If you would have told me by April I wouldn’t have left the house for a fortnight then, I’d have thought it was an April Fools joke! However, we’ve living through unusual times and we must all do our bit to stop the spread of coronavirus.
At the time of writing, I’m on my 18th day in quarantine and I’m taking it well. For a lot of people who have ‘underlying health conditions’, like myself, we’ve already been through quite a lot in our lives and I think that helps build up a resilience which helps deal with challenging circumstances.
My accounts of life in self-isolation were featured on the hospital radio station Bay Trust Radio last Saturday. I was flattered to be asked because I wasn’t sure the experiences I’ve been tweeting and blogging about have been very interesting! I have been wondering how long I may be able to keep up my daily Twitter diary, because the days are becoming quite similar and blending together, but I’ll try to keep it up as long as possible.
This time last year, I was a guest at a beautiful spring wedding in Cheshire. It seems like that was in a parallel universe to now, with gatherings banned. We all must not lose sight of why we are doing these social distancing measures though. The unpredictability of the virus means that none of us know how it would affect us, if we contract it.
My social media timelines are full of harrowing accounts of people who have lost loved ones to this virus, which really hits home the reasoning why we need to stay at home to stop the spread. I had a bad bout of asthma earlier this week, which can usually be rectified with an inhaler. I couldn’t help but think how frightening it must be for people who struggle for breath, if they have severe symptoms to coronavirus.
I’ve been working from home again this week, helping to produce the breakfast programme on BBC Radio Cumbria. It helps during self-isolation to provide structure and a purpose to my days. I’ve also been back broadcasting this week too; I sent over a report about birdwatching from the back garden, in honour of the RSPB’s ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’.
I live within the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the location certainly lives up to that name. There’s a plethora of birdlife to gaze at from nuthatches to chaffinches and lesser spotted woodpeckers. Roe deer from woods behind also make an appearance some evenings too. They’re so graceful to see that I can forgive them for munching on the plants.
My Mum and Dad are set up on their iPad now and have picked up using the technology very quickly and video calling them is a joy. Despite being adamantly against it, that shows what kind happen if you’re mind is put onto something. Speaking of which, I’ve dusted off the exercise bike to try to burn off some calories from the chocolate I’ve been eating. Apologies in advance but, in a weak moment, I have to admit that our Easter egg stash has been broken into.
The peak of the pandemic has not yet passed yet in this country, so this way of life is likely to continue for some time. I was speaking to a radio contributor earlier this week who said she doesn’t feel like she is helping the situation because it feels like she’s doing nothing. Staying at home is helping though and the more of us do this, only going out when absolutely necessary, the sooner this will pass.
“Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.”
I’ve been self-isolating for more than a week due to government advice during the coronavirus pandemic and so far, so good. I have two ‘underlying health conditions’ and, while not in the more severe group that need to be “shielded” from the virus, the advice for me was to social distance, as much as possible. I don’t have any symptoms and feel healthy, it’s just a precaution.
The fantastic team at BBC Radio Cumbria have enabled me to work from home so I took the decision to self-isolate, as I didn’t want to take any chances. I haven’t been out of the house since last Wednesday, 18 March. As with ‘flu, if I catch coronavirus, the risk is I’d need to be hospitalised. At a time when the NHS is pressured, I think self-isolating is the responsible thing to do. Not just for myself but to stop the spread and help others.
Working from home has been brilliant; it gives me something to focus on. I’m listed as a ‘key worker’ in the category of public service broadcasters and journalists and I’m glad to be able to play a part in supporting the BBC’s news output. I have an office space to work in and find it helps to mentally separate work from home life… although I’m sure my cat would prefer it if she could sit on my lap constantly!
With a team back at base supporting me to input cues into the internal BBC system, I’ve helped produce the breakfast programme, can record audio / broadcast using my phone and am in touch with colleagues regularly, so I don’t feel out of the loop. I miss reading news bulletins and studio producing programmes but those roles need to be done on site. I’m looking forward to getting back to that, as soon as possible.
My partner’s isolating with me, so we’ve not been able to physically shop for food for a while. I take it as a good sign that home delivery slots from the supermarkets are full for weeks in advance because it means other people are heeding the advice to stay at home. We’ve been able to get items from a local newsagent, which leaves the deliveries on doorsteps and neighbours have offered to help too.
It’s important to look after mental health at times like this and I’m in good spirits. I’m fortunate to have lovely views of south Cumbria to look at and a big garden that I try to get out in as much as possible for some fresh air. It’s where I’m writing this now. I don’t feel the need to get out and about to exercise. We have equipment we can use here anyway, I just need to motive myself to do it!
I find it difficult to read novels lately; I’m too interested in the latest news developments, but have found audio books a useful distraction to everything that’s happening in the outside world. Radio has been a great companion, as always. I have BBC Radio Cumbria on constantly while working from home and it helps to feel connected to those back at base. The importance of public service broadcasting shouldn’t be under-estimated.
Mothering Sunday was heartbreaking because I had made plans to see my Mum and Dad, all of which were put on hold. They don’t yet have video calling capabilities, but I’ve bought them an iPad so that’ll soon change. We’re in touch over the phone all the time and I was lucky to have been able to see them recently.
In terms of the future, who knows how long this will last? I was due to travel to New York after Easter which now won’t be happening. Although, the flights are still showing as going ahead. Even if the US travel ban is lifted, I wouldn’t want to go there so soon and Broadway is still on lockdown. Hopefully we can get some money back because, if we can’t get a refund, we stand to lose thousands of pounds.
Only a few weeks ago, my partner and I were in a chippy when a group of American tourists came in. It made us think ahead with excitement to our holiday in the USA. A week later we were in same chippy, the Americans had gone and it then seemed highly unlikely that we’d be going abroad at all. Fast forward another week later and we weren’t even leaving the house.
The speed the virus is spreading is shocking but we’re all in this together. The more of us who follow the advice to stay at home, and only go out when absolutely necessary, the sooner it’ll be over.
Stay strong, stay safe and take care. X