When you’ve nothing nice to say…

It’s proving rather hard at the moment, finding what to say. We’re all in very different boats I think; some are merrily drifting, not really sure which direction but we will get there. For others, the ride isn’t so smooth, and there are storms galore along the way. Thankfully I am not in hospital any more, and I am part of the drifting crew. Is there anything we can do? Well, according to the government’s ‘updates’ each day and the lockdown rules no, there is nothing we can do yet in regards to relaxing the lockdown. However, that doesn’t mean that we should lose hope.

I’ve found one of the hardest things is finding enough to do in order to tire myself out so I sleep well, but ensuring that I don’t do everything in one day and therefore have nothing to do for a few days. If I do that, I don’t sleep well, which makes me tired, which makes the days longer, and so the vicious cycle continues. Something I have taken to doing is watching/ reading foreign news coverage of the situation here in the UK. It is extremely saddening that we now have the highest death toll in Europe, and we’ve not even included all out of hospital deaths yet. Every single person that has passed away from this awful illness has family, friends, loved ones… all of those people ignoring the rules have family, friends and loved ones and yet are still allowed to roam free, with the police given next to no powers to do anything.

The latest developments, such as unlimited exercise and plans to attempt to reopen society, are encouraging. However, I have had a little setback; I received a letter advising me to stay at home for 12 weeks. Obviously I wasn’t a high priority as I received it at the end of April, but oh well. On the other end of things, I’ve had calls from both wheelchair services and motability which hopefully means things may start moving again pretty soon! Swings and roundabouts, ey?

Today has been a fairly good day. We had a lovely walk around the estate; I say we walked, what I mean is Sarah walked, I rolled and Amelia finally managed further than a lamppost on her bike! In my world, that is a fantastic success. Despite her not being at school, she is still learning plenty of new things, most just seem to be the type of thing they don’t teach in school. She enjoys many different types of music now (Read heavy metal) and is extremely helpful around the house. She is getting bored of it all, but how can you explain all of the craziness in the world to a three year old?!

I can only apologise for the lack of posts recently. The problem with every day being the same is that nothing happens, and I have nothing to write about. Hopefully with these new rules I may have a little bit more to share.

Close to Home

As with many people, I am trying my best to follow the social distancing/ lockdown rules in order to protect the NHS and therefore do my little bit to save lives. However, my mum Sharon is one of those people working in a hospital, doing what she can to help those helping others. She is not a nurse, in fact she is not clinical in any way, but is currently redeployed out on wards ensuring that the vital PPE staff are using is being used correctly and safely, and thus hopefully no more staff will contract this awful virus. Anyone willing to put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of others is a good person in my book, but I have to say I am incredibly proud of my mum.

Not normally one for a uniform, I think my mum secretly loves her new scrubs!

As well as my mum, I have lots of other people in my life that are ‘key workers’, still taking themselves off to work to ensure that we can all be safe at home. My dad, Dave, is one of these people. He is a truck driver with a small firm, driving artic tankers most commonly filled with fertiliser to farms all around. Without people like him, in three months’ time we will have no fresh food! His wife, my stepmum Sharon, is a senior in a care home (senior member of staff that is). Without people like her, dedicated to her job in a risky environment, people in care homes wouldn’t get the care they need and the virus’ mortality rate would be much higher. My stepdad, Jon, is a podiatrist who is self employed and works in the community. Whilst he has seen a dramatic decline in work through people isolating, he is still willing to visit those vulnerable people who need his skills and services.

We all take our lives for granted, whether we realise it or not. Without people like my mum, taking up the roles that were created in response to the virus, we wouldn’t have a hope in hell of ever getting back to relative normality. We have seen some incredible acts of bravery, courage and selflessness throughout this entire pandemic; from nurses and doctors carrying on working despite the risk, to captain Tom completing his walkathon and raising thousands in the process. However, I would like to dedicate this post to the unseen heroes; the people who have taken up the mantle not left by others but created through this situation. The people who receive no recognition, but still crack on through and do as much as they can. The people like my mum.

When life gives you lemons…

Rather than making lemonade, we decided that today Amelia would finally learn to ride her bike! Now before anyone gets upset, this is on a private driveway, and although there is a public pathway running by, we ensured we observed social distancing protocols appropriately.

