Like everyone else, across the planet, I’m trying to make sense of the coronavirus. As we’re pretty certain my husband has had the virus (symptoms started on Friday 20th March) I’ve been keeping a diary. He is literally the fittest and healthiest person I know in real life and is rarely ill. He’s never had “man flu” in the 16 years I’ve know him and has only had two sick days in the last decade, when we all norovirus in 2015. 99% of my brain knows he’ll be totally fine, but damn that 1%!!
Of course there has been no test for him, so we don’t know for certain. It could just be that he has a very coincidental list of symptoms fitting the COVID-19 profile. If you haven’t already done so, I’d suggest signing up to a virtual GP. We needed to speak to a doctor urgently on Thursday night and the service was incredible. UK based folks can also download this app which tracks your symptoms and will tell you if you need to isolate or seek medical assistance. With testing only happening inside hospitals, everyone is guessing right now and we need all the correct information we can get our hands on.
While the loss of life is beyond devastating, I truly believe there is much to learn from this time. Is this pandemic the wake up call society has been in desperate need of? True colours will be shown. Resilience will – or will not – be garnered and the opportunity for genuine connection is being offered up like never before. Meaningless social media platitudes are no longer comforting. Pointless group chats, where everyone talks over each other are a waste of precious time. Strangers on Instagram telling us we’ve “got this” aren’t going to pay the bills if the main earner gets made redundant.
Getting through this crisis is one thing, but we need to ensure we’re able to fully function afterwards as well. Buckle up, folks, this rollercoaster ride is only just beginning.
Monday 16th March
Although horror stories are emerging elsewhere, the UK has a strange business as usual feeling about it. Perhaps this is the ultimate calm before the storm? Andy went to into the office for work, using public transport to get there and back. He returned this evening with the news that his office is now closed until further notice and everyone is to work from home.
Johnson told us this evening to carry on as usual and that London isn’t going to be locked down any time soon. Apparently we should all wash our hands whilst singing happy birthday. Memes are going bat shit cray cray…
Tuesday 17th March
We experienced Facebook at its best this morning. I posted an update saying that Polly is suffering with high levels of anxiety and asking for people to send me good news stories. Within an hour, a very lovely neighbour, who lives a few doors up, had put a card through our front door. She had written a little exercise in it that helps her when she has anxiety. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold it for 5 seconds and exhale for 5 seconds. Tune in to 5 things you can see; 4 things you can touch; 3 things you can hear; 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. I was very deeply touched by this little act of kindness and Polly was absolutely blown away.
Ummmed and ahhhed over whether to go to gymnastics, figuring it would be the last time for a very long time. Decided not to go, but after receiving a text from the organiser saying it was definitely on, changed my mind. Gym class always helps the girls with their mental health and anyone with vulnerable kids are already in self-isolation. There were only a few of us there and it was our last opportunity to support the coaches and independent cafe.
The new chancellor seems to know his stuff, but my word. Shit is getting very real indeed. Stories coming out of Italy are nothing short of horrific. St. Patrick’s Day, usually such an event, came and went without registering. Mind you, pancake day also did for us this year, and that was before the coronavirus crisis.
Wednesday 18th March
Lots of lovely friends sent me links to good news and one in the States sent me a bunch. I’m under no illusion that positive thinking alone will get us through. However, it’s very heartening to hear stories of kindness, rather than idiots hoarding toilet paper and fighting over pasta in the supermarket. The Gary Neville’s and LEON’s of the world are my new heroes. As are the people delivering groceries, stacking the shops each day before the crowds descend and of course our incredible NHS staff.
Government announced today that schools are to close on Friday, until further notice. Most are speculating that the kids won’t go back until after the summer holidays. Most of my friends are losing their minds at the prospect of having their children home all day, under semi-lockdown. A scenario my little family is absolutely no stranger to, having been home educating since 2015. My six year old, Freddy, hates the outside and wouldn’t ever leave the house if he got to make the rules. Polly and Clara, however, are going to really struggle. Andy is trying to figure out a way to assemble a climbing wall to keep them entertained.
Clara is very off, in a week-before-chickenpox type of way. Children often suffer with viruses worse before they display the official symptoms. Trying not to allow my thoughts to spiral on this one.
Thursday 19th March
Woke up today full of hope. Resolving to use this time as an opportunity to hone my family’s emotional resilience. To embrace all the challenges that come our way, over the months ahead, and emerge stronger and happier afterwards. Not give as much thought to the academic stuff for the children and play with them instead. Bake, cook, garden, write, make LEGO… I’m full of great ideas, but at times like this, I simply need to stop bloody thinking!
