New books and plenty of tea... Covid strikes

Torbay Weekly

Vicky Ewan, 40-something mother of five, wife of one, and parish secretary/cook:

Well, it has finally happened: Covid has come knocking on our door.

For almost two years, I have felt as though a friendly bubble has surrounded my family, shielding us from harm and keeping us virus free.

A few mild colds have done the rounds, of course, and there has been the occasional stomach complaint or headache, but nothing for which we needed to self isolate or avoid contact, when those freedoms were permitted.

I have been in exemplary health for 25 months, a phenomenon which both irks and pleases me - I sometimes selfishly long for 24 hours of bed confinement, with mugs of tea and books.

I last felt poorly in December 2019, when writhing in the throes of a dreadful flu-type condition that coincided most unfortunately with a trip away to see friends in the week or so before Christmas.

The car journey, a several-hour marathon undertaken in the evening, was barely tolerable - thankfully, I was not behind the wheel - and by the time we arrived at our destination hotel, I felt terrible, good for nothing except sleep.

Thank goodness for huge, clean, comfortable beds and fortifying breakfasts; I was able to rally and enjoy the social get-together the next day, even indulging in a little croaky karaoke - to the listening pleasure of no-one - and revelling in the blissful strains of the local, highly accomplished cathedral choir as they led the hauntingly festive Nine Lessons and Carols service the following evening.

Nevertheless, had I been at home, I would have gladly taken to my bed for a day or two, and in hindsight I always wondered whether, in fact, I had somehow contracted the new and mysterious virus early on in those pre-suspicion days.

Perhaps I had experienced an incognito encounter with a world traveller who, unbeknown to either of us, had been harbouring a dangerous stowaway that had jumped ship and landed upon me.

Such was the size of my ego, thrusting me into the centre of the universal stage; a random antibody test, some months later, indicated no previous exposure to the virus, and I chastised myself for my self-importance - I had merely suffered a nasty strain of cold.

Early on in the pandemic, my family was vaguely aware of people on the periphery of our lives who had tested positive and were self-isolating.

I was sorry for their plight but our lives remained largely untouched - it truly felt as though we were still observing from a distant shore.

As time went on, and more and more victims succumbed to the virus, I began to suspect it would merely be a matter of time before one or other of us tested positive.

My teens were performing LFTs twice weekly, an obligatory undertaking stipulated by their school in the attempt to safeguard the community as widely as possible, and the other members of the household were testing regularly.

We were full of trepidation as we acceded to these demands, on constant alert for the appearance of two lines but, despite the sheer volume of kits we utilised, a second line stubbornly - and seemingly miraculously - refused to appear.

We sailed through the first twelve months unscathed, hopped through the second spring, skipped over summer, skated past autumn, twirled through winter, had a spectacular Christmas and toasted in the New Year in fine fettle.

And then things took a downwards turn.

Cases grew steadily in the region, and close friends revealed their positive results.

One of the children, whose inner circle chum had herself fallen foul of the beast only very recently, woke up one morning this past week and thought she should test.

She had received a negative result only the previous evening but, unconvinced and feeling under par, she completed a test before heading for the shower.

Glancing cursorily at the strip a few minutes later, I must have performed a comical double take: the ghostly, yet unmistakable, spectre of a second line was manifesting itself beneath the first - positive result.

My brain immediately went into a kind of useless overdrive as I strode around the house demanding that everyone take a test, and consequently struggled to fulfil the habitual morning duties.

Grappling with the contents of my sons' lunch boxes, I mugged up on the latest regulations, relieved that none of the rest of us, who had each tested negative, needed to change our plans.

Suddenly, the smallest room provided the perfect solution to the self-isolation problem, and my daughter ensconced herself therein, languishing in a sorry state on the sofa as the rest of us partook ourselves to various places of employment or study.

Somewhat inevitably, given his propensity for snuggling up with his sister, my younger son tested positive a couple of days later.

I succumbed on day three, alongside my elder son.

It doesn't bode well for the remaining family members but I do feel as though we had dodged the bullet for too long.

Luckily, none of us is feeling too unwell, and we are having a wonderful time with a new game: musical bedrooms!

I'm cocooned with several delicious new books, and I harbour strong, possibly vain, hopes for regular cups of tea. Covid: I've got you.