2020/04/03 Update: Several people have asked me if I could smell onions as I was chopping them for food prep. during my anosmic phase. The answer is NO. It is the strangest sensation to chop onions without having a clue as to their pungency. I also did not cry whilst chopping them, which is another odd disconnected feeling and should highlight how completely anosmic I was, and how I did not really have a hope of being able to smell much else! It is a great relief to me that the anosmia and ageusia were short-lived. I believe I am now merely hyposmic, as my smell palate is returning. My sense of taste has also returned most of the way.
2020/04/02 Update: I posted some information around current approaches to testing, treatments, and vaccines against SARS-CoV-2.
2020/03/28 Update: I posted a qualitative analysis of how I might have gotten ill.
My best self-isolated greetings to everyone! A few days ago I thought I had some of the classic early symptoms of Covid-19, so I thought I would document my symptoms and progress every day, in case it helps others understand what a (mild) infection might look like.
Disclaimer 1: I have NOT been tested yet. I took the route of self-isolating to avoid potentially spreading it, or burdening the health services unnecessarily. I could very well have had a 'flu, but influenza generally does not hit me this hard, nor does it last for as long. I do intend to get tested once the worst of the pandemic is behind us and kits are widely available.
Disclaimer 2: I work in biotechnology and a bulk of my day-to-day work of late has concentrated around various SARS-CoV-2 characterisation efforts globally. I have tried to follow major aspects of the science and medical progress to the best of my ability, and presented some of the research that helped tailor my own behaviour during my isolation period. As more and more guidelines come out, I am trying to stay on top of research and advice that seem reliable.
Day 1: Saturday, March 14th, 2020
Whilst it can take several days for symptoms to manifest, if at all, I define Day 1 as the first day I felt a little off.
Some time in the early afternoon, I felt a dry tickle in my throat as I struggled to clear something that just was not there. It felt like it could be a seasonal allergy, yet I know enough about my allergy symptoms to know this could blossom into something more substantial. I did not have a fever though, and I did not need to clear my throat, although a productive cough would have felt good.
Day 2: Sunday, March 15th, 2020
Everything was almost exactly like day 1, except I was certain I had a throat infection. However, I still did not have a fever or cough. I could cough if I wanted to, but it did not clear the dryness in my throat. I was sure I was heading for a cold or a 'flu and decided to minimise contact with others. The UK was just starting to take the threat seriously at this point, but lockdown measures were not yet in place.
Day 3: Monday, March 16th, 2020
I slept fine through the night and woke up with the same dry tickle in my throat. I carried on through my day, working as normal. Energy levels were fine, but I started to feel quite tired around 1900 or 2000 in the evening. I slept earlier than usual and noticed my appetite was dismal.
Day 4: Tuesday, March 17th, 2020
My sleep through the night was punctuated and filled with odd dreams. I woke up several times through the night feeling as though I was running a temperature. I woke up shivering a little. I knew I had a fever, but darn it, I did not have a thermometer in the house. Amazon was sold out (as the panic buying was in full swing at this point), and unhelpfully suggested that I buy an ovulation test instead.
The day oscillated between bouts of shivering and sweating.
My chest, ribs, and upper back felt like I had been wearing a steel corset through the night. It did not hurt to breathe, but the pain felt muscular and dull (like I had had a big chest/back workout the day before). My throat was still dry as usual, and I finally succumbed to taking a couple of doses of paracetamol through the day. My energy levels were fine, however, and I was able to work normally.
I drank several glasses of hot water with honey and bee propolis, for whatever it was worth, but I still had a weak appetite.
Day 5: Wednesday, March 18th, 2020
Exactly the same symptoms as Day 4. I drank a couple of glasses of vitamin-C rich juice. Whilst it is a "boring" alternative to the antivirals and other putative drugs in the spotlight, several studies and observations have shown a correlation between intravenous vitamin C and reduced time in the hospital for covid-19 cases. It can't hurt to drink a glass or two. There appears to be a genuine clinical trial aimed at testing this theory.
I would be very curious about whether vitamin C can directly disrupt the CoV-2-spike-to-ACE2 binding complex, either rendering it functionally inactive (and therefore disabling the entrypoint for the CoV-2 RNA into the host cell), or completely disrupting the complex formation.
Day 6: Thursday, March 19th, 2020
Exactly the same symptoms as Day 4, with the addition of the occasional sneeze every few hours. This could have been seasonal allergy-motivated, however.
Day 7: Friday, March 20th, 2020
Exactly the same symptoms as Day 4. The throat felt wetter for lack of a better term, but there was still no urge to cough. Clearing the throat gave temporary relief, however.
I noticed in the back of my mind that food was tasting bland, and did not put much more thought into it.
