12 days of Covid-19

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a case of Covid-19.

I suppose it was inevitable. Although he generally wears a mask, my husband is terrible about touching his face. And the rules about social distancing in Switzerland have been fairly relaxed throughout the pandemic. Masks in public places, yes. But restaurants have remained open along with gyms and all the shops. He would come in from shopping and when asked if he’d washed his hands would say, “No, but I’m going to.” Then proceed to touch everything in the apartment before eventually washing his hands, protesting against my ‘maniac’ tendencies. (‘Maniaque’ in French, meaning a clean freak or stickler…)

Suffice it to say that while I hadn’t exactly been expecting to get Covid, I sensed it was less a matter of if than of when. Sure enough, two weeks ago my husband announced he had a ‘slight’ sore throat. Then promptly decided it was nothing and he was fine. Then went to bed and woke up feeling not right. Still, it wasn’t Covid-19, he said. He was barely sick. Two days of feeling poorly later, he went for a test and — bingo! — coronavirus for Christmas.

I got it three days after him. No sore throat, barely a tickle at the back of my throat in fact. For me it started in the eyes, which suddenly felt sore and tired. Went to bed and had the first night of what would be the worst and most persistent symptom throughout my twelve-day ordeal: a sort of delirious anxiety, in which crazy half-thoughts chased each other through my dreams and, while I slept, I did not truly rest. I felt feverish although my temperature stayed normal. The next day I had a slight cough, nothing to speak of, a sense of tightness in my chest, a bit of a headache and crashing fatigue.

By the third day I realized that my sense of smell had nearly gone. I could still smell something really strong, like vinegar, but food had no taste other than salty or sweet. I also experienced a kind of brain fog, like I couldn’t quite think straight.

On day four the palpitations started. This symptom, which makes me feel like my heart is about to pound right out of my chest, was worrying enough to make me call the hotline for medical advice. The doctor advised me to go for a check-up as soon as possible but as I had no chest pain or shortness of breath, it wasn’t urgent. It seems that palpitations are common when the body is fighting an infection.

Days five and six saw some improvement to my overall state, although my stomach became upset and I lost my appetite. Still, the brain fog cleared and I began to feel less exhausted.

Day seven brought a fever, which made the heart palpitations worse. Basically my heart would start to race as the fever began, I would take paracetamol and it would drop; I’d feel better for a while then the whole cycle would start again. This went on for three days. I also had muscle aches and pains and persistent gastrointestinal distress.

Of course by then my husband was over it.

The Covid-tracking app did its job and I got a call from the people at Swiss Covid, informing me that I had been exposed to a certain Stefan who had tested positive. I assured them that I was familiar with the culprit — my husband. And that I also had symptoms.

You will need to isolate, the nice fellow on the phone advised. And get a test to be sure.

But why? I asked. It was entirely obvious I had it. Ah, but they needed proof in order to document me as Covid-positive on the app. And then I would be spared the need to self-isolate again for another three months if I were exposed to the virus again. So off we went to the test centre. Where I failed the Covid test. That is, I was unable to stand the 6-inch swab up my nose. The guy got it one-third the way in and I wimped out. It was excruciatingly uncomfortable Can’t you do it differently? I asked. I’d read that alternatives were available. Shorter nasal swabs that were just as effective. He shook his head sadly. It was all or nothing. Swiss rigour leaves no room for wusses.

I finally saw a doctor for a check-up a few days ago and they took blood for an antibody test instead. Hopefully that will be proof enough. And the meantime they did a bunch of tests and the good news is that my heart and other vital organs seem to be fine.

Twelve days in to my Covid-19 pre-Christmas challenge, my energy has been slow to come back but I’m starting to feel a bit more like myself. My morning clementine smells heavenly: taste and smell are joyfully returning. I’m out of quarantine but for now I’m limiting my excursions to short walks with the dogs.

I decided to share the details of what it felt like to have a ‘mild’ case with virtually no respiratory symptoms so that others might know what to expect. I am 63, in otherwise good health and with no comorbidities. I was less sick than I have been in the past with the flu but it took far longer to get over it. Each day I felt better, and worse. The virus was like a time-release; there can be no doubt that it packs quite a wham.

Ours will be a very simple Christmas indeed. I am simply grateful that we made it through Covid-19. And so very happy, as I’m sure many of you are, to bid ‘au revoir’ to 2020.

I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy end to this crazy old year. See you in 2021!


