Friday, 20 March 2020

Support in the time of corona.

We had a splendid weekend away. The weather was fair, the countryside was a wash of green over brown. Roadside banks and gardens on the journey south were full of sunshine-yellow daffodils. And it was my birthday. I’d already had two meals out with mates and lots of cards, flowers and chocolates. I was enjoying myself. And we’d had a girly trip to the cinema to see the truly well-castJessie Buckley in ‘Misbehaviour’. Such fun.

When we got to Devon our hotel rooms were ready even though we were two hours early. The sea view from our rooms was silver rather than bronzed but it felt good. A chocolate cake for friends and family, hand-made by chef, was ready, as promised, at four o’clock. A friend of the family brought me a handsome spray of roses and my brother, as well as driving us down to Devon after a heavy week at work, paid for lunch, the Prosecco, my birthday cake and most of the evening drinks. I was being spoilt. Richard was happy and gave me one of his own hand-made birthday cards and treated me to a fantastic pair of boots as a birthday present. He enjoyed his food, liked the company, shared in the jokes and went for an evening stroll with my family on the prom. The sea was roaring, sand sprayed and piled on the promenade and he just loved it.

Then, two days later, the antibiotics for a non-contagious infection, knocked him out and, back home, his mood changed. I made the mistake of letting him watch the news. He began to panic about corona virus, saying it couldn’t be true, the BBC news people were making it up. He got angry at the thought of self-isolation as he’s now 70. And all the progress he’s made creatively: cooking, doing his art work, helping in the garden and doing tea time quizzes on the tv evaporated. He had been diagnosed with post-surgery trauma and depression back in the autumn. Until now he had been making progress.

Yesterday he didn’t get out of bed, except for bathroom visits. He slept all day, all night and all through the night before. He was moody and wanted to be left alone. But ... he ate well. Then slept and ate and slept some more. By midnight last night he felt clammy and I kept checking he was able to wake up. At 1:30 am I fell asleep too but I was up at 6:15am. That early he didn’t want tea and, thankfully, he was no longer sweaty. Perhaps his infection and mood had passed.

At 9 am he took his antibiotic and still wanted to sleep but got up at lunchtime. By then I’d already cooked breakfast, washed up, cleaned, been out, had been to a friend’s for a brief chat, had dug the potato bed, had planted some seeds and baked sugar-free/gluten-free brownies.
But he was out of bed!

I managed to air the bedroom, change the bedding and get the bedroom hoovered while he had his lunch. In our reduced, restricted world things were looking up. And I have had such encouragement from friends and neighbours.

We are all going through a difficult time owing to corona. Some have lost their income, others are fearful for their aged loved ones. Some families are self-isolating and teaching lessons to their youngsters now schools are shut. 

Doctors and admin staff at our surgery are almost in lockdown and are making diagnoses by telephone. The pharmacy team are run ragged. Yet people are being helpful.

One friend has so kindly ordered groceries for me on her Tesco delivery. (Other supermarkets are available - although very few have delivery slots available.) Another kind soul from our neighbourhood network knows I am a carer for a vulnerable 70 year-old. She happened to be out grocery-shopping today and valiantly called me. She’d spotted blueberries, fishcakes, whole rolled oats, juicy burgers and cherry tomatoes. The lovely lady, who only knows me through the WhatsApp local helpline, remembered what I was short of and did my shopping for me. Such kindly neighbourliness. She will have her place in heaven. Another neighbour, out shopping, found a shelf of Ecover washing liquid today. He remembered that’s what I wanted and duly brought it round. Folk don’t have to be this helpful but they are being extremely supportive in this time of corona.

I am not incapable of shopping but this week, as a carer, has been hard. No delivery vans had access to our house while our road was being resurfaced. I can’t drive and lifting heavy shopping into a trolly is sometimes too much for my ailing back. I’m so used to getting groceries delivered I wasn’t prepared for this week’s lack of delivery slots. I scraped by and got myself a slot for April 3rd. That’s a fortnight away. When I’d made my order and pressed check-out I took a deep breath. My freezer isn’t empty but one wonders whether this difficulty in getting groceries in is a sign of the times. Every man (or woman) for himself (or herself). Yes, I can join the queue at 8am with the elderly and their carers at our local Waitrose or Sainsburys but my back pain gets worse when standing still in the cold and I’d have to get a cab home. Are we allowed to use buses or any kind of public transport now? We are supposed to be socially distant, aren’t we? Sitting on a bus would seem to counteract that social distance.

Another friend has offered to take me to hunt down six bottles of Prosecco. Hardly essential shopping I hear you cry but in this time of corona we all need support. That includes something fizzy in a glass. And I’m not too proud to ask for help, nor too proud to be deeply grateful for friends and neighbours. I was feeling rather bleak yesterday but today I don’t feel I have to face it all alone. 

Friendly faces, kind gestures and practical help. That’s what’s needed in the time of corona. Thank you friends! 

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