I was strangely haunted by the smell of my dinner from two nights ago. I had made a flavourful and delicious Punjabi chhole (chick-pea curry), and the familiar aroma of street food followed me everywhere I went. I realised the smell was stuck inside my nose, and it was inescapable!
Day 8: Saturday, March 21st, 2020
Despite waking up once or twice in the middle of the night, it felt like the fever did not recur in the morning for the first time. The dull pain in my chest, ribs, and back was largely absent. However, food had no taste, and I realised that I had almost no sense of smell either. My Vicks VapoRub stick gently burnt the insides of my nostrils, but there was no soothing menthol smell to tell me it was working. Better be careful not to let it burn for too long.
My throat went back to feeling dry.
My energy levels continued to be stable during the day, but I felt like the fever was coming back at around dinner time, and I felt the need to go to bed soon after. I did spend a lot of the day cleaning my place, however, which could have led to the earlier fatigue. It is worth noting how often SARS-CoV-2 is able to survive on different surfaces, as it may help inform your own cleaning and disinfecting regimen.
The hot water/honey/bee propolis treatments continued. If nothing else, they made my throat feel slightly more lubricated.
With some relief, I realised the (once-mouthwatering and welcome) aromas of the streets of Jalandhar were no longer haunting me. However, I could not smell much else.
Day 9: Sunday, March 22nd, 2020
I treated myself to a nice lunch at home, only to realise that I had zero perception of how anything tasted. However, my stomach rumbled for the first time in days, signalling hunger; I only wish it translated to a genuine appetite though -- must be the loss of smell/taste.
The day was fine otherwise, and I even managed to do quite a strenous yoga workout in the morning. It felt as though the feverish weakness was back in the evening, however. I slept early again.
Day 10: Monday, March 23rd, 2020
Same symptoms as Day 9.
I tried using a Neti Pot with two saline sachets to try and dislodge whatever was blocking my nasal receptors. No dice.
Day 11: Tuesday, March 24th, 2020
For the first time, I felt like a majority of the illness was behind me when I woke up. Even without physical weakness or fever symptoms in the past, I was still acutely aware I was not quite 100%. This morning, I felt like I was perhaps back at 80%.
The anosmia and ageusia were starting to get frustrating, as I would very much like to make a lot of food (having gone through the trouble of stocking the fridge during the loo roll-pocalypse), but the lack of sensation and perception leads to meals devoid of any enjoyment.
However, on a brighter note, it is now 2125 in the evening and I do not feel the fever symptoms returning. Time for another round of Neti Pot cleansing, and listening to The British History Podcast in bed.
Day 12: Wednesday, March 25th, 2020
I woke up feeling more stuffed up than usual in my nasal cavity and sinuses. Whilst this is a possible side effect of a mild seasonal allergy, it is the first time over the last couple of weeks where I felt something other than dryness in my respiratory tract.
I stuck my nose in a bag of coffee beans, but the smell response was nearly non-existent. I could tell I was not sniffing just air, but I could not discern the coffee aroma at all.
My throat continued to feel dry and I was thirsty throughout the day, despite constantly hydrating.
Day 13: Thursday, March 26th, 2020
Exactly the same symptoms as Day 12.
My throat felt extra dry today, probably because I was on several long calls for work throughout the day. Even with sensible hydration, I felt the need to take a couple of doses of chewable analgesic cough drops to numb the soreness.
Day 14: Friday, March 27th, 2020
Fourteen days is touted as the isolation period for family members of affected individuals living under the same roof. Whilst I do not fall into this category, and technically only needed to quarantine for a week, I chose 14 days as my metric out of an abundance of caution.
My throat was still dry, but less sore this morning. I continued to stay hydrated with lots of hot water/honey/bee propolis, or hot water/lemon combinations. The anosmia and ageusia remained the same as before.
Day 15: Saturday, March 28th, 2020
The seasonal allergies were beginning. My nose and sinuses were stuffy this morning, but I think I am safely out of the "Coron'-Zone". My throat was still dry, but it felt normal (when seasonal allergies start, I often wake up with a dry throat), as opposed to fighting some kind of infection.
I made a cheesy pasta for lunch, and I thought I could taste some of the sourness and saltiness of the cheese. Having added a few drops of a hot sauce, I sensed a bit of a tingle in my tongue from the spice. The meal was more enjoyable than others in the past few days, but it lacked depth or dimension. My sense of smell still felt greatly diminished, but that could have been because of the stuffy nose.
I will be monitoring my anosmia and ageusia closely over the next few days to determine how long my palate takes to return.
Day 16: Sunday, March 29th, 2020
I made an aromatic lunch and could smell and taste some of it! It looks like my senses are returning to me, and this might be a good place to end the updates for this entry (finally!).
Sixteen days on, it appears I am now completely recovered. It may still take a few days or weeks for me to be able to detect the more subtle smells and tastes, but regaining my appetite and relishing a meal makes me feel like I am now finally over it.