SUNDAY POST – CHRISTMAS WITH LONG COVID

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This is an update on how I’m doing while coping with Long Covid now it’s been 10 months since I first got ill, which I’m adding to my Sunday Post blog, hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Review.

Like everyone else, my runup to Christmas was full of chores that don’t normally occur, despite my best intentions to dial it right back and make it a much quieter affair. In the event, Christmas Day was lovely, as my sister came over to spend it with us, while Himself cooked a wonderful meal. I’d been able to help by gathering sage from the garden for the stuffing and roll vegan bacon slices around prunes, replacing the stones with almonds. My sister brought along a chicken breast and Himself cooked a nut roast for us. While it wasn’t as nice as the one I usually prepare using fresh chestnuts, the meal was still delicious. And we then collapsed in front of the TV, too full to move. But I woke up the following morning exhausted once more and it took several days to recover – by which time we’d both gone down with a cold. Or maybe it was Omicron. Despite the fact that the lateral flow tests all were negative, given that my daughter and young granddaughter got sick with covid over the Christmas holidays, it had to be a possibility even though they’d stood at the door and not come into the house when we saw them the one time during the Christmas period. Fortunately they recovered without any ill effects, which was a huge relief.

To be safe, I cancelled my reflexology appointment and we stayed in. Until the glorious morning two days into the New Year when I woke up feeling much, much better – and no longer smelling horrible. Since I got sick in March, I’ve been aware that I smell bad – a musty sick smell that I hate. And for two whole days it disappeared. In addition I had much more energy – that wasn’t new, but the absence of that horrible smell was. So… perhaps I’d had Omicron after all, I thought – and like a number of other people, maybe contracting another version of covid actually cured my Long Covid! I felt fantastic – but decided to take it easy… not push myself too much. So I did a couple of two-minute exercise sessions, spent some time working on the timeline for my Castellan stories and actually cleaned the bathroom for the first time in ages. Hm. Turns out I wasn’t cured and had only succeeded in flattening myself allll over again.

Initially, I felt stupid for thinking it would be that easy. Why would I magically get a free pass and be able to skip the tricky slow recovery bit, when I hadn’t been cured by having the booster jab? But looking back, I’ve decided that it wasn’t stupidity – it was hope. And if I lose that, then I really am sunk. So no more beating myself up for wishing I was better, and accept that it isn’t going to work that way. Now I’m back to working on improving my sleep patterns, filling in my activity journal, enforcing my pacing routine, including regular meditations. And trying to hang onto my patience, as I now inconveniently have enough emotional energy to get very frustrated and fed up with the situation – unlike earlier on when I was too tired to care. And also celebrate the bright lights that shine in the gloom, like Himself’s constant caring presence. While he had to work right up to Christmas Eve, he’s been off work now since New Year’s Eve on annual leave, which I’m very grateful for. And our eldest grandson came to stay from Wednesday to Friday this week – which was a huge treat. He’s loving college and it’s a joy to see him blossom in an environment where he’s surrounded by other creative people who understand his enthusiasms. I’d like to send a huge shoutout to the lecturers and teachers out there doing a stellar job in increasingly difficult circumstances – thank you!

A very Happy 2022 to you all. Let’s hope that it is a MUCH better year than the previous two have been.

Since the start of the year I’ve read:-
The Stranger Times – Book 1 of The Stranger Times series by C.K. McDonnell
There are Dark Forces at work in our world (and in Manchester in particular) and so thank God The Stranger Times is on hand to report them. A weekly newspaper dedicated to the weird and the wonderful (but more often the weird) of modern life, it is the go-to publication for the unexplained and inexplicable . . . At least that’s their pitch. The reality is rather less auspicious. Their editor is a drunken, foul-tempered and -mouthed husk of a man who thinks little (and believes less) of the publication he edits, while his staff are a ragtag group of wastrels and misfits, each with their own secrets to hide and axes to grind. And as for the assistant editor . . . well, that job is a revolving door – and it has just revolved to reveal Hannah Willis, who’s got her own set of problems.

