5th April 2020 – Covid 19

I haven’t written since the end of February. And what a lot has happened in the world since then.

I guess that’s almost why I haven’t written. Life has been busy, and crazy, and Just Too Much. My moods have been erratic, my energy low. It’s hard to pour from an empty jug. I’m reminded of this again and again as I try and function right now.

It’s been almost a month since the Corona Virus really took a hold in the UK. Bizarre, as my last entry was about my visit to the British Museum. Now I can’t leave the house. It’s strange, how much things have changed. Everything non essential is closed. People might be flaunting the rules, but the only times you should be leaving the house are to go grocery shopping, or for once a day exercise. Sitting at home all day, I’m starting to really understand why Jane Austen was so snarky in her novels. That is very much a compliment.

I’ve left the house three times for about twenty minutes each since the middle of March. It’s strange; even as someone who would willingly not leave the house, I’m struggling. It’s knowing I can’t. That it’s unsafe. That there is no where to go, as everything is shut. Goddammit I want a Starbucks. Will I even be able to face their coffee after months of only drinking from my Areopress? WHO KNOWS. We know nothing else, after all.

This is a bit of a strange, babbling post, I know, but I wanted to record what life is really like right now.

The fear is palpable. Every time my husband goes shopping I panic, even though he wears plastic gloves, and the rules are at supermarkets that only a few people can enter at a time. You have to queue up outside, he says, although I wouldn’t know; I last went to a shop on 15th March. I bought chocolate and sundried tomatoes. And hot cross buns!

The number of things you can buy is limited to one of each in some places, down from the three of each it was. One loaf of bread. One bottle of milk. If there is any bread and milk. The panic buying emptied the shelves, and even though it is better than it was, it’s also worse; the people who were following safety guidance are now ignoring it, as it’s boring. They’re bored. There’s a pandemic, and they’re bored.

B is ten, and is missing school. He misses his friends, he misses his lessons, he misses his routine. The problem is, all the days blur into one long stream of endless day now. It’s either day or night, no need to name it. I had to check three times that it was a Sunday today. Every day has been the same for so long, I wasn’t sure. And it does feel like so very long. I was self isolating before the government finally made it legislation, because I’m high risk. B has been off school since before they finally closed the schools. They were waiting it out, foolishly, trying to get as close to the Easter holidays as possible.

A bus has just driven past outside. Empty, of course. I know they need to keep them running for key workers, but I haven’t seen a single passenger on a bus going past for a while now. When we were out for our walk around the block last week, there was a man washing his car, and I was so excited to see another human being that I shouted hello to him before I could even think. That was the same day we met a Very Friendly cat, and I panicked silently for the rest of the walk, remembering the latest: animals can carry the virus in their fur and pass it on.

B said to me last night he was scared I was going to die. More specifically, he said he was worried he was going to give me the virus and it was going to kill me, all because of him. I reassured him as best I can right now; “your cough is because of your asthma right now”. But it wasn’t enough to get rid of his fear. How could it be? It wasn’t enough to get rid of mine.

We spend out days playing board games, mostly. A lot of Yahtzy is going down. B rolled a Yahtzy of sixes in one roll the other day and it was as if it was the most exciting thing ever had happened to us. It feels somewhere between pathetic and wonderful to be so excited over dice.

We’ve put the Christmas tree up. And lights around our bedrooms. B is sleeping in the world’s most epic den. We are barely sleeping, or I am at least; night time brings nightmares. Day time is safe, although every time I wake up, I’m immediately gripped by the fear I might be on countdown for wakings.

I feel a bit breathless lately, but it’s impossible to know why. It might be because I’m fat, it might be the pollen count, it might be a chest infection. It might be Covid 19. Logically I know it isn’t. But you can’t know for sure, and that’s the worst thing to live with. You can’t relax entirely, because what if? What if? It incubates for weeks. What if?

And then there’s my every day health to manage on top of a pandemic. There’s a shortage of medications. Dispensing is taking longer. The doctor’s surgery has shut and there are only a few telephone appointments available. I had to speak to a doctor who wasn’t my own last week (this week? I don’t know any more.) and she was not pleased to hear from me about something not easily fixed. I gave her the benefit of the doubt in my mind, thinking how stressed she must be, but it was hard. My mental health support is zero. No that’s not fair. My therapist is calling some Friday mornings, but he is just as uncomfortable on the phone as I am. My regular care coordinator is off sick, and naturally I’m panicking. I asked outright if she was off with Covid19, and he told me he didn’t know. But that’s the whole problem isn’t it? I rationalised to tell myself if she had got Covid 19, and she had passed it on to me, I would be showing symptoms right now. It doesn’t help much, being rational.

A six week old baby and a five year old have died in the last forty eight hours. They used to think that children weren’t getting it, or if they were, it was very mild. That’s been disproven now, and it seems like anyone is open to attack. B has asthma, and I worry constantly. If someone is sick, you’re not allowed in the hospital with them. I have nightmares and flashes of terror in the day of him laying there struggling to breathe without me being able to hold his hand. It literally knocks the breath out of me.

Meanwhile all the village idiots are coming out to play. The seafront has been busy, for goodness sakes. The photos are all over the news. There was a video of the police pouring water on a BBQ some family had gathered around on the beach! People seem to be forgetting this is not a holiday. It’s a pandemic. The idea isn’t to have a good time, but to stay alive. That’s the objective of this game.

We won’t be having Easter eggs this year, as we can’t get hold of them. I’m going to crochet B an animal of his choice as some kind of consolation prize.

Homeschooling without access to leaving the house is hard. I thought about homeschooling, back when B was young. I only decided against it based on my health, worried he would be isolated if I had a blip. Now ironically he is isolated for our health. If these were normal circumstances, there are endless groups to go to and join for homeschooling, everything locally from carpentry to snorkeling I’ve seen advertised at times. We would go swimming and on nature walks, to craft groups and science clubs.

Instead it’s me and a laptop, with animal videos and printed SATs papers.

He has been so good about it all, but it’s not easy being a child right now. They know too much but don’t know enough at the same time. He feels the isolation even more profoundly than maybe we do; he’s used to spending 8.30am – 3pm with thirty other people. I’m trying to keep him busy. We’ve done some crochet, and some sewing. He’s done plenty of colouring, and plenty of maths papers. Thank god he likes maths.

This is possibly the longest post I’ve ever written and there’s so much more I could say. But I won’t, for now. There’s at least ten more weeks for that.

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