My experience with COVID-19 – the symptoms, the fear and the aftermath

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What strange times we are living in. I truly hope you and your families are all well and safe. I’m sending hugs to everyone who is struggling at this difficult time – whether will illness, finances or the emotional toll this is taking on all of us.

 

I’m writing this blog post to share my own experience of COVID and how it’s affected me physically and mentally. I’ve had suspected COVID-19 and complications since March 13th – 74 days and counting. It’s been one of the scariest, most frightening times, and it’s still dragging on. For people who think “it’s just the flu”, I am telling you now, I’ve had flu, I’ve even had walking pneumonia and I have never experienced anything like this.

As many of you know, I have lupus. This means it isn’t unusual for me to take time out of writing. I can be gone for months at a time whilst dealing with a flare-up, or a particularly busy time with work and my mother (who has terminal cancer). But usually, in the background, I’m still hammering away writing. Since March 13th I haven’t been able to do anything. COVID hit me hard and I’m still experiencing symptoms 74 days in.

The first week I got sick I had a temperature, a bit of a cough and a tight, sore chest. For 7 days I foolishly believed that it wasn’t so bad. That I could manage it like I do my lupus – with rest, painkillers and fluid. By the second week I was struggling to breathe. On the Thursday of the second week I was gasping for breath so much, my husband had to call an ambulance. The sheer terror of not being able to get air into my lungs and having a paramedic dressed in full protective suit (complete with respirator) was one of the scariest things I’ve ever been through. Although my oxygen levels were good, because of the underlying lupus they recommended I go to hospital. However, I refused. There is no guarantee I would have been tested and without the need for oxygen at that point, I was at more risk of infection if I went to the hospital. After all, although everyone was pretty certain I had COVID, what if I didn’t? I chose to stay at home and continue with antibiotics, painkillers. I also had a very irrational fear – what if I was taken to hospital alone and never came out?

I just want to say a big thank you to the Yorkshire Ambulance Service here. They arrived quickly, we’re amazing and stayed for a few hours to make sure I was okay. I cannot thank them enough for their assistance at such a scary time for me and my husband. They were brilliant. And immensely reassuring.

I won’t bore you with the mundane details, but some of the symptoms I was having over the following weeks including extreme fatigue (and this from someone who deals with fatigue on a daily basis), shortness of breath which meant I could barely walk a few steps without panting, a chest so tight it felt like my lungs were being constricted, vomiting and upset tummy. At one point in the last few weeks I even had conjunctivitis.

74 days in and I am still getting some of those symptoms. Yes, my temperature is down. Yes, I’m not coughing as much. The breathing, however, can still be horrific on some days. And the tiredness is off the charts. If I try and do too much, I’m back on the couch, symptoms reoccurring with a vengeance. This is 74 days in. That’s not taking into account the total paralysing fear that comes with having shortness of breath flare up – is it coming back? Am I reinfected? How bad is it going to be? Is this the time I’m going to have to go to hospital and risk being put on a ventilator? With no guarantees of immunity, I’m living in daily fear of a killer I cannot see.

In the grand scheme of things, I am lucky. So, so lucky. I’ve not been in hospital, I’ve not been in an intensive care unit, but the aftermath of dealing with the disease is debilitating. I’m still not working my day job as I can’t manage more than an hour or so at my computer. I need to sleep lots and physical activity is very limited.

My husband has been amazing. He’s supported me every step of the way. He lifts me up on days I’m sobbing and don’t feel I can stand another episode of breathlessness. He goes out to the supermarket to get food and prescriptions, risking his own health so I have food and medicine. He’s taken over all the household duties, despite still working from home. He is truly my rock. I can’t thank him enough or tell him how amazing he really is. He is my ultimate romance hero.

The other thing this disease has robbed me of is visiting my sick mother. She lives miles away and since lockdown has been in place, she’s been extremely ill. And I’ve been unable to travel down and be with her as I would be risking her and myself. The guilt is almost as crippling as the symptoms of COVID. My Mom is my best friend. Not being able to hold her, hug her when she’s crying or in pain, is one of the worst things imaginable.

Relatively speaking, I am so much better than I was at week 4 or even week 8. It’s been a tough ride. There have been setbacks. There are going to continue to be setbacks if you the reports about people recovering from COVID. It’s comforting to know it’s not just me.

One thing this journey has made me realise is the life I was living before lockdown wasn’t serving me. I was super stressed out about the smallest thing. Day job stress was through the roof. I was bouncing from one thing to another – home, work, my sick mother, hospital appointments for me, always doing, doing, doing. Yet all the time resenting myself because I wasn’t taking care of myself or my mental health. I wasn’t taking small, productive steps towards the life I want for myself – becoming a full time writer. And all of that was leading to resentment.

During lockdown I’ve reorganised some of my priorities. Sure, I have days when all the fear and doubt and resentment comes back into play, but I know what I want now. I know how I want to feel in life.

Joyful. Creative. Calm. Resilient. Optimistic.

My priorities are my health, my husband and family, my creativity.

