Published: 11:28, 31 March 2020
| Updated: 20:55, 21 April 2020
A pregnant mum-of-three believes she and her unborn baby are lucky to be alive following her three-week battle with coronavirus.
Brave Karen Mannering, from Herne Bay, was diagnosed with the deadly illness last Wednesday – four days after being admitted to the QEQM hospital in Margate.
Karen spoke to Kristina Curtis for KMTV
The 39-year-old, who is seven months pregnant with a boy, shared a video of herself last week fighting back tears after being told by doctors she had Covid-19 and pneumonia in both lungs.
Speaking exclusively to KentOnline, she said: “It was incredible coming home.
“It was so surreal being able to go down a road with the windows open and feeling the fresh air on me, because I’d been stuck in my hospital room with the blinds shut.
“It was a really dark, lonely time. The only saving grace is the fact I had my phone on me; so, when I was fighting for every breath, I would get comfort from talking to family.”
Mrs Mannering started to experience pain in her eyes and a fever that saw her temperature fluctuate between 38.5C and 39.9C on Thursday, March 12.
She later developed an “excruciating” dry cough – which she says “felt like your lungs were being ripped from your chest” – and sore throat.
Despite this, she was unable to secure hospital treatment for several days and was instead forced to fight the illness at home on the Talmead Estate.
“I would be freezing cold and I couldn’t warm up for hours,” she added. “But as I soon as I started to warm up, I would get so hot and be dripping with sweat.
“But the weirdest one was the sore eyeballs; I couldn’t look left, right, up or down. It was easier for me to turn my head because my eyeballs were so painful.
“When I coughed it felt like my brain was going to pop. You’re breathing hurts – every time you try to take a breath, you can’t.”
Mrs Mannering, who is now self-isolating at home, says she continues to have “a weak chest”, which could take as long as three months to heal.
The UK government has classed expectant mothers as those among the “vulnerable” group at risk of Covid-19.
Professor Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, said that including pregnant women in this group was a “precautionary measure” as experts are “early in our understanding of this virus”.
But Mrs Mannering fears her battle with Covid-19, as well as the treatment she was given for the illness, could have a detrimental effect on her unborn son.
"I keep thinking, ‘how on earth did I make it?’ It took every ounce of fight in me to push through it..."
She explained: “I had x-rays, two weeks of severely high temperatures and the illness – so I’ll be sitting here for two-and-a-half months wondering if he’s OK.”
Despite returning home, Mrs Mannering has not yet been able to embrace her husband or any of their three children, who are aged six, 12 and 14.
She is now urging others to follow the government’s lockdown rules in order to prevent themselves from contracting the illness.
“The scariest thing about it is I don’t how or when I got it,” she said.
“I keep thinking, ‘how on earth did I make it?’ It took every ounce of fight in me to push through it.
“People should stay at home and keep scrubbing their hands constantly. They need to stop going out and ignoring the government because they could bring it home to their family members.”
More by this authorJack Dyson