  1. coteetcampagne · December 24, 2020

    I had your symptoms exactly in January

    At that point, no local test facility.
    The delirious brain hallucinations were the worse bit, Hieryonymous Bosch on acid, basically…..
    Being an Art History graduate has it’s downside.

    I’m still not right now.

    • MELewis · December 24, 2020

      Sorry to hear that. You sound like a long-hauler. Strange about the symptoms being so similar. I sure hope mine don’t last any longer than the end of the year. Here’s to a healthier 2021!🤞

      • coteetcampagne · December 24, 2020

        It is better than it was…
        We could have suffered so much worse.
        Strangely, Trev had zero symptoms!

  2. francetaste · December 24, 2020

    Go light on your husband. It seems that COVID rarely spreads by touch (fomite transmission). He more likely breathed in some virus that had been exhaled by somebody else, and boom. Handwashing is still important–this flu season is underwhelming and many people have also avoided colds, with handwashing getting the credit. Personally, I’ve never been healthier in winter.
    That said, my brother (an ambulance worker, so talk about exposure) has had COVID twice, the second time worse than the first. Immunity is fleeting–just a few months. So don’t put your masks away.
    I wish you a full and speedy recovery and a wonderful Christmas, all things considered.

    • MELewis · December 24, 2020

      Thanks! Scary to think your brother caught it twice. I won’t hesitate to get the vaccine when the time comes. Wishing you a healthy and happy end of the year!

  3. midihideaways · December 24, 2020

    Oh Mel, that sounds pretty dreadful!! So glad that you are getting over it and that your senses of smell and taste have returned! Have a wonderful Christmas and take it easy!!

    • MELewis · December 24, 2020

      It was certainly no picnic, but all things considered I think we got off pretty lightly. Small pleasures for sure this Christmas. All the best to you, Andreas!

  4. margaret21 · December 24, 2020

    This blow-by blow account was unsettling. I’m so glad you seem to have made it through to the other side. Enjoy your Christmas – I’m sure you’ll be taking it easy.

    • MELewis · December 24, 2020

      When I first got symptoms, I looked for other accounts of ‘mild’ cases but found little online. So if my experience helps anyone else get through it, I will have contributed in some small way. A merry little Christmas to you, too, Margaret!

  5. M. L. Kappa · December 24, 2020

    So freaky. I almost lost two friends to it, they were put on ventilators and artificial coma and for a week it was touch and go. Still, I’m glad you’re over it. Happy Christmas!

    • MELewis · December 24, 2020

      Sorry your friends had it so bad but glad they came through. We were lucky indeed! A very merry Christmas to you!

      • M. L. Kappa · December 25, 2020

        You too! Get better soon!

  6. Dale · December 24, 2020

    While I am very sorry you had it, I do thank you for sharing what you went through. My sister and nieces had it as well in varying degrees. No matter how mild or severe the symptoms, it must be taken seriously. Glad you are on the road to recovery!
    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    • MELewis · December 24, 2020

      Thanks Dale! You’re right — it’s to be taken seriously no matter what the symptoms. Hope you stay well and enjoy a lovely Christmas!

      • Dale · December 24, 2020

        Thank you. xoxo

  7. chezperrier · December 24, 2020

    What an awful experience but thank goodness you came out of it and are doing well now. Stay safe and have healthy, happy holidays!

    • MELewis · December 24, 2020

      Thanks so much — wishing you the same!

  8. Becky Ross Michael · December 24, 2020

    Oh, my…I’m certainly happy you and your husband came out the other side of this horrible virus!

    • MELewis · December 26, 2020

      Thanks! Hope your Christmas was merry and all the best for the new year!

  9. acflory · December 24, 2020

    Ugh, I couldn’t ‘Like’ this one, Mel. I’m so sorry your husband brought it home to you but very glad you had such ‘mild’ symptoms, and no long haul problems. Some of my younger, gamer friends who’ve had covid tell me they still have symptoms months after the initial infection. So, you’ve been lucky. And your husband is lucky too. He could have killed you both. 😦
    The one good thing is that you are both now immune [knock on wood]. Please take your recovery gently so you get no residual after effects. -hugs-

    • MELewis · December 26, 2020

      I’ve rarely seen my husband so happy to see me nagging him again, so I think he’s aware that we got lucky! Definitely his younger age and superior fitness level held him in good stead as he got over it quicker. I’m still struggling with a few symptoms but hopefully they’ll be gone soon — I can sympathize with the frustration of feeling the effects of the virus months on. It is indeed ‘sticky’. 😣 Touch wood indeed for some immunity — I would not want to go through this again! Thanks for your wishes and all the best for a healthy end of the year.

