A Toss Up

I found out the other day that I’ll be going back to work very soon, and I feel very much in two minds about it all. On one hand I’m delighted to be beginning the process of creating a new normal to get back to, but on the other hand… the reality of risk is rearing its ugly head along with the fear of the unknown.

Intellectually, I know that the country – the world – cannot go on forever effectively hiding from Covid 19, holed up in hope of a miracle vaccine that can make us feel safe again. At some point in time we all have to face our fears, adapting and making the necessary changes to society that allow us all to live with Covid 19 in the community rather than potentially die from it.

But emotionally I feel decidedly anxious and wary, because however much I’ve found it frustrating at times I’ve got used to feeling snug and safe in my own home and it seems crazily counter-intuitive after months of a very successful ‘Stay at Home, Stay Safe’ campaign to now be told it’s OK, it’s safe out there too even though the virus hasn’t gone yet – basically it has to be OK because the economy is collapsing.

It’s all about finding a precarious balance, isn’t it? We balance the risk of going out into the scary world where a deadly invisible virus awaits by wearing some kind of protection from infection, and because full Hazmat suits are not practical daywear for most of us in our daily lives, we compromise and stick to wearing a simple face mask and using hand sanitiser and keeping our distance from others to keep us safe.

We have to balance the risk of catching a virus that might kill us against the risk of having no future income to live on, which in a very different way also might kill us in the end. So somewhere along the line we have to meet in the middle. It has to be done, and I know it’s almost time for me to get back out there and get on with it. And in a weird way I’m quite looking forward to it, except for when I’m not.

The department store I work in seems to have created a well-managed environment for both staff and customers to move around in, with plenty of safety measures in place to protect everyone as much as possible. So I can’t help but wonder how I’ll be feeling on my first day back, smiley and safe or frowny and fearful? Right now it feels like it could be either, and it’s going to be a toss up as to which actually wins out on the the day… 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Toss

Cranky

I feel cranky and grumpy as hell

But what ails me I just cannot tell

Heavy chest, feeling rough

Yet no fever or cough

And a perfectly good sense of smell

I’m so tired of feeling this way

Short of breath on and off through the day

Tightness tugs as I breathe

Getting old, I believe

Childhood asthma returned? Who can say…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Cranky

Day 63: So Near and Yet So far

Day 63 of Stay at Home here in Scotland, with the tantalising promise (if all goes well) of the beginnings of a slight lifting of lockdown restrictions later this week, in that outdoor contact will finally be allowed between two separate households, as long as social distancing is maintained.

To be honest I’m finding it really difficult right now to stay in what amounts to full lockdown mode while everyone in England has already had a taste of relative freedom for the last couple of weeks. Although in an attempt to reduce our collective frustration, thankfully last week our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon shared in advance the Scottish Government’s full ‘Roadmap’ out of lockdown including the welcome announcement that Phase One of easing restrictions will begin on Thursday 28th May.

But until then, all previous Stay at Home rules apply… Sigh!

One week more of total lockdown for Scotland is not much to ask in the grander scheme of things – and the First Minister has given us fair warning of her future intentions – but to me it feels very much like that last week of work just before you go on a long-awaited leave. Your head is already in holiday mode but your job still needs to be done properly, conscientiously, with full focus. Yet all around you, you see friends already on holiday, enjoying their new-found comparative freedoms and forgetting that you have not yet reached that point.

I know there are absolutely no shortcuts to getting through this pandemic for anyone, huge mistakes have definitely been made along the way and we’ve got a long and bumpy road to travel yet, but personally I’m oh-so-ready to move on from this stultifying stagnant stage, however cautiously and carefully. I understand we need to take it all one step at a time, in the smallest of tentative baby steps if needs be, but I firmly believe in general we do need to begin to move on now. We have successfully flattened the curve of Covid-19 infection and protected the NHS, and that was what we were asked en masse to do.

We were neither asked nor expected – well, other than those shielding of course – to remain self-imposed reclusive captives in our own homes for unspecified months on end until an appropriate vaccine had been found and tested and approved before the world moved on again. But for the bulk of the population it makes sense that we learn to keep our distance and protect ourselves and others from infection, even if it means drastically change the way we live our lives outside the home for good. Because I think the time has come when we do all have to learn to live in the outside world again, even if it means going on living with this virus into the future, and not just exist in limbo as we have been.

