Melissa Kite

I’m not ill but I’m not as I was: how Covid takes its toll

If it’s true the virus attacks your weak spot then it’s done well with me as my head is all in a mess

I’m not ill but I’m not as I was: how Covid takes its toll
The only thing that still tastes like it used to is fast food eaten in the car at a service station. Credit: Grandbrothers/Alamy
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If it’s true that the virus finds your weak spot, it has lodged itself like an evil monkey in my head. After departing from every other bit of my body, it was still in my brain. It told me I didn’t need friends any more. So, as I moped about the house ‘self-isolating’, I sent a series of very odd text messages, telling my friends what the monkey thought I thought of them.

The monkey also told me his theory that there is no such thing as long Covid. All Covid is long. I would never get over it: ‘Well, have the authorities bothered to conduct any research to find out if anyone who has survived this lurgy is feeling 100 per cent better after six months or a year?

‘Do you know anyone who says they are the same again?’ the monkey asked. Nearly a month down the line, I feel as if I have a slight head cold, though I don’t feel ill. I can’t smell or taste anything. I can’t hear properly. I take decongestant, but it doesn’t make any difference. I’m not ill, I’m just not the same as I was.

I try to sniff the milk cartons in the fridge, then realise I must trust the sell-by date. If the builder boyfriend has left a carton out too long, then put it back, I’m going to drink it, unless it’s so lumpy even I can tell it’s off.

I can’t cook. All the while I’m frying onions I’m calling to the BB: ‘What does this smell like?’ I now realise a dish can spoil long before you see the ingredients burning.

I’m cooking only for him. Food still feels like rocks going down. I fancy only orange juice and toast. I can only put either Marmite or smoked salmon on the toast. Everything else twangs as if I’m eating manure — not that I know what that’s like but I’m guessing.

The best taste I can get out of anything is for it to taste of nothing. So I eat the things that taste of nothing, rather than the things that twang.

I take a tentative swig from a bottle of sparkling water and wretch as if gulping a mouthful of sea. Real coffee feels like metal in my mouth, so I drink instant, which tastes of nothing. Interestingly, KFC is the only thing that comes close to tasting of itself.

We sit slumped in the builder boyfriend’s old banger at junction 10 services, wolfing down fried chicken.

When the virus struck, both he and I felt that something was attacking our nervous systems. ‘It uses the spinal cord like a motorway to get around your body,’ said the BB, with great authority. ‘Then it attacks the weakest bits of you. That’s why my joints are agony.’ And I suppose it was why my head was blown, the mother of all depressions was on me, and I felt like murdering him for not making me scrambled eggs when he felt better, even though I could not have eaten them because they would have felt like draft excluder foam in my mouth, and even though I knew full well he can’t make scrambled eggs.

My weak point is my disposition, so the virus didn’t bother with my lungs or my joints, it just hung around in my nerves, upsetting my emotions.

After three weeks, I realised it was lodged in my head, blunting most of my senses and making me think strange thoughts.

It’s an intelligent little bugger, isn’t it? I wonder if someone did design it, and if so why. To frighten people, I think. The builder boyfriend rants that it’s a population thinner, and that wave after wave of it will hit the globe until… I stop listening at that point. He doesn’t get his opinions from Facebook or Twitter, he gets them from the caffs where the tradesmen of the land drink tea, eat bacon sarnies and exchange gossip from the multi-million pound homes of top people where they have been labouring.

Whenever the BB does a job for a top person, they can never resist telling him some juicy insider gossip, assuming he’s safe to show off to because he’s working class and covered from head to foot in sanded-off paint. A week before the whole shebang started, he came home with a car-load of tinned sardines and declared that the owner of the mansion he was re-roofing, who was something big in the police, had tipped him off that a lockdown was about to happen. That was the first time I ever heard the word.

In a way, I wish these top people wouldn’t tell him so much. If he ever gets told who designed Covid and why, it’s going to really depress me and fry my brains even more.