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Postcards from Overseas – Issue 3

Former Nexus Editor Lyam, current international traveller, and COVID survivee. Lyam shares his story that magnifies the power of ours. 


“Your coronavirus test result is positive. It means you had the virus when the test was done. Try not to worry. You can often ease symptoms at home until you recover.” – Try not to worry, a lovely sentiment from the NHS. 


Before I really crack into it I’ve got to make the point that COVID affects everyone differently. I’ve had mates who’ve breezed through it, known young bucks who’ve ended up in hospital, and known people who couldn’t beat it. It’s not a pisstake – there’s no doubt I’m lucky to have gotten off lightly. 


On the 20th of October – didn’t feel too flash. 


Bit of a runny nose, nothing major, just brushed it off as my weak kiwi blood adjusting to the incoming UK winter; however, with everyone on edge about even the slightest illness I gave the flat a quick heads up. Everyone was mellow, a touch weary, but remained convinced it was nothing a slab of vitamin c and a hefty nap couldn’t fix. 


On the 21st of October – running was rough. 


Other than the gym there’s really been fuck all else open, if anything it’s just a decent reason to leave the house. With the reassurance of my flatmates that “there’s no way” I could’ve caught ol’ rona I popped on down in an attempt to sweat out the congestion. Everything was more or less pretty standard, but after maxing out at 3km on a routine 5km I was a little sketch. 


On the 22nd of October – fell asleep on a conference call. 


It’s not as if they’re meant to be thrilling, but finding myself knocked out at 1pm a few minutes into a team meeting probably wasn’t a great sign. The ability to concentrate was long gone, cold and flu tablets were getting popped a little too often, and the dull panic was starting to set in. 


On the 23rd of October – got tested. 


I told my flatmates it was just to be safe, I’d rather just have the reassurance that I was being a bitch instead of being hyper aware of every surface I touched. With a swab scraping my tonsils, and pounding the back of my nasal canal, I kicked off Friday morning how I always dreamed. 


On the 24th of October – positive vibes 🤪😷🥵


Fuck me. 


At this point it was all still fairly mellow, I was banished to my room, my gracious flatmates delivered sustenance to my door, and I sat on the windowsill of the second story in an attempt to safely converse with everyone while they cracked on with weekly sesh antics. By the next morning everyone else had shot down to get tested, another came back positive, 3 luckily negative – this locked us down in full scale quarantine for 14 days so in order to maintain some normality we popped masks on whenever we weren’t room bound, took the kitchen in shifts, and doused every surface in an unholy amount of disinfectant. A standard state of affairs when you ignore the brain fog, feeling like you’ve run a marathon by walking across the room, and the constant reminder of the permanent lung scarring currently in progress. 


I’d like to continue this narrative as if it didn’t stress me out, and that everything was easy breezy; however, in reality I was lowkey shitting it based purely on the potential of long term implications. For the 14 days we were in complete quarantine I threw myself into work at high speeds hoping that 70-80 hour weeks would keep me occupied. Every evening attempting desperate home workouts to try compensate for my sedentary confinement, lips turning purple, laying drenched on musty carpet, gasping like a pasty goldfish. It’d be an understatement to call it a slight life crisis, no doubt it was truly a high point of my early 20’s. 


The daily routine consisted of huffing sketchy oxygen tanks off amazon, drinking about 40 litres of green tea, praying to our gracious overlord Boris Johnson, discussing the ungodly amount of sweat we produced, and seriously debating whether or not we should start shooting up vitamin d. A lifestyle I now look back on fondly. 


In all honesty by the end of day 14 there’s a very high chance we would’ve still tested positive, but government restrictions stated we were sweet to reintegrate with the locals in Tesco’s so like fuck were we staying inside. Is there a high chance we spread COVID to the local suburban mums? Probably. Is there also a high chance we originally caught it from some anti-masking suburban cunts? Probably. 


It’s a bit of a shit yarn when it comes down to it, in a sense I just had a hearty flu and couldn’t piss about outside for a wee while. In saying that, there’s absolutely no fucking way I’m not gonna milk it. 


Beyond this 2 week stint there’s no doubt it’s been anything close to smooth sailing. From March 2020 we hit lockdown for 4 months, some form of restrictions from then right through the UK/EU summer, popped back into another lockdown in early December, got released for a couple of days around Christmas, then by boxing day got slammed straight into full blown lockdown and we’re still waiting to hear when it’ll actually end. Pubs have been boarded up since at least September, we’ve broken the law everytime someone not on the tenancy agreement enters the house for about a year, new years breezed by as a 4 person kitchen bound blur, and the most excitement we’ve had in far too long is watching the weekly government announcement stating whether or not we’ll ever have normality again. Dreamy scenes really. 


I know you’re all sick of hearing how lucky you are, but for fucks sake it’s bonkers. I’ve had my eye on the MIQ availability since early December and am still yet to have any dates available to scuttle home, at this point I might as well stick it out, hopefully the first proper week we’re actually allowed out will be hectic enough to compensate for the last year – chances are slim, but the idea of being within 2 meters of someone I don’t already live with sounds completely out the gate at this point. 


Take it for granted if you want, but at least go spit in someone’s mouth purely to flex on the expats who’ve been stuck in isolation for so long that it’s hard to imagine life without it.