TWENTY-TWO months into this global pandemic, a week before my 25th birthday, and just as I was starting to wonder if I perhaps had some super-human immunity, I recently discovered that I had Covid.

From the beginning of the pandemic, I have been a conscientious mask-wearer, hand-sanitiser, social-distancer. I have all three available doses of the vaccine. But after spending most of December desperately hoping not to see those two lines of doom on each rapid test, and watching social media post after post inform me that friends and family members had been hit, I knew it was only a matter of time before my luck ran out.

I woke up with a sore throat, and while this is not that uncommon in itself, I immediately took a lateral flow test. Negative.

I went about my day, cleaning my flat and then just having a restful day - thankfully remaining indoors, out of pure laziness if nothing else! As the afternoon went on, I started experiencing a runny nose, and the sore throat continued. To be honest, I thought I was suffering with allergies, which I am prone to, perhaps from dust or the not-unusual slight dampness of my flat.

READ MORE: 81% reduction in risk of hospital admission with Omicron after booster jab

It wasn’t until around 9.30pm, when I told my flatmate I was going to make a lemsip because the lymph nodes in my neck were hurting, that she suggested I take another test.

I took the test - it was one of the new-style lateral flows, but following recent advice read online, I swabbed my throat as well as my nose - and at first it looked as though it was going to be negative. However, when I shone a torch on the little piece of plastic I could see a faint second line beginning to appear, and when the 15-minute timer chimed, it was unmistakable.

After all this time, dozens and dozens of tests, it didn’t feel real to see a positive one. I immediately began my quarantine, leaving only to attend a PCR centre which confirmed that I did indeed have Covid.

Now, your test doesn’t tell you what strain of the virus you have been infected with, but given the symptoms I have experienced, it could well be the currently widespread Omicron variant. I must stress that I can only speak from my own experience, but the symptoms persisted much like a bad cold, and I have medicated it as such. I felt blocked up, with regular sneezing, sore throat and headache.

SEE ALSO: Covid symptoms: 20 Omicron warning signs that differ to NHS list

The main difference from a regular head cold was a heaviness in my chest - not pain, which of course would require seeking immediate medical attention - but more like a congestion, almost like a chest infection.

The other thing I wasn’t expecting was the fatigue. A lot of early nights required to sleep it off. While in quarantine, distraction is needed - TV shows, good books, nice food, and work. But listening to your body is so important, and I have therefore been taking it easy and trying to do all I can to promote recovery.

I read a tweet recently which really stuck with me. It was from a doctor and said that it is easy to feel defeated, discouraged, when you have done all the right things to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, but still get Covid. But what’s important is that this variant is a super-spreader, and what getting our vaccines is doing is taking pressure off of hospitals, because we are more equipped to recover at home.

I always thought, as a young, healthy female, that should I ever get the virus I would be asymptomatic. I’m not sure why I came to that assumption, and I was wrong. But what I now know is that my body is capable of fighting it like any other virus. It’s not fun in the moment, but you can soon recover.

My responsibility now is to continue to protect others by quarantining as instructed, and by continuing to adhere to safety measures back out in the world again! And that cannot come soon enough.

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Kimberley Barber