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Coughing, facemasks, bleeping machines… and my felt tip pens

Illustrator inks diary covering her own encounter with the coronavirus

02 May, 2020 — By Tom Foot

Sally Kindberg before being diagnosed with Covid-19

A CHILDREN’S book illustrator diagnosed with the coronavirus has documented her experience in a comic book diary.

Sally Kindberg, who has published more than 30 books and is a fellow of the Royal Literary Fund, sketched images in isolation at her home in Primrose Hill and also inside the Royal Free.

She said: “The diary is a sort of way of taking away the power of the illness. It helped to take my mind off what I was feeling, seeing and hearing – a stream of really sick people being brought in on trolleys and the sound of groaning, coughing, and machines beeping.”

Describing being taken to the Hampstead hospital by ambulance, she said: “My heart was doing really weird things and they told me I had to go to hospital. I didn’t want to go. I was really upset when they asked me to pack a bag. Charger, phone, tooth brush, dental floss – my felt tip pens. I found a piece of paper in my bag.”

She added: “All the staff were wearing different bits and pieces. They had stickers on their heads, and because of the masks and goggles you can’t see who they are. There was a very grim looking man, dressed completely in a black gown. He was the consultant. The NHS staff were all so brilliant, all of them so kind.”

She added: “I am quite deaf and I have hearing devices. But I couldn’t lip read, because they were all wearing masks.” Five weeks after first falling ill, she is still beset by waves of tiredness and intermittent fever. She described the early onset as having a head “like a mushy turnip” with “wobbling freezing cold legs”.

Ms Kindberg, who used to illustrate for Guardian and Independent newspapers, said she was furious with the government, adding: “It’s not like the bug came to Britain and nowhere else. They had plenty of time to prepare. It is appalling. I bang a saucepan for the NHS, but it’s not enough. The NHS people are dying. Why aren’t they being given tests, PPE? I am rapidly becoming a shouty old lady.”

Describing the ongoing symptoms, she said: “In the morning, I find I have to concentrate on getting up. Getting to the kettle, I have to think first about getting to the kitchen. I haven’t hoovered for five weeks. Got hoover out, and just stared at it. It is a sort a meditation, but one that is forced on you.”

Ms Kindberg has been unable to take her normal art workshops for university students through the Royal Literary Fund fellowship.

She said: “PG Wodehouse. Jeeves. If you’re feeling low nothing can beat it, you don’t have to concentrate.”

To read Sally’s Diary visit: notebook/2020/04/sally-kindbergs-corona-virus-diary/

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