One of our contributors, 27 year old photographer, SAMARA MARTIN, tells us of her plight with Covid-19, despite being double vaccinated, and how she is still suffering a month later. 

Samara Martin

As I rolled over in bed unable to lift myself out of the sheets, struggling to breathe, my thoughts sunk back to the carefree night before. On Monday my partner took me out on our first date in months, to try out the new BOOM Battle Bar in Eastbourne. Unbeknown to me, I was harbouring an awful virus. We ate dinner at The Bok Shop, enjoying the new freedoms of a relaxed rona’ regime. I blew my nose complaining that I had caught a chill at the Pride Festival I had attended two days before. Quickly I found myself sneezing constantly with a migraine and we went home early. 

There is no way to describe the absolute exhaustion that coronavirus puts you through

Positive Test
CREDIT: Samara Martin

Day one
Outbreak

I was looking forward to having my hair dyed today, but I woke up with what felt like the worst hangover I had ever experienced. I took my routine lateral flow test and was dismayed at the appearance of a faint positive line. I took another test before panicking, but my worst nightmare was confirmed. Despite being double vaccinated, my thoughts turned to all of those I love and my career commitments. My other half, who had already left for work, needed to return and take me for a PCR test. The rest of the evening was spent biting our nails awaiting a result. 

Day Two
Looking Brighter

I woke up feeling much better and I began to panic that I had only gotten a cold and worried everyone for no reason. I got dressed and waited for my test results. As soon as my positive test result arrived, I was bombarded by emails from the NHS asking for information, encouraging me to complete surveys and telling me to isolate or face a £10,000 fine. I set about ensuring both my workplaces, my educational placement and my voluntary roles knew of my isolation and subsequent absence. I have never taken sickness from work, so I needed guidance on how to report illness. I spent the evening retracing my steps: every train I had boarded, every place I had been and person I had been in contact with for the previous five days needed to be logged with the NHS. 

Day Three
The Great Lie in

I slept for twelve hours, rising at 1pm, a stark difference to my usual six-hour rest. I was covered in sweat after having some nightmare-fuelled dreams, so my partner offered me some water and medication. I didn’t feel very hungry, but my other half suggested that I should eat – as it had been 15 hours since I last had anything. As I took a bite into the crunchy buttered toast, the horror grew across my face, realising that I could not taste anything, despite not having a blocked nose. Of course, this led to Dr Google and fears of never regaining my taste. I tricked myself that the weight loss would be worth it. The rest of the day was slow and I spent most of it in bed experiencing phantom pains in my body. 

Day Four
Land of the Living

Rising at 11am felt altogether more respectable, and being the workaholic that I am, I was unable to spend yet another day in bed. Forcing myself to do paperwork may not have been the best idea, but it helped me to feel I had achieved something. There is no way to describe the absolute exhaustion that coronavirus puts you through. Coronavirus does however provide a unique insight to food types: lacking any sense of taste, I experimented with many textures, and, although I couldn’t tell you a specific flavour, I could detect if something was sweet, spicy or bitter. 

Day Five
Taste Explosion 

Suffering with no taste left me not wanting to eat, so I sought pleasure in other ways. Surely a little retail therapy can’t hurt too much? – it does when it costs £300. Luckily at approx. 18:00, whilst eating a banana split that my partner had created (full of textures), my last mouthful tasted of banana. At first I could not believe it, I thought my mind must be tricking me. I can only describe the feeling as similar to the rush of water that fills your nose as you cannonball into a pool without a clip. After this every 10 or so bites contained some faint flavour for me.

ALL PICS: Samara Martin

After Isolation

I was anxious as I stepped out of my flat for the first time in 10 days and the warm sun hit my face. I smiled hesitantly at people around me – still concerned that I might make them ill, I kept my distance. I returned to work and was welcomed back with open arms, but I couldn’t help but feel as if something was slightly amiss. After one shift I needed to sleep for 15 hours; a usually spritely person who never wants to waste a day off, I found myself staying in bed until 1pm. Coronavirus had exhausted me, but the worst was yet to come. In the following days the devastating effects of the virus took hold as my hair began to fall out and rashes appeared
on my body. Frantically googling my symptoms, I discovered that these are considered unfortunate side effects and, until more is known, I will have to live with them. 

Every day is still a struggle and the only upside is that for a short period it’s harder for me to contract the virus, but it might still take some time to be completely rid of the virus’s long-term symptoms. However, I am back to doing what I love and loving doing it – even though it meant sleeping in a field whilst listening to a punk band because I was already exhausted by 5pm when I recently attended a festival. I had contemplated selling my ticket: I was scared to get back to events. But then I realised I’d rather catch Covid from a festival than miss it and then catch Covid somewhere else anyway.


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