So we are almost 6 weeks into lock-down when I receive a text out of the blue. It’s from the NHS coronavirus service and it says, ‘Your condition means you may be at high risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus. Please remain at home until the end of June…’.
This is followed shortly after by another which reads, ‘You can open a window but do not go outside your property. Ask others to take rubbish to bins and walk any pets’ and continues with advice on asking people to do things for you.
The third text following hot in the heels of these two asks, alarmingly:
Do you live with others?
– stay 3 steps away
– sleep separately if you can
– use separate bathrooms or if you can’t use it first and clean between uses
– eat separately, use separate cutlery, dishcloths, towels
– clean and wipe doorhandles and surfaces etc etc
My heart skips that cliched proverbial beat as I wonder what to do and why I have got this message and try to put it in perspective.
I call my medic friends; they are not surprised I have received the texts, they are going out to all people who are deemed at high risk. But my question is why am I high risk?
My sarcoma was localised and excised over six years ago. I had six and half weeks of radiotherapy which is supposed to compromise the immune system – but according to my research only for a limited period of a few weeks/months after the operation. I have followed my own advice – unlike Boris – and live a healthy life centred round boosting my immunity. In addition to eating the right food, cutting out dairy, eating much less and mostly white meat when I do, and plenty of fish, I do lots of yoga, Pilates, walking – on my travels I can cover up to 12 kms before I flake, diving, gardening (pics of the garden to brighten this up), growing my own veg. As a result I have one cold a year which lasts a maximum of two days. And that’s it! Plus on our recent 4 month trip round the world I never got sick once: I must be one of the healthiest people you know!
Of course I understand why the NHS are doing this: they need to make sure that people who are at risk, especially those over 60 and undergoing current treatments for cancer, leukaemia, heart disease etc, are advised on the right course of action. I am obviously on some second-wave database, as I assume (and am told) those at most risk will have been informed of their status almost immediately by their doctors.
My worry is that sending texts such as these with no prior warning to people several weeks in and in such bald and unfriendly terms can only cause great anxiety. I am lucky I am blessed with an analytic mind and a level head – but what if you aren’t? Mental health issues will and are playing a big role in the current crisis and this centralised de-personalised messaging can only add to people’s distress.
I have decided to ignore it for the record. I go out to the famers’ market, which has exemplary social distancing, hand sanitisers, provides gloves, allows only a few people in at a time, and go out for walks occasionally when I’m not too busy working and writing. Otherwise I’m at home in the garden and feeling as fit as a fiddle doing yoga and concocting delicious meals with my own and the farmers’ produce. I am also taking my beloved Ling Zhi mushroom tablets, vitamins D and B and eating lots of natural vitamin C as an extra precaution. Normally I take no supplements as I deem my diet supplies me with all I need.
As I write I have just received the latest friendly missive from coronavirus central reminding me to stock up on essential items and ending with a terrifying
‘In case you do need to go to hospital during the coming weeks get a single bag ready with your key health information and essentials’.
I don’t live in a bubble as my much-loved father in law died from the virus a couple of weeks ago. We all know the risk of going into hospital – he went in for one thing, caught the virus, and died. Like any normal person I value my health and wellbeing having already faced death once myself. I will just deal with the risks my own way, thank you.