My partner, M, and I went into self-isolation last Monday for 12 weeks, as advised for his protection from Covid-19. He has bronchiectasis, diagnosed a year or so ago. A proud strong, and muscular, 62 year-old ex rugby player, he looks fit and well, so it’s an invisible disease to the unaware onlooker. The reality is, that he has had recurrent chest infections for the last two years. Every time he finished a course of treatment for one, another one would start two or three weeks later. He is currently battling a nasty infection with a notoriously difficult to treat bug, pseudomonas. For the past month he has been inhaling super-strong antibiotics twice a day, every day, through a nebuliser. He finished this treatment on the 10th of March and we were due to go to Athens the following week, as a little celebratory trip to visit his granddaughter who lives and works there.
Instead, we cancelled the trip and hunkered down at home for the start of a long and bizarre period of isolation.
I’ve been struggling to write about anything over the last couple of weeks. I have a long list of writing projects that I could be working on, but I just can’t seem to settle down to anything. The irony is, I now have more potential writing time on my hands than ever!
My head is full of thoughts about Covid-19 and what it means for my partner and I, our families and friends, and society and the world in general. Big stuff with no certainty around any of it! Big questions with no real answers to any of them! It’s a tough one for an over-analytical control freak like me. Last night I was awake for most of the night as it all swirled round and round in my head.
And so, today, I decided to write about it. To write about our personal experience of living in self-isolation. To write about my thoughts, feelings and observations. Maybe, by getting it all down, it will stop consuming my thoughts and I’ll finally be able to get on with something else? Of course, it might be bit self-indulgent because it’s essentially a diary and why would anyone want to read the diary of a middle-aged couple stuck in the house together for 12 weeks. Let’s be honest, its not going to be a riveting read! So read it if you want, and don’t if you don’t.
I hope it will also serve as record of what happened and how we all got through it, that we will be able to read it in happier times in years to come and say,
“Remember when … ?”
So, tomorrow we will have been doing this for one week.
1 down only 11 to go, – we hope!
Things have moved so quickly it’s crazy!
The week before we were getting on with our busy lives as usual. I went to Peppa Pig World on the Sunday and Monday with my daughter and A, our two-year-old granddaughter. On the Thursday, I went to Scotland with my two sisters for a family funeral, returning on the Saturday. We looked after A overnight on the Saturday, while her parents went to a wedding reception, and, on the Sunday, M was out planting trees in the village, in his role as a Parish Councillor, while I waited for him with little A, out of the rain, in Costa.
We were due to fly out to Athens at 9am on the Monday morning, but had cancelled the trip on the Saturday as our granddaughter had told us Athens was “closed”, so there was no point in coming. We sat down alone together for the first time that week, and properly talked everything through. I’ve lost track of how and when everything happened, but I think, by now, social distancing was being encouraged, people were being asked to avoid pubs and restaurants, and high risk and vulnerable people were being advised to self-isolate for 12 weeks.
M was reluctant at first. As well as my writing, I now work with him in our brand new training and development consultancy, Key Ways Consulting. We launched in February, in an expansion of his existing coaching business. We had our first few contracts lined up. A workshop in London in March and a very exciting project in June in Barbados. Sadly, we then spent the day going through our diaries cancelling what we could and arranging to do things remotely where possible. We only work part-time, as we have both taken out a couple of small pensions to allow us to ease off a bit now that we are in our 60’s. Our main pensions will kick in when we are 65, we hope! Fingers crossed that they, and our savings, are not decimated by the financial impact of the crisis.
That done, we tried to settle down to our new way of life. M has been working on re-doing his workshops for digital delivery and liaising with his clients on this. I’ve been going out on little shopping trips to our local small Tesco buying what we need on a daily basis. I’ve tried to touch as little as possible and wash my hands the minute I get in. We’ve avoided the crowds at the big supermarkets and so far we’ve been ok. I flirted briefly with a plan to bake scones and bread, as we couldn’t buy any, but I couldn’t get any flour. We try to get out for a walk every day, weather permitting, and today we went for a little bike ride in the sunshine. I’ll be honest though, I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time on social media, lazing around in my PJs, watching a lot of rubbish on the TV and indulging in my guilty pleasure, my PS4. I’m currently close to completing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. (I know! It’s a weird pastime for a 60 something – more on that later maybe?)
On Friday, the government announced that pubs, bars and restaurants were to close, and lots of financial support has been generated to help people get though this. It’s not perfect but they do seem to be trying. Ideology seems to have been put to one side in a genuine attempt to implement, what amounts to a series of fundamentally socialist measures. I am usually the most ardent anti-Tory, and would generally never have a good word to say about Boris and his gang of merry men, but I actually do think they are trying to do the right thing on this occasion! All credit to them!
We may, or may not, go into full “lockdown” next week. I really hope not, as M needs to exercise outside every day to “clear” his chest. It’s the people who have, and continue to, defy government advise to socially distance, that may force this extreme step. These are the people who have really made me cross so far, along with the selfish panic buying idiots!
So, a bit of a top-line romp through the story so far. Now I’ve got started it feels good.
Stay safe everyone and please stay at home if you can!