April A-Z: M is for Mask

Is it honestly too much to ask

That we cover our face with a mask?

It’s not all about us

So stop making a fuss

Just one small thing – no onerous task…

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: L is for Lock-down

Across the world over this past year different countries have taken different approaches to lock-down, but overall most have imposed restrictions of some sort or another on their population as a whole.

Here in Scotland since 26th December last year we’ve been on our second full national lock-down. Initially required to ‘Stay at Home’ this has only very recently been changed to ‘Stay Local’. Thankfully such tight restrictions are finally beginning to ease and a handful of business activities were allowed to re-open last week – things like homeware stores and car showrooms, and also premises-based hairdressers, plant nurseries and garden centres.

And yesterday the Scottish Government announced that travel outside our local area will now be allowed from Friday. Non-essential retail can finally start to open up and also some self-catering and hospitality businesses (still within strict limits) from April 26th. However socialising at home indoors with family– the one thing I want more than anything – remains restricted for at least another three weeks from that date, and even at that point permitted numbers will remain limited for a further period of time.

Last year our first full lockdown lasted from March until things started opening up again from mid-July onwards – even so, many businesses were still required (or had no option) to remain closed well beyond that date.  Still everything was a long way from normality, as nationally we were all put into varying levels of restriction depending on local infection-rate numbers coupled with several other relevant criteria. Those same blanket levels are being applied again now, although country-wide this time.

One way or another we have not had any real freedom of existence for over a year now, and people are becoming increasingly tired of the continuing national caution even though we do understand the reasoning behind it. We all just need this to be over, but we’re not there yet, so we’ll all just have to bide our time a little longer and hope the introduction and implementation of the ongoing Covid vaccine programme eventually helps render the long-term threat of the virus null and void.

April A-Z: K is for Key Worker

Our Key Workers have pushed through it all

Many struggle, some stumble and fall

Yet they keep going strong

Working hard for so long

Though exhausted, still answer the call…

Throughout this pandemic, some people have continued working as before, perhaps in an even busier environment than usual. Doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers are an obvious example, but what about teachers and supermarket staff and postal workers and refuse collectors, taxi drivers and bus drivers and train drivers and myriad others. Life behind the scenes and beneath the surface of lock-down has continued to function regardless, so I just want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has kept things going for us throughout – your ongoing contribution is much appreciated ❤

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: J is for Jab

Regarding the thorny subject of Covid vaccinations – I’ve been freaking myself out a bit about all the scare-stories surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine and an alleged link to potential blood clots.

I had my first AstraZeneca jab a couple of weeks ago, resulting in a couple of days of even-more pounding headaches and bone-aching chills and an extra level of dogged tiredness, but since then I’ve felt reasonably OK again. I say ‘reasonably OK’ as in feeling pretty much back to the same way I was feeling immediately before, which generally means tired a lot of the time, frequently breathless and headache-y and still a bit post-Covid-yukky, even three months plus down the line. But I am getting there, slowly but surely, so far with every week that passes I feel a little less run down than the week before.

My head tells me that of course there is always inevitably going to be a lengthy list of possible risks and side effects with every vaccine and every medication, and naturally this particular jab is no different. I know that millions of people have had it and are absolutely fine afterwards. I know that science tells me this vaccine is perfectly safe. But my heart reminds me that as a small number of people have died from having it, safety is a relative term. And the simple truth of that fact scares me. Surely I didn’t survive Covid only to risk dying of complications from the vaccine that’s supposed to protect me?

Having said all that, having already had my first AstraZeneca jab, I’ll definitely still go ahead and have my second dose when it is offered, though. How could I not? I just need to feel the fear and do it anyway… 🙂

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: I is for Infection and Isolation

After confirmation of infection comes the inevitable need for self-isolation. One of the hardest things for me about having tested positive for Covid in January (when amazingly my husband tested negative) was that both of us then had to self-isolate at home for ten days, together yet separate.

Luckily we have enough space in our house not to have to share a bathroom, so we just stayed in different rooms for the duration and when necessary each used the kitchen at different times, carefully cleaning and sanitising everything we touched all the time.

On a totally practical, functional level it worked OK – thankfully I didn’t give him Covid – but on an emotional, dysfunctional level I felt truly miserable much of the time and just wanted to feel the reassurance of a loving hug several times a day, but because we weren’t able to touch at all (too great an infection risk) of course a hug wasn’t possible.

But we got through it, and thankfully we’ve made up for it in extra hugs ever since…

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: F is for Furlough

Stuck on furlough at eighty percent

Helping cover the food and the rent

Keeping millions of folk

Neither working nor broke

But the Government’s coffers are spent

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: E is for Empty

By the time this Covid 19 pandemic is finally over – whenever that may be – I wonder how many previously busy retail stores will lie empty across the UK, how many High Streets and city centres will become facsimiles of ghost towns, how many other businesses will have failed? One way or another this virus has killed more than people; it has taken both lives and livelihoods.

I was made redundant last month as the department store I worked for has ceased trading for good, and so my last two weeks of work after my furlough ended (the first two weeks of March) involved packing up all the stock to be shipped out elsewhere. So even once lock-down is lifted there is no longer the potential hope of everything going ‘back to normal’ for me because like so many others in a similar position I now no longer have a job to go back to.

It was so strange and sad for us to see the store slowly being emptied department by department, but oddly enough the packing up process itself somehow helped give us all some closure on the final closure of the business – a bit like a funeral ritual, at least it gave us a chance to say our goodbyes…

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: D is for Distancing

One year on the signs are maybe showing their age, but no matter – we’ve definitely all got the message by now. And we may be quite comfortably used to keeping our distance with strangers now when out and about, but with those we love it still feels plain wrong to be keeping apart, especially after so long.

