Imogen Parkinson, 21, works part-time at Sainsbury’s and lives in Shiremoor with her mum, Lesley, and her mum’s fiancé, Chris. After shielding throughout the first lockdown, due to her asthma, in October 2020 she tested Covid positive and experienced a terrifying month of debilitating Covid symptoms.
Today, Imogen is finally getting back to ‘normal’. In May, she completed her final year of Airline and Airport Management at Newcastle International Airport’s Training Academy.
Her hope for the future is that we can all learn to live with Covid and be responsible so we can enjoy our freedom while protecting lives.
“A few weeks before the initial lockdown I was on holiday in Dubai. Then when I got home in March I wasn’t allowed to leave my house. Shielding was such a weird feeling. So, when I could go out for a drink in Tyneside in October last year it was a novelty. It was on that night I suddenly became violently sick with horrendous stomach pains.
I was rushed to A&E with suspected appendicitis and discharged to rest at home. But, after four days I still didn’t feel right and neither did my mum. We all got the positive Covid text within 30 seconds of each other after our tests. We couldn’t believe it.
I was surprised, but I wasn’t too worried when the test came back positive, thinking I would just feel a bit run down. How wrong I was.
It was terrifying. I developed such severe headaches I couldn’t move. I’ve never felt anything like it. By day four I lost my sense of taste and smell. I only got those back in February.
Throughout my 10-days of isolation, I was very weak. Most days I was lying in a pitch-black room because I was so sensitive to light and could barely sleep.
Two weeks after testing positive, I was starting to slowly recover then my asthma deteriorated. Simple tasks like walking upstairs, taking a shower and eating left me gasping for breath, even when using my reliever inhaler. I felt exhausted and staying awake was a challenge.
My doctor prescribed steroids to improve my breathing. Antibiotics and another round of steroids followed. Usually, the steroids work right away but for me, they didn’t. I started to feel really scared. My friends and family were also shocked and worried. It was weeks after my test and I still wasn’t feeling better.
By week five, the doctor thought I had pneumonia and sent me for an immediate X-ray. The results came back negative.
I needed to get back to some kind of normality so I tried phasing back to work. A two-hour shift on the tills was all I could handle at first. Over time, short regular walks helped my lungs to recover and rebuild my strength. Eventually, I was able to return to work as normal in November 2020.
It was a terrifying experience that really made me aware of how serious this virus is. My message for the region is to enjoy life but please, remain cautious.
We’ve already lost over a year of our lives to this virus. We need to learn to live with it and follow the guidance. I know some feel hesitant about going back to normal, myself included, but we can’t live in fear forever. We need to each keep on doing our bit to protect each other and appreciate life.
“I’m extremely thankful Covid hasn’t had a lasting effect on my life. For me, the future can only go one way now, up! I’m delighted to have finished my studies and I’m looking forward to booking my vaccine as soon as I can.”