Deactivated Instagram and deleted the Facebook app from my phone. Now I just need to stop checking the news every half an hour. The building site at the back of my garden, operating as if nothing is going on, is freaking me right out. Do construction workers have hidden superpowers, meaning they are immune to Rona?
Friday 20th March
Went for a run – ensuring I crossed the road if I saw anyone else – to maintain safe distance. Was absolutely shocked to see so many OAP’s going about their everyday business. Did they not get the memo? High Street packed, buses packed. Stories of friends’ parents and grandparents refusing to isolate. Andy’s been feeling rough all afternoon and went to bed at 8:15pm with flu like symptoms.
Boris announced that all pubs, cafes, restaurants, etc will be closed after tonight. I guess if people can’t act responsibly, the government are going to be forced to make all our decisions for us.
Saturday 21st March
Almost sure that husband has coronavirus (but not certain, obvs, as no access to a test). The bedsheets were soaked in his overnight sweats when we woke up. His temperature is going up and down and the cough is persistent. As he gets injured at juijitsu a lot – and never complains – I’m a bit freaked out. Sleeping all day is simply not the way he rolls.
Unsurprisingly, the kids were really hard work. They fought relentlessly and too much telly was watched. Well and truly a “write it off and don’t speak of it again” type of day. On the plus side, Waitrose delivered almost all our groceries with only a few substitutions and out of stocks. Last place we should be right now is in a packed supermarket and I’m very glad that I booked up a some advance deliveries at the beginning of the month. Also feeling super grateful for our weekly Riverford veg box as they’ve stopped taking new orders.
Sunday 22nd March
I’m no stranger to weirdness around Mother’s Day, having cut ties with my own mother in 2005, but I’m calling it. Strangest Mother’s Day ever! I got up just after 5:15am, thinking I’d have some peace before the rest of the house got up. All three children were already downstairs, working hard on a surprise for me. Genuinely blew my mind. It was all Polly’s idea and they worked as a team to make a special breakfast, happy mothers day banner and cards. Freddy drew me a picture and made me a LEGO creation. What more does a mama need? Absolutely nothing at all.
The kids were very pleased with themselves and promptly forgot it was a “special day” after the pancakes were eaten. Honestly, I didn’t mind at all and enjoyed spending hours in the kitchen cooking meals. Just in case I get struck down with Rona myself. I’m half convinced I had it a few weeks ago, when I was randomly ill for an entire weekend – but who TF knows?
Husband spent the day dozing on the sofa and perked up around dinner time. He’s completely lost his sense of taste and smell, which he’s finding super weird. Breathing isn’t too laboured, but not coming as easily as it usually does and the cough remains. Temperature seems pretty stable today.
Monday 23rd March
Patient woke up feeling much better and has cracked on with a full day of work. I’m unimpressed but roofs need to stay over heads and bellies need food in them. The kids had a good nights sleep and decent day. Polly announced she is feeling a lot less anxious. BoJo announced that he’s not asking us to stay home, he’s ordering us to. Police have been given the power to fine people on the spot or arrest them, if they are not complying with social distancing measures.
Photos emerged from packed beaches and parks over the weekend were disappointing to say the least. All non-essential shops will close and non-essential travel and leaving-of-the-house must stop. Lockdown, but not lockdown, but lockdown.
Tuesday 24th March
Got a text message from YouGov today telling me to stay home. Hopefully everyone is going to start taking this pandemic seriously now. Coronavirus Bill has been passed, changing many laws (temporarily) to join together in the fight against COVID-19. Conspiracy theories about an Orwellian future circulating.
Kids fought all day, inducing a massive headache and sore throat. (Also have sore legs but that might just be a case of JoeWicksitis.) Am I coming own the virus or just mega-stressed by my offspring? Had a small glass of red wine which worked a treat.
Wednesday 25th March
Husband up and down like a yoyo. Seems to wake up feeling crap; then he works like a demon which takes his mind off it and he goes to bed feeling like shit again. Coughing is persistent but he’s also bringing up phlegm. I’ve heard days 7-9 can be tricky, and we’re approaching that timeframe. Really trying not to future gaze and keep my crazy thoughts in check.
Prince Charles now joins Idris Elba and Tom Hanks. Weirdest of times.
Made a ton of beeswax/shea butter lip balms, essential oil rollerballs and wellness capsules today. I’ve been comforted by my seedlings and the food scraps we’re growing in water on the windowsill. Slow life really suits me, I’ve felt over being so close to the city for a long time. One of the most poignant quotes I’ve come across recently is about not giving from the depths of your well, only from the overflow. London really does suck you dry when you’re maxed out. Lots to ponder on during quarantine.
