I left hospital the day before Lock Down began. For my last night I was moved to a Gynae Ward as they were making arrangements to free up certain areas to get ready for Covid-19 patients. There was only one other occupant in my six bed area, an elderly lady of 95. Small and frail she might be but she was very bright, texting her family regularly and chatting to me. I’d taken my iPad in so was interested to see what Boris would have to say in his ‘Address to the Nation.’ She was too and I shared the news with her and hoped that when she was discharged she would keep safe.
The world I had left on 18th March when I was admitted was a fairly normal one. On the previous Monday we had lunch at a canal side pub. One which is normally packed on summer days and evenings, with its gardens bordering the water. I think of it today, on this bright sunny morning, its doors closed, empty and quiet. The one I walked out into four days after my admission was a different one; quiet, with empty streets and few people around. My adopted city was already closing down.
Life for us hasn’t changed very much. As both of us are at home – me writing and OH taken up with work on his classic car – our daily routine has generally remained almost the same. What has changed is the inability to drive to a pub for lunch (a regular weekly thing) or take a bus trip into town to shop, catch a movie or go to the gym. Our road has a mix of age groups. There’s been an influx of young families with children as the older occupants downsize and move away. Although most leave for work in their cars each morning, some run businesses and work from home All now have the added task of home schooling. We only really get to see everyone (social distancing taken into account) on Thursday evening when the local papermill hooter sounds to call us out to Clap for Carers. Currently our weekly grocery shop is carried out on line. I set up a regular delivery slot before I went into hospital, aware visits to the supermarket were a no-no with a weakened post op immune system. So far it’s not been too bad. We’ve managed to work around the disappointment of regular ‘out of stock’ items and order alternatives. And then when they finalise your order there are the substitutions – 9 this week. Eventually we’ll go back to our normal weekly supermarket visit, being able to choose our own food and get what we want. For now, though, it’s safer to stay at home and wait for the man in the van.
But getting back to the title of this blog piece. What are the things I miss? Well the freedom to go where I want and do what I like. And those things I listed above – regular pub meals out. Meeting friends for lunch and dinner in town. Going to the cinema. Gym on Fridays. But most of all, and I think everyone will echo this, it’s the inability to make close contact with family and friends. I have a regular weekly chat on the phone with my sister and a long list of friends. I’ve not seen her since before my op and I know from my brother in law how worried she had been. That has been made doubly difficult by the fact I’ve been unable to see her since my discharge from hospital. To give her a hug and tell her the surgeon did a brilliant job and I’m okay. Our birthdays are within two days of each other – 16th and 18th May – and sadly this year we won’t, as usual, be able to have a meal together and celebrate. Friends too are missed. Before all this we had regular meals out and gatherings in each others’ houses. Now there’s just a weekly voice on the phone as we update each other on another passing week spent in Lock Down.
Having said all this, I do count my blessings. The pandemic has thrown up the fact some people are really struggling. Evidence of this is on the news and in the papers every day. At least we have a garden to sit in and open countryside within five minute’s walk of home. Despite the unwanted changes in our lives we are better off than many.
And the ‘wish fors’ once things have got back to ‘near’ normal?
Fairly simple things actually. Like sinking my toes in the sand…and taking a paddle in the sea. A cliff top walk maybe, enjoying the breeze in my face. A trip to Dartmoor or Exmoor stopping to take in huge breaths of fresh air and enjoy the landscape…and I’d love an ice cream. But more than that, the ability to hug another human being and to converse face to face without having to keep my distance. Although I realise the two metre rule is there to help stop the spread of infection, humans are naturally tactile creatures and it’s something we all must miss. Hopefully this coming Sunday there might be a little slackening of those rules…one can only hope.
Is there anything anyone else particularly misses during these strange times? If so, let me know.