      • acflory · December 26, 2020

        -grin- a silver lining! lol Just…be kind to your body now until every last bit of the virus is gone. -hugs-

  10. George Lewis · December 24, 2020

    Glad to hear you are feeling better. Your account is very interesting. There should be more info on so called mild cases. Maybe it would make some of the deniers smarten up. Any info on Elliott and Anne?

    • MELewis · December 26, 2020

      Thanks Dad. Elliott and Anne seem to be over it. We’ll give you a call soon!

  11. Catherine Berry · December 24, 2020

    Not easy for you but thank you for the details. I do think sharing experiences helps. More importantly, I am glad that you are both better and hope that you can find joy this Christmas.

    • MELewis · December 26, 2020

      Thanks, Madame! Sharing my story here and getting the support of my online community is a huge boost for me, so good to know it also helps others. Hope your Christmas was merry and all the best for healthy 2021!

  12. nessafrance · December 24, 2020

    Oh no. I’m so sorry to hear you got it and hope you’ll soon be 100% again. Take it easy over Christmas. We also had a brush with Covid this autumn, when we saw two people, one of whom was infected. Long story short: my husband got it mildly a few days later but recovered quickly. I didn’t get it at all and tested negative twice ( so I had to have that damned swab up my nose on two occasions). I find it hard to believe I’m immune and normally go down with anything that’s going, so it was surprising. Needless to say, we are now ultra careful despite both possibly having antibodies. What a scourge this is. Anyway, I hope you can enjoy Christmas now and focus on getting well. Joyeux Noël.

    • MELewis · December 26, 2020

      Thanks for your wishes! How very strange that your husband got it but not you: same thing happened with our next-door neighbours. It’s a funny old virus, and I do hope that you’ve somehow got immunity. Kudos on being able to withstand the swab! It seems my antibody test came back negative so I’m going for another one; it seems it takes quite some time for the immunity to show and then it doesn’t last long. Hope you enjoyed a quiet Christmas and finish out the year in good health!

      • nessafrance · December 26, 2020

        Good luck with the new test. Our Christmas was, predictably, quiet, but we don’t mind that this year. Bonne fin d’année!

  13. Susanne · December 25, 2020

    Thanks for documenting your experience, MEL, and good to know you and your husband are through the worst. The test sounds awful! Hoping as new testing protocol is available soon. Take care and merry Christmas to you both!

    • MELewis · December 26, 2020

      I’m pretty sure other countries have introduced an easier self-swabbing protocol. Hopefully you won’t need it! Merry Christmas and all the best for a healthy new year!

  14. Colin Bisset · December 26, 2020

    Sorry to hear that but glad you both came through it okay. Thanks for the day-by-day account – I find them oddly interesting! I’ve had only one swab but it was beautifully and painlessly done by a Japanese nurse… Hope your returning health continues. I think Swiss fresh air must help…

    • MELewis · December 26, 2020

      I agree — the pure air around here is definitely good for the lungs. However it is extremely dry, which is hard on the nasal passages. Getting better bit by bit. Patience is definitely in order with this thing. A bit of Australian sun would go down a treat right now!

  15. CompassAndCamera · December 27, 2020

    So happy to hear you have both recovered. Cheers to a better year ahead!

  16. Katherine Wikoff · December 27, 2020

    So sorry this happened to you, Mel, but I’m glad you’ve had a “mild” case. Hope you continue to feel better and can greet 2021 in great health again!

  17. Joanne Sisco · December 27, 2020

    Glad to hear that both of you have recovered and are not the worse for it. Thanks for documenting your experience. This is such on odd virus and its affect on people is so varied. The lucky ones get a mild case, but even then it isn’t a cake-walk.

    Best wishes for 2021. We can only hope for better times in the months ahead.

  18. MK Graetz · December 28, 2020

    Thanks so much for sharing the details – the blow-by-blow is so helpful. We’ve been lucky so far, but it feels inevitable that someone in my family will get it. I have a cousin-in-law who has been a deny-er, calling it the “scamdemic”. We just heard today that he and his wife have it! I hope they have serious-enough symptoms that they will stop calling this “just a cold” – yeesh! Best wishes on your recovery.

  19. eyelean · January 2, 2021

    Yikes! Glad to hear you got over it but sorry you had to deal with it all the same!
    I was pretty sick last March and so sort of hoping it had been covid… finally got the blood test a few weeks ago which came back negative. Still don’t know what I actually had as my doctor wasn’t supposed to do strep tests in order to avoid her potentially getting covid through doing them.

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