Now for the fun bit! We tried this the day before yesterday, but unfortunately it didn’t quite go to plan, and we ended up writing it off as a bad job. However a new day has dawned and we have been graced with sunshine, so it was back to the pedals. Helmet donned and tantrums averted, we headed outside, and immediately forget what we had learned the other day. Oh well, let’s give it another go. Amelia actually did incredibly well considering her lack of experience and confidence, and only ate dirt once! she hopped straight back up and back into the saddle, and I have to say I was incredibly proud of her. I wasn’t sure if her knowledge of my accident would make her scared of bikes and the like, but it doesn’t look like it.

It was at this moment, Sarah knew, Amelia had messed up…

It’s becoming more and more difficult to keep Amelia (and occasionally Sarah) entertained throughout this lockdown, and I’ve really learnt to appreciate how much we have available and take for granted all the time. Local parks, beaches, lakes, farms, woodlands are all fantastic and vital to children, as they provide space and education that cannot be found in a classroom. I can’t wait for the day that we can start to head back out to the open spaces like this properly, and let her run wild once again. We are very fortunate in that where we now live has a playpark on the estate, approximately a five minute walk from where we live, and so as soon as we are allowed out again we will be frequenting that often.

In other news, I had a great phone call with a lady from my local wheelchair services, and I am pleased to say that once we are safe enough to live a little again, I am on the priority list to get assessed for a new chair. I think I know what I want, but I will be meeting reps from different companies and will have the chance to get something that suits my needs much better than my current tank.

I hope everyone is keeping well and following the rules as best you can. It is a strange and scary time we are living in, but I am very confident that we will be over it soon enough. I was reading this morning that human trials for a vaccine will begin imminently, which is very reassuring. As is custom on a Thursday, I will be on my doorstep at 8PM tonight clapping for all of our key workers, and I hope you will be too.

There are some incredible stories of how people are coping and uplifting other’s spirits floating around at the moment, so if something online makes you smile, please share it around and try to brighten someone else’s day throughout this time. I still maintain that if anyone needs a chat I am here, as are many others. The internet is absolutely our best friend at the moment, and there are some incredible resources available. We are still having almost nightly quizzes, so if anyone needs a quiz just let me know, I’ve written a few now!

On a final note, I would like to say thank you again to everyone who has helped me, not just during the current situation but right from the beginning: the list is endless. I started this blog as a way of coping and recording my story, but it has become so much more than that for me; it is my outlet, and I am extremely grateful that people take the time to read. I can only apologise for the slow pace of new content at the moment, but I simply have nothing to write about! Hopefully there are lots of adventures to come, and I can share it all with you. Take care everyone, it’s a mad world out there.

The smiling faces that keep me going

Four walls and a straightjacket

We might be in the middle of the most difficult times our country has seen since the second world war, but life inside still goes on. Unfortunately for me that means another day, another pressure mark. Even more unfortunately for me is that another pressure mark means another day in bed. So today, with the sun shining and the breeze swaying the trees, I was still in bed at 5PM.

This one was my own fault, I thought I’d straightened the elastic on my boxers before going to sleep but evidently not. The lovely red stripe around my hip has meant that today, when I planned on being productive (editing a podcast), I’ve sat in bed instead. It’s hard enough being unable to go anywhere or do anything, but this is taking me right back to being isolated in hospital. With only netflix for company, those were some of the hardest days. At least this time Sarah and Amelia are here, and I’m in my own bed.

I hate these days with a passion. Skincare is so much more than a cleansing routine for anyone living with a condition like mine, and it’s also harder to maintain. From a little bit of ‘stuff’ on my seat, to the elastic of my boxers, literally anything can give me a pressure mark and leave me stuck trying to heal.

There are many people like me, and there are many people in a much more difficult position than me. Those who have been advised to stay isolated for 12weeks, those who have had care provision cut due to the risk, those who are now stuck in a dangerous position due to being in closer contact with abusive family members… in the last week, the domestic abuse hotline in the UK has seen a call increase of 150%. That is scary.

Luckily, I’m up for am hour or two now the mark has faded, so I’ll hopefully get some fresh air and the last of the sun. It could be worse!

I’m not a big believer in ‘signs’, but the love heart above Amelia cheered me up.

Niggly little bits

One thing I have found during lockdown is that Sarah and I are finally getting around to completing all the niggly little bits that have needed doing around the house. Obviously that mostly means Sarah is my handyman whilst I supervise, but let’s not get pedantic. We have put up the lights around the TV unit that have been waiting for months, are sorting out the garden, putting up CCTV etc… When Amelia is at school there is a lot of time lost taking and picking her up, so it is a great chance to do what we need to.

