My coronavirus story: 'I didn't eat for 5 days'
Isla Haslam, 29, a public relations consultant, lives in Balham, South London. Her brother Jonathan, 26, a market research executive, mother Jane, 56, stepfather Dave, 59, and sister Harriet, nine, have all developed symptoms. She says:
When I saw groups of friends meeting up on Clapham Common in London, I wanted to tell them to go home and stop putting themselves and others at risk.
A few weeks ago I was like them and didn’t think twice about going to visit my family in Suffolk.
When I arrived, my mum said we should all wash our hands and use separate towels — she was worried as my brother and I had come from London. My mum, stepdad, brother, sister and I had a lovely dinner and catch up.
I stayed overnight before travelling back to London. But the day after I left, Mum called to tell me my brother, who had stayed on for a few days, had developed a dry cough and a high temperature.
He didn’t worry about it too much at first as he thought it was due to his mild asthma, but two days later he was so short of breath Mum had to call out a paramedic.
The crew tuned up in hazmat suits and seemed fairly sure he had Covid-19. They told the rest of the family to self-isolate for two weeks.
My brother later heard that a friend he’d gone for a drink with had developed symptoms.
Around the same time, I fell ill too. It started with me feeling absolutely shattered, having an upset stomach and a runny nose. I was so exhausted I felt like I’d been run over by a bus. My brain wasn’t functioning right either - I couldn’t concentrate.
Soon I ached all over and had a tight chest. I lost my sense of smell and taste next, and my appetite. I didn’t eat for about five days in total. I also had diarrhoea.
One day I slept for 17 hours. I treated myself with Night Nurse, a sedating cold remedy.
Luckily I had the flat to myself so I could isolate, and I survived on supplies left by friends.
It was six days before there was any improvement. And, just as I was beginning to get better, my Mum developed symptoms.
She has asthma and her reliever inhaler was no longer helping the breathlessness. On Sunday, she was taken to hospital in an ambulance as a precautionary measure, but discharged on Monday morning. My stepdad and sister have also had a fever, cough and fatigue.
It is without doubt the worst illness that has taken over my family and I really want to warn people against unnecessary social contact.