A-Z

Esther

Age at interview: 26
Brief Outline:

Gender: Female 
Ethnicity: Jewish 
Background: Esther is 26 years old and is Jewish. Esther tested positive for Covid in January 2021. She unclear when she caught the virus, believing she either caught it attending her grandfather’s funeral or when her family gathered to support her grandmother during that difficult time. Esther was ill for weeks after testing positive and now suffers from long Covid symptoms.

 

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Esther first heard about Covid on the news. She knew as the virus spread through Europe it was a matter of time before it reached the UK. Esther eventually caught Covid in January 2021. She believes she caught the virus after attending her grandfather’s funeral, although, she is not certain, as she may have caught it during the time her family gathered to support her grandmother after her grandfather’s death. Esther recalled how following the funeral her family group chat was flooded with messages from family members stating that they had also tested positive.
 
Both Esther and her partner tested positive for the virus. While her partner had relatively mild symptoms and quickly recovered, Esther was unwell for weeks. She recalls it taking three weeks until she was able to eat again and that symptoms persisted four to five weeks after she had tested positive. Esther’s main symptoms included extreme fatigue and a high fever, the latter causing her to seek medical advice through NHS 111. It was the initial fatigue that led to Esther taking a test. She told her partner “Oh my God, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.” Having heard this phrase used by others with Covid, her partner encouraged her to get tested.
 
At the time of the interview, Esther felt she had not regained her previous energy levels. She was previously a very active person but found herself becoming breathless and felt her fitness had gone. It was on the news that Esther first heard about the term ‘long Covid’. However, it wasn’t until a later conversation with her partner that Esther started to consider that she herself had long Covid. She visited her GP, who diagnosed her with long Covid, prescribed an inhaler for her breathlessness, and ordered her a chest scan. Esther expressed that she would be upset if she caught Covid again as she worried it would make her long Covid symptoms worse.

 

Esther felt that a combination of the statistics on the media and hearing personal stories meant she couldn’t be ‘zoned out’ any more.

Esther felt that a combination of the statistics on the media and hearing personal stories meant she couldn’t be ‘zoned out’ any more.

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I think there’s also something about, you know, there was definitely a period of time and quite a long time, you know, throughout lockdowns where, you know, you’ve watched the news at any given hour and they would have the most up to date statistics on who, how many people had Covid. What areas were the highest percent, had the highest percentage of people with Covid and how many people had died that day from Covid. And seeing those numbers increase and increase and increase and increase, I think showed the severity of that. And it’s interesting because I often think that, you know, if you just see some statistics you can really zone them out and you just kind of become almost immune to, you know, watching numbers on a screen so to say. But, I think the thing about it was that it wasn’t just statistics on a screen. You know, it wasn’t like it was something that was happening on the other side of the world. You know, everybody knows somebody or everybody knows somebody who knows somebody who has, who, you know, who knows someone who’s died because of Covid or who’s been in intensive care because of Covid. And so whilst you have the statistics on the screen kind of increasing, you actually have the personal stories to go along with that and which is why I think that those statistics on the screen were actually really impactful because otherwise they just wouldn't be, otherwise you would just become, you know, you just zone it out. You’d just be immune to it. But because it was like pretty all-permeating and you just kind of constantly hear stories about friends or friends of family or friends of friends who were really, really ill with Covid. I think that made, that made it all the more different and I think that’s what made it real.

 

Esther saw ‘no two ways about it’ when it came to caring for her grandparents.

Esther saw ‘no two ways about it’ when it came to caring for her grandparents.

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My granddad was really, really ill. And then there were a couple of, there were a couple of days when various family members had to go and look after my grandma. And there was just no, you know, there were no two ways about it, you know, at the time. Whether or not it was allowed or legal or whatever. You know, my granddad was dying. Thank, thankfully, at home, you know, which is a real blessing. But my grandma was there by herself and she wouldn't, you know, she, she can’t manage by herself and so we would kind of take it in shifts to go and kind of look after her and make sure she was eating.

 

Esther felt that the pandemic had shone a light on multiple social inequalities.

Esther felt that the pandemic had shone a light on multiple social inequalities.

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You know, people, you know, like labour rights completely out the window. You know, people having, you know, people have to work because they’ve got to, you know, pay the bills and so, you know, some people don’t have the luxury of working from home. Some people don’t have the luxury of staying safe, you know. And I think that’s, I think that’s what really kind of spoke to me a lot during, during the pandemic is kind of, you know, how can we address these kind of social inequalities, which have really been exposed as a result of, of the pandemic.

 

Esther attended a funeral where several people got Covid.

Esther attended a funeral where several people got Covid.

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The whole family kind of got together obviously for the funeral and of the, of the family chat afterwards. This is kind of the extended family chat on WhatsApp afterwards. Every few hours somebody would just say, I’ve just been, I’ve just, I’ve just confirmed, you know, I’ve just had a positive test. I’ve just had a positive test. I’ve just had a positive test. And so it was quite comic how kind of everybody got Covid at this funeral. I mean no-one really knows like who had it, who patient zero was exactly.