It’s when tragedy strikes in Hannah’s first week on the job that The Stranger Times is forced to do some serious, proper, actual investigative journalism. What they discover leads them to a shocking realisation: that some of the stories they’d previously dismissed as nonsense are in fact terrifyingly, gruesomely real. Soon they come face-to-face with darker foes than they could ever have imagined. It’s one thing reporting on the unexplained and paranormal but it’s quite another being dragged into the battle between the forces of Good and Evil .
Thoroughly enjoyable reading experience. I laughed aloud throughout this one. McDonnell manages to make his highly eccentric bunch of characters both sympathetic and engaging, while keeping their oddness – which isn’t all that easy to do. The pages turned themselves and it was a wonderful New Year’s treat to start 2022 by reading this offering – I look forward to reading more books from this series in due course. 10/10

A Familiar Sight – Book 1 of the Dr Gretchen White series by Brianna Labuskes

When a high-profile new case lands on Shaughnessy’s desk, it seems open and shut. Remorseless teenager Viola Kent is accused of killing her mother. Amid stories of childhood horrors and Viola’s cruel manipulations, the bad seed has already been found guilty by a rapt public. But Gretchen might be seeing something in Viola no one else does: herself. If Viola is a scapegoat, then who really did it? And what are they hiding? To find the truth, Gretchen must enter a void that is not only dark and cold-blooded, but also frighteningly familiar.
This contemporary murder mystery is a compelling read, made more so by the clever use of a fractured timeline which jumps between the lives of the victims and the investigation. It could have quickly turned into a hot mess, but the deftness of the writing and the strong characterisation instead made this one hard to put down. Highly recommended. 9/10

Spirits and Smoke – Book 2 of the Maddie Pastore series by Mary Miley
December, 1924. Young widow Maddie Pastore feels fortunate to be employed by the well-meaning but fraudulent medium Carlotta Romany. Investigating Carlotta’s clients isn’t work she’s proud of, but she’s proud of how well she does it. Maddie’s talents, however, draw them unwelcome attention: sharp-eyed Officer O’Rourke from the Chicago Police. He doesn’t believe in spiritualism – but in a city packed with mobsters, con artists and criminals, he’ll take any help he can get.

It’s not long before Maddie has a case to bring him. Why did teetotal banker Herman Quillen die of alcohol poisoning? And who is the gold-toothed man claiming to be his brother, and demanding the spirits reveal where Herman hid his money? All Maddie wants is to uncover the truth – but to her horror, she’s soon mixed up in a tangled web of secrets and deception that leads to the heart of Chicago’s violent gangs . . . and she’ll need all her wits about her if she, and her loved ones, are going to make it out again alive.
This historical murder mystery, set in 1920s Chicago, leaps off the page with a strong, sympathetic protagonist and the vivid depiction of the Prohibition era. I enjoyed the first book, The Mystic’s Apprentice, and loved this one. Review to follow.

Blood Trade – Book 6 of the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter
The Master of Natchez, Mississippi has a nasty problem on his hands. Rogue vampires—those who follow the Naturaleza and believe that humans should be nothing more than prey to be hunted—are terrorizing his city. Luckily, he knows the perfect skinwalker to call in to take back the streets.

But what he doesn’t tell Jane is that there’s something different about these vamps. Something that makes them harder to kill—even for a pro like Jane. Now, her simple job has turned into a fight to stay alive…and to protect the desperately ill child left in her care.
Once again, the sheer quality of the writing shines through as Jane continues her dark journey in the employ of Leo, the Master of the City of New Orleans. While it’s violent and often blood-soaked, I never find the details gratuitious – and there are often amusing interludes as Jane also has a snarky mouth and isn’t afraid to use it. This is a classy series that stand above the rest, and highly recommended. 9/10

AUDIOBOOK – Cytonic – Book 3 of the Skyward series by Brandon Sanderson
Spensa’s life as a Defiant Defense Force pilot has been far from ordinary. She proved herself one of the best starfighters in the human enclave of Detritus and she saved her people from extermination at the hands of the Krell—the enigmatic alien species that has been holding them captive for decades. What’s more, she traveled light-years from home as an undercover spy to infiltrate the Superiority, where she learned of the galaxy beyond her small, desolate planet home. Now, the Superiority—the governing galactic alliance bent on dominating all human life—has started a galaxy-wide war. And Spensa’s seen the weapons they plan to use to end it: the Delvers. Ancient, mysterious alien forces that can wipe out entire planetary systems in an instant. Spensa knows that no matter how many pilots the DDF has, there is no defeating this predator.

