We have seen several descriptions of living with the disruptions caused by the Coronavirus and the reaction to it. Here is some of ours. We suspect our situation is like other people’s in some respects, but in many ways we will each be unique. We think ourselves lucky compared to many people we know and hear from. We don’t imagine we have answers or advice for anyone. But we hope it may help to share experience.
Neither of us has yet been been infected. Nor, as far as we know, have any of our neighbours and local friends. Nor has any close family although one couple may have had mild symptoms. We know of one photography friend who – along with his wife – has been infected and recovered. So we are better off than many people.
“A” received a kidney transplant over 40 years ago. He remains on immune-suppressing medication and will be for the rest of his life. He has a number of other health problems including chest and breathing problems. He is firmly in the list of “most vulnerable” who are currently at home “shielding” and unable to leave the house for any reason. He was advised to go into isolation by his renal and chest consultants when he last saw them on 16th March (about a week before the government announced this generally). We first wrote this on day 37 of his isolation and are publishing this version on day 87.
The doctors advised that “M” was the one person in the inner circle who could have contact with “A”. At first, we tried to use a system where she could still go out – taking all precautions while doing so. But there was still a risk of her getting the virus so we had to take precautions at home too. We slept in separate rooms (“A” moved to the guest room). We are lucky to have two bathrooms so using separate ones is actually normal when we don’t have guests staying. We ate in separate rooms. We kept at least 2 metres apart when in the same room. We implemented other precautions
We didn’t get the virus, but in other ways it didn’t work very well. A kiss or cuddle, as might be normal between husband and wife, was impossible, but not the biggest problem. More important was that “M” could not help with a range of other personal care that she normally carries out. “A” could not even see her at a range of 2 metres (he is registered “blind”). So we changed the way we operated. “M” would come fully inside the “bubble” of protection with “A”. She had one more trip out arranged. She needed to go to collect food shopping and a prescription. Once that was over, we continued the social distancing in the house for another 7 days and then allowed ourselves to get closer.
About two more months have now passed. We still sleep in separate rooms. We still operate some special procedures so that “A” does not meet anyone coming to the door or touch items coming into the house until they have been cleaned, cooked or taken out of their boxes. We are able to see each other and to look after each other’s care needs.
Being older means there is an additional risk factor for the virus but it is a benefit from a financial point of view. “A” is lucky to be retired and have a secure pension income. We are not dependent on work or a business for our financial survival. We do not have children whose education is interrupted and who tire of being stuck inside. We had quite a few photographic holidays and other shoots booked and by now all of them have been cancelled for this year, although we hope many will get rearranged for similar dates in 2021. We are not demanding refunds from those models we know to be dependent on this income. We are lucky to have received some refunds from airlines and travel companies. We are saving on incidental expenses.
Perhaps the most difficult thing is the feeling that we are still a long way from the end of our isolation. This post may get further amended and updated many times. The original UK government tine for “shielding” was 12 weeks – and over our first month we received 3 official letters telling us to stay in for “at least 12 weeks, starting today”. More logically, we have plenty of time to think about what has to happen for the “shielding” to end and the results were not encouraging. The early talk about “flattening the curve” was about reducing the daily number of cases sufficiently that health services were not overwhelmed. There was no suggestions there will be a new treatment or cure later on. Put another way, people were not being asked to “shield” themselves to stop them getting the virus. They were “shielding” to delay their infection with the virus until a time when there should be a hospital bed for them. For anything more, we are waiting until there is a vaccine. In our own thoughts and those friends and family, this has been reasonably clear from the start. The same is now starting to be admitted by some official spokespeople. The most optimistic suggestions are that a vaccine might be available in September but it could easily be 2021, assuming one is ever found.
One – ironic – sense of relief is that we have not felt obliged to try to understand the increasing number of changes to UK advice or rules for reducing the lockdown. None of them apply to us.
So here we are. We sit at home for an indefinite period. We work our way through old photos to edit. “M” has been working through more than one online course on photo editing and “Photoshop”. Occasionally, we add to the picture galleries of this website. We are immeasurably grateful for our friends and neighbours who speak on the telephone and go to the shops for us. We have held a couple of “virtual” drinks parties with them courtesy of “Zoom” and plan more video contact. We have contact with photography colleagues through social media and thank everyone who has done that. We hope to continue and build on it. But we have no idea when we can start to rebuild our physical world of trips, tours and shoots.
It has been – and we think will be – an excellent opportunity to stop and think about what we are doing and to assess priorities. So far, it reminds us that our contact with other human beings is the most important thing in life. The previous sentences were part of our original post, written before development in world news. Current news about protests against racism and “Black Lives Matter” only reinforce this feeling. A great deal of the outside world’s news does, however, add to our frustration that we can do so little to help bring about change. We plan to remain well and we hope all you you are keeping safe and well too. We hope that in our small way we can find ways to make things better for us all.
Created on 22nd April 2020.
Revised on 11th June 2020
– End –