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Lesbian doctor with coronavirus documents her isolation and symptoms through eye-opening videos

Emma Powys Maurice March 18, 2020
coronavirus

Greta McLachlan fell ill with coronavirus over the weekend (Twitter/@GeeMcLachlan)

A lesbian doctor is combatting coronavirus confusion by documenting her own experience of the virus through daily videos.

Greta McLachlan is a general surgical trainee in the UK. When she and her wife both came down with coronavirus at the same time, she decided to share what she was going through – and she warns that it’s nothing like the flu.

Speaking to PinkNews from isolation in South London, Greta explained that she wants to “reassure and inform” the public as to what the virus is actually like, and why it’s vital that even young and healthy people stay inside.

“I’m one of the first among my group of friends who have got coronavirus, and I think understandably, when something is so unknown and so much in the media, there’s a lot of fear and panic [along the lines] of, ‘Are we going to be OK, I know what we’re being told, but what actually are the symptoms? What does it feel like?’

“And so I felt that it might be helpful and reassuring to say, ‘Actually, I’ve got it.'”

Greta has not been officially diagnosed with COVID-19 as the NHS no longer has the capacity to test everyone with symptoms, but as all signs point to her having the virus she is acting accordingly and self-isolating.

Her symptoms were mild at first, beginning with just a sore throat and tickly cough, and she initially questioned whether it might just be a cold. But within a few days, she knew it was something more.

“In the first two days, it was just, ‘Could it be or could it not?’ And then my mind progressed to a point where I was fairly confident I had the coronavirus,” she said.

“I get plenty of colds as we all do, but the difference with this is that I didn’t get the snotty nose and the pain in my sinuses, and when you get the [COVID-19] cough, to me it feels like a different cough… sort of a cough that comes from the chest.

“The sore throat had gone, but the coughing had definitely become more persistent. And it’s the lethargy. It sort of goes in cycles, just absolute exhaustion. Even climbing the stairs is an effort.”

Along with it came aching muscles, a fever and shivers, and Greta was forced to film her video from beneath multiple blankets, duvets and jumpers.

By day three she assumed she was on the mend and posted what she thought was her last video – but she spoke too soon, and feverish night’s sleep left her feeling tired, shakey and achey once again.

Being young and healthy, Greta’s experience of COVID-19 has been relatively mild, but she stresses that those under the age of 70 still need to take caution.

“The important message is, if you’re young and fit this is probably going to be a mild disease for you, but we need to protect the vulnerable.

“You’ve got to listen to the government’s advice: Stay away from pubs, clubs, theatres. Things have evolved over the past four or five days. You can’t force anyone to do anything, but you’ve got to think about the vulnerable. We’ve just got to look after each other and be sensible.

“I know that’s difficult if you are younger and you are at uni or are working in pubs and bars, it’s going to be a really tricky time. But this is unprecedented. And we’ve got to protect the NHS, protect healthcare workers and protect those who are more likely to suffer.”

Greta and her wife have come to realise the value of community as they rely on support from friends and family who deliver care packages to their doorstep. But she worries for older, more isolated people, who may not have the support networks that they do.

“Even if you’re not of a religious persuasion, one way of [reaching out] is to get in touch with local places of worship, because they’ll know who their vulnerable parishioners are,” she said. “I think that goes a long way.”

Until they manage to shake off the virus they’re spending their days resting, hydrating and binge-watching together. “Our favourites are Landscape Gardener of the Year and Artist of the Year… it’s like the TV is gently stroking your head,” she laughed.

Their go-to comfort movie is Frozen 2, and after many repeat viewings she and her wife are pleased to confirm once and for all: “Elsa is definitely gay.”

More: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Greta McLachlan, NHS, Pandemic

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