We’ve all been enjoying an evening stroll for about half an hour before starting the kids’ bedtime. Giving other people AT LEAST a 2m wide berth.
Thursday 26th March
What a day. Andy woke up with a strange rash on his feet – no where else. My immediate thought was that it was a viral rash and Rona is working its way out of his body. Then in the afternoon, my very diligent neighbour (who is first aid trained) suggested testing it under glass. Cue all the worries in the world when the bugger didn’t disappear under pressure. Talk about fall down terrifying rabbit holes. Whilst also remaining calm and carrying on as normal so the kids didn’t pick up on my angst.
Us parents walk a very fine line with our little ones. To ensure that they’re well enough informed so it doesn’t cause anxiety. But not too well informed that it causes anxiety. Honesty is important and letting them know the seriousness, but also giving them access to plenty of good news stories too. Yes people are dying, but MANY MORE are surviving and recovering. And there is plenty of good being done amid the shitshow.
The mass clap for the NHS was moving and emotional. I truly hope once this is over that they start getting more recognition. Abolishing the free degree for nurses was one of the most unforgivable things the Tories have done and it would be great to see the scheme return. Along with fair pay rises. But first, they absolutely must be going to work in the correct protective gear. It’s baffling to think these heroes on our generation’s front line are looking after highly infectious patients without decent masks.
Andy spoke to a remote GP at 10pm, who was very thorough. After looking at photos of the rash, she said it was almost definitely a viral rash and nothing to worry about. Don’t think I’ve ever gone to bed so happy in all my life.
Friday 27th March
Woke up full of gratitude and hope – for the love inside my warm house and knowledge that we are healthy and in great shape to beat this virus if it lingers and/or returns. Went for a run with the sun shining brightly. Life is good, I told myself. It was early, the park wasn’t packed. Easy to observe the 2m rule and (mostly) give people even more distance. About ten minutes in, I felt like I was being sucker punched. My chest tightened, my head filled with (more viciously blaring than usual) white noise. The only option was to sit on the pavement and sob. So I did.
It’s the strangest sensation – like being separated from my body or shut inside a soundproof glass room. No longer aware of anything other than my breathing. In through the nose, right down to the diaphragm, slowly exhale. Rinse and repeat. Haven’t had a panic attack in about two years. They are always the same, though. One minute I’m crying for a particular reason and the next everything hits me. Grief floods my entire body and I have no choice but to succumb to it. Thank goodness I wasn’t inside the house, around the children. Perhaps this is precisely why it happened?
Lots of well meaning folks asked if I was okay from a distance. Thinking about it now, I’m sure they wanted to help but they couldn’t. They didn’t know why I was crying. For all they knew I could have been highly infectious. Who’s going to take that risk? I’ve seen the change in people this week. Becoming suspicious and weary of everyone else. Fear is truly setting in, which is more terrifying than the deadly virus itself. After sitting on the floor of my local park, I listened to Brene Brown’s new podcast. She talks about operating through scarcity; working out a family gap plan and how we can set a good example for our kids. I’d highly recommend listening to it, whether you are a parent or not.
The rash is going down and Andy is feeling a lot more well today. Let’s just hope this continues. We’ve learnt this week that it comes and goes in waves, so it’s not a situation we are taking lightly. Lots of super early nights with a nine on the clock have been had; plenty of nutrient dense food and no strenuous exercise. Which he’s struggling with but knows it’s for his own good. His chest is starting to feel less tight, which is great. We’re monitoring his breathing and will check back in with the GP should anything change.
News broke today that our Prime Minister and Health Secretary are both COVID-19 positive. Surreal AF!
Wednesday 8th April
Like most people, I imagine, my little family are settling into our new normal. Already I’m able to feel grateful for the experience we had early on in the pandemic and I’m sure it will help me learn all I need to from this moment. There have been ups and downs, which no doubt I’ll write about in depth, but if there is one thing people en masse are realising, it’s that health really is wealth. Something I’ve known for well over a decade now but never before has this quote been more on point.
Numbers are racking up – people we’ve lost, people in the ICU, including our Prime Minister. The economy is taking a ridiculous pasting. Theories are running roughshod about whether it’ll recover or we’ll be forced into a deep dark depression, akin to the 1920’s. Only time will tell, I guess. I’m trying to embrace the now and not think too much about what the future holds. Wishing everyone and the ones you love well today.
Sometimes, great things come out of the grimmest of situations
In the midst of the corona-carnage, myself and a group of friends decided to set put together an anthology of short stories and poetry. To immortalise our pandemic experiences and give a little bit of hope to the people who read it. Check out Birch Moon Press, our independent, not-for-profit press, supporting female voices, for all the details. You can buy our book following this link.