Joanne Bagley is a 61-year-old customer services clerk at Gateshead Council. She lives in Gateshead with her partner Alan. Joanne caught Covid from her partner who developed symptoms following a holiday in the Canary Islands in November 2021. Here, she shares her experience of Covid and why the vaccination is the difference between feeling poorly and potentially becoming seriously ill.
“After nearly two years of thankfully avoiding Covid, my partner decided to go on holiday to the Canary Islands for a short break with his friends in November 2021. They were all fully jabbed and felt safe enough to go. When they returned, they all tested negative on the PCR test that they had to take 48 hours after arriving at Newcastle Airport. However, a couple of days later Alan started to feel unwell. A lateral flow test came back positive, and I then tested positive 24 hours later.
“I remember going downhill rapidly and all I kept thinking was, ‘wow and this is how I’m feeling double jabbed, imagine if I had no vaccine protection at all?’ Within a couple of days, I was extremely poorly and experienced all of the common Covid symptoms. I lost my sense of taste and smell, I developed a horrendous continuous cough, I felt so breathless and suffered from a very sore throat. The exhaustion was something I have never experienced before, and the headaches were completely deliberating. I don’t even think I can describe just how fatigued I was. It wasn’t just about sleeping for most of the day and night, I just felt like my energy had completely and utterly gone. Every little movement took so much effort. It was horrific.
“I tried to look after myself as best I could by keeping hydrated but even that was difficult. I even kept a travel kettle next to my bed to sip hot flavoured water when possible and also snacks to try and keep my sugar levels stable. When I felt like I was turning a corner, I started having hot baths and also using a hot water bottle regularly which really helped my aching body. I have never experienced such aching before, and I’m still experiencing some aches and pains now, two months later.
“I’ve never needed a sick day in over a decade, but I was off work for a whole week after coming down with Covid. When I returned, I couldn’t finish a normal day’s work for quite a while. I had to have a phased return, finishing at midday for two weeks because I just couldn’t get over the fatigue.
“I was scared and felt quite worried when I was poorly with Covid but as I was double vaccinated it did reassure me that I had done what I could to protect myself. Honestly, Covid is a nasty virus. It feels like a lot of bad viruses, whether that’s flu, tonsilitis or mumps, combined to create a super powerful illness that simply knocks you off your feet.
“Hand on heart, without being vaccinated, I would have been in serious trouble and quite likely hospitalised. I am still feeling the effects now and although I am feeling a lot better, I still suffer from tiredness and my senses, my taste and smell, aren’t yet back to normal. I fully intend to get my booster jab, but I’m waiting until I feel 100% again.
“For anyone who thinks they don’t need the jab or simply haven’t gotten round to getting vaccinated, which I understand because we all lead busy lives, please don’t ignore all the advice around the protection from Covid that it gives you. Book your jab whether it’s your first, second or third. It’s never too late. Having caught it, I totally understand how so many people are ending up in hospital seriously poorly with some, sadly, never leaving.
“Don’t take a gamble with Covid because if you don’t win, the consequences send a shiver down my spine. Speak to your GP, find out everything you can about the vaccine from reliable sources and do the right thing, get vaccinated. Quite simply, it will protect yourself and potentially save your life.”