Locked in: Dalston bike man Dan tells how he survived the disease sweeping the world

Daniel and daughter Eliza Weston, 14, at his About The Bike Shop, Dalston Lane, Hackney E8, during coronavirus era © NK

© NK

Dalston businessman DANIEL WESTON followed safe procedure yet started to feel ill. One night he realised he had caught what he most feared: coronavirus


I CO-PARENT my daughter Eliza, who is 14. Normally, she spends half of her time at my house and half with her mum. At the start of the crisis she and I agreed that if one of us caught Covid-19 Eliza, shown at top with me, would stay with whoever she was with. What happened next was a shock…

Friday: I lost all sense of taste and smell. Completely. 

Saturday: I decided one of the bike shop’s older mechanics should be kept away from the public, so though he’s fit and healthy, he stayed at home. 

Monday: life carried on as normal except we’d stopped Eliza using public transport, which meant more kilometres to and from school by tandem. Me: no cough but no smell, no taste and some congestion. Highgate Hill was knackering — but that was my cold, wasn’t it?

Public transport was out so that meant travel to and from school by tandem

Wednesday: feeling more tired than usual so took Eliza to school on the electric tandem. Our youngest mechanic turned up with a cough: I sent her home on furlough. 

Me, I was tired — 5am starts were not what my cold needed. I’d already moved into the spare room because the education courses run by Katya, my wife, had been migrated from Moscow to our bedroom and the virtual world of Zoom

Thursday: Eliza’s last day at school for perhaps five months. I’m too tired to collect her so I’m taking things easy. A friend, an NHS professor, mentions he has been self-isolating. I sleep for 12 hours.

Marvellous backup… and I had a friend, a professor, working in it

Friday: unwelcome early shift. But I’m tired and the coldness of my hands is definitely not normal. The thermometer registers 37.8C. Paracetamol and bed for me. Katya and I use separate bathrooms.

Saturday: I awake 18 hours late, feverish, tired, not hungry and not thirsty. Sleep despite blocked sinuses making it hard to breathe through the nose. I take decongestants and more paracetamol.

Sunday: sleep.

Monday: I climb the stairs to my office. Sitting up is difficult: my breathing is odd, my chest tight, my head light, as if I am at the top of a mountain. I read a story online about people dying of C19. They were suffocating. My breathing is like that, isn’t it?

Tea©DA13:© david.altheer@gmail.com in a Dalston London E8 garden July 2013
Teatime? Not for a sick man whose wife is busy with a Zoom session

I’m scared. I tell Katya I may need to go to hospital and hint for a cup of tea. She’s busy Zooming.  

Lying down I realise that though I can’t breathe normally I can get enough air. I Whatsapp the Prof, who immediately asks what my oxygen saturation is.  Luckily, my phone can measure it: 94%. 

Good, he says. No point calling for an ambulance because at 94% they’ll leave you at home. But I suspect I have C19. Then someone sends an article saying loss of smell and taste has been reported as an indicator of Covid 19. On the balance of probabilities I have C19.

Tuesday: Some good news: bike shops are exempt from closure and my temperature is back to normal. But I do not feel normal. I expect the covid cough to appear at any moment. If I move quickly or read about the Daily Mail my breathing gets odd.

ambulance©DA19: ambulances in Commercial St, London, © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com 030119
Call an ambulance? Don’t bother, said my medical-expert friend
I notice that deep breaths can increase my oxygen saturation. Great: I’m not going to die — well, probably not.

I search online for coronavirus-symptom tracking apps and register for the King’s College London version. 

Wednesday: I try to update my symptoms on the KCL app. I’ve forgotten my password and there’s no retrieval button. I give up trying to inform the NHS.

Thursday: a friend’s twin brother has collapsed and died in west London. He was a healthy 48-year-old.

Friday: pub Zoom session at night with the Whatsappers. Post-viral cough is still with me.

Third Friday: getting close to normal… occasional post-viral cough.

Fourth Friday: O² saturation 95% — pretty normal and not much cough. I will survive.

Published 210420

* TOMORROW: Happy to be at home in Hackney, old, vulnerable and loving the lockdown

About©DA20:© David.Altheer@gmail.com About The Bike ,Dalston Lane, Hackney E8 1NG, 100416
Still open: About The Bike staff are busy (and observing virus precautions)

TfL free use

* About The Bike is at 124 Dalston Lane, Hackney E8 1NG (0207 254 2513), opposite the Three Compasses pub.

* All pictures are © David.  Altheer@gmail.com, apart from lead and coronavirus pix, and are for sale for reproduction.

* Backstory: Hackney faith community fearsHelping Hackney to stay clean

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained. A link in no way expresses support for any site.

This site welcomes fair comments, including the critical. They may be edited for grammatical, legal or taste reasons, or for shortening. In the unlikely event that anything defamatory is posted, the sender’s details may have to be divulged. (Under UK law, this applies to any comment/discussion forum, eg, Twitter.) RSS feed link is at top right. Twitter: @lovingdalston Publicists, amateur and professional, should read http://bit.ly/ZnClKc Also relevant may be the note at the end of http://bit.ly/117GXmi Photographs © David Altheer unless otherwise stated and apart from supplied pictures