‘Weak and breathless’ - woman’s account of suspected coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 08:46 25 March 2020

Photo: Jackie Rayment.

Photo: Jackie Rayment.

Jackie Rayment

A woman from Elsenham spoke out about her symptoms, which she believes to be caused by the new coronavirus, and about the need to protect the NHS and the power of her community.

Jackie Rayment from Elsenham noticed things were not quite right last Wednesday, March 18.

She had been self-isolating before any restrictions were imposed, limiting her social contact and washing everything as much as she could.

“It started last Monday,” she said, adding:

“You see people congregating and I have not been for two weeks and yet here I am.

“I was very scrupulous with my handwashing, even washed my keys, I only went to the supermarket once.

“I have been on Zoom instead of meeting people, I even stopped going to my pilates group before it was advised.”

She suspects it was the supermarket trip where she caught the virus.

On Wednesday, she started experiencing a strong headache, and by Friday she had to go to bed with a “really high fever” and a sore throat.

She has been in bed since, but on Monday, March 23 she started feeling breathless and coughing.

It was only the next day that she managed to get up. She was still feeling very weak and breathless all the time.

“I think I am on mend” she said, adding: “I hope the chest [inflamation] doesn’t develop”.

Jackie does not have any underlying health conditions – and warned that different people get different symptoms.

“I can’t imagine how this affects people who are vulnerable.

“Some people have mild symptoms, some have to go to bed for days and some people struggle for life on ventilators.”

She did not ring 111 until Tuesday, March 24; her reason for not going to the hospital is that, unless in a life-threatening state, it seems “unnecessary” and the NHS staff are under “immense pressure”.

Jackie said: “If you have breathing difficulties it’s bad, but I know I am alright.

“I only rang 111 today and I got an answer phone message saying ‘if you are at home and your symptoms are mild and can cope you do not need to consult us.’ They don’t do testing unless you are in hospital, but they are overwhelmed probably.”

But thanks to the volunteer group Elsenham Neighbour Network, Jackie has been well looked after by kind residents who dropped flowers, fruits and scones on her doorstep.


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