Lockdown … cos that’s what everyone’s writing about right?

Well this is all so weird I’ve decided to write a blog. Trying to work out how wordpress works is actually even weirder than lockdown!

For a while I’ve been meaning to start a blog. Largely because I want to share my thoughts and ask others (you) to contribute to my thinking about a number of things. What better time to do it than now. We’re all in ‘lockdown’ but some are more ‘locked down’ than others. I fit in that second box which is partly what the rest of this post is going to be about. Back in March, yes only about 4 1/2 weeks ago, our world changed. At least if you’re a UK resident, other parts of the world were already there. It seems like months ago. I have very vivid memories of how this all started for me, I’ll share them with you.

I was at the PathwaysUK conference (look them up, they are amazing) and the final session of the final day was turned over to talking about the impact coronavirus might have on the homeless population. What was coming? It was the end of two very long days, but Dr Al Story and Prof. Andrew Hayward took the stage and blummin terrified me. They spoke the truth that was really hard to hear.

It was pretty obvious that life was going to change dramatically but I was harboring hope that the festival my daughter and I were due to go to that weekend would just slip under the deadline. I met her at Victoria Station on the Thursday evening (12 March), as I emerged from the tube (Al and Andrew’s words still in my head) my phone pinged with the cancellation of Country to Country. Pretty tearfully I found and hugged my daughter but it would be alright, we’d have a great weekend in London anyway.

Friday morning and I woke feeling a bit rough. I was tired, I’d been working a lot, travelling a lot, I just needed a rest. We set off for a mooch around London. Got the river ferry in and had a mooch around Covent Garden. Didn’t last long as I felt really rubbish. So we went back to our lovely apartment, very conveniently located for the O2, for me to get some rest. In my head I worked through my symptoms …. cough a bit worse than normal (I’m a dirty smoker), feverish, massively tired and achey …. shit. If I had coronavirus then what on earth was I going to do? I live in Yorkshire. My daughters at Uni in Bristol. We’re both in London. If I do have it then she can’t go back to Bristol because she might have it from me. What to do?!?! Many conversations later and we decide that the only course of action is to hire a car and drive home to Yorkshire, together.

So we did! I won’t go in to detail about how we organised it but suffice to say we tried to make sure I didn’t come in to contact with anyone, I spent a lot of money to insure my daughter on my car so we could rescue it from the station I’d left it at earlier in the week, it was all very complicated! Many hours later we arrive home. I felt even worse. Bed. Sleep. Sofa. Sleep. Bed. Sleep. Sofa. Sleep. By the Monday morning I felt alright. Probably not the C word then (didn’t the C word mean something else in our previous world?).

Sunday evening I had a text exchange with work. Things were clearly going to change … incident level 4 and we were being asked to act. Monday was the start of the redeployment of staff. Tuesday I managed to win the lead on a whole new area of work – the NHS response for people who are homeless …. Al and Andrew’s words still ringing in my ears.

What I realised quite early on was that I would be in a vulnerable group no matter what. I’d had breast cancer in 2018 and now have ongoing drugs to reduce the chances of it returning. One of the drugs is basically very low dose chemo every day. This means I am immunosuppressed so any virus is going to hit me worse, let alone what this one might do to me. As the days passed, lockdown commenced and then they announced ‘shielding’ measures. Bugger that would be me. I didn’t get a letter straight away but I did get phone calls from the Hospital and the GP practice that confirmed what I already knew. Having it confirmed made me wobble a bit but I have a lot of work to do so focus and carry on.

This brings me to my current thoughts. I’m being well looked after. My son and his girlfriend are home with me (my daughter is now with her Dad after possibly being exposed to the C word) and they are amazing. Limited trips to the supermarket after which they clean down all the shopping before I’m allowed near. Parcels are wiped thoroughly before I can open them. My son has made me spend a lot of money making sure my home office is fit for purpose. I miss my daughter a lot but video calling is brilliant. I miss having hugs. Even though I have my boy at home we can’t get too close or have a hug. I’m finding that hard. Friday 17 April and the government announce a further three weeks of lock down. That’s fine, sensible. But. Wait. If that’s a further three weeks for everyone then … the penny drops … lockdown won’t just end, there will be a gradual lifting of the restrictions. Slowly different groups of people will be allowed out. Coffee shops, bars, pubs will start to re-open. But I’ll be in that group of people who still have to stay home. So, as everyone else rejoices at the return to social contact and ‘normal’ life, I’ll still be at home with no hugs. That’s pants.

But I will be alive so that’s all good.

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