I have found lockdown a time of vivid dichotomies.
My job involves visiting GP practices and pharmacies, promoting medicines for a large pharmaceutical company. When we first heard about the virus, for a couple of weeks I was aware that with working in that area, I could unintentionally spread germs from one healthcare setting to another. We then heard that hospitals had banned reps from visiting…and at the end of that week, we were told to work from home.
My company is not UK based, but European and I have been so grateful for their leadership at this time. They quickly announced our homeworking and that our jobs were secure. The company arranged for online yoga and meditation/mindfulness sessions, on 4 days a week, then added an extra session on the 5th day for kids to join in with parents. I am blessed with my working situation.
However, we have been given so much online work to do, that, for the first 2 weeks at least, I felt swamped. It seemed that they wanted us sales reps to be kept busy in case we were bored, when a lot of time I was contacting and being contacted by customers, wanting reassurance about patient materials, wanting to be reassured about drug stocks (of which we had plenty, ready for any Brexit challenges). I think, like so many, people, in the first 2 weeks, my mind was running between pure panic, and fear and feeling guilty as my life and livelihood was blessed. I live with my husband and an adult daughter – so not alone, like my mum who is in her 80s and living 20 miles away.
As a family we have been trying to follow the rules on social distancing…. I haven’t hugged my granddaughters/ other two daughters since before ‘lockdown’. Thank God for video calling, and I see the little ones growing before my eyes. It’s great to speak to them and see them.
Strangely, the panic subsided after a couple of weeks. I often wondered how folk coped when living through the war years, the prospect of being bombed etc.. I sort of get it now. Corona virus is a deadly threat -but it’s impossible to keep at that high level of intense panic all the time. I find that when looking at the national figure of deaths….I couldn’t take it in. A coupld of the earlier totals added to over 900 in a couple of days. Someone said to me that it was like the death toll from ’10 Hillsborough disasters’, and that brought me up short. I remember vividly watching the Hillsborough disaster unfold. Every year there is a memorial and to think that 94 people went to a football match and never came home…and this is 10 times that amount… my brain finally accepted what that meant.
I think we may be just past the peak. The daily death totally have come down to around 500 (some days have been 700)…and it’s easy to ‘almost’ think, that’s good…..but then I realise that there are 500 families, coping with tragedy. Even 1 death is one to many.
There has been a lot of nationalism, clapping on the doorstep for the NHS every Thursday night. I have a shamanic drum, so have been banging that. However, there is a lot of ‘shaming’ online for those who haven’t seen their neighbours come out. Some issues too with people setting off fireworks and disturbing pets. Recently some company tried to get people to set off chinese lanterns to celebrate (the consensus was that it was probably a chinese lantern company trying to get sales!), luckily that came to nothing.
I feel that the NHS has been let down by the government – their delays in taking action in the first place, lies about PPE being resourced (they said a big shipment was on it’s way from Turkey to arrive last Sunday, and apparently the order hadn’t even been placed!), false stories on the internet from so called NHS employees, that turn out to be fake accounts.
There has been nationalism re Boris Johnson, the PM, being ill with Covid (some think he was not actually that ill, as he seemed to be discharged from ‘intensive care’ very quickly!). There were quite a few comments on the internet saying he got what he deserved. I really did hope he made a full recovery – I am human – as I would wish anyone a good and speedy recovery. However, I think this government, including Boris, needs to be held to account. Some people think that to question them is not patriotic and we should all be behind the government at this unprecedented time. If all the death tolls from countries were similar I would possibly agree. But they are not. We have one of the worst death tolls in the world. Why? Questions need to be asked and answered and people held to account. We owe it to all the families that have lost loved ones and to the NHS and other staff, killed ‘in the line of duty’. It has been described frequently as a war…and staff ‘on the front line’. However, the soldiers in this war didn’t know it was coming, are amongst the lowest paid and have gone into battle without proper protective equipment.
Finally, last night my dog was ill. He had been vomiting on the Saturday, on Sunday seemed fine but on Monday stopped eating. Monday night he looked very sorry for himself, tail between his legs and ears back and shivering. I phoned the night time vet which was 30 minutes drive away…was told to go there and wait in the car outside their building.
When I arrived, a veterinary nurse came out of the building in full gown and mask, asked me to roll the car window down a touch, and took the history of his illness. She went back into the veterinary surgery and I waited whilst two other dogs – waiting in other cars – went in to be seen first.
After a wait, the vet then came out gowned and masked and collected my dog – we aren’t allowed in the buildings, but I am so grateful the vets are open still. I had been drinking quite a bit of coffee that afternoon (drinking coffee/tea and eating snacks – weight gain – are becoming a real issue) and wondered where on earth I could go, to visit a toilet – all pubs and cafes had been closed and even at 8pm, no supermarkets were open. I remembered the service station on the motorway close by- checked online and luckily they were open. So whilst my dog was being examined, I drove up to the service station – usually a very busy venue. I was the only car in the huge car park. All the cafes and shops inside were closed – apart from W H Smith – but the toilets were open. After as I drove away to collect my dog, hoping he was fine, I stopped and looked back – the empty car park seemed to speak volumes of this strange time that we are living in.
p.s. my dog was fine….he’s a scavenger and must have picked up something and ate it!