We are also making a big effort to focus on family bonding and activities, as since we are in such close proximity all the time we need to ensure we all get along. What I really mean is that we are playing a lot of games like snap and bingo with Amelia, or I Spy etc when we go for a walk round the estate. Sarah and I have played cluedo a few times (stupid game, I haven’t won once yet) and we are making sure to communicate more. Even little things like watching movies the other isn’t particularly fond of is important; we have a very small house, and so compromises are part and parcel of our situation. Game of Thrones has also become a new obsession of ours…

Living together isn’t always easy for the three of us. We don’t have a lot of room in our little home, and so we are often getting on top of one another. Thankfully the weather seems to be taking a turn towards something resembling sunshine, which means we can get out in the garden and let Amelia burn off some energy. We have had to learn that there is nothing wrong with Sarah and I doing our own thing, so for instance I can podcast or blog whilst she watches TV or plays her games. This lockdown situation isn’t good for anyone, but we really are making the most of it.

One thing that has been on my mind recently is the extent that some people go to flaunting the rules. One house near me constantly has people in and out, and it’s not the same few that live there either. Personally I strongly disagree with this, as quite simply the rules are there to protect all of us. I am very lucky to have some amazing family and friends who work for the Ambulance Service, as student nurses, social workers, radiographers, truck drivers, pharmacy assistants, physio assistants, healthcare assistants, carers… the list goes on, and the link between them all is that they are ‘Key Workers’. Prior to this situation, they were the people who never got a second thought, who were seen as just doing their jobs like everyone else. On one hand, I am incredibly happy that they are finally getting the recognition they deserve, on the other it winds me up that it takes an event like this to happen for people to be appreciative of others. Oh well. Jess, Darren, Jenny, Demi, Jodie, Hayley, my parents (all 4 of them), the countless others that I could mention, I have just one thing to say to you; thank you. You are all brilliant people, and on every thursday evening, when we stand on the doorstep clapping for our incredible NHS, I will be thinking of all of you. Hopefully once this is over we will get some changes for the better; higher minimum wages, more funding for the NHS, better understanding of who actually matters in society.

My heart goes out to everyone at the moment, I really don’t know who to think about more. The people I’ve mentioned above are all doing so much and making huge sacrifices for the good of others. The family and friends of people who have been taken by this awful virus are getting no closure. People living alone are getting no social interaction. I could go on, but you get the gist. Let’s all be kind, pull together and hopefully we will get out of it soon.

We even have our rainbow up in the window!

On a final note, I would like to wish everyone a happy easter. It may not be the same this year, with not being able to see families and keep up other such traditions, but it is still a special time and we are all in the same boat. Have a great weekend, but remember: Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives.

Something a little different…

Today, as the title says, I would like to share something a little different. My younger sister, Ciara, has recently revealed that she has a knack for writing (must run in the family) but more specifically she writes fantastic poetry. What I will post below was written by my sister for an assignment in school, however I think it is fantastic and as with any art, must be shared as far as possible. She has posted some of her work on facebook, in a group called NHS 2020 HUMAN CHAIN, which is linked here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/887592825011065/891647074605640/?comment_id=891651101271904&reply_comment_id=891652247938456&notif_id=1585904351762647&notif_t=group_comment_mention

The work I am posting here is about me being in intensive care, during my 8 day medically induced sleep. She wrote this in november, so I was around 4 months into my recovery. I think it is a very raw, real reflection of how she felt, and makes for a very compelling read. That’s enough from me, so here it is!

Powerlessly hopeful. As time stood still, we barged our way through the hustle and bustle; mile-long corridors held open our way to hell. Then it all stopped. The first set of heavy, steel, prison-like doors opened. Wearily, we entered, not knowing how many of us would make it back out. 

Warm like hell, but my blood ran cold. I sank into the itchy chair, waiting powerlessly. Unable to catch my breath, I choked up, so naive, not even remotely ready to see what was lurking on the other side of that cheap, old wall. The room was dingy, musty smelling, caked in fear upon innocent family member’s faces, past and present. History was made that day, and every day before it – a small victory was gladly welcomed by everyone. 

It was light inside, but the light was artificial. I was dark. Hollow in fact. Horror consumed me like a huge storm cloud covering the sun. Deafeningly silent was the only way to describe it, avoiding eye-contact with strangers yet they were the people that understood our pain the most. We were hopeful, yet powerless. Every single moment in there was morose, but what was to come was almost ominous. 

From fighting our way through what felt like a brass chain of people, to being in a prison cell, to what we experienced next – I crumbled. 

