Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Every man ( and woman) for themselves

Many weeks ago, when my marathon runner friend, just turned seventy, went into self-imposed lockdown for twelve weeks I thought he wouldn’t cope. After all, ever since he turned 16, he’s done a daily run. And when he said people near him weren’t keeping their social distance and he had two freezers full of food I knew he was taking the c-virus risk to his health very seriously. However I had to laugh when he said neighbours were supplying him with milk and oranges but none had arrived. I told him he was more likely to die of thirst than c-virus. Needless to say the milk was delivered and eight weeks later he’s still keeping fit running upstairs in a timed workout.

Now he says he’s had an argument with neighbours. I’m surprised as he’s so mild-mannered but he hates the fact they are not adhering to social distancing.

Where he and I have agreed all along is that our government’s response has been too slow to react to the c-virus risk, too slow to take up offers of manufacture of visors and PPE in the early days of infection in the UK, too slow to test, track and trace and that it would be the poorest who became victim as we are run on such outdated social class groupings in the UK now. We both agree Nicola Sturgeon, Angela Merkle and Jacinda Ardern have got the right idea and how Germany, having a scientist at the helm, has cracked the disease as far as is humanly possible.

We both agree that we will still be staying home as the easing of lockdown in England is far too early and that people may not show respect for social distancing if they sense they can relax their behaviours. I won’t repeat what we both said about our government. 

My runner and I speak on the phone every other day. We discuss scientific know-how - such as the need for test, track, trace but also the need for retest. We agree that tests sent direct to homes would be safest. 

But where we differ is that he manages to keep his weight down whereas I am putting on the pounds. I do have a fitness regime but I know I need to walk. My marathon runner gets his steps in on his stairs. Could I manage 9000 steps a day on our stairs? I doubt it.

At first, back in March and early April, I was going out. I was joining short queues and doing the shopping. I always took my hand sanitiser and my mask in case of difficulties.

But I realised that if I became sick my husband couldn’t look after me as he is suffering from post-surgery depression. I decided to agree with my marathon runner that staying in was best. And I have had excellent support from neighbours, a WhatsApp support group, AgeUK and Compassionate Care. Not because of my needs but because my husband needs a carer for at least up until 2 pm on most days. The only real hitch has been the lack of regular Sainsbury deliveries but that has eased slightly. And the excellent WhatsApp support group has recommended a truly good farm shop delivery service which has lots of deliveries as they were supplying caterers, BandBs and hotels.

What chills me is the tale of our family builder and how quickly his wife succumbed to the virus after she stood in a queue and was coughed over by someone who said they thought they had the virus.

She’s now in a coma, on a ventilator and can just about blink. 
After a few days in critical care she had to go into intensive care - needing a tracheostomy and ventilation. She is now being gradually brought out of the coma after 25 days and is beginning to make some movement so is improving. 

It’s so frightening when it’s someone you know. And my marathan runner was right. If people don’t keep their distance and cough over you the virus becomes a real, real threat.  

It’s simply best not to get too close to anyone. As so few of us have been tested
we don’t know who among us is asympomatic and who may be a carrier. I am staying in, apart from collecting necessities - this week in the form of tomato plants, and medicines. Tomato plants are my husband’s hobby and it may help him. The walk to collect them will do me good as I need to shed the pounds but I will wear my mask. And next week I’ll have to eat less and exercise more. 

I am lucky to have a large house where my ailing husband can have his own bathroom, towels etc and we aren’t on top of each other, getting on each other’s nerves. We are lucky enough to have a large garden and plenty to keep me physically fit and psychologically distracted from the threat. I am lucky to have such helpful neighbours and friends. 

Why, then, am I waking so early in the mornings and thereby feeling knackered mid-afternoon? Is it the bright light piercing the bedroom drapes? Is it having lists of things to do in my head making me hyper-vigilant? Is it because I’m not doing any swimming and I have excess energy? Is it anxiety? Is it because the temperatures have dropped and my bladder knows it? Is it because I know I need to ring the pharmacy for Richard’s repeat prescription? Is it because we have a delivery most days and I have to be up and awake for that?Or a mixture of all of the above?

I wish I could sleep longer. Most of all I wish my husband was well and we knew who, outside our front door, had had the virus and who was immune. We have a right to feel safe. 

It’s a fine balance. And every man, woman and child for themselves.

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