Saturday 18 September 2021

Virus Diary, three weeks later

 Isolation ended on the 3.september, ten days after I got sick. I was back at work the following Monday, 6.september.

Even if I was no longer dangerous, and no longer had a fever, the world still wasn't right. Both of my ears were blocked, and any up/down and sideways motion was likely to make me dizzy. I had to take frequent breaks, because my work includes a lot of bending down and lifting up. All noises were muted. It felt like there was a distance between my ears and my head. I hadn't felt like this since I was a child and had the flu.

My sense of smell is still heavily influenced. The sense of taste is back, but in a weaker form, and some spices and aromas are simply not there anymore. Most spices in curry aren't noticeable. We ate pasta with cheese and herbs sauce a few days ago, and the sauce tasted like boiled milk. Apple pie tastes sweet and tart, and I can notice the dryness in my mouth from the cinnamon, but not its actual flavour. Coffee tastes bitter, and it is still hard to tell different hot drinks apart.

Most things that used to have a smell has a smell now, but I need to be very close to it in order to actually smell it. The most noticeable exception is coffee. It is simply gone. Some smells can be "smelled" through the mouth. I can taste the smell if I inhale through the mouth at close range. 

The overlay of Wrong 1 and Wrong 2 have mostly faded, but I have noticed something interesting. The smells that come close to those smells have come back, while unrelated smells are still gone. I can for example smell and taste vanilla, some soaps, some fruits, wine, and carnation flowers because they are sweet like Wrong 1. Wood smoke, burnt oil, whisky, eucalyptus, sesame oil and black pepper (weakly) come close to Wrong 2. 

It is still hard to tell different fruits apart. It is impossible to know when something stinks and needs to be thrown out. Sometimes I get the subconscious idea that there is "something" in the air, for example when the supermarket has thrown out large amounts of spoiled food or when my partner is seasoning a cast iron pan. I get the "gut" reaction to it, but not the conscious knowledge of which smell it is.

I have been doing daily smell training, but the progress is slow. At this point, I doubt that my sense of smell will ever return to normal. 

Thursday 2 September 2021

Virus Diary #9

Day 9

Something peculiar has happened to my nose.

It started with a weird background smell. Not the "pus" smell that is common in colds, but a sickening sweet, putrid smell. It reminds me of cheap air fresheners, ear wax remover, baby oil, a cat (or me!) giving birth, or the wrong flowery smell of something dead. I have named this smell Wrong 1.

After I discovered that I could very faintly smell vinegar and vanilla, I started sniffing everything. This was how I discovered Wrong 2. This smell reminds me of burning plastic or rubber, burnt paprika or garlic, and the smell that comes when you heat up a dirty plate. When it isn't intense, it reminds me of an overheated computer or hot dust.

I can somehow taste a bit now. I can recognise the taste of ginger in tea, and I can taste the difference between my own minty toothpaste and LO's fruity one. (The last one tastes of nothing and smells of Wrong 1) I can taste the difference between mustard and ketchup, but not between tea and coffee.

Everything that has a smell, smells like either Wrong 1 or Wrong 2. Not many things have a smell at all at this point, and I can smell Wrong 1 simply from drinking water, but there seems to be some kind of pattern to it.

Things that smell of Wrong 1:

  • Vanilla soap
  • Fruity soap
  • Yoghurt
  • Cranberry tea
  • Cheese
  • Laundry detergent

Things that smell of Wrong 2:

  • Minty soap
  • Adult toothpaste
  • Thyme
  • Alcohol
  • Soy sauce

Things that have absolutely no smell:

  • Urine
  • Faeces
  • Mould
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Bread
  • Sandalwood soap
  • Humans

Wednesday 1 September 2021

Virus diary #8

 Day 8

Wednesday, 1.September. In two days, it will be our last day of confinement. We don't need to test again, but we need to go for 24 hours without any paracetamol or ibuprofen, and make sure that we don't have a fever in those 24 hours. I don't feel like I have a fever today, but my head is still spinning strangely, and it feels like gravity is affecting me differently. My ears feel blocked, but there is nothing blocking them. I can breathe perfectly well through my nose, but my sense of smell is broken.

Something really strange happened today. My SO was cleaning a pan with vinegar. When I entered the kitchen, I could taste the vinegar. Not smell, but taste, and it was very faint. The air was sour. Maybe this means that my sensory cells are starting to slowly regenerate.

I immediately started running around smelling everything. No luck. I think I can maybe smell vanilla, but it could also be that I just remember what vanilla is supposed to smell like. 

Little one is bored and irritable. We don't have a lot of energy to play with him, and that unfortunately means that he ends up watching YouTube between lunch and dinner most days. This means that he doesn't get to burn his energy. SO takes him into the bedroom to play rough for some time; they push each other around, jump on the bed, etc. The loud laughing and screaming makes my head and ears hurt so much that I cry while I wash up. There is just so much housework and so little energy. I try to wear my best face for the sake of my dear two boys.

Tuesday 31 August 2021

Virus diary #7

Day 7

This is the point where the disease gets dangerous for those who are so unlucky. I'm lucky. Nothing seems to be happening to my lungs, apart from some coughing. I think the single dose of vaccine that we did get, offers us some protection about the serious illness. Our bodies were able to recognise the virus and start fighting it properly before it could do any serious damage.

Taste and smell are still out of commission. I couldn't eat much food. I can't remember if it was my appetite, coughing, some disagreement or simply not making enough. I think we ate spring rolls? The days are all the same now that we are in house arrest. We wake up, use the computer, do housework, cook and eat a tasteless meal, and after that one of us takes a nap. We measure our temps twice a day. It is now at 37,5-38C. I would have taken a paracetamol and gone to work with this before the world got strange.