Intensive care… it’s not said lightly- a place full of machinery, like a 24/7 operation, working seamlessly under the pressure of life or death. Stimuli filled every corner: lights, sounds, the susurrus of nurses were over-powering. Vaguely, I remember how daunting the stealth of the room was, by the pulsing of my heart, throbbing out of my chest, truly pulling on all its strings. Despite being surrounded by people from all walks of life, I was totally solitary. 

Sarah and I made the glance, apprehensively – in sync with each other almost blending in with the unnatural surroundings. My eyes welled up with streams of tears, like looking through shattered glass, unable to make sense of anything i saw. Beep… beep… beep the ghostly sound that kept his weak body fighting, whilst ours broke into a million pieces. Lifelessly, he laid there, off in his own world, a crazy place of nothing. His eyes were locked shut; we didn’t know when he’d wake up. 

Time was represented by his body, completely still. The only chain visible now, was the one connecting me to my brother. For so long we were unsure about everything, but in that moment, I could see as clear as day that we were all going to make it out. For the very first time, we were all powerfully hopeful.

By Ciara Watson

A Helping Hand

This entire situation is completely unprecedented, and none of us (I think) have quite managed to grasp the magnitude of what is happening. What is important to remember though is that although it isn’t exactly fun being stuck in the house with nothing to do, there are plenty of people in a worse position. I am very lucky in that I don’t live alone, and therefore at least I have company. Some people are not so fortunate, and that is the entire point of this post. Whilst we live in a world that is more and more connected, there are still plenty of people that do not rely on technology for socialising and therefore are completely socially isolated, potentially for 12 weeks or more.

Over the coming days, weeks and months, it is more important than ever that communities come together, families stay in touch, and that we are all considerate in our actions. Whilst I am by no means an angel, I feel as though Sarah and I are at least trying to do our bit. We popped a note through our elderly neighbour’s door to let them know that if they need anything, they can just call round or phone me. Thankfully, they have taken us up on the offer a few times now and therefore have protected themselves from any unnecessary risk. More than that though, it is important that they know they are not alone through this.

I have been absolutely overwhelmed with the amount of support I have been shown since the start of this lockdown. Friends have messaged to check in, family have offered to share supplies, and people have offered (and been taken up on the offer) to go shopping for us, and I think that is a true sign of the world that we live in; it’s not all bad. Whilst I can’t see this ending any time soon, I am not worried as I know I have plenty of willing and able people who are kind enough to offer their help. As I can’t do the things i would like to and help in the way I wish I could, I’d like to at least help by offering some ideas for those of you struggling yourself, or know someone who is.

In situations like this, tech is very much our friend. Apps such as HouseParty, Zoom or even plain old FaceTime are great; where a phone call is lovely, that extra dimension of seeing someone’s face is infinitely better especially when someone is stuck in isolation. If anyone needs help setting anything up, then feel free to get in touch with me! most of these things are free, which is a bonus. The only issue is that they require a smartphone or tablet. Skype does still exist, and is a brilliant platform, however the issue with that at the moment is that due to everyone working from home, office essentials such as webcams are difficult to come by.

Facebook is becoming an extremely useful tool at the moment too. There are many community action groups, all designed to put those with needs in touch with those with means. The way in which these groups seem to mostly work is by people posting what they can do, and then those with needs can get in touch. Another common formula is one central director/s control the team of volunteers, and distribute the work as it comes in. Thankfully I have not needed to access such a group yet, however i am extremely appreciative of them being there, and I am in awe of those giving up their time to help others during this national crisis. If this sounds interesting, please check out https://covidmutualaid.org/ as this resource lists most of the community groups available.

For those less inclined to use technology, nothing is better than a handwritten letter. The World Health Organisation has stated that the risk of infection from things like letters and parcels is minimal, so hand delivering a letter to someone who would otherwise have no interaction is no risk to anyone.

Finally, I would like to say that if anyone needs a chat, my inbox is always open. Mental health is a serious consideration in situations like this, and we must all take steps to ward off cabin fever and loneliness. Hopefully it won’t be much longer and we can all get back to what we love and know, but with much more mindfulness for those of us without anyone to talk to.