Except that Spensa is Cytonic. She faced down a Delver and saw something eerily familiar about it. And maybe, if she’s able to figure out what she is, she could be more than just another pilot in this unfolding war. She could save the galaxy. The only way she can discover what she really is, though, is to leave behind all she knows and enter the Nowhere. A place from which few ever return. To have courage means facing fear. And this mission is terrifying.
I’m not quite sure why this one didn’t hold me as much as Skyward or Starsight, but there were times when I felt the narrative pace slightly dragged. It was never sufficient for me to decide not to listen to the audiobook any more – but I did feel there was a bit too much repetition regarding Spensa’s feelings and her feisty A.I.’s exploration of its new emotions. That said – I was still fascinated to see where Sanderson was taking this story, as the plot delivered plenty of surprises along the way. 7/10

Bloodfire – Book 1 of the Blood Destiny series by Helen Harper
Mackenzie Smith has always known that she was different. Growing up as the only human in a pack of rural shapeshifters will do that to you, but then couple it with some mean fighting skills and a fiery temper and you end up with a woman that few will dare to cross. However, when the only father figure in her life is brutally murdered, and the dangerous Brethren with their predatory Lord Alpha come to investigate, Mack has to not only ensure the physical safety of her adopted family by hiding her apparent humanity, she also has to seek the blood-soaked vengeance that she craves.

Mack is certainly short-fused. All sorts of things make her angry, some justifiably and some not so much. Do be warned, though, part of her annoyance is expressed in her colourful swearing. I also liked her glorious disregard for rules, which makes entire sense once we realise exactly what is going on. Cornwall is one of my favourite places in the world and while we weren’t overwhelmed with details of the countryside, there was sufficient for me to be able to clearly visualise what is going on. REREAD 8/10

Bloodmagic – Book 2 of the Blood Destiny series by Helen Harper
After escaping the claws of Corrigan, the Lord Alpha of the Brethren, Mack is trying to lead a quiet lonely life in Inverness in rural Scotland, away from anyone who might happen to be a shapeshifter. However, when she lands a job at an old bookstore owned by a mysterious elderly woman who not only has a familiar passion for herbal lore but also seems to know more than she should, Mack ends up caught in a maelstrom between the Ministry of Mages, the Fae and the Brethren.

Now she has to decide between staying hidden and facing the music, as well as confronting her real feelings for the green eyed power of Corrigan himself.
Enjoyable sequel to Bloodfire, taking Mack into more scrapes and adventures while giving us more information about her mysterious origins. A nicely snarky protagonist. Recommended for fans of shape-shifting, paranormal adventures. REREAD 8/10

Bloodrage – Book 3 of the Blood Destiny series by Helen Harper
Mack begins her training at the mages’ academy in the hope that, by complying, the stasis spell will be lifted from her old friend, Mrs. Alcoon. However, once there, she finds herself surrounded by unfriendly adults and petulant teenagers, the majority of whom seem determined to see her fail.

Feeling attacked on all fronts, Mack finds it harder and harder to keep a rein on her temper. Forced to attend anger management classes and deal with the predatory attentions of Corrigan, the Lord Alpha of the shapeshifter world, her emotions start to unravel. But when she comes across a familiar text within the walls of the mages’ library, which might just provide the clues she needs to unlock the secrets of her background and her dragon blood, she realises that her problems are only just beginning…
It’s a while since I read the first two books – so I reread them both, thoroughly enjoying once more immersing myself in the problems stacking up for poor old Mack as she struggles to discover exactly who she is and what she does. I do enjoy how characters from previous books keep popping up, allowing us to get to know them better and the oh-so-slow burn romance that is gradually unfurling throughout the series is being very well handled. Given just how short-fused and grumpy Mack is, I liked how her loyalty and bone-headed refusal to compromise her principles regarding those she takes responsibility for balances up against her less likeable attributes – it works well. My main niggle is that I personally would prefer less swearing – it’s a book I’d like to recommend to younger members of the family, but can’t. 9/10