I’m not in any way advocating acts of mass idiocy or individual selfishness, or of disregarding the rules or treating them with disdain. I’m simply saying it feels to me like it’s time as a nation the rules and expectations changed so we all stop floundering around treading water in absolute panic and start to learn to swim forward a little again, stroke by measured stroke, until we can gain enough confidence as a country to loosen our deadly coronavirus chains and as a people together look outwards once more to appreciating the everyday joys of living, instead of focusing inwards only on the fear of dying.

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Shortcut

Who Won the Week: My Dad

Today my dad turns 84, and my husband and I called him this morning to sing ‘Happy birthday’ to him over the phone.

This birthday is particularly meaningful to me because my dad has just spent the last five weeks in hospital, finally getting home just before the weekend. Over the last few years he’s survived four strokes and has vascular dementia, meaning both his mobility and memory are restricted so when he developed a really high temperature just before Easter, in the middle of this deadly pandemic, we all feared the worst.

Dad was duly taken into hospital and we worried he might have Covid-19, which in his poor state of health would no doubt have finished him off. However, although dad had developed both a urine infection and a chest infection, thankfully they were the only sources of his high temperature and after over a month of wonderful care and treatment by everyone in hospital now he is safely home again.

So for me, my dad has definitely Won the Week this week, for getting well enough to come home for his birthday when only last month we’d all feared the worst. I’m really sad I still can’t go out to see him due to our continued lockdown, but I’m just so relieved he’s still with us – love you very much, Dad, and hopefully we’ll all see you soon ❤

Anxiety, Boredom and Creative Doom

Day 53 of lockdown, and I’m having a crap day. I just can’t be bloody bothered to try to be anything other than meh. My anxiety levels are simmering at just below screaming, my brain is bored of nothing but the same old, same old, day in, day out. And my motivation to be creative, which has been faltering fast lately, seems to have flat-lined completely.

So far today I’ve showered and washed my hair, I’ve done a load of washing and have hung it outside on the line, and I’ve tried to generate enough enthusiasm to take some photographs of a vase of flowers but honestly, my heart is just not in it today. I can’t even find the emotional wherewithal to go out for a walk, and that’s almost unheard of for me.

Do I wanna read? Nope. Do I wanna cook something nice? Nope. Do I just wanna sit here and stew in my own juice? Um… no, not really, but it’s what I seem to be doing. Enough already with the lockdown limbo blues, I’ve got no business feeling so down. Thankfully no-one I love has even caught coronavirus never mind died from it. Things could be so much worse.

But yet I feel increasingly dissatisfied, frustrated, tearful, angry, and on top of all of those feelings I feel guilty for struggling so much with having to spend a few measly weeks at home. In the grander scheme of things I know it’s really not such a lot to ask, but oh, how I want it to end soon. A month I was prepared for, even six weeks at a push. But two months feels like too much.

Physically I feel fine, mentally, not so great. Too much time to think with nowhere to go to get away from myself. No daily distractions from my depressive demons. Nothing to mask my melancholy misery. Just full-on me, annoying and irritating myself, getting in my own face 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I’m holding on so far, but for how much longer… who knows 😦

Daily Diary: ‘Stay at Home’ Day 48

Four dozen days so far, seven weeks tomorrow, and frustratingly we are still in lockdown although apparently the Prime Minister is giving us a speech tonight about potential plans for finally grinding the gears of life back into some kind of forward motion action.

But it feels like all we’ve done is delayed the inevitable. Stuck in our seige mentality while holed up at home we may well have succeeded in suspending time temporarily, but the corona-clock is still ticking. The virus is still there, biding its time, waiting it out until we all stick our heads above the parapet and then boom, infections will begin all over again.

The world is well on the way to creating a vaccine – it’s in the process of being tried and tested, I understand, but we’re not there yet. I know loads of people have got sick, and far too many people have died (and are still dying every day), but in the grander scheme of things globally hardly any of us have had it and so it is not possible to have any level of herd immunity within the greater population.

To have abandoned the testing/ tracking/ tracing tactic so early on in the UK means we are now inevitably playing catch-up. We may have accurate hospital numbers but no clear idea of who exactly has had it for sure in a lesser milder form within the wider community, or indeed how many people may be asymptomatic yet shedding virus unintentionally, so it feels like we can have no clear exit strategy other than a messy hap-hazard sort of suck-it-and-see approach.

