COVID Recovery

I contracted COVID sometime around 27 July 2022. From where I have no way of knowing. Over the previous week, I had travelled to Vienna and Saltzburg, eaten in restaurants and did the usual touristy things there as well as my usual inquiries into things wood culture and so on. For four days after my return to the UK, I felt quite fine so may have had nothing to do with crowded places, airports and air travel. I returned to the UK on Friday evening, 21st July. The plane and the airport at Vienna were both full and mostly too heavily crowded in highly confined areas where social distancing would have been impossible – the corridors of travellers queuing for their flights and zero distancing with a too high tolerance of people not wearing masks things will inevitably go wrong. I counted on my vaccination keeping me safe enough without eliminating the effects altogether. Although in Austria 95% of train and bus travellers were compliant, it’s something of a fictitious barrier to the disease when you see that the modes of travel have no chance for proper sterilisation between the comings and goings of travellers.

On Saturday, I rested after my travels and caught up on a few things life maintenance, checked on the building work at the house, and the garden and then too the garden workshop and so on. The major building work is almost done. The window makers made a mistake on one window size for the new third-floor loft bedroom by a third of a metre too short so that one window still remains unmade for the moment. Thankfully, being the weight and size it is, it can go in from the inside now that the scaffolding is gone though sealing, etc would have been easier off the scaffolding, which had to go two weeks ago.

My reward for visiting the Ashmolean Museum just six miles from the workshop. The Stradivarius that’s reputedly the one in the most pristine condition of any Strad in existence.

On Sunday afternoon I had an overwhelming desire to see the Stradivarius Messiah violin and other instruments housed over in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Though tourism started this week and tourists were evident everywhere, it was never packed anywhere I went. I spent two hours in the museum, an amazing experience, as ever. It’s been a couple of years. Hard to believe it is six years since I did my book signing at the launch of my book Essential Woodworking Hand Tools there. Six years passed very quickly. I travelled into the city by bus, so more exposure to people there too. Funny how you try to recount your steps when you contract a disease like COVID.

With no visible or physical signs of any illness until Tuesday I happily prepared for returning to making the newest Sellers’ Home project and videoing, writing, etc. It was on Tuesday morning around 4 am that I woke with something of a start to a milder cold; at 8 am I did a COVID test which still showed negative, but that was just to be on the safe side. I had checked myself on Sunday evening too, mainly because of my travels and being so exposed to close-contact crowding through my travels. The main reason for my visit to Austria was a family reunion The cold seemed about the same today.

Will and I filmed B-roll for the new project, both in the garage workshop mocking up a prototype from sheets of corrugated cardbpard taken from cardboard boxes and then in the house. We filmed in the garage to show how to do it and its simplicity and worth. I find this is really helpful and well worth doing to establish location, sizes and for moving around from place to place around where the pieces will be used and to see what really fit, but how well other options might crop up that I didn’t think of too. The next day, Wednesday, in the kitchen of the house where the two tables are to go, Will and I filmed again. One table, the larger of the two, was 2” too low so I made adjustments to that version. The other worked just fine. My mild cold remained at the same level. It was at around noon or so that my cold seemed to change a little with sniffles and an accompanying chestiness and a mild coughing. By late afternoon I also noticed that my legs and shoulders, upper arms ached, as they did quite severely after my first inoculation for COVID, and so I did yet another COVID test and this time two lines crossed over the channel of the test, declaring that I indeed had COVID. From this point on everything seemed to worsen. I immediately isolated myself. The cold became a severe cough (glad I don’t smoke), my eyes were running and my nose was draining away constantly. My body aches continued and my muscles felt weak. I felt very tired too, which is not altogether like me. I let everyone know about the result of the test later that evening and hoped for the best. In the studio, we  have high ceilings and constant air intake filters from outside that replaces the air with an exchange of fresh air every few minutes.

