"It was just a day. But it was my birthday"

Updated: Jul 21

Pre-Covid, I would generally try to spend my birthday in the hills. This partly stemmed from a desire to be outside all the time, but also as a child growing up in England, an early July birthday was still during term time and always had a plethora of concerts and events surrounding - and often on - it.

a pre-Covid photo of Jackie in hillwalking gear, wearing a helmet & harness standing on one leg on the Inn Pinn on the Skye Cuillin ridge
Birthday 2017:
the Inn Pinn on Skye







Last year, July 2020, I was around 4 months on from Covid infection and we naively thought that I was getting better; that I was nearing the end of my Covid journey and the 4-month-long nightmare was almost over. We went out for a walk – it was nothing spectacular and was harder work than pre-Covid, but it felt amazing to be out. I thought it was the beginning of getting my life back.

A year on, July 2021, I was still ill. Although I wasn’t suffering from the acute symptoms I’d had in March 2020 when I got sick, I still had horrible fatigue, breathlessness and many other lingering issues. I’d not been able to return physically to work, but my boss had been happy to let me work from home until this point (given that schools still had a lot of restrictions and a lot of teaching was still online anyway for music instructors).


I had limped my way to the end of term – I don’t think I’d really realised quite how tired I was – and from the end of June I hit a relapse. Most days were spent on the sofa; we were able to get out a little on the bikes when I felt up to it but generally I didn’t. I was bored and frustrated. Malky suggested that on my birthday – the second week of July – we could go to the beach. We could enjoy the views, drink hot chocolate and eat ice-cream; nothing that required too much energy.

The day of my birthday I felt even worse. I made it to the sofa and that was where I stayed. It was my worst LC day in over a year. My breathing was all wrong, I felt nauseous, I could barely sit up for most of the day. We didn’t go anywhere, and I struggled to sit at the table to eat dinner when 2 of my friends came over for a few hours.

My 32nd birthday. It was just a day. But it was my birthday.

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