 

Esther’s body was aching in places she didn’t know it could ache.

Esther’s body was aching in places she didn’t know it could ache.

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And it’s really funny because I woke up, you know, the morning after the funeral and said, “Oh my God, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck” [laughs]. And my partner, Lucy, just said, “Do a Covid test” because she had heard that phrase used before from people who’ve had Covid like exactly word for word. And so, yeah, it was just a real kind of body ache kind of, you know, in places I didn't know that I could ache you know [laughs].

 

Esther caught Covid in January 2021. She lost her smell and taste for a couple of days, but had vomiting and diarrhoea which lasted several weeks.

Esther caught Covid in January 2021. She lost her smell and taste for a couple of days, but had vomiting and diarrhoea which lasted several weeks.

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I lost my smell and taste maybe for a day or so, really not like, my partner lost her sense of taste and smell a lot, lot worse than I did. But I just I, I just my body just couldn't handle it. So, for a few days, I was throwing everything up and then I would say for a good four to five weeks post having a positive Covid test result, just had really, really awful diarrhoea. And so, at one point, it was kind of a mixture of both and it was just not great not great [laughs]. And yeah, and so eating was just not appealing. Just didn't have an appetite at all, really.

 

Esther and her partner had two days when they were ‘absolute zombies’ before they started to recover.

Esther and her partner had two days when they were ‘absolute zombies’ before they started to recover.

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So there were, there were a couple of days, I think about two days where we were both like absolute zombies [laughs]. We were both like unable to do anything. It would literally be like you make the tea [laughs]. No, you make the tea. No, you make the tea because we were both just so wiped out and had like no energy. It was really, really comical. And thank goodness, she recovered really quickly. So, she had about two days of feeling really, really rough and then, you know, a couple of days and then a few days after that of feeling a bit rough, but not being, not having a fever. Not being in bed, basically. And yeah, I just think thank goodness for that, otherwise who knows what we would have done, really. And, and so, yeah, it was just really a couple of days of kind of having to struggle all through both of our, you know, of being forced to exert energy that we both didn't have, really to feed ourselves, wash ourselves and do all of that stuff.

 

Esther described her and her girlfriend caring for each other as ‘the blind leading the blind’.

Esther described her and her girlfriend caring for each other as ‘the blind leading the blind’.

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It was kind of, it was a bit like you know, when you’re really, really drunk and you on, when you’re on a night out and someone who’s really drunk is looking after someone who’s even more drunk than that person. It was a bit like that where it was kind of blind leading the blind and like trying to look after each other.

 

Esther felt loved by the support she had from friends and family while she and her partner were isolating together.

Esther felt loved by the support she had from friends and family while she and her partner were isolating together.

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So, what was quite, what was actually really amazing was that there were quite a lot of people who kind of brought things which was quite nice [laughs]. And so, because of and so you know, it wasn’t like we were reliant on anyone to bring us food or anything like that. And we did, we did like a big Sainsbury’s home delivery order and stuff like that. I mean, not that I ate anything. But friends from a variety of backgrounds like you know, friends who I grew up with. Family who like live round the corner. More recent friends, you know, they were all, kind of dropped off soup and treats. And my aunt sent like a box of some nice biscuits as well, which was nice. And my partner’s parents sent like a big hamper of baked goods as well. It was all like we were unbelievably lucky. It’s kind of, it’s actually really amazing there’s nothing like being really, really ill to you know, know how much everyone loves you, basically [laughs].

 

Esther couldn’t eat and had a very bad fever so she called 111 for advice.

Esther couldn’t eat and had a very bad fever so she called 111 for advice.

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Yes, because at one point I had a really, really, really bad fever and just wasn’t able to eat. Wanted to throw up. But also didn't have anything to throw up. And was just having a really bad time. Yeah and just you know, feeling hot and cold and shivery and, you know, and sweating, all of that. I think it was like a particularly bad point where we said, let’s just call 111 yeah, 111 and see what they say.

 

Esther has adapted how she plays football so she can still enjoy the sport, despite her persistent symptoms.

Esther has adapted how she plays football so she can still enjoy the sport, despite her persistent symptoms.

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Yeah. Well I mean, yeah, like kind of, but I actually think, you know, I’ve managed to work around it a little bit. Like, you know, I played football once a week or at least I did, previously. And now, I just play in goal [laughs]. You know, and so I’ll maybe have like a couple of minutes of playing out and you know, playing mid-field or whatever. But then after I’m done, you know, my teammates understand when I say, I need to go back in goal now, you know. So, like, you know, I’ve managed to adapt, I guess and still to you know, try to find joy in those things even if I can’t participate as I would like to, if that makes sense. But no, oh my God like people have it so much worse. Like that person that you were just talking about who like can’t get through a sentence. At least I can do that, you know.

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