84 days later (part 1)

Good day to you! I hope that like me, you are in the comfort of your own home and staying safe.

Myself, Louise, Mila-Rose and Alfie will reside for the next 3 months (or 12 weeks / 84 days / 2016 hours / 120,960 minutes to be precise) in our happy humble home. I’m not even going to calculate it in seconds as that will probably tip me over the edge at the realisation of this extraordinary historical event. A global pandemic has brought us together as a family to prevent our precious little boy Alfie and others like him from contracting this killer virus.

As we expected, the official NHS text message arrived advising us against leaving our home for 12 weeks. We’d expected Alfie to be on the Coronavirus vulnerable list. We’d had an appointment at Manchester last week with his consultant, who informed us that as he takes steroids, it was highly likely he would be included in the extremely vulnerable category.

I’m going to use my blog to document the ups (I’m positive there will be many), the downs (I’m definite we’ll have those), the uncertainties (well who knows?) and the shear fear (I’d rather not go into that just yet) of self isolating. I never thought that my lifetime something as unprecedented as this would happen. We are now part of an historic event, something that will be discussed for many, many years to come. I can only describe it as being dropped into a Netflix movie that you can’t get out of.

Last week our anxiety levels began to rise as the virus was spreading fairly rapidly in the UK. Almost at a higher rate than in Italy where Coronavirus was killing people with underlying health conditions at a very fast pace. There had been talk of the schools closing down imminently earlier that week. By Tuesday evening, we decided enough was enough and we couldn’t put Alfie at risk any longer. We put him into self isolation along with Mila-Rose from Wednesday onwards. By Friday that week all the schools were to close apart from being available for the children of key workers. Home schooling was now also on our agenda.

By Friday evening, the news was getting bleaker by the minute and the announcement came from the PM Boris Johnson that from Saturday those who were classed as extremely vulnerable would have to be shielded for a period of 12 weeks.

I usually do our weekly shop on a Sunday but I’d decided that should we all go into self isolation from Monday onwards then we’d need supplies. Toilet Roll was the bizarre choice for people to buy in bulk. Why, I don’t know? I mean it’s not even a virus that causes you to empty your bowels frequently! Panic buying was happening at speed. The Supermarket’s were steadily reducing in stock, if we were to go into isolation then I’d have to go early doors.

Tesco Leigh, 6am Saturday. It wasn’t too bad in regards to the amount of people in the supermarket and I managed to get most supplies that would get us through without actually panic buying like most other people seemed to be doing. The meat counters were very limited as were tinned products, bread, hand sanitiser. Still no toilet roll either. It’s ok though, I’d bought some cheap Man United and Wigan RLFC shirts as back up so I could always use those to wipe my arse should I get desperate! My main concern once I had everything in my trolley was going to the checkout. The country had been advised to social distance at least 1m apart. I went to the checkout and this procedure wasn’t being adhered to in the slightest. I decided to circle, almost like an aeroplane waiting to descend onto the runway. The queue was getting larger but still no social distancing. I couldn’t risk standing in a queue where someone would stand breathing down my neck.

I decided to speak to a member of staff to ask if there were any designated checkouts for anyone shopping for a vulnerable person. I explained about Alfie and his condition. I wasn’t expecting any preferential treatment but she kindly requested one of her colleagues to take me to a checkout away from everyone else. Which was a really kind gesture and one very much appreciated.

Self Isolation (Week 1)

I’m now writing one week on from the Tesco big shop. It’s Saturday morning. Alfie’s watching The Descendants on Disney +, Mila-Rose is reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid (very loudly!) and Louise is doing her Body Combat class upstairs in the bedroom (also very loudly!). Louise is finding it difficult as she regularly goes to the gym to do her class but like most places, the gym is closed indefinitely. Home schooling has proved to be a difficult task this week and in fact most days it’s gone out the window as the weather has been strangely quite good this week so we’ve improvised with outdoor learning. Alfie has quite complex learning so he can’t hold his attention to a subject for too long. This is proving to be a challenge so Louise spoke to his speech therapist midweek and she suggested to try to learn him via tasks such as cooking, computer work and colouring etc. So the first task we made our own pasta sauce with hidden veg and with the bolognese leftovers (rationing meals so they go a bit further) we made a Shepherds Pie for the next day!

Other highlights of our week have been our video calls to our family and friends. We’ve regularly had calls with both sets of parents and they’re really enjoying see each other. It’s such a very strange time and you kind of wish that you could all go through it together. As they’re all golden oldies (they won’t thank me for saying that!) but we do worry that they’re ok and they’re not going out and vice versa. Although they’re safe in the knowledge that we can’t go anywhere but have been worrying about if we have enough money/shopping etc. The video calls to our friends have just been such a godsend, we’re lucky that we have the technology to do this to enable us to keep such regular contact. It’s great to see other peoples faces and you almost want to reach into the screen to touch them to make sure they’re real! Mila-Rose and Alfie in particular have loved seeing their friends and you can see it’s making them so happy. It must feel very strange for all children being taken out of school so drastically and told they can’t go anywhere or see their family and friends. This is why we’ve not be so intense with their schoolwork this week, we want to disperse the fear and anxiety of what’s going on in the world outside by basically just having fun. We have enough stresses going on in our lives without these additional add-ons. One additional positive for myself this week is that my counselling has finally started! Albeit by telephone appointment but I’ll probably require it even more during this 3 month period! I’ll into more detail about this in my next blog.

Mila-Rose and Alfie enjoying Louby Lou live!

I think this period in all our lives will change people’s outlook on how they not only live their life but also appreciate what they have. We live in a world where we have to have everything, whether it be the latest smartphone or something just to keep up with the Jones’. We’re all very materialistic. My Mum said the other day during one of our calls that ‘God moves in mysterious ways’, now I’m not a church goer or remotely religious in anyway but maybe this is a lesson to us all on how we go about things in the future. I’ve really enjoyed (beyond all the fear and uncertainty) just sitting down together as a family for lunch and tea/dinner. A basic everyday family thing you may think but put into the mix work, day to day stresses (we have more than the average family), bedtime routines etc, it’s actually very rare that we do this simple basic family thing very often. Instead you find you get home from work at say 6pm, spend a bit of time reading with them both then palm them off to bed so you can get something to eat before it’s time for you to go to bed yourself.

We live in a fast paced world, one where if an email doesn’t come through quickly enough we press the receive icon furiously until it finally arrives. Why? Maybe we all just need to slow down a little and take that time to make/bake something that’s not in stock at the shop/supermarket, take the the time to listen to your son or daughter reading at night instead of concentrating on your empty stomach and when it’s going to be filled. Hopefully this is just an unprecedented time of our lives and it will pass without too much hurt but maybe it’s someone just pushing the ‘Stop the world, I wanna get off’ button temporarily so we can reevaluate the way we live and appreciate our loved ones a little bit more.

Thank you to all the NHS staff, Supermarket/Shop staff and other key workers who are helping to keep our country as safe as possible. It’s very much appreciated

Have a great Groundhog Day!

Stay Safe. Stay Home. Stay 2m away.

Kieron #DuchDad

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