We’d had a good day’s filming before things worsened and we stop for the day as we had already achieved a lot. It was in the evening that things rapidly changed with my coughing worsening along with my cold. Even my fingers began to ache, along with the rest of my body. I started to do my usual squats from standing but managed only seven instead of 40 plus before I said to myself, “Don’t be silly!” I had ridden my bike twice in the daytime for 40 minutes a piece and felt my legs aching even riding my bike which they rarely do on shorter rides. Most of the rest of the day was planing and truing up my oak for two tables and that was around four hours of hard work.

Overnight, Wednesday to Thursday, my sleep was disturbed by coughing and aches in my shoulders. Nothing I could do. At 8 am Thursday I felt hungry and cooked my usual vegetable breakfast which comprises onion, mushroom, tomato, courgette, spinach cooked on a low heat in olive oil until soft. I used a low-carb sweet potato wrap like a burrito and two pieces of low-carb toasted bread (7 carbs total in toast). I’m a third-generation diabetic so diet and exercise are staples for my daily wellbeing and control of my blood sugars. Even so, any infection always raises the blood sugars so I took extra care over the coming days.

Things had worsened overnight and this morning my brain felt foggy, my blood sugars were elevated from my usual morning fasting blood sugar of 7 to 10 plus. I knew something was wrong. I also felt very lethargic, totally depleted of energy levels and hopelessly uninspired to do much more than close my eyes and sit or lay down. I obeyed my body.

The coughing exhausted me the most. I felt aching inside my chest as a result, but the coughing was really incessant. Reading was difficult because of the lack of concentration so I drew instead and found that this helped my thought processes. I did listen to a podcast or two too, more to pass the time. Something I never have time to do so quite unusual compared to most. This day did drag. I went into the garage workshop for shorter bursts of work to work on an idea I had for a woodworking tool I had started in on two days earlier. A half-hour stint exhausted me but three short sessions gave me the tool and the making processes I wanted to get down. I was so very pleased and contented with the outcome and that alone lifted my spirits markedly. I could not wait to share this with everyone when the time is right and I end up with the final-cut version. Thousands of woodworkers may never need to buy another of these particular tools again and could likely make four of them in a fairly short and pleasant afternoon.

This was what I needed a 9/32″ plough plane cutter for. I didn’t own one so I made one.

Friday 29th July 2022 was my second complete day of self-isolating where I did not see another human soul but I heard that one other had also contracted the COVID and of course this is saddening. My cough continued but a little less severely. I lost my sense of taste in food and drinks gradually throughout the day. Mostly, I felt that my cough was trying to clear out the now loose mucus from my chest and the cough became more productive. In the late evening, I went to make one of the tools to a slight variation that simplified what I had complicated and this sped up the process to about an hour total, including some metalwork. By this alone, I could tell I was improving and the brain fog clearing helped me greatly too. I forgot to mention a very mild headache and variable temperature where I could feel hot or cold in and out. I didn’t really have a fever as such. On this day I slept in the afternoon for an hour as I had done the previous day too. This is not something I ever do really, although I do enjoy the idea of it.

Drawing helped me rejig my brain in the midst of the COVID. I finished off this drawing of me planing.

Part of my day-to-day work is to review the video post edits, to look for the less evident mistakes an editor without a woodworking background might miss. Three 40-minute episodes keep me on my toes but I love to see the composition skills of our editors who both video and edit one another’s work. I had a couple that I thought were just beautifully filmed this week where I suggested they might make very nice YouTube content. We usually don’t do this as the content is intended for woodworkingmasterclasses.com, but they are so creatively put together I always want to share them with woodworkers elsewhere. I enjoy watching these reviews because I too learn from them but mostly about how I can best show specific elements I might not see from my side of the lens and the bench.

I slept early on in the evening and woke at midnight. I like writing in the nighttime for several reasons but the main one is the total silence that envelops me so. No music, no background noises just total isolation. Poetry comes and goes and I keep notes of a phrase I might like and want to use at some point. Here’s one, “A feather rolled in continuous motion, barrelling across the car park and the light reflected intermittently in the white and black of the feather like a flashing neon light.” Will I ever use it? Who knows. Doesn’t matter. It’s the picture in my mind that flashes back in instancy that matters most. It’s now 2 am and I am ready to sleep again. I am feeling a little better now. Good night.