Sigma Protocol: Jane Poole Genesis – Part 1 by Michael Penmore
Disoriented and alone, Sigma wakes from enforced sleep with questions that need to be answered. Who is she? Where is she? How did she end up in this place? With only a cryptic message from the ship’s AI to guide her, the determined survivor sets out on a race against time to uncover the desperate story of Starship Copernicus and its crew. Sigma Protocol is the fast-paced first episode in the Jane Poole Genesis describing the beginnings of Jane Poole, aka Sigma.

What I hadn’t appreciated was that this is a short story with only 76 pages. So just as I was starting to relax into the narrative – it came to a sudden, abrupt stop. Which was a shame as I was just beginning to bond with poor old Jane and her problems. 7/10

Thank you so much for visiting and commenting. I’m aware that right now, it’s a very one-sided relationship and I don’t know when I’ll be able to fully reciprocate. In the meantime, do take care and try to keep well.

53 responses »

  1. I feel very sorry, that you are still coping with long covid. I got my booster now too and had a very interesting talk with my doctor about that and the entire covid situation. The situation here in Germany is different from yours in the UK, I guess. We have different numbers and rules here are still in place. But to be honest, I am nut sure if they really do make a difference. In about three weeks we will know for sure. Sarah, I wish you all the best. Be patient and keep in mind, you are not alone with this. To a better 2022!

    • Thank you for your kind good wishes, Vi:). Yes, it’s interesting to see just how different countries react to the virus – I’m not a fan of the way our government is dealing with it. It’s all well and good expecting the vaccinations to fight off the infection – but the toll on front-line workers is huge. And I’m glad you’ve managed to get your booster and hope that 2022 is a better year for you, too!

  2. Long Covid just sounds so horrid. I feel so lucky that so far I – and no one close to me – has caught it (though I fear it is only a matter of time with omicron). Here’s hoping that you keep improving, even if it is a slog in between. I really enjoyed A Familiar .sight, more than I thought. It was a highlight read of the end of last year.

    • So glad that no one you know has yet been smitten by Long Covid – it isn’t much fun. And I’m pleased that you also enjoyed A Familiar Sight. Himself had snapped it up when it was on special offer – and it was a treat to discover just how enjoyable it was. Have a great week.

  3. Oh, I am so sorry you are still struggling with Long Covid! I’m glad you got to celebrate the holidays a little, though. Great looking books to read, too.

    Thanks for sharing, and take care!

    • Thank you, Laurel:). Yes… I don’t think I’m going to be getting over this in a hurry, sadly. Still – it was a huge bonus that I was well enough to properly celebrate Christmas Day:). I hope you have a lovely week and there are plenty of enjoyable books to tuck into.

  4. My goodness, girl, you’ve done some big time reading! My Better Half often reads series books, as it seems you are doing this time. I tend to gravitate toward stand-alones unless I fall in love with the characters or something the author does, and if there is a sequel, I’m on board. I hope you have a good week ahead and get lots of reading (and writing!) done.

    • Thank you, Rae:)). Oh yes – reading is my lifeline right now. And I’ve been tucking into several series that I’m enjoying. Though if there is a cool standalone, I’ll hoover that up, too. I hope that you also have a lovely week ahead of you, with plenty of good books as a new year garnish. Take care.x

      • Oh wow! I love the term ‘gently used’ – particularly in relation to books:). It’s the way I tend to leave them once I’ve finished with a book, whereas Himself (a wonderful person in so many ways, but we can’t be perfect…) looks like he’s been cleaning the house with it. And how lovely to have a former student come all that way to see you! What a testament to you as a person and as a teacher…

    • Thank you for your kind good wishes, Anne:)). Yes – my reading has been a wonderful bright spot. Hope your coming week is a warmer one and you, too, have plenty of good books.

