Voices from the frontline
Some of us you know well, some of us you see regularly, some of us you never see. We are the nurses, team leaders, care assistants, chefs, activity coordinators, receptionists, laundry assistants, cooks, cleaners, admins, those behind the scenes, the voices of the frontlines. These are our day to day and our extraordinary experiences
My name is Sally Worth, I’m 35, married with two children aged 6 and 11, and I have been an Occupational therapist for the past 15 years. I joined the Towerview Care Group in January 2020 as the residential, occupational therapist to Burton and Trent Courts. As an Occupational Therapist, I take a holistic or “whole person approach” to empowering individuals to overcome barriers caused by illness, accidents or ageing to enable them to carry out everyday activities.
A few weeks ago, I noticed that I had started to feel a shortness of breath and a tightness in my chest. It was super uncomfortable, I felt like my clothing was too tight and after climbing stairs, even a few, I was breathless. I put this down to hay fever, I have never suffered from hay fever before, but the BBC had been reporting that a tree ‘pollen bomb’ had hit the UK around the same time. Trees in the UK release pollen from February, but because the weather had been so warm and sunny, it had caused a major spike. Because I had never suffered from hay fever, I didn’t know that the factor I was missing was the itchy eyes. I started taking antihistamines, but I was still struggling to breathe.
On Easter Sunday morning my husband and I awoke to the sound of our 6-year-old daughter coughing, she couldn’t stop. All that morning, the coughing continued, now I’m a natural worrier and this really pushed all my anxiety buttons. I checked her temperature regularly throughout the morning and she was fine. She was happily working her way through half a dozen Easter eggs, watching television and chatting to us all but, she just wouldn’t stop coughing.
By mid-afternoon I was seriously worried and contacted NHS 111, they told me to contact our GP because she was under 10 years old. I rang him and explained that our daughter couldn’t stop coughing. Halfway through he asked me why I was out of breath. I told him I thought it was hay fever, so he asked me about my symptoms. I said I didn’t have any other symptoms other than the terrible tightness in my chest, which left me breathless. He pressed me for anything else out of the ordinary for either of us. I said we’d both had loose bowels, not exactly diarrhoea but our stools were definitely loose for about two weeks before, I thought it was the worry about coronavirus. He said I think you and your daughter both have coronavirus and should start self-isolating as of now, I just remember a feeling of dread creeping over me.
By Monday night, I had a temperature, a dry cough, I was breathless, exhausted, and to be frank terrified. You’re just waiting, waiting for it to get worse, I could hear my daughter coughing from her bedroom and every time she coughed it shredded my nerves a little bit more. The sound was there through the pounding bone-crushing headaches, through the fever and the chills, I could hear the constant sound of my 6-year-old coughing. The nights were the worst, I couldn’t find any way to get comfortable, there was just the pain in my chest, the sound of my breathing and the constant coughing. I was so scared to go to sleep those first few nights in case I didn’t wake up, or I woke up in the hospital.
On day five, the headache let up a little bit, and I could think a little clearer, my fever had broken, and the chills had eased. My anxiety levels started to come down, and I was able to sleep for more than a few hours at a time. By day seven, I was back downstairs, having meals with the rest of my family. I haven’t got my sense of taste back yet, it’s been weeks now and it still hasn’t returned, and I don’t think I lost my sense of smell.
Before I returned to work my mum begged me not to, she was worried, I would get it again or something, “no one knows do they” she said! And yes, I was worried too, maybe even a little scared.
There have been those who have been ill at work and have had to be isolated, this was before testing started and they had a temperature. But actually, it is really orderly here, it feels very calm and we are in control, and that’s an excellent feeling.
I still feel drained, it’s a real effort to get up in the morning, and I am asleep at 8.30 pm. I am not back to normal yet, but I feel like I am definitely getting there. Everyone has been so kind, there hasn’t been any pressure from anyone to get things done, it’s all been at my pace.
My daughter still has the cough, she never had any other symptoms, nothing at all and now we as a family are not allowed to talk about the cough as it annoys her, which her brother thinks is funny!
I find the clap for carers really emotional, it’s the same people each week in my street who do it, and I still do it. But I am starting to get very cross because I am starting to see lots of people out!! I just want to tell them, please stay home, stay safe save lives you don’t want this.