Wendy Gallagher is an account director at a Newcastle-based creative agency. She lives in North Shields with her three children, Max, aged 13 and twins Mia and Berry aged 11.
She was first struck down with Covid on her birthday in late October last year along with two of her children. Fearing she had Long Covid she visited the GP before Christmas who told her she had muscular damage across her chest which was causing acute pain.
Wendy then contracted the virus again in early January after meeting a friend for a couple of quiet drinks in Newcastle city centre. Here she tells us her story.
“I have been so careful during the pandemic that when I first saw the positive result, I couldn’t believe it! I wear masks, my children all wear masks, we test twice weekly, we don’t really go out, I even disinfect the shopping - I honestly couldn’t have been more shocked. And then to get it twice… it’s quite unbelievable.
“The first time I got Covid was on my birthday in late October 2021. It started as a tickly cough, it didn’t feel like a normal chest infection so I took a test and it was positive - and two of my children also tested positive.
“I deteriorated quite rapidly - the cough became unbearable. I was wretching because I was coughing so much. I lost my voice, I couldn’t take a full breath. The only thing I can liken that symptom to is being pregnant with my twins - I could never quite catch my breath or feel like I could take a deep breath.
“It was really scary to have Covid and to have to take care of three children single handedly when some days I couldn’t move from the sofa or get out of bed. Thankfully they weren’t as bad as me and just seemed to be tired and a bit grey around the gills.
“My friends and family were amazing during our isolation, leaving care packs on the doorstep for me, checking in with me regularly on the phone or by text, they really did help lift my spirits.
“When I got back to work, walking up the stairs was such a struggle. I was so out of breath when I reached the top but also had shooting pains right across my chest. I was so terrified, I visited the GP. She said it was muscular damage from all of the coughing and gave me some anti-inflammatories and after a few days, I started to feel better which was a huge relief.
“I also lost my taste and smell which still hasn’t really returned, I am forever burning toast and it’s awful not being able to taste properly.
“I don’t really like working from home so I was working in the office in January but not many team members were in so it felt safe and as mentioned, I am so vigilant when it comes to mask wearing, disinfecting and so on that I thought it would be fine.
“Because I was working in Newcastle, I ended up meeting with an old friend for a drink. We went to two central bars which were really quiet so again, I felt safe and the fact I had only had Covid a couple of months before gave me a little bit of comfort - surely I couldn’t get it again so quickly?
“A few days later, I started to get a tickle in my throat again. I was negative on my lateral flow but because something just didn’t feel right, I decided to go for a PCR. It was positive. After a couple of months - and a spontaneous couple of drinks - I had it again!
“This time around, however, it was much less severe and the kids didn’t catch it which was amazing. The tickle in my throat didn’t develop into a cough which I was so thankful for not having the same chest pains as last time.
“I believe we should all get vaccinated to not only help ourselves but help others too. I am terrified of needles so if I can continue to be vaccinated, others can too.
“Me and my family will continue to wear masks and test regularly, it’s a habit now and it’s the responsible thing to do. I would be mortified if I passed Covid onto someone else - better to be safe than sorry.”