April A-Z 2021 – Reflections

This year I decided to blog about my thoughts and feelings on the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic, which for me is the most topical thing in my life at the moment for two main reasons.

First, I’ve actually had Covid, and still struggle with a few straggler symptoms four months on. My ongoing recovery is slow but sure, although I’m finding that even now it still hampers my life somewhat. And second, I was made redundant in mid-March when the business I worked for stopped trading altogether, so one way or another this pandemic has personally affected both my health and my wealth in a very immediate way.

So for me Covid is not just something abstract ‘out there’, affecting other people somewhere else but not touching my life at all, it’s something that’s very much made its presence felt intimately ‘in here’ up close and personal since the beginning of the year.

When it comes to this year’s A-Z I succeeded in posting something daily for all 26 letters of the alphabet – sometimes images, sometimes limericks, sometimes opinions, but I kept it up right to the end – hooray! And now it’s over I can look back and say it’s been quite cathartic overall to post about my Covid experience, so that’s got to be a good thing too.

When it came to checking out other blogs I kept a copy of the Master List open on a tab on my laptop for the full month and visited several different blogs daily – more at the beginning when I was full of enthusiasm but admittedly fewer toward the end of the month as I ran out of steam.

Some blogs I liked so much I decided to ‘follow’ them, but others that interested me not so much I just dipped in and out of – but I suppose that’s just how it goes? 🙂

April A-Z: Z is for Zeitgeist

When others in the future look back at this particular pandemic with the omniscience of hindsight, what will history show them?

Will it register as a mere blip on the retrospective radar, a grumbling glitch in the system, a muttered murmuring of dissent? Or will the long-term aftereffects of Covid 19, already proving so destructive to the health and wealth of so many nations, join forces with those increasingly clamouring voices warning of growing climate change to create a naturally emerging ‘spirit of the age’ surging up against all unnatural uses and abuses of our ailing environment?

Will humanity make good use of the lessons to be learned from this ongoing pandemic to grab the chance to change how we behave in the world, or will our hubris, arrogance and greed continue to blinker us to the damage we have already done to our precious planet including everything on it and in it? Much as we may think we just want things to get ‘back to normal’, perhaps in the long-term we may find that it’s no bad thing that life has necessarily changed so much over this past year… 

Who knows how things will go for any of us post-Covid… I guess only time will tell…

For this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge I’m aiming for an alphabetical exploration of my personal thoughts and feelings on the continuing Covid 19 pandemic one year on, using a mix of poetry, pics and ponderings…

April A-Z: Y is for Yearning

It feels like what I yearn for most right now is the impossible… I want things to feel the way they did before the pandemic. I want to be able to feel easy around other people, not warily filled with ongoing anxiety about keeping my distance at all times and wearing a mask and constantly being careful not to catch or spread the virus…

I just want to go back to being able to meet up with and hug and hold close my friends and family without these oh-so-necessary limitations and restrictions. I want to feel OK to have people over to visit indoors and likewise be able to visit others myself, all of us comfortably and un-self-consciously relaxing and sharing and laughing for hours on end without a care in the world…

But what I yearn for most right now feels impossible… We have learned over this past year to live with the underlying fear that friends and family may unwittingly become the Trojan Horse that attacks our household from within if we get too close, and when it comes to people and possessions ‘Don’t Touch!’ has become our miserable motto, alienating us all so unnaturally from those we love most…

For this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge I’m aiming for an alphabetical exploration of my personal thoughts and feelings on the continuing Covid 19 pandemic one year on, using a mix of poetry, pics and ponderings…  

April A-Z: X is for Excess Deaths

From the beginning of this global pandemic there has been great confusion over how best to record Covid deaths. Countries across the world initially seemed keen to play it all down, showing how well they were managing the virus when compared to their neighbours, massaging statistics to sanitise and minimise numbers. Weaknesses and flaws in national healthcare and social care and welfare systems had to be hidden at all costs – usually paid for in human lives.

