How I am coping with lockdown six months on - my situation at the moment
It's now six months since I wrote about how I was coping during lockdown (click here to read part 1 of Christine's story). At the time, one month into lockdown, my feelings were a mixture of anxiety about the largely unknown virus and a feeling of hope. We were all in this together and, through sensible precautions and Churchillian style leadership, we could combat 'the virus'.
As the weeks progressed, the structure of a daily update, the news of hospitals being built, and vaccines being developed increased this hope of a breakthrough. There was a new neighbourly surge around the area; clap for carers, shopping for neighbours and making cakes on VE Day. Almost everyone had a walk every day and some social contact was still possible. The sun was shining, and birds were heard.
However, as we're all aware, a return to work for some, a relaxation of rules to encourage us to go out, holidays and gatherings being allowed, and no daily news meant some less responsible people spreading the virus again. So here we are heading into more lockdown situations!
Like many of us, I've had to cope with the disappointment of cancelled celebrations, a cancelled holiday to Florida to see my sister, and no trips to friends or family. I've been visited by two of my children as they are working. I can now see Duncan - after five months of no visits - but only in the care home garden for half an hour on a specific day.
There haven't been any deaths from Covid-19 at the home and Duncan seems very well. I have tried different ways of communicating with him, but only phone calls worked, although his speech and cognition have deteriorated due to lack of stimulation.
I persuaded the home to buy a microphone pack which means I can hear his quiet voice over the two metres distance. He enjoys our weekly meeting and seems to understand why we can't meet normally, although he sometimes says, 'Where are we going then?', which tears at my heart. I am so grateful for the good weather which means he can get into the garden most days.
The approach of autumn and winter, and little chance of change, makes me worried for all of us. It is easier to feel positive and hopeful in sunshine and light, but more difficult on cold and rainy dark days. We will have to accept and adapt as we go. The care home is planning to hold visits indoors as visits are so important for the mental health of the residents.
- To stay healthy – I am following a low carb plan at the moment and feel better. I am sleeping well now as not a carer.
- Most days I walk either on my own or with a friend and try new routes. I have ordered a new bike!
- To stay connected - Zoom tires me and I find it difficult to concentrate so I am finding other ways to meet friends. I have been adopted into a bubble with a neighbour's family, which means I can eat with them once a week. Good to meet in real life.
- To stay busy - I have done a creative writing course online (and there are others for carers); I have been to my book club - in each other’s gardens - next one is on a houseboat! I am planning a few day courses and mini breaks for next year. I have made several photo books from photos on my phone-using free app FreePrints. The garden is now less scary and I have grown a few veg and plants. Planning a garden is useful and will give pleasure now and next year.
- To stay resilient - we're in this for the long haul. Many of us will have to stay close to home, but there are still opportunities for a rewarding life. Friends and neighbours might take the place of family for a while, but one day the hugs will be allowed and we will appreciate these ordinary things all the more. Keep calm and carry on!
- Christine lives in Oxfordshire