I seriously miss going outside. My SO has made it into a habit to throw out the bin bags and check for letters late at night. We are allowed to go out into our own garden, and the bags do need to go out, but it still feels like both a crime and the highlight of the day. Our energy is low. He gets winded from those few steps. 

I can't see anything in the dark, can't hear well (and my hearing has become one dimensional...I can't determine where sounds are coming from), can't smell or taste anything, and my sense of touch is still strangely disconnected. It is almost like walking on new snow. We can't feel if it has grass or sheer ice under it, so we need to walk carefully. I feel like a 90 year old woman. In fact, i know an actual 90 years old woman who is complaining about the same disconnect and numbness, and how it is affecting her hiking in the mountains...

I was able to concentrate enough after dark that I could play some Mario Kart. My mental energy is gradually improving, but with that comes the restlessness too. I keep myself from crying most times that I'm not distracted, from feeling trapped, the stomach pain, and the idea of never smelling again.

Monday 30 August 2021

Virus diary #6

 Day 6

The night was full of nightmares, about being stuck somewhere, hiding, or not being able or allowed to speak. I didn't sleep well at all and woke up with a headache. Coffee tastes hot and bitter, but it works.

I had ordered groceries to be delivered from the local supermarket today. My request was spamfiltered, but when they did find my order, the service was excellent. 

Little one is completely OK now. SO and I are still having low fevers, but his has gone considerably down. He doesn't seem to be as affected by the sensory "wrongness" anymore, but he is irritable and quick to make angry and upset. He coughs all the time and has a headache.

It could be that men and women handle illness differently, or that the two of us simply have different instinct around illness. When I don't feel well, I withdraw and typically become oversensitive to noises and other stimuli. This has also happened with COVID, even more than with normal colds and flus. He, on the other hand, becomes very vocal. There is a constant stream of noises that indicate pain or discomfort. The noises make me want to escape up through the ceiling. It takes more and more mental energy to keep a straight, compassionate face on. 

I don't like the idea that loss of smell can be permanent. I don't want to never again be able to smell and taste food, grass, rain, the flowers at work. Most of all I don't want to lose the smell of my loved ones. I was one of those mothers who sniffs my child's hair every day. Now even he doesn't have a smell. It is heartbreaking, and I'm not allowed to talk about it at home as it makes my SO feel bad. He believes he was the one who infected me. I don't think so. I think we both got infected at the same time.

I tried taking a nap in the afternoon, and got a dream about pulling up mutant, half-human fish. This is a classic nightmare that I often get from feeling sick!

Sunday 29 August 2021

Virus Diary #5

 Day 5

As expected, the results came back positive for both SO and LO. We had to have that difficult conversation all over again, only that SO's list was much shorter. He is a stay at home dad. I had to list everybody at work as well. It felt like we were talking to investigators trying to solve a mystery. In a way, we were. They thought that the virus had most likely come from a customer at work. We suspected the nursery. After all, media keeps reporting that the virus is spreading wildly among school children now. Going there was the only unusual thing we had done lately. LO had only gone there for a week when we got sick.

I still can't smell or taste anything apart from the most basic sensations of bitter, sweet, and spicy. I feared that salt didn't taste like anything either, but plain salt still tastes salty. Spicy is weird. I seem to be a lot more sensitive to spicy now than before. The thai chili tuna, which usually is one of my favourite foods, burns my mouth now. I still ate it.

My stomach is upset. I keep running to the bathroom, and it feels like I had eaten fire noodles the day before. It burns. The cramps were so bad that they woke me up in the middle of the night. I had dreams where I was curled up in pain on the floor, crying and breathless. I woke up feeling almost like that. This reminds me of the pain from ovarian cysts, or labour, or the worst periods when I was full of polyps and myomas. To be fair I have an appointment scheduled in early September to check for cysts and myomas, but this came out of nothing.

We are now confined to this apartment until 3.September. I called my father yesterday. He thought that sounded like something I wouldn't like at all. He is probably right, but going out is still not too tempting.

Saturday 28 August 2021

Virus Diary #4

 Day 4

My test coming back positive for COVID meant that the little one also had to get tested. His result would determine if all the other children in the nursery also needed a test. My SO, not having received his result yet, was technically not in isolation (even if he fell into the "Suspected COVID" category at this time), so he was allowed to come with him to the test station. Little one and I had woken up at 6. SO at 9. Their appointment was today at 17.

SO had the foresight to fill our freezer and fridge with easy food that night of day 2. I did some housework while they were at the test station, and wanted to have some lasagne ready for them when they came back. My sense of smell was now completely gone. It had started with the smell of "pus" or "crusts" that usually comes at the end of a common cold, when the nose has started to dry up a bit and the sense of smell is returning. Now this smell came before a total loss. I couldn't smell anything. Not even frying onions smelled of anything. Everything smelled as neutral as air coming out of an air purifier. I could still somewhat perceive if the air was hot or cold, humid or dry, but the sense of smell was just completely deleted from my nose.

The lasagne was hot, and I could taste some acidity from the tomatoes and some saltiness from the cheese. We had some ice tea with it. I could taste sweetness and some astringency from the tea, but apart from that, nothing had a smell or taste.

I still had a fever. For me, it never moved away from the 38-38,5C area. This isn't a high fever, and it felt strange that it could affect my sleep, dreams, and senses so much. I was dizzy, and it was hard to tell directions and temperatures apart. The only touch that didn't get translated into WRONG was the little guy's hugs and kisses. Even my husband's touches came through as WRONG, which i found very disturbing.

Testing positive means that I'm not allowed to leave the house for at least 10 days. That thought wasn't welcome, but I was still too sick to enjoy going out at this point. I tried to distract myself with some games, mostly Ingress and Pokemon go, but those games require walking in order to be played properly and I just couldn't concentrate.