On Saturday my day started with a grogginess that’s not really like me. Feeling sluggish and with the dominant brain fog I had to fight not to give in to it. I also had a lack of appetite but insisted on cooking my breakfast straight away. Cooking my usual stir-fried onion, mushroom, tomato, courgette and spinach with feta omelette and a cafetiere of coffee did the trick and actually woke my taste buds too. By 7 am I felt much better. I did yet another COVID test which was positive. This was my fourth. 

I felt quite well enough to do some manual work at the bench and that was a relief. I took it easy, didn’t push it by choosing smaller work to work on.

The days seemed pretty much the same but on Sunday the aching lessened and so too the brain fog. With the cough gone too, I was able to get better rest. I still isolated and enjoyed a quiet day writing and drawing, listening to music and such. At 4 pm I did a COVID test and tested negative. Great news!

I was alone all day on Monday but started work as usual. I reflected on the COVID fears of two years ago when people were dying by the thousands every day as a direct result of COVID. No variants at that point and little knowledge about control. We never used terms we are conversant with today like social distancing, personal protection equipment, self-isolation and two dozen more. The then underwhelmed NHS suddenly became overwhelmed and seems not to have recovered. 

John came in on Tuesday and by now I had had three negative COVID tests. My road to recovery was quick and I was back in the saddle fully even though I did feel more tired by the end of the day. On Thursday, Will and I were filming B-roll again for the prototyping the next project. I also perfected the new marking gauge prototypes and came up with the final version ready for filming. 

So, here I am feeling fit and well with no more signs of weakness. I was out for about five days, which made me reflect on the big question two years ago – to vaccinate or not! I am glad that I did. I never queried my recovery this week whereas two years ago people were dying from COVID by the thousands per day, I am sure that I would have too. I am also convinced that my getting the COVID at this time might well give me improved immunity, but who really knows?

59 thoughts on “COVID Recovery”

  1. Good on you. Glad you feel back to yourself. It’s great going into something with a positive mindset. You can be proud you’ve taken charge of your health.
    (I have wavered (but this blog is often something to look forward to))

  2. I’d like to join the long line of people who will rejoice at the news of your recovery and thank you for another written article.

  3. Happy to hear you have come through this ok, Paul. Continued good health to you! Also, love your drawing. You’re a pretty good artist 😉

  4. I too am happy that you recovered so uneventfully
    Clearly as a dedicated teacher you’re using your illness as a teaching moment — meticulously chronicling your symptoms and observing the degradation of precautions in the general public .
    Forgive me for being too familiar but I am curious that in spite of your obvious risk factors you did not take Paxlovid
    Best wishes
    Ken

  5. I’m glad and relieved you’ve recovered.
    I’ve come to think of you as a friend, and I’d hate to lose you.

  6. Wow glad to hear your are all good Paul, love your teachings, at sixty years your and battling my own health demones, you provide me such comfort in your teachings as i can’t seem to learn fast enough. thanks you so much for doing what you do, regards Dwayne

    1. Glad you’re feeling better! I really enjoy your blogs, your videos, and your instructions. Thank you for sharing!

  7. When I think of you, I often think of the “thup, thup, THUNK” of the chisel, planing down to the knife wall, harmonics resonating in cool air, well-applied solitary effort, and the approach to perfection. Thank you for sharing all these facets of your life with us. Very happy for your recovery! Sketching does help.

  8. I’m happy to hear that you recovered from COVID. My family and I tested positive around the same time. We are all fine now. Being fully vaccinated probably play a big part on the quick recovery. I’m impressed by how active you stayed during your illness. Your lifestyle is a great inspiration. Thank you. Glad you are well.

  9. Josh Marshall

    Paul, I’m so glad you’re getting back to normal. As you say, the miracle of the vaccines has made a terrifying possibly fatal illness into a weeklong minor-ish ordeal.