I’m not at all saying that lockdown has been the wrong strategy, but that lockdown alone should not have been the only strategy. ‘Stay at home’ was always about buying time, about delaying mass infections, keeping them coming in definable dribs and drabs rather than deadly droves. So surely it should also have given us the invaluable time behind the scenes to mass-test and have tracking and tracing running in the background so that we could have had detailed data by now?

I mean, we can’t all stay at home indefinitely – but we don’t really want to catch a virus that potentially may kill us, either. So personally I feel stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place – and it’s hard to see how nationally we can navigate such perilous straits apparently without either the necessary knowledge or equipment to see us successfully and safely through… 😦

Age-Old Dilemmas

Dementia and delirious,

High fever and forgetfulness –

Such stressful times I must confess,

Hope nothing more nefarious?

With virus deadly serious,

Clear diagnosis undefined

Leaves worry keeping pace behind.

No matter what my dad has got,

Infected catheter or not,

Bewilderment meets rambling mind…

My dad’s been in hospital for the last three weeks. He turns 84 in the middle of next month, has survived four strokes and has vascular dementia with a noticably progressive deterioration over these last few months.

He was initially admitted with a bad UTI (urinary tract infection) and after a course of antibiotics to clear the infection was fitted with a permanant catheter to help make things easier for him to be back at home with my mum, where he desperately wants to be. But in spite of the excellent care he’s receiving he’s now developed another high temperature along with another UTI, so has started on another course of antibiotics but for obvious reasons has also had to be swabbed for Covid, although it’s highly unlikely he has it.

He’s already been in a room on his own in the hospital and has been barrier nursed from the start so for dad, the only real immediate change for him will be there will now be absolutely no question of him going home for at least the next two weeks, just to be sure. And at this rate it seems he might not even get home for his birthday. Or for mum’s birthday a few days later. And the thought of my mum and dad each having to spend their birthday on their own after nearly 60 years together makes me feel so sad.

It’s tough enough not having been able to see either of my elderly parents for a while due to lockdown, but now with dad in hospital it feels even harder. I’m torn, because I know he’s in the best place for now, but I know he hates being away from home and in unfamiliar surroundings. And I know it’s giving mum a much-needed rest from it all, but still I can’t help but worry about him all on his own in hospital.

I know there are many families across the world separated from their loved ones just now, some in truly dire, life-threatening circumstances. I know that in the midst of a world pandemic, my dad is just one increasingly frail old man with dementia who’s already lived a full life, who now finds himself stuck in isolation in hospital because of ongoing problems with his waterworks, but he’s still my dad and I love him more than I can say ❤

Tipping Point

Most of the time, me and depression have a long-standing uneasy truce. I recognise it, respect its existence, but in general I try to keep my most erratic errant emotions in check using all the coping mechanisms and other psychological tricks of the trade I’ve learned over a lifetime of mental confusion and distress.

Mapped out mathematically, graphically on an x and y axis of up-and-down emotion to linear time, life for me to date has been a parabolic undulation of relative highs and lows in perpetuity, a never-ending oscillating sine wave of sentient surfing. And as with real surfing it’s all about maintaining balance, and when I do fall off, keeping my wits about me and my head above water for the duration.

So on the surface I go about life as normal as it can be, getting on, getting everyday things done quietly and slowly, not making a fuss or drawing attention to myself but looking the part. I enjoy these good times, when life feels easy and I’m on top of the world. But there’s inevitably a point where I feel myself start to wobble, when I feel myself having to fight frantically just to continue to keep myself upright.

This is my own personal tipping point in life. Sometimes I can manage successfully to right my balance and stabilise my sure footing all by myself – hoorah, misery averted! But at other times I know there’s no stopping my roller-coaster crashing descent into darkness, gulping and gasping for air in drowning desperation.

These days I find that once I’m falling, it’s easier if I stop fighting and flailing. I feel a rush of relief and release from all that steely tension, then nothing. I simply let my body go with the flow, let my mind drift, metaphorically hold my breath and trust in life on autopilot to take me back up to the surface again when the time is right.

I’m feeling the same thing right now, five weeks into lockdown limbo. I began it all as positively as I could in the circumstances, but right now am currently having a huge wobble. My head tells me sensibly this is where we need to be in life just now, but deep down my heart is silently screaming, pounding in panic and pained with antsy anxiety.

I feel myself once more tantalisingly close to my tipping point. I feel myself holding on tight, tense and taut, wavering and waiting to see which way it goes. For now it feels about fifty-fifty, on the absolute cusp, hanging precariously in the balance…

Weekly Prompt: Tipping Point