It may be an iPad, but I have a feeling it may still need to come with instructions…

Week 2 Beginning

So it seems that I have survived the first week of lockdown! I am in awe of the amount of community spirit that has been shown these last seven days; the way in which people have come together in spite of being forcibly separated. We keep hearing it on the news, that the liberty of free people hasn’t been restricted like this since the second world war. How crazy is that?! The last time we couldn’t do what we want in a way like this was during the blitz. It is incredible to think of, and what’s even more incredible is the fact that people are. for the most part, actively participating in advocating the rules. Yes, it is a very difficult time, and unfortunately we don’t have a timescale for when it will end, but bare in mind that it eventually will. Even already it is becoming natural, and hopefully if we all abide by the rules this will not be anything long term.

Obviously not being allowed out of the house means that Sarah, Amelia and I have not really been up to a great deal. We have had a daily walk around the estate for our legally allowed exercise, and Sarah has kept shopping to a minimum. Aside from that, we have been trying (mostly) to stick to Amelia’s home schooling plan. It’s strange, with her being in nursery I didn’t really expect to have all that much to think about, but it really is quite intense. Between 26 letter and infinite numbers, there is quite a lot to learn! We try and make it as fun as possible, but unfortunately writing kind of has to be on paper, so needs to be sat at a desk. Oh well. We have had scavenger hunts, collecting things like socks and books in the house and leaves and branches when out on our walks. We listen to nursery rhymes, many of which are based on numbers. Hands up who can actually remember the words for them all? I certainly can’t, so thank god for spotify.

So whilst we have managed it pretty well so far, boredom can seriously be an issue. Board games are making a comeback, as well as card games and good old fashioned books. The app ‘HouseParty’ has become a favourite of ours, allowing us to chat to our friends and play games via the internet. What a world we live in, where despite not being allowed closer than 2m to each other we still have the opportunity to chat and have a laugh. We are very lucky indeed.

So, with not much to say at the moment, I think I’ll end it here. With it being all over the news and the first topic of conversation on everyone’s lips (Including mine, for those of you who listened to my first podcast) there is so much more to the world and to life than just Covid-19. Not everything needs to be about how bad it is, I think we all have enough doom and gloom for now. With that said, I just want to say that for those of you with the virus or showing symptoms, you are in my thoughts. The same goes for those of you with unwell family members, especially if you are unable to see them. Take care of each other, obey the rules and together we will get through this.

There are always flowers for those who want to see them - Henri Matisse

Your country needs you!

Damn Samuel, back at it again with the coronavirus! (Milennial reference right there.)

This coming week, if we look at comparative data from other countries, is going to be the worst yet for the spread of this horrible disease. That means that more people will be unwell, possibly without knowing as they won’t be showing symptoms. They will go outside, mingle with others and spread it further. This, in a nutshell, is the entire problem that we are facing. Selfish people, those who refuse to adhere to the advice of staying at home and observing social distancing, are going to cause people to become ill, and possibly die.

That is a fact. People will die. These deaths will be the result of selfishness.

Too many people are part of the problem rather than the solution; lives are at stake, and there are far too many people treating this like a holiday. Schools have not closed to allow an extra family trip to the lakes, being off sick is not an excuse to take a trip to the seaside; this is a global pandemic people! We all have a moral duty to do the best we can to just keep away from other people.

As humans, we are naturally sociable animals, and so this is never going to be easy. My heart truly does go out to those people that are being asked to self-isolate for 12 weeks, as that is a bloody long time. Whilst I was in hospital and had C-Diff, I was in isolation for 3 weeks, and that was bad enough. Granted at least self-isolation is in your own home, but that is still a huge ask of people. However, and I don’t say this lightly, I believe it is the right thing to do. Just today, I got a text from one of my friends saying he had been sent home from work with a cough. it may seem trivial, but he has been told that even coughing three times an hour is enough for it to be classed as a symptom, and so I am totally in agreement that he needs to isolate. Thankfully he is a very good guy, and will play by the rules, but far too many others in the same position simply won’t, or even simply don’t.

In the next half hour, PM Boris Johnson is due to make a further announcement, and the rumour mill is rife with the belief that we will be put on a total lockdown. Who knows, maybe that is a good thing? With so many shops taking responsibility and closing or massively scaling back their operations we are already massively confined in our choices, and by taking the incentive away from people to be in public spaces hopefully we will see a fast reduction in the transmission of the virus.

  1. Stay at home
  2. Wash your hands
  3. Only go out when 100% necessary, and even then go alone
  4. When in public, maintain a minimum 2m distance
  5. Think of others when buying; we all need the same things, and there is enough to go around if we all play our part

Those are the main points that we are being told, and yet so many people are failing to do such simple things. Maybe this possible lockdown will be a wake up call, and finally people will take this seriously.