  10. I’m happy to read that you have recovered from COVID, Paul, and glad to know about you in action again. I’ve passed the disease this last month. It took me 12 days from first symptoms to negative test. It has been like an exagerated-size cough, with very high fever and muscular aches.
    My woodworking is stopped now, anyway. I had a fall at home in the last days of may and I broke two bones of my left wrist (radius and scaphoid), so I must have my wrist inmobilized until 26th august and begin with rehabilitation afterwards. Saws and planes will have to wait for me for several weeks yet.

  11. Hello Paul,

    I am sorry to hear of your recent illness. I have experienced the same and I took vitamin C, vitamin D3 and zinc. In a couple days I was feeling much Better. Take care and God bless.

    Tim

    1. I have been doing the same since the epidemic started, so far avoided it. glad that you got over it quickly Paul.

  12. Thanks Paul for sharing. Glad you are recovered. Your body has certainly developed some antibodies/natural immunity to the current strains.

    Here’s something that might make you smile. Your prior post on making your cutter blade inspired me. I had been looking to get a 1/16″ chisel (for some upcomming inlay work on dovetail boxes I am making). Ebay searches the past week between purchase and shipping were coming to $50. With what you had shared, I knew I could make one for less. I found on McMaster Carr some high carbon steel that is 1/16″ thick and 1/2″ wide (perfect for my intended use); enough for two chisel that will cost $12 delivered. It’s on its way to me. Can’t wait to make them. Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. Mike Towndrow

    Thank you Paul for sharing your experience of catching COVID and I’m so glad that you’ve now recovered from it. So far I’ve managed to dodge COVID, but can’t help feeling it’ll catch up with me eventually. Thank goodness for the vaccines!

  14. I am so glad you are recovered from your episode with Covid. My wife and are vaccinated and boosted but still mask when we go out due to health concerns. So far we have dodged the bullet and hope we continue to do so. I really enjoy all your blogs and watch the WWMCs when I donate platelets. You and your crew do a fantastic job with your videos. Thank you for all you do for the woodworking community.

  15. Paul I’m so thankful you are all right. we are the same age you and I and covid does not work well for us, in 2020 I lost my older brother in Jan. then my mother in May and my aunt two weeks later then my older sister in Nov. and almost lost my son in Nov. all died from covid my son was in ICU for 21 days before he started to pull out of it and get better. I get very concerned when someone that effects my life such as you have comes down with that nasty covid I am so thankful you pulled through I enjoy all your vids. stay healthy and keep safe.

  16. Glad you recovered so well and so quickly but I’ll bet it didn’t seem like any picnic when you were going through this.
    Some of my closest friends have contracted one of the variants of covid and came through the experience with no lasting after effects. Most have had the two shots and at least one booster but the variants seem much milder now. They say that everyone will get this eventually so it’s in everyone’s best interest to be prepared as well as you can. We have lost neighbors and friends to this disease, it has mostly taken the frail and elderly. Such a sad time for all of us.

  17. I feel your pain. Today, Saturday, is the first day since contracting Covid for the second time I am feeling close to normal. The first time I was infected was the end of July 2020 so right at two years apart. I am vaccinated and double boosted so I was surprised to come down with the disease again. This new Covid variant is a bugger bear with the symptoms you described. I think we are going to live with this unwelcome guest for a long time.

  18. J.R. (Ronn) Winn - Vermont, USA

    Paul, even though I haven’t met you (someday I hope to) I am glad you seem to be improving. You are my “Main Man” in the woodcraft field. Please stick around, my hand tool craft has improved watching your videos repeatedly. I can’t get enough of them. Best wishes for improved health. JRW

  19. Hi Paul,
    I am so glad you have recovered from Covid. I find it pleasing to read your blogs and also the comments that it attracts. So many words of wisdom from all writers. Please look after yourself and God bless. Take care.