With these in mind, I’ve completely re-thought how I structure my days. Obviously this will change once I am back at the day job, but that’s where resilience comes in. Go with the flow. Don’t sweat the smaller stuff. It doesn’t matter what people of think of me (having a chronic illness makes me over achieve, over perform, so people don’t think I’m lazy), it only matters how I feel about myself.

The past three weeks have seen me take a completely new outlook on writing. Even thought I’m still sick, I’ve managed through small steps to finish editing two books of a trilogy I’ve had written for a while, and create a whole marketing plan for those books. I’m now on to editing the 3rd book and every single day I feel joyful to get to work. To be creative. I’m even finding joy in doing the things I used to hate like writing blurbs, creating teasers images and revamping my website.

One thing I am grateful to COVID for – giving me back my passion and joy for creativity.Untitled design (4)

There is a long road ahead in which there will be illness and grief, but there is also light and laughter and joyfulness. There is hope.

Take care and stay safe,

Scarlett

Writer Wednesday – writing year review for 2019

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For the last #WriterWednesday of 2019 I thought I’d do a post on my writing year in review. It’s been a rocky one – ups and downs galore – but I’m happy to admit I’m ending 2019 on a writing high 🙂
So, let’s start with January.

In January I decided to get my sh*t together and create a plan (okay, so the plan didn’t come together until the end of January, but hey, it was still January!). I love watching YouTube videos from the author, Sarra Cannon. She has a craft channel called Heart Breathings. She is such a breath of fresh air with videos on the craft and the realistic life/goals of a writer. I love her because she is so generous to her fans – always creating work books for free – and not being constantly all about the hustle, hustle, hustle. She is real and talks about the real struggles of writing when you have other commitments – a job, family, school, chronic health issues.

She has a system called HB90. You plan your writing goals for 90 days at a time and be laser focused for those 3 months.

I could do this. It would give me structure and 90 days was a good period of time.

So I planned. I planned my 3 monthly goals.

  1. Increase sales and engagement
  2. Finish and release the first book in the Knights of Hell MC trilogy
  3. Plot and write first 3 chapters of a Mills & Boon Dare submission

Easy. Sustainable.

Err…not. I failed. Oh, for the first month I wrote, I promoted and then I got lazy. Life happened. I got sick. Mom got sicker. Work got crazy. Life got in the way and I didn’t make writing a priority. It came way down my list of commitments.

Lets skip to June. I did some editing and started that Mills & Boon story while I was soaking up the sun in Santorini with Mister Scarlett (who wouldn’t want to write in such a beautiful setting?!), but it never got past 1,000 words.

santorini

Fast forward to August. I’m writing here and there. Book 1 in the Knights of Hell MC trilogy, Sinful, is complete (first draft only though). I made the decision not to release it until the other two were finished. I did add some words here and there, but nothing substantial. All the while the sales on my old titles have dwindled to nothing.

In September, I release an old story with Totally Bound.

By the time November rolls around I’m determined to get my ass in gear and do NaNoWriMo. As I explained in my other post, due to numerous things, I couldn’t commit to 50000 words. It just seemed too…insurmountable. So I made my own goal – 30000. 1000 words per day. Again, I charted my progression in another post (but I’m happy to say I hit it!).

One thing NaNo did for me was create a manageable, sustainable goal. I had to commit to just 30-45 minutes per day to getting the words down. That’s it. Just 30 minutes.

And you know what? It worked! By the end of NaNo, I had 36000 words. I’m happy to say as of Saturday just gone, I completed the first draft of the Mills & Boon submission I’ve been wanting to write for so long. Whoop, whoop.

Compared to this time last year, I feel in such a good place. I’m not doing 1000 words per day now, but I’m aiming for 750 a day. Mister Scarlett asked me how I was going to be accountable to myself now that NaNo is over and that’s a good question. After all, it’s easy to slip back into old habits. I’m a known slipper. Always have been. There is always something else I can find to do – binge Netflix, read, scroll through Instagram, watch YouTube videos, nap.

So for the end of the year and first few months of 2020 I have a manageable, sustainable (you seeing a theme with the buzzwords here?) plan.

From now until 31st December – I’m working on an erotic Christmas romance that I started in 2018. 750 per day, and I want to try and hit 10000 words by the end of the month. That’s with taking the holidays off. I started on Monday and I’m already 4063 words in.

word count tracker

January 2020 – I’m going to finish the Knights of Hell MC trilogy. 750 words per day. 20000 word target.

February – editing the Mills & Boon submission, working on the synopsis and putting together a trilogy proposal.

See? A plan. Manageable. Sustainable.

One of the things I have found in 2019 is the joy of writing again. It sounds like a cliche, but I lost that for so long.

Some days it’s still hard, but there are the days when it flows and the words fly onto the page, and there is such a joyous feeling inside me when that happens that I can’t explain it to people. The consistency helps the words fly. If there is one thing I’ve learnt over the past year it’s consistency is the key to the words. The more I do it, the easier it gets (not always, but mostly). The writing has also been helping me, mentally, deal with a lot of stuff. It’s an outlet. A sorely needed one.

As 2019 draws to a close, there have been ups and downs, I haven’t published anything new, but I have lots of things coming together. The best thing about 2019 is I’ve rediscovered why I write. I’ve rediscovered the joy and that makes 2019 worth it!

