And so April began – month 2 of our COVID-19 experience.
March 23rd had seen Boris Johnson placed the UK on a police-enforced lockdown with strict measures to contain the spread of the virus. The lockdown meant that we were under strict instructions to go out only when necessary – for food, medicine, or exercise. It also meant that no one was able to see friends or family – and shops, restaurants, bars and offices across the country were closed until further notice. When the lockdown was first announced, the initial time it was ordered for was three weeks.
We had no idea what lay ahead, though reports from Italy had been coming through since late January, when the WHO declared the coronavirus a ‘pandemic’, meaning it had reached all around the globe. Italy was the place we looked to (mainly online, as the UK media were not focused on Europe much). And the news from northern Italy was both horrifying and scary. The spread of the virus, and its lethal potential became very clear. Could we in the UK heed the warnings and take early action to avoid a disaster here? Those were the questions we were asking as April began.
Personally we began to look online for advice and information as nothing was forthcoming from the Westminster government.
A new ritual of washing incoming deliveries in dilute bleach.
Ensuring enough fuel for the central heating boiler as well as cars.
Trying to locate hand sanitisers and face masks (not easy at all)
Finding out which ways of protecting oursleves were most effective (an ever-evolving journey of discovery!)
Thinking in terms of living without help in either house or garden – and starting taking on that work load (not very successfully!)
Thnking in terms of much more home cooking, and keeping the freezer stocked with home-made meals.
Contemplating possible rationing, as everyday items became ‘unavailable’ due to panic buying.
Not what a normal Spring might offer as we emerged from a long, cold winter!
And we were finding life becoming ever more complicated, with ordinary tasks taking twice as long as ‘normal’. A lot of time was spent online trying to find out as much as possible, to help us in our highly vulnerable situation. Together with the underlying stress of the presence of the virus, it meant we were sleeping badly, and waking feeling tired. To me this felt very close to a return/relapse of my underlying ME/PVS and this added to my stress levels!
The advice on offer in the UK was pretty basic:
It was basically suggesting we treat coronavirus rather like ‘flu.
Basic hygeine and avoiding close contact. Looking at our position as we moved from March into April we should have been well placed to prevent the descent into virus chaos that ensued!
What developed over April was stark and alarming, and moved us up to the top of the deaths table!
Here in rural Aberdeenshire we had no idea how fast and far the virus was spreading. We had experienced an early incident in our local town of Turriff, but just how ‘at risk’ were we? We had no idea, so had to assume that we were at great risk … hope for the best but plan for the worst!
Monday April 6th
We got official notice that we were in the ‘Shielding’ group. We felt relieved that there were contact points both online and by phone to give us support.
Wednesday April 8th
We felt well enough to go for a stroll in the grounds of Fyvie Castle (within the 5 mile radius for travel). But on arrival we found that the entire site, including all the grounds were closed, gates locked, and access denied. We felt so deflated, as it was/is a life-line for us as it offers open spaces that are uncrowded, and grass to walk on. Both are important, as walking on roads or pavements are too painful for Mike’s back injuries.
We tried to find somewhere else to walk – but the ground was very uneven, and without any paths ….
We did find it was beautiful in the wild strips of trees that lay between the cultivated fields, but no substitute for the grounds on Fyvie Castle!
So our Shielded status together with the closure of safe walking places meant we were restricted to our home and garden. We needed to find a completely new ‘normal’ to maintain our health and sanity! We both needed to keep moving as much as possible, to prevent muscles weakening and creating problems … so the garden was going to have to be our exercise ground. That was easier for me than Mike, as any prolonged standing, stooping or bending causes him pain. So garden chores fell to me, along with cooking etc. indoors.
Monday 20th April
Are we shielding? Or are we not? Confusion! Probably we are no longer on the Shielding list! We have discovered that maybe the command to stay restricted to house and garden rather outweighs the benefits. If we are not officially ‘Shielding’ then I am free to start recovering my driving skills.
By the end of April we were getting used to the UK lock-down with a 5 miles radius for travel, stay home except for essential outings, clean all incoming items, shopping online with grocery deliveries, social distancing of 6′ and face masks ready if needed.
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