Today is March 20, my COVID-19 anniversary where three days before lockdown it gradually dawned on me that I may have caught the virus.
I’ve always admired the #weeknotes style of blogging. This is a dispassionate jotting down at the end of he week honest reflection.
So, inspired by them, some honest reflections.
- On March 19 at 6pm, out of nowhere I started sweating and shaking after feeling something was not right. An hour later it passed. A call to NHS 111 assured me as I didn’t tick the box of temperature, fever and coughing I was fine. So, Joe went to his High School for his programmed last day to say goodbye to his friends.
- A day later at 6pm, the same thing happened. That was it. We weren’t going to leave the house. With bare cupboards we planned to batten down the hatches and made do with what we could while outside people panic bought. Take a deep breath.
- So began the chapter with mild COVID-19. Tiredness, fatigue, dread and a cotton wool head. Our house isn’t big enough. We need to sort a will while we can. What happens if me and Clare are hospitalised? Questions but few answers. While the country open mouthed listened to Boris Johnson telling people to stay home, save lives and save the NHS I disengaged into a world of calmness, optimism, podcasts and looking outside at the garden. I had no capacity for anything but thinking that age was on myside and there was a bigger chance I’d get over this. Take a deep breath.
- Advice on how to avoid it was plentiful but there was nothing if you weren’t bad enough for hospital.
- Saying goodbye to my wife as paramedics loaded her into a ambulance was not fun. Fourteen hours later she was back home. They were long hours but I know I’m lucky – and so is she. Take a deep breath.
- The first food delivery was amazing. After two weeks of making do with what we’d got as there was no-one available to do our shopping or delivery slots available I found a greengrocers that would deliver. Man, that fresh produce.
- The pattern of mild COVID-19 was weird. A good day then a bad day then a day good enough to exercise with Joe on YouTube then a bad day. Tiredness endured. It wasn’t until September that I was able to work a full day.
- Friends were being affected. Two friends parents died of COVID-19 and a friend’s wife was taken to hospital seriously ill. Any grousing I have is such small beer. I’m lucky.
- Work disappeared overnight. Fixed points in the calendar vanished. Training in person as a concept ended. As 80 per cent of what I did was this, this was a problem. But I was too tired and concentrating on my health to give it much thought.
- The #viewfrommyworkingwindow tweets disappeared overnight. I used to travel a lot and take a pic out of the window. Gone.
- Travel also went. In 2019, the last full year of work, I was away from home 97 days out of 365 from Cornwall to Belfast to London to Aberdeen. Sometimes in the same week. That year I spend £8,500 on trains and around £7,000 on hotels. Gone.
- A chum cajoled me into helping with a COVID-19 related project which drew on the things I was teaching in workshops. It made sense to do practical things while I waited for training to come back. I’m so grateful to them for that.
- #commscampstayshome was a focus. I enjoyed working out how to run an in-person event online.
- The Public Sector Comms Headspace Facebook group was a help. A community now of heading for 6,000 the connection of Facebook showed each other the mountains they were facing.
- Long overdue, I formally resigned as director from comms2 point0 the company I’d set up with a former colleague. It had been years since we had worked together and it was a deeply liberating release.
- In October with health returning I thought through what online training would look like. I started a course that was the distillation of 20 years work and I’ve got more out of that than anything else I’ve done as a freelancer. I’m busier in the first three months of 2021 than I was in the previous year.
- I’ve worked alone or collaboratively for seven years. I miss being able to read the room while training but not the journeys. I see footage of crowds and now instinctively shrink away from them.
- I miss commscamp. I miss the in-person greeting of people and giving friends a hug, sharing cake and conversation. I miss that badly.
- Your mind plays tricks on you. If you look back you remember the good stuff. My good stuff was using the OS app to find obscure footpaths across Shropshire and Worcestershire with the family away from the crowds. I hope growing up that’s what my children remember.
- Homeworking. In lockdown 1.0 I worked at home in bursts and then slept when I could. As things eased, I returned to the office I rent in a converted factory 20 minutes walk away.
- With travel gone, I saw more of my wife and children. We played board games and darts. Looking back, it has been hard on all of us in different ways. I think about my son taking GCSEs and studying for A levels unable to mark these chapters with his friends.
- I’m using the the more limited cycle of travel and being home. I’m not sure if I’ll go back to full pre-lockdown patterns.
- I miss my brothers and I miss seeing my in-laws. I miss my children and how they are with the in-laws. They live nearby but shouting through the window isn’t the same.
- Spotify reminded me my bleakest moment in all this was in October when I played ‘Isolation’ by Joy Division on repeat. Thanks, Spotify.
Sometimes, I wondered why Samuel Pepys did’t write more about the plague in his diaries. This year has shown that everyday life is filled with everyday things even when big events blow you onto a different life path.
Of course, Pepys spent a plague year talking about what he had for dinner and what he was wearing because that’s what make life.
This last year has made me realise that my default setting is optimism and sometimes that can be a problem.