I hope your 2019 has been everything you imagined. Let me know if you have any plans for 2020. I’d love to hear them!

 

Writing, WIP, libraries and EXCLUSIVE excerpt from Sinful

Greetings, everyone!

I realise it’s been another long period of time between posts. I promise to ‘try’ and get better at writing more regular posts.

It’s been another busy few months! I’ve been really ill a few times, but the latest bout of sickness really knocked me off my feet. I had a terrible chest infection and was on pneumonia watch for a while. That slowed my writing/editing down considerably. Boo.

It does mean I’ve been reading a lot though. I’m more than half way through my 2019 reading challenge on Good Reads.

reading challenge

I’ve become addicted to Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series. Can’t get enough of it! I’m trying to pace myself with them so I don’t binge read them too quickly.

A new author discovery for me is T.M. Frazier. Just read the first 2 books in the King series and oh, my…*fans self* Love her characters. So dark and raw. Yum.

There has also been lots of stuff going on with the house. We are finally getting the garden landscaped. More on that in another post, and about our experiments with the perfect pizza dough! The most exciting thing, after a year of being in the house, we finally got the library shelving fitted. I have a library!

book shelving

A comfy snuggle chair is arriving tomorrow, and then I’ll have the perfect reading room. I’ve always dreamed of having a library/reading room. I’m so lucky to be able to have one thanks to the wonderful Mister Scarlett. Although he may lose me to the room…haha

Publishing wise, I’m still working on editing the first book in the Knights of Hell MC trilogy. As I said at the beginning of the post, after a great January, February/March has been a really slow starter.

However, here is a sneak peek excerpt to keep you going. I’m definitely going to have the first book, Sinful, finished before Spring is through.

She climbed her porch steps and fumbled with her keys. She unlocked the door, stepped over the threshold and turned for the medical kit.

He put it beside her on the floor and idled against the frame. He leaned towards her, filling her personal space. Crowding her. She could step back, away from his masculine presence, but she didn’t want to. She was completely enraptured by him.

“So, Grace, how did you know that Jay needed help? It’s well after midnight. Shouldn’t good girls like you be in bed dreaming of pretty princes?”

She bristled at his patronizing tone. “I was getting a glass of water and saw you come back. I saw the blood in the light and came to see if I could help. It’s what I’m trained to do.”

Not a complete lie, but not the whole truth either. He didn’t need to know she’d been spying and drooling.

“So you haven’t been sitting up in your window seat for the past four weeks watching us?” His amber eyes blazed with heat.

Busted.

Heat rushed to her cheeks. “I beg your pardon?”

He reached up and flicked a strand of her hair. “At first I wondered, new tenant in the neighborhood. A woman who likes to spy. Maybe a threat. Maybe sent by the authorities. But now I understand.”

His soft, baritone voice lulled her. She watched his sensual lips move. Zeke was dangerous. Extremely dangerous. She knew that, yet she couldn’t move back. Moth and flame came to mind, and she was going to get singed.

“What do you understand?” Her voice sounded huskier than she wanted it to be.

Her breasts swelled and tingled inside the confines of her bra. She yearned to reach out and run her palm across his bearded jaw. Feel the wiry hair abrade her skin.

“I understand you aren’t a threat. You’re a voyeur. You like to watch don’t you, Grace? When you came into the kitchen, I wasn’t sure which one of us you wanted to fuck. Rafe and Gabe are real pretty. You wouldn’t have to choose between them—they’d do you together if that’s your thing. But it’s not them, is it?” He didn’t wait for her to answer. “It’s me you want to fuck.”

She inhaled, started to protest even as her body screamed yes.

He stopped her with a finger pressed to her lips. “Ssshhh. No need to lie to me.” He rubbed the pad of his thumb across her lower lip. “If I kissed you now, I’d have you naked and under me within five minutes. I’d probably be the fuck of your life. I like sex. I like beautiful women.” He waited a beat, rubbed her lip some more. “But there is one problem.”

“What’s that?” Her mind was still trying to process the image of him, naked and hot. She had no doubt he’d be an excellent lover.

He pushed the tip of thumb gently inside her mouth. “I don’t fuck good girls.” He cupped her cheek. “I’m not a good man, Grace. I’m bad and dangerous and damaged. You may think you want me, but you don’t. Now go back to bed, get out your conventional vibrator and bring yourself off thinking about me. And then forget I exist. I’m not for you.”

He brushed his lips across her cheek in a tender, brief kiss that ignited her senses. And then he was gone. He’d set her body on fire, and then destroyed her with his words.

Arrogant, conceited asshole.

Anger bubbled in her gut. Where did he get off presuming to know her?

She called after him. “Zeke?” When he stopped and looked over his shoulder, she continued. “I’m not a good girl.”

She flipped him the bird then slammed the door. Good riddance to the misogynistic asshole.

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Over the next month you can find me taking part in The Romance Reviews anniversary party. Head on over for a chance to win tons of prizes until March 31st.

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That’s all for now.

Until next time, take care.

Scarlett