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  • Writer's pictureMonique Sliedrecht

Down Time

The atmosphere is still this morning, the sky a cloudy grey sheet spread out over the wide-open landscape.

I got up after a reasonably sound sleep, waking up only once in the middle of the night, this time with pain in my lower back. That's certainly better than the night before, when I hardly slept at all. This new pain, along with other unfolding symptoms, seems to be a developing feature of the dreaded virus. Well, for me at least.

On my return from England, after two days of flu-like symptoms early last week, and then testing three times, the red lines showed up clearly on the third test, revealing the disappointing truth…

I must say I've been hit rather hard by this virus and am still slowly recovering, two weeks after those initial symptoms. It feels like a time warp. It’s a horrid disease, there’s no two ways about it. Some manage to get by lightly, but I can say that I have not been this ill in a long time.

One of the most alarming things that happened the other day was a complete loss of taste and smell. I felt very low about that, wondering if it would come back fully or in the same way. I still wonder. You don't know how much you value these senses until they are suddenly gone. So now, everything has a taste or smell that matches today’s sky - no colour, no flavour, no scent…. It’s a bit hard to come to terms with, especially when I don’t know if there is an end in sight.

Some of you may be wondering about my friend and colleague who I travelled south with, and whether or not he got it. He tested positive a few days after me, and has mainly been overcome by extreme fatigue.

And while resting is good, it is very boring after a while! There are only so many box sets I want to watch, and reading is not really very appealing.

One woman who was pretty much housebound for 3 years with an autoimmune disease commented on how it was endlessly boring. She said couldn't even read much or watch TV.

So, she made plans in her head. Lots and lots of plans.

I can relate, and I’ve only been ill 2 weeks!


Yesterday my covid buddy and I decided to go out for a short drive. We went to the most northerly point of the Scottish mainland, Dunnet Head. When we pulled up into the car-park we saw the ice cream van and both immediately decided that would be a treat. I stepped out to buy a couple of 99ers, as by now, I am not infections anymore. The man in the truck was happy to see a customer, saying it had been unusually quiet for a Friday. I was his last customer before he decided to roll away and call it a day. I got back in the car with my two ice creams, handed one to my friend, and we sat looking out over the cliffs towards the sea, having some light banter and laughing weakly, slowly finishing our frozen treats before driving home. It’s the only thing I’ve really eaten in over a week, aside from the occasional bowl of porridge when I have the energy to make it. And while I could not taste it, the coldness of the frozen treat was exhilarating.

This virus is so unpredictable in a way, and I’ve heard of many people having different symptoms, without any known reason. I think the one thing no one tells you is the kind of mental battle that accompanies it, the uncertainty around it, and how long symptoms will last. It’s hard not to be fearful that it is going to develop into something longer term.

So I take small moments which become the highlights of my day. Here are a few of the last week:

Observing the clouds in the sky and the way they were gradually being lit up, their shapes enhanced by the setting sun:

Picking raspberries from the bushes around the house. They are bountiful this year! Here is my first bowl, picked last weekend:

Putting together this bunch of wildflowers for friends who got married in Denmark last Saturday:

Ice-creams from the ice-cream van at Dunnet Head and looking out to sea. I felt like a kid again!

Today, we will see what the highlight will be. Perhaps it is writing this.

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