symptoms… I took mine on day eight.
On 21 August my blood tests returned indicating that I could still have a blood clot, so I needed to have an urgent CT scan on my chest which is more detailed than the original VQ scan. I was sent straight to the COVID wing at Queens Medical Centre. Once again, my lungs were clear. By this point the doctors had finally acknowledged that I had presumed COVID. There isn’t much knowledge on the virus yet, no one knew my symptoms were related to COVID until it was too late to take the test. The doctors had no advice to send me home with besides, “If you feel worse, call 111 again.”
As I write this, it’s 27 September, almost ten weeks since my first symptoms. I am still suffering with the virus, I still have daily issues with heart racing, palpitations, dizziness, disorientation and extreme fatigue. But I am improving slowly, I’ve been working from home and can manage one walk a week, each day I can manage that little bit more.
During my ordeal I did some research and discovered ‘Long Haul Coronavirus’. I joined a Facebook group of sufferers with 22,000 members of all ages from all over the world. Many of which were having the same issues as me, however some people have had much worse experiences, with symptoms relapsing months after initial infection plus suffering permanent damage to their organs.
If you find yourself with COVID, you may have no symptoms, you may have a cough and be ill for 2 weeks, you may end up with Long COVID, not to mention the worst-case scenario, loss of life. The virus is real, please wear a mask and look after each other.
A full list of my COVID-19 symptoms: Migraine, sickness, dizziness, disorientation, brain fog, extreme thirst, loss of appetite, numb and tingling limbs, hot and cold flushes, dry cough, loss of taste, tight chest, vision changes, heart racing and palpitations, short of breath, confusion, clammy hands, shaking, insomnia, hair loss, pale hands and feet, tinnitus and loss of hearing, headaches, head pressure and sharp head pains.