  5. Great to hear you had a lovely Christmas, but sorry that you experienced a big slump after having felt better. I can sympathise as I had Chronic Sinusitis for all of November and just as I felt better I got a cold for the Christmas break! Sod’s Law! You continue to be in my prayers and here’s hoping 2022 will be a happier, healthier year for us all. 🙏❤🙂

    • Thank you, Jessica:). And yes – it’s that time of year for starters. In addition, I think that all this social distancing has made our immune systems a bit flabby, so we keep catching things! So sorry to hear about the sinusitis – SUCH a painful thing to cope with… There are YouTube videos to show how you can help your sinuses drain which I found really helpful last time I was smitten.

  6. I am sorry you are still having to deal with the effects of long COVID. I am glad your daughter and granddaughter are feeling better. I am glad you have been feeling up to reading. You got some great sounding books in since the start of the year! Healing is slow going and I do hope you have more good days than bad days.

    • Thank you, Wendy – I think my good and bad days are about 50/50 at the moment. But it wasn’t all that long ago when the bad days outnumbered the good ones, so I’m definitely making progress:).

    • Thank you for your words of encouragement, Becky. And yes – I truly believe that I will finally recover from this. The average timescale is 18 months, so I’m just over halfway through…

  7. A Happy New Year to you as well, Sarah!
    Never give up hope, indeed: the good moments are the indication that the long road might be nearing its end. It will still require time and patience, granted, but those rays of sunshine will become more and more frequent. My best 🙂

    • Thank you for your lovely comments and kind support – I’m very aware that you have been right alongside me throughout this business and I really, really appreciate it:)).

  8. I admire your resilience, I know your recovery is slow but I’m glad you have people in your life to provide you with comfort and support.

    I enjoyed The Stranger Times too, the sequel is on Netgalley if you are interested.

    Wishing you a happier and healthier new year Sarah.

    • Thank you for your kind good wishes, Shelleyrae – and I hope that you, too, have a happy and healthy 2022. And thank you for the advice about The Stranger Times – I did notice that the sequel is on Netgalley and I’ve put a request in. Fingers crossed I get a copy:)).

  9. Happy New Year Sarah. I hope 2022 is a good year for you and you manage to overcome this horrible long Covid. It sounds like you had a lovely Christmas. And don’t beat yourself up for enjoying those couple of days respite, not to do so would be to miss out. Looks like you’ve been doing plenty of reading and being well cared for by ‘himself’.
    Best wishes.
    Lynn 😀

    • And a very Happy New Year to you, too! Yes – we had a lovely Christmas for which I’m very grateful. It’s just a question of keeping on with my daily routine and not getting too impatient – thank goodness for books! Thank you for swinging by and your kind good wishes, Lynn – I’m looking forward to when I can return to taking part in Friday Faceoff again:)).xxx

      • And I’m looking forward to you taking part again. I miss your interesting book choices. Hope you’re feeling better soon and those couple of days you enjoyed recently extend to much longer periods. Take care x

  10. I’m so sorry you still are dealing with long Covid, Sarah. I appreciate your candidness in what you’re going through.

    I’m so glad you had a nice Christmas and then had a couple of days free from this disease. I hope you’ll have many more of these days in 2022 until you’re free of long Covid. Continue to take good care of yourself. And I so appreciate the book info you give us all about the books you read.

    I hope you continue to find books you love to read.

    • Thank you for your kind encouragement, Jan! To be honest – one of the main reasons why I continue to talk about my struggles with Long Covid is that I’m dismayed about the way it simply isn’t talked about much whenever covid is discussed. The death toll and hospitalisations continue to be regularly monitored and published – but I’ve no idea how many others are like me – completely stranded in a half-life of managing to do hardly anything at all before having to retreat back to my bed… So I go on sharing my experiences in the hope that it can both – maybe – help others in my situation, and raise people’s perception that this is another nasty possibility that having covid can leave you with.

