Knocked down, locked down and feeling down. Welcome to COVID-19. Welcome to mandatory isolation.

I knew I had coronavirus two days before the Victorian Health Department notified me.

I had flu-like symptoms when no influenza was circulating in Victoria: I was drinking litres of water and barely going to the toilet.

So, I decided to keep a diary. When the department confirmed I had coronavirus, I named it my “isolation” or “iso” diary.

Here is what the past eight days, seven of those in government-mandated home isolation, have been like.


Dear Diary,

Night’s fallen in Melbourne, but I’m still hot, hot, hot. Streams of perspiration keep rolling down. It’s been a week of 30-plus degree days, but I can’t blame it all on the weather. My throat’s been sore for days and my ears are blocked.

I will write again when I’ve got some news.


Dear Diary,

It’s been six hours since I last wrote. Happy Australia Day!

It felt like I’d been trying to swallow a golf ball so I got out of bed and took two Panadol. I think I’m a goner.


Dear Diary,

It’s been four hours since I last wrote and I feel yuck. I need a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT).

I’ll write again once I get tested.


Dear Diary,

It’s been 15 hours since I last wrote and a lot has happened. I have been isolating in my inner-city Richmond flat since late morning: I’m waiting for my COVID-19 test results.

I bought a testing kit from Woolies: One packet, per customer, per day, for $15. But, I took one look at that little RAT, with the small diagrams and instructions on the back  and I knew I would stuff it up. My elderly neighbour, Mr Yianni* , reckoned he could do it. He ordered his from the pharmacy for free with his pensioner card. But I preferred to get  a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) at the North Richmond housing estate. I was the only one there.

I’ll write again when I get the results.


Dear “iso” Diary,

I got COVID-19 today. The Department of Health notified me via SMS, this morning, at 7.46am.

“DH  reference number:,” the SMS started. “This is the Victorian Department of Health.

“Dear THEODORA, You have tested positive for COVID-19. Please read this whole message. There are steps you must take.”

Step one: I rang my 88-year-old parents. My father tested positive too, but not my mother. They were both in “iso”  anyway.

Step two: I notified the extended family.

“Thank you for letting us know”, sis, came back one SMS.  “Hope you have a speedy recovery”, aunty Dora, came another. “Hope it doesn’t hit yiayia and pappou too hard. ”

Step three: I notified work.

Step four: I notified the GP.

He said being double-vaccinated would help our recovery. He could also arrange for vitamins and medicines to be home delivered.

Step five: I notified the people who had visited my parents recently. Mrs Voula couldn’t hear properly, so I talked to her son. But, cousin Plato wasn’t worried when I called him. “I’m triple-vaxxed,” he said. “Do you need anything?”

Step six: I notified my friends. I rang my anti-vaxxer friend and cancelled coffee. “I’m begging you!” I screamed. “Get vaccinated!” I e-mailed my group from high school and cancelled dinner. Most of us are Greek .We meet twice a year in Oakleigh’s Eaton Mall.

Some told me they already had COVID-19 and recovered: “Look out for the symptoms,” they said.  Others gave me cures. “Garlic, garlic, garlic,” wrote one. Take green tea extract, said another. Don’t forget Vitamin C, D and Zinc, wrote another still.

Step seven: I tried to fill in the health department’s one-minute, online survey.

I will write again tomorrow to tell you if I was successful.


Dear “iso”Diary,

I wasn’t successful. The Victorian Health Department SMSed me, at 2.36pm.

“Hi, please be prepared to receive a call from the Department of Health on +61 3 8624 4051 regarding COVID-19.”

The nice woman helped me complete the questionnaire​. Did I need  medical attention or an ambulance? What was my name, date of birth, gender, e-mail? Was I First Nations? Had I returned from  overseas in the past 14 days? Was I vaccinated? Did I have pre-existing health conditions? Did I want food, domestic violence services? What about the numbers for mental health services, hotel quarantine and the COVID hotline?

Then another woman called about a welfare check. She told me to answer my intercom.

“I haven’t got intercom,” I said. It was the first time I had laughed in three days. She said she would come to the right address on Monday.


Dear “iso” Diary,

I weighed myself today: I lost one kilo.

I spoke to my father again. He said he felt betrayed. He said he received both vaccines but still got coronavirus.

I said  his COVID was mild-to-moderate. I told him if he weren’t vaccinated he’d be in hospital or dead. He said to book him in for the booster.

I will write again tomorrow.


Dear “iso” Diary,

I listened to the service at St Panteleimon, in Dandenong, on 3XY Radio Ellas, at 9am. Then I made my bed for the first time in three days. I put on clothes instead of pyjamas, too.

I watched three cooking shows today. I never watch cooking shows. I think my subconscious was trying to tell me to eat something other than soup.

So, I ordered a “Veggie Extreme” pizza, huge Greek salad and raspberry cheesecake. I waved to the delivery driver  through the loungeroom window.

I will write again tomorrow.


Dear “iso” Diary,

I was busy with SMSes today.

Work SMSed to see how I was feeling. Someone SMSed me about an appointment. My friend SMSed to see how I was. Woolworths SMSed about my groceries.

Woolies SMSed me at 8.24am that my order would arrive between 4 and 9pm.

Woolies  SMSed me at 2.22pm that my order would arrive between 5.04 and 6.04pm.

Woolies SMSed me at 5.33pm that my order was “next in line for contactless delivery.”

Woolies SMSed me at 5.42pm that my order had been delivered.

I rang the automated Woolies service at 6.10pm to tell them a quarter of my order was missing. Out of stock issues.

Woolies SMSed me at 6.20pm that my refund was being processed.

A high school friend called me at night. It was nice to talk to someone.

I will write again tomorrow.


Dear “iso” Diary,

I got some of my sparkle back today – and some of my sense of taste and smell.

I cooked meatballs with zucchini in rich tomato sauce. Yum.

My mother got tested this morning. If she’s negative, I can visit my parents soon.

Anyway, there wasn’t much on the telly tonight.

I better put on my pyjamas and go to bed.

In three hours and one minute, I will be out of isolation.

I will NOT write again tomorrow.

*Names have been changed.