  20. G. Perentesis

    Glad to hear your feeling better Paul. Had the covid myself and know what you were experiencing, we can relate. Your feeling better and that’s a good thing. Continue to do well. Glad I got the shots as are you I’m sure. g.

  21. Came down with some form of COVID myself at the end of July. I thought it was a cold, but since I had a mildly elevated temperature I took a test. Positive. It hasn’t been particularly bad – like a serious cold, but something to pass along to someone else if it can be prevented. I have three shots and was prescribed paxlovid, which seems to act to definitively suppress symptoms for several hours. Still not negative. Be well.

  22. Peter Littlejohn

    Paul I’m happy to hear you have now made a full recovery from Covid. I’m sure having vaccinations helped your recovery.
    Many people disagree about wearing masks and getting vaccinations. But I consider them like wearing a seatbelt in a car, or a helmet on a motorcycle. They won’t stop you having an accident, but if you do, you have a better chance of less injury.

    1. OMG! So glad to hear you are feeling much better now. I have got to be at least one of your biggest fans. I have watched every video you have recorded on YouTube many times over. I think the very first video was the work bench you built in your back yard. That may have dated back to 2011. I check for new releases daily as I have become addicted to your videos. I’m usually not one to engage in social media but I just wanted to send you this get well message. Thank you for all the many hours of entertainment you have provided me.

  23. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, and I am so glad that you have recovered. I hope the others on your crew who have also contracted the disease recover as well.

      1. I have to admit, when I first read:

        “Friday 29th July 2022 was my second complete day of self-isolating where I did not see another human soul but I heard that one other had also contracted the COVID and of course this is saddening”

        I, too, assumed it was regarding one of your colleagues. Not quite sure why I assumed that, as that’s not what you said!

        I had covid last month. Fairly certain I got it on a flight back from Spain, but it was so prevalent in July that I’m guessing it could have been anywhere. I was floored for a few days (although I had a flu in January 2020 – that most of my family believe was covid, but before official infections in the UK – which was twice as bad). I’m triple vaccinated, but given the last shot was in December, I’m wondering whether the vaccine was still helping or if it was left to my own immune system alongside a slightly less venomous variant than the original. It’s certainly a curious illness. No long lasting effects for me or the family thankfully.

  24. Dear Paul,

    I’m so glad that you feel better, after what seems a tough number of days fighting COVID.

    All my heartfelt wishes for a full and speedy recovery!

    It’s good to sense from your long blog that you took with stride and your usual unbeatable optimism what certainly must have been scary at times.

    You’re the best!

    Cheers,
    Hans

    1. Thank you Hans, it’s kind of you to take the time. I must say, I didn’t really find it that hard. In 1985 the doctors told me I had a terminal disease. I’m still here and an incurable disease is completely cured with zero medical intervention. I am third generation diabetic and feel healthier today than I did at 60, 50, and 40 and especially than I did at 35. I can’t say that I fought COVID so much as let my body take its natural course. I do know other that have had a particularly difficult time and I am sad for them.

  25. Wanda Alverio

    Mr. Sellers I’m relieved you’ve recovered from COVID. I enjoyed reading your blog! Best wishes to you and your family.

    1. Thank you, Wanda and everyone else. I am feeling really well again and have been back at working productively for the past four or five days so my COVID issue was short-lived and thankfully there has been no sign of Long COVID.

  26. Ray Baker-Addy

    So glad you are back in the saddle, as they say.
    I surely enjoy n learn from your videos blogs
    Thank you.
    Ray

  27. Glad to hear you have recovered.

    It seems that omicron versions give negative test results in the early stages. I have heard many reports of this.

    In terms of where you contracted it, I think the latest view is that the omicron variants (which are by far the most common) have an incubation period of a couple of days – so I think your trip to Oxford is a more likely culprit than the one to Austria.

    But it is biology and there are so many variables that it is impossible to be certain – so it is better not to dwell on what went “wrong”, rejoice in your recovery and move on.