Official numbers may variously only include people who died in hospital or only those who tested positive regardless of where they died, effectively negating everyone who died untested, undiagnosed, untreated, unrecognised as victims of the virus. Or people with underlying illnesses who have contracted Covid and died either at home or in hospital may officially have that underlying illness named as cause of death on their death certificate, hiding that coronavirus has been involved in their demise.

But in the long-term, I wonder how will history view retrospectively these dubious, creatively cautious, collateral-damage global death-tolls? Will it simply cut through the politics of denial and pretence portrayed in official national numbers and look instead at the one set of figures that matters most in every country regardless of how they may choose to play down the devastating effects of Covid on their population – namely excess deaths above and beyond the norm as averaged out over previous years?

In my mind looking at excess deaths is probably the most reliable way of working out how Covid has affected any particular population. How many more people than usual have died in this period? Because surely that gives the most realistic view of how many lives have been lost as a result of this Covid pandemic, and not just due to complications of infection, questionable or otherwise. But also including people who have died of unrelated heart problems or cancers or other terminal diseases who have not been able to access healthcare in a timely manner due to the virus taking precedence over resources. Surely a death is a death, and each one has to count for something towards the final reckoning?

The world has undoubtedly suffered great losses over this past year, and these losses continue globally, however much we may wish to welcome a return to free movement and economic stability sooner rather than later. Restrictions cannot stay in place forever, but neither can we deny reality. Getting the see-saw balance right between prioritising potential health over wealth during periods of lock-down, then prioritising wealth over health when the economy reopens again isn’t ever easy, and both have come at a collective cost we have no real option but to continue paying for a long time yet…

For this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge I’m aiming for an alphabetical exploration of my personal thoughts and feelings on the continuing Covid 19 pandemic one year on, using a mix of poetry, pics and ponderings…

April A-Z: W is for Working from Home

Seems like working from home every day

Has become the new post-Covid way

But it comes at a cost

Work/ life balance is lost

Will it be the new norm – who can say?

For this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge I’m aiming for an alphabetical exploration of my personal thoughts and feelings on the continuing Covid 19 pandemic one year on, using a mix of poetry, pics and ponderings…

April A-Z: V is for Variants

As mutations of Covid abound

Rising hot-spot infections are found

Keeping one step ahead

Variants thrive and spread

Will this germ never stop gaining ground?

For this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge I’m aiming for an alphabetical exploration of my personal thoughts and feelings on the continuing Covid 19 pandemic one year on, using a mix of poetry, pics and ponderings…

April A-Z: U is for Unprecedented

Over this past year there appears to have been an unprecedented use of the word ‘unprecedented’ in UK media reports on all things Covid 19 – but in the midst of such an unprecedented global pandemic as we currently find ourselves in, it’s hard to see what other word could possibly do justice to this particular unprecedented situation? 🙂

For this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge I’m aiming for an alphabetical exploration of my personal thoughts and feelings on the continuing Covid 19 pandemic one year on, using a mix of poetry, pics and ponderings…

April A-Z: T is for Taste

When I first tested positive for Covid three and a half months ago, I still had my sense of taste. It had definitely altered a bit as the initial infection took hold, because I found for the first few days everything tasted metallic and yuk, but then slowly my sense of taste disappeared entirely, taking my sense of smell with it. It’s so weird eating and drinking stuff and not being able to smell it or taste it at all. Just when you most want a nice cup of tea to make yourself feel better, or to comfort yourself with some old familiar flavours, it’s so disheartening not to be able to taste anything.

I hadn’t ever realised before just how much my enjoyment of cooking depends on my sense of smell and taste – I found I was still able to make my usual food favourites by rote, seasoning things from years of habit, but frustratingly when it came to eating all I could discern were textures rather than tastes. I learned how strange some food feels in the mouth without your taste-buds zinging things up. Pancakes feel like rubber, chicken soup feels slimy, meat just feels chewy and heavy. If I closed my eyes, I’d probably be unable to name exactly what was in my mouth. If I knew what I was eating, I’d remember the expected taste and try to conjure it up.