      And I’m delighted you find the book info helpful – books are currently my lifeline! If I couldn’t lose myself in lots of different adventures every week, I’d probably be gibbering at the moon:).

  11. I know you have done research on long Covid and probably have all the info you need, but our National Public Radio (npr.org) has stories quite regularly about long Covid as well as other lasting effects of Covid people are experiencing. I really appreciate these stories since so many people here in the U.S. are still not taking Covid seriously and many of those people still aren’t vaccinated. Of course, a lot of those people don’t listen to NPR. 😦

    Just yesterday there was a story “The Role of tiny blood clots in long COVID.” This is available to read or to listen to. Many of these stories are available this way which is really convenient, I think. I hope if you don’t have some of this info it might help you bring this to your doctor’s attention or give you new ideas to fight this. (I hope I’m not being too intrusive giving you info you already have. I know people sometimes think they’re helping and they’re just annoying. And don’t feel you have to acknowledge this comment. I don’t want to tire you more.)

    • Oh no – I’d never think you were annoying! I’m aware that sometimes people bang out hasty encouragement because they hate the thought of someone suffering who they know and they’d like it to stop. That is sometimes a bit grating – but you definitely don’t fall into that category. And right now – I’m just so very grateful for the tide of goodwill and postive encouragement I get from all my book friends here on the blog. It’s been going on a long time, and I often cannot keep a conversation going, so I don’t see my ‘real’ friends very often these days. I’ll definitely see if I can track down some of those Long Covid stories – it would be great to hear them:).

  12. I am sorry that long term effects of COVID sucks and it takes so long to recover. It annoys me that even after all this, some people don’t take it seriously enough. I hope you recover soon. Have a good week ahead.

    • Yes… the news is busy telling us that the current covid strain isn’t as serious – but people are still dying and our hospitals are still a full stretch with the admissions. Like you, I get seriously irked when it sounds as if covid is busy being relegated to a minor annoyance. I hope you are having a good week:).

  13. I’m glad to hear that you had a good Christmas, and SO glad that you had at least a glimpse of good health in there. I’m hoping that those glimpses get longer, and that 2022 leads to a full recovery at last!!!
    I’m in the last half of Cytonic right now. My husband gave me the first two books and I burned through them. I’d have to agree, I LIKE Cytonic, but it doesn’t have the urgency to get through that the others did.
    My husband ALSO got the Mistborn trilogy. I’ve finished the first 2, and am waiting for him to get through number 3. I will say, Spensa’s stories are a nice change from those- still Brandon Sanderson style clever, but not quite so brutal!
    All the best to you 🙂

    • Thank you for your kind good wishes, Anne:)). Yes – I think the middle part of Cytonic could do with a really good edit – it feels as if it has somewhat lost its way with the pacing and narrative intention. I read the first Mistborn book – but as you say, it’s quite brutal and right now I’m not in the right frame of mind to read – I hope you enjoy the third book:)). I also recommend The Rithmatist – such a clever, clever use of magic – it’s supposedly for children but I absolutely loved it and at present, it’s a a standalone. Have a great week.

      • The Rithmatist WAS fun- I’d love to see more of that world! I also enjoyed his stand alones “Elantris” and “Warbreaker.” So far so good on the third Mistborn book, though it’s still pretty grim. (My brother-in-law keeps sending us Brandon Sanderson books, so he’s one author I’m somewhat up-to-speed on.)

  14. Happy New Year! I’m glad to hear you had a great Christmas, even if the blowback from it is debilitating. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that 2022 brings you more relief from long covid. Sending hugs your way!

  15. Happy New Year Sarah. I am so sorry to hear it has been ten months and you are still dealing with long covid symptoms. I agree, you need hope and can’t ever give up on that. It sounds like it is day on, day off and hopefully that won’t continue too much longer. You have definitely managed to get a lot of reading in already this year and that’s awesome. Sending hugs and hope you way.

    • Thank you, Carla. I appreciate your kind good wishes and I’m hoping that my energy levels will soon improve, too. Thank you for swinging by and hope you have a wonderful 2022:)).

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