  28. Well done Paul. So glad that you had the jabs as a great woodworking 85 year old friend of mine decided against having jabs and recently caught Covid and died. He built a 37ft trimaran in his back garden in Hampshire England and sailing The Atlantic in it. A test of your confidence in your woodworking skills that’s for sure.

  29. Delighted to hear that you made it safe and swift recovery. Thank you so much for sharing what the experience was like. I find it always humbling and sobering when I hear another Covid story. Glad you had your vaccinations. They have saved millions of lives.

  30. Hi Paul, so glad you are recovered and that your case was mild! I too am recovering from covid; my symptoms began 4 days ago. Runny nose, lethargy, cough, sore throat, intermittent low-grade fever. Like you, I attribute my mild symptoms to the the power of vaccines. Yay, science!

    Thank you for sharing!

  31. I am relieved and thankful to hear of your quick and thorough recovery! I think your positivity, discipline, and drive to stay engaged must surely have helped you recover. I’m glad you had the vaccine so that symptoms were kept manageable at home.

  32. So sorry to hear you were ill. Thank you for the wonderful journaling of your experience with Covid. So glad you had a complete, quick recovery. We all need you, the world needs you. God Bless !

  33. Hi Paul,
    When I read your covid experience the first time the virus had not yet struck me. I just read it the second time to see if your symptoms were similar to mine. I just tested positive this morning (Fri.) after being under the weather since Monday. I’m glad you recovered so quickly and hope that I can do as well. Thanks for sharing.

  34. Andrew Churchley

    Thanks Paul, I feel better equipped to face an infection, having read your covid infection story. My medical history suggests I’m at some risk from it. My wife and I have taken all the jabs available, wear masks in confined public spaces and have seldom ventured out, except for gardening and diy. Glad you’re still with us!

  35. Michael Kelewae

    Paul,
    I am glad that you are on the mend! Maybe my story will make you feel even better. I started watching your wood working videos about 2 years ago. Like most other wood workers I had a set of chisels and a Stanley #4 Handyman that my dad bought new in the 70s (maybe?). I watched your videos and thought “that looks like fun”. So, I watched your video on restoring hand plans, PROPERLY sharpening irons and chisels and educated myself on aging and typing hand planes. I now have a small collection that includes: 3 Stanley #4s (the original handyman that was my dads, a type 9c and a type 11), a #5, #6, #7, and a #8. All in different stages of restoration (waiting on a part here and a part there). I have restored and tuned a couple of Disston back saws, a crosscut saw and rip saw. I have just ordered my 1st hand router. It is a Stanley 71 1/2, I believe it is a type 2. Thank you for giving me the courage to start my hand skills. Not only have you given me the love of a true art but you have also allowed me to fight one of my demons and you have given me an outlet that does not involve a bottle. I can now proudly say that I have been sober for 2 months and 4 days. I know this may not sound like a lot to some people but to someone who would almost finish a bottle in a day it is a huge milestone. Thank you, Paul, for being a part of my support group, unknowingly of course but part of it all the same. You truly do not know how much you truly touch people. I know that you only want to pass on your knowledge and love of the craft, but, without knowing it, you do so much more. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
    Mike
    North Berwick, Me

    1. Thank you, Mike, so much. More than heartwarming for me– and the very best reason for me to keep the comments section to my blog. I have always wondered how much woodworking with hand tools goes beyond just the making of things and enters the realms where the craft crafts the lives of the people who begin making. I feel carefully crafted by my faith in becoming a maker and answering the calling on my life to become a maker and then a second calling to teach and train others in my craft. It’s become something I can’t just give up.

  36. Thanks Paul for sharing your experience. Although we have been bombarded with info about covid and its symptoms, reading your account as it relates to day to day functioning makes it so much more relatable.

  37. Dear Paul,

    it’s been almost one year since I have visited this blog and I got very worried knowing you had Covid. It’s been a though year, had to take care of my Mother wich had a heart attach, a broken femur and then the Covid but she still standing and watering her flower every two morning. I hope you have fully recovered and to meet you next year if you will run courses again.
    Take care
    Antonio

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