COVID-19 Pandemic and Shielding

Following on from My Dream post, I had some time out, several weeks away from work and the world in general. Just as I was about to return to work on the 16th March the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact the UK. Due to my health I was concerned about returning to work and coming into contact with members of the public. I worked from home for a week, and then the UK government started to talk about groups of people who were most at risk. Elderly people were considered vulnerable, however certain medical conditions made people clinically extremely vulnerable and these people would be at the highest risk of serious illness if they were to catch the virus.

Government shielding guidelines

I suppose it wasn’t the biggest shock that I was advised to shield, but some how it still took me by surprise. The first notification I received was a text message “We have identified that you’re someone at risk of severe illness if you catch Coronavirus. Please remain at home for a minimum of 12 weeks. Home is the safest place for you. You can open a window but do not leave your home, and stay 3 steps away from others indoors.”

A couple of days later a 4 page letter arrived confirming the Governments guidelines for vulnerable people like me. It basically stated the same as the government website. I have never considered myself vulnerable before, maybe I received this letter in error?

Shielding from people you live with

I am not sure who decided on the shielding rules, but whoever it was had no idea how mentally draining and torturous it would be for those affected. I mean socially distancing from people inside your own home, how on earth can you always remain 2 meters apart?!

Taken from the 4 page letter:

The rest of your household should support you to stay safe and stringently follow guidance on social distancing, reducing their contact outside the home. In your home, you should:  

  • minimise the time you spend with others in shared spaces (kitchen, bathroom and sitting areas) and keep shared spaces well ventilated
  • aim to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from others and encourage them to sleep in a different bed where possible
  • use separate towels and, if possible, use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household, or clean the bathroom after every use
  • avoid using the kitchen when others are present, take your meals back to your room to eat where possible, and ensure all kitchenware is cleaned thoroughly. 

If the rest of your household are able to follow this guidance, there is no need for them to take the full protective measures to keep you safe.  

I am sure these rules sound relatively simple but when you also receive text messages from the UK Government saying “Be prepared in case you need to go into hospital, get a single bag ready with your key health information and essentials for an overnight stay”, you kind of get freaked out and scared. When your husband is going to work daily and potentially bringing a deadly virus into your home, you become obsessive about bleaching everything and your hands become so sore you can’t bend your fingers.

Making a Sandwich is so complicated

1. Grab my dishcloth and tea towel, head to kitchen
2. Scrub worktops and then detox
3. Get out plates, knife
4. Ask him to remove his dishcloth from the sink – whilst maintaining suitable distance
5. Wash & wipe up plates and knife (still trying to figure where / how to store my own crockery and cutlery)
6. Place clean cutlery and crockery on disinfected worktop
7. Open fridge, grab butter and cheese
8. Wash hands, he has probably touched fridge – even though I have cleaned it god knows how many times today!
9. Grab rolls, open pack and tip on plate
10. Wash hands
11. Touch butter – AAAARRGGHH!!
12. Wash hands
13. Make rolls
14. Open cupboard to put rubbish in bin
15. Wash hands
16. Pass him his plate from a safe distance
17. Take my plate, my dish cloth and my tea towel and retreat to my room
18. Hang dish cloth and tea towel up in my room
19. Stare at my plate and wonder if I even want to eat now…

Although written with a bit of humour, it was actually far from funny!

The first two weeks of shielding have been hard, so hard that I cannot begin to comprehend another 10 weeks of this. To make life that much harder I haven’t seen my counsellor, we had switched to video calls, but she fell ill with the dreaded COVID virus and I haven’t spoken to her for 2 weeks.

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