Diary of a lockdown – Week One

Monday 23rd March

Day by day there are more changes.  Friday night saw the closure of all pubs, cafes and restaurants except for takeaway.

On Saturday inexplicably everyone decided to go out for a walk.  Ashridge and Ivinghoe were packed with cars and it would have been impossible to observe the recommended 2m social distancing.  On Sunday, Mother’s day, parks and woodlands were closed. We were advised not to see our mothers. I will be eternally grateful that my mum and stepfather moved down the road from me late last year.  We able to visit their garden and sit in the sunshine and chat at a safe distance.  

All over 70s and anyone with an underlying condition have been advised to stay at home for around 12 weeks.  This means they can’t go out even for shopping.     

McDonalds, Nandos and Primark announced they were closing indefinitely.

It’s difficult to get store cupboard staples in the shops – I’ve not seen toilet rolls, tinned tomatoes, tinned beans, pasta for several days.  As soon as the shelves are restocked they sell out. Supermarkets were offering special opening hours for elderly and NHS/key workers though the elderly are now being told to stay home.  All shops are putting a limit on 3 items of any one product. 

Today I went shopping for 3 families who are self-isolating.  I was able to find most things and delivered them.

New York city says they will run short of healthcare resources within a week.

I’m not sleeping well – waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep.  I’m continually on the look out for symptoms.

The government has promised hundreds of billions of £ worth of support for businesses saying they will provide grants to pay 80% of employees’ wages.  No support as yet for self-employed people.

 

Tuesday 24th March

Last night’s address by the PM had wartime connotations.  A rallying cry that we can get through this together if we stick to the rules.  Whatever your politics, it was a well written speech. He explained the why before launching into the how.  It makes sense, however heartbreaking that young lovers are destined not to touch, that grandparents can’t cuddle their grandchildren.  At least we have video calls. The paradox of a fully connected world – the virus may be spreading, but so is a wave of love.

We have to remember…this is not forever.

It may feel like forever when we have no clear end in sight but like a bad mood and stormy weather, it will pass.

The only thing we can control is how we respond to it.

💟 Accept what we cannot change.

💟 Focus on the good things which are coming out of this.

💟 Think about how what is truly important to us now and in the future.

 

Wednesday 25th March

I ventured out fairly early this morning to do my parents’ weekly shop.  People were queuing all round the block to get into Waitrose so I abandoned that and went to M&S where I got most things.  What I later discovered was that Waitrose have employed a strict new regime which enforces social distancing. Only 56 customers are allowed in the store at any one time so it’s one out, one in.  Hand baskets have been removed, and all trolley handles are disinfected after each use, as are self check out screens. Strict distancing rules are in place at the tills. So I applaud Waitrose for their responsible approach.  Other supermarkets will follow suit.

I also attended a couple of webinars today, both focusing on the importance of supporting people’s mental health through this time.  Scary news from a Samaritans representative – although they had increased the number of calls they had taken over the last two weeks, the number of calls they were unable to take also increased. The volunteer sector is booming with many people offering help, but many charities are not set up to deliver all their training or their services remotely.  There is much work to be done.           

 

Thursday 26th March

I used my allotted one trip out to exercise by going for a run this morning.  It was a beautiful morning (this whole week would have been so much worse had it been raining every day).  My knee which is recovering from injury is holding out well giving me no pain.  

I’ve been helping my son with simultaneous equations (which is my absolute favourite, honestly – I know I’m weird).  He gets Maths, so that was not too bad, but he really struggled with the film review he had to do for English. He needs constant cajoling and reassurance to get his work done – this doesn’t mix well with our need to also work, but we are finding some sort of routine. 

I hosted my first “Virtual coffee morning” via Zoom. It was good to catch up with some familiar faces and to put faces to others I’d only met via Facebook and WhatsApp. It is encouraging to see people pulling together with community spirit.

News from the Chancellor of support for self-employed people is on the whole encouraging, but it will take time to digest and understand implications.

At 8pm we all stood outside or hung out of our windows and clapped for all the NHS staff.  It was amazing to hear the whoops of support from across the streets. I am full of admiration for the thousands of key workers in all sorts of jobs who are working hard to keep the country running.  It also raises questions about what work is considered essential. There are so many drivers out there getting supplies to where they are needed but should we still be buying e.g. clothes online? On the one hand we need to sustain as many businesses as possible but on the other this could be causing unnecessary contact which will contribute to the spread of the virus.  And then there is another tranch of people who are suddenly unemployed, or housebound with nothing to do. My mother says she feels lazy. She’s already sorted the house out!

A very welcome distraction came this evening by way of my Glee club.  We were all online last night and there were over 40 people on the call – all singing along in the comfort of their own homes. My daughter got cross with me for hogging the wifi and I’m not sure what the neighbours thought!  I sang my heart out regardless.

 

Friday 27th March

I had a bit of a wobble today.  I knew it would happen and it won’t be the last one.  I did my usual monthly lunchtime shift at the in-patient unit at our local hospice where I have been volunteering for the past 5 years.  Life is carrying on as ‘normal’ there except that I was issued with a face mask for any interaction with the patients. Not only was covering my mouth uncomfortable (it was hot and my glasses steamed up), but people were unable to see me smile at them.  I realised how much a smile and the occasional squeeze of a patient’s hand were comforts that are now being denied. People are still allowed to visit their loved ones (albeit with tighter restrictions). Patients are allowed a peaceful and dignified death.  But for relatives saying good bye to their loved ones, that is it. They won’t be able to gather and mourn as a family together sustaining each other with hugs and tears. I overheard one of the nurses saying to a family member “Come back when all this is over so we can give you a hug”.  And that led me to thinking of all the Covid-19 patients all over the world who are dying alone, scared and starved of human touch that we have all taken for granted. Devastating. That’s why it’s so important to stop the spread of this virus.  

Both the PM and the Health Secretary have tested positive for the virus and the Chief Medical Officer is self-isolating with symptoms.  Were those podiums the allotted 2m apart…?

In brighter news, we got together with 4 other couples for a virtual quiz and a few drinks.  The banter cheered me up no end.

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