As the weeks passed my sense of smell slowly returned first, along with a slight restoration in taste in that I could once more differentiate salty or sweet, spicy or sour, but little else. Suddenly food would smell good again, but still taste disappointingly bland and blah. Then things started to taste really weird for a while as I began to recognise a partial taste but nothing else – for example delicately smoked fish tasted so strongly of smoke I couldn’t even eat it. The sweetest green veg tasted really bitter, even good quality milk chocolate tasted mainly of cloying fatty solids, and wholemeal bread somehow tasted earthy – the balance of intensity was all wrong.

But more recently, thankfully there has been a marked improvement in the subtleties of taste I can decipher. We were eating crunchy home-made garlic bread the other day and I got really excited because I could actually properly taste the luscious herby garlic butter in my mouth – sadly it only lasted for a moment, for one meal, but at least it was there, and it’s a start! To be honest I really miss those delightful nuances of flavour dancing so delicately on my tongue, and I’m so tired of tasting all or nothing with my blundering blunt-instrument taste-buds. But I have hope that things will continue to improve day by day – watch this space! 🙂

For this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge I’m aiming for an alphabetical exploration of my personal thoughts and feelings on the continuing Covid 19 pandemic one year on, using a mix of poetry, pics and ponderings…

April A-Z: S is for Symptoms

I was lucky to only have had a mild experience of Covid. ‘Mild’ as in not having to be taken to hospital struggling to breathe, or suffering multiple organ failure. I was lucky to have stayed at home, sick but not seriously ill, not at any time in any danger of death.

My symptoms started with dizziness, ear-ache, headache, sore throat, sneezing for a couple of days. Then I developed a funny taste in my mouth, and then I began to cough a bit differently than usual. I was bone-tired, a flu-like level of exhaustion that left me feeling weak and fuzzy-headed with wave after wave of nauseating chills. And a tight-chested breathlessness on a scale that even for an asthmatic felt a bit much. My sense of taste and smell both evaporated completely over that first week, but surprisingly I had no fever at all; not then, not now, not ever.

After a couple of weeks of doing little more than sitting on the sofa or lying in bed feeling miserable I started to feel a bit brighter, but then I’d have a bad day or two, and then I’d feel a bit better again, and the whole process would repeat itself. It felt like a case of two steps forward and one step back, for weeks on end. I felt for the longest time as though I was riding a never-ending rollercoaster of symptoms, being taken up and down and flung this way and that on a giant Covid feedback loop until I lost track of what direction I was heading in and just clung on, bewildered.

For a while it felt that complete recovery was a distant dream. Week after week I kept trying to remain as active as I could, and eventually found as time passed and perseverance paid off not only was I managing a bit more every day before having to rest, but also it was taking less and less time to recover after each prolonged period of rest. My sense of smell returned fully, although my sense of taste is still a bit of a blunt instrument for now, but thankfully it too is improving day by day.

So a good three and a half months on from my initial mild Covid infection I still have a few stubborn straggler symptoms – tiredness and breathlessness still bother me a bit but not nearly as much as before. If I do too much I still get pounding headaches reminding me to slow down and rest, and of course I still have the remnants of that tell-tale cough and my sense of taste still has the sulks. But hopefully my continuing dalliance with Covid will turn out to be of relatively short and sweet duration rather than the beginnings of a long and lingering lifetime commitment… 🙂

For this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge I’m aiming for an alphabetical exploration of my personal thoughts and feelings on the continuing Covid 19 pandemic one year on, using a mix of poetry, pics and ponderings…

April A-Z: R is for R-Number

The R-Number must be low not high

Stops infections from rising, so try

Keep it down below one

Til this virus is done –

We’ll breathe easy again, by and by…

For this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge I’m aiming for an alphabetical exploration of my personal thoughts and feelings on the continuing Covid 19 pandemic one year on, using a mix of poetry, pics and ponderings…