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The cocktail of Covid and Parkinson's symptoms, including loss of voice, resulted in a 'blue light' ambulance being despatched... I was worried I would have to go to hospital and not be able to make myself understood



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Parkinality columnist Julie Walker writes occasionally for the Bishop's Stortford Independent about living with Parkinson's disease...

Despite being as anti-social as is socially acceptable, despite making visitors do lateral flow tests and despite continuing to swap traditional greetings for an elbow/shake hybrid, The Wise-ish Man and I tested positive for Covid.

We had managed to give it the slip for almost two years. We had followed the rules and had both jabs and the booster. However, on January 3 and 4, within 24 hours of each other, the second line on two lateral flow tests confirmed positive Covid results.

Julie and Andy have been making visitors to their home do lateral flow tests
Julie and Andy have been making visitors to their home do lateral flow tests

Rather than being panic stricken, I was quite calm. I had resigned myself ages ago that at some point The Virus would track us down.

Over the first few days it felt like Covid had been to the pick 'n' mix aisle of the symptom supermarket: headache, sore throat and exhaustion, to name but three. Each symptom was garnished with a sprinkling of Parkinson's and Crohn's, both of which seemed to be competing with Covid for attention. Although, at least Covid couldn't steal my sense of smell; Parkinson's had taken that years ago.

After the positive lateral flow tests we were required to do PCR tests. As neither I nor The Wise-ish Man drive, we could not do a drive through test. We ordered PCR tests by post and booked a courier to collect them. They were sent on Thursday the 6th and returned on Sunday the 10th with a positive result and instruction to isolate until Friday the 14th.

Parkinality columnist Julie Walker and her partner Andy 'The Wise-ish Man' Johnson
Parkinality columnist Julie Walker and her partner Andy 'The Wise-ish Man' Johnson

Then my Covid symptoms changed: a continuous cough which would not shift, interspersed with what felt like an elephant sitting on my chest and a total loss of voice. The stress caused the dystonia – muscular spasm – in my feet to join in the party. A call to 111 resulted in a 'blue light' ambulance being despatched to check me out.

I was worried I would have to go to hospital. I was concerned that Parkinson's symptoms would make me appear inebriated, which is fine at 10pm in the pub but slightly inappropriate in hospital.

Also, now that Covid was affecting my vocal cords, I was worried about not being able to speak or make myself understood. I'd picked up a couple of phrases of sign language from watching Rose and Giovanni on Strictly, but I didn't think the sign for 'applause' would be particularly useful in hospital.

However, one fear about going to hospital was removed: at least I wouldn't catch Covid there.

At one point an ambulance with blue lights flashing was sent to Julie
At one point an ambulance with blue lights flashing was sent to Julie

Thankfully I didn't have to go to hospital. The paramedics were extremely thorough and I was given a clean bill of health (apart from the obvious) and told to take paracetamol and rest at home.

As Covid symptoms declined so did the state of the flat. Yoghurts were eaten with forks as dirty china and cutlery piled up in the sink. The floor became a meal map of dropped food. Lovely friends and family delivered shopping to the doorstep. One friend in particular left a much appreciated roast dinner and casserole. Trinity Pharmacy efficiently delivered our medication.

So, how did we get Covid?

We did go out over Christmas and New Year and we had a good time. I began to think we should have stayed in, but that would not have been good for our mental health.

I am scared there are still so many unknowns surrounding Covid. I am also concerned about the plethora of armchair experts who have learnt all they know about the virus and vaccines from social media. Therefore I have made a conscious decision to direct concerns and questions to the most appropriate expert:

* qualified scientists and medical professionals for the current advice on Covid;

* Mary Berry about how to make the perfect Victoria sponge; and

* Penelope from Penelope's Pick 'n' Mix how much it is for a quarter of sherbet lemons.

Both The Wise-ish Man and I are now testing negative. Although concerned, we will be venturing out again and will be wearing masks. We will continue to do lateral flow tests regularly and will ask visitors to do the same.

I am left with a croaky voice, making communication frustrating. So, if you see two people, with rollators, waiting outside different pubs, it is likely to be due to miscommunication rather than an argument. Stay safe.



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