It hurt so much being prevented from seeing people from any other households at all for extended periods of time, but it almost hurts more now that we’re allowed to see some people in very limited numbers outdoors only, but not be able to touch, not allowed to hug, not even supposed to stand too close together. Outdoors in the North of Scotland, sometimes even in Spring, neither the temperature nor the weather are necessarily conducive to comfortable gatherings in the garden for more than about five minutes at a time. I mean, we woke to a covering of snow again this morning!

So at this time of year being apart as a family feels almost harder now than it did during the last lock-down. Yes, we’re now legally allowed to meet outside again, but in practice it’s just too damned cold for the kids for that to be a workable solution much of the time. And then even when all other things are favourable and they can come round to visit, not being able to hug someone you love who just isn’t there is one thing, but not being able to hug someone you love who is standing right in front of you so tantalisingly close is almost unbearable… ❤

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…

Who Indeed…

Who remembers the poor bloke from Hove who went on a sales conference in Singapore last January 2020, then went on a short ski-ing trip with his family in France, then flew home to the UK in early February and went to the pub, as you do, all before realising that while at the conference he had been in contact with a delegate from Wuhan, China…? So for two weeks he had just been getting on with his life, totally oblivious to the fact that he had been infected with Covid 19 and was inadvertently passing it on to others through his normal everyday social contact.

Remember this was all pre-lock-down, pre-pandemic – in fact pre- pretty much any understanding of the significance of the devastation this particular deadly coronavirus would have on the world. The papers all jumped on the story at the time and rather cruelly named him a ‘Super Spreader’ due to his asymptomatic status. I mean, it was cruel because the poor bloke did nothing wrong other than be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was the first Briton to be diagnosed with Covid. In February 2020. And remember he was asymptomatic, and unwittingly passed it on to several others.

So how come the UK Government claim that the reason they were (and still remain) so adamant in creating a national test and trace system that ONLY tests people with at least one of three main symptoms is that THEY WERE UNAWARE OF THE PREVALENCE OF ASYMPTOMATIC TRANSMISSION! Seriously guys, you’re the bloody Government! All you had to do was pick up a copy of any red-top tabloid back in February 2020 and they would have told you that there was clear evidence of under-the-radar transmission of the virus right from the very beginning – it was the very first case, widely reported in the usual sensational style.

But even now, one year on, if you go online to try to book a Covid test here in the UK it asks if you have at least one of three symptoms – fever, new continuous cough, and a change to your taste or smell. That’s it. If not that specific narrow selection of symptoms, or no symptoms at all, forget about it. Self-isolate if you think you’ve maybe been exposed, but officially we’re not interested in you. At all. No symptoms, no test. Yet when I caught Covid at the beginning of the year I’d already been feeling decidedly unwell for a few days before my strange sense of taste developed.

Headache, dizziness, ear-ache, sore throat – that’s how it started for me. I thought I might be coming down with flu. It was only around the fourth day when I had a strange metallic sensation in the back of my throat and developed a bit more of a cough than usual that I took a test. Things got a bit worse later on but I never did develop a fever. And had it not been for the lock-down imposed after Christmas I’d probably have been at work for those first few crucial days, so even with a mask and sanitiser and social distancing who knows how many people I might potentially have infected?

This virus has a two-week incubation period. Not everyone gets the same symptoms, and some people do not get any symptoms at all. Whether pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, if you don’t test the entire population to see how the land lies, you can’t possibly begin to control transmission. Lock-downs alone are not the answer, not without adequate testing and tracing too. Restrictions have to be there for a reason, to tackle the problem head on not just kick it down the road to be dealt with at a later date… Grrr…!

OK, enough of a corona-rant for today – and sorry for shouting, but really, at times Boris and his gang are the absolute limit! 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Who

April A-Z: C is for Catching Covid

It’s weird. You start to feel a bit unwell, but surely you’re not unwell enough for it to be the dreaded thing you’ve spent the last nine months trying to avoid? Granted you have one possible Covid symptom, but not enough to make you think you actually have it? I mean, you know you’ve been careful, always wearing a mask in grocery stores and santising your hands and keeping your distance and mainly staying at home.

You’ve not been out-and-out arrogant and stupid like so many others you see. It’s January, and it’s winter so you tell yourself you’re probably just coming down with a flu bug or something. But you do as you’re supposed to do and book a Covid test anyway and go out to get it done and come home again and wait anxiously for the result, worrying about wasting people’s time and being a drama queen and a million and one other crazy thoughts.

But the next day your test comes back positive. It’s written there in stark black and white text: ‘Your coronavirus test result is positive’. You read it and then read it again and you suddenly think – shit – is this it? Could I maybe be dead in ten days time? It’s such a scary sobering thought, realising you’ve caught a virus that may potentially kill you as it’s already killed many others. But then you calm yourself down and try to be rational about it.

Because of course those are the only cases you hear about – the bad outcomes – you never hear about the many untold millions who catch it and feel shit for a few days and survive. No, you only hear of the ones who don’t make it through, or perhaps the occasional miraculous saving of a life against all odds. People younger than you, fitter than you, healthier than you, now dead or left disabled for life. What about me, you wonder? Which set of statistics shall I come under? Who can tell?

But no-one can tell. And that’s the biggest source of fear. You ask yourself – what if I get it bad? What if I have to go to hospital? What if I have to be ventilated? What if I don’t come home again? So many unknown ‘what if’s’… So that’s why it’s so shit-scary realising you’ve caught Covid because in that very moment you have absolutely no idea what the future might bring. You can’t go back in time and un-infect yourself. All you can do is prepare yourself, mentally and physically, to ride out the potential storm ahead. And then you just have to wait and see… 😦

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…