Home Sweet Home? – Day Ten

This theoretically daily blog about life in isolation has faltered for the last week or so. Partly because I have been ill, and partly because all my energy and focus has been going on my new role as a homeschooler.

However, today I am finally feeling a bit better, and we have completed nearly a week of homeschooling both children, so I feel like I can draw breath and reflect a little bit. In some ways it all now feels amazingly normal. A world in which we could go to the shops, or get the tube into town, or take the children to school or plan a break away at Easter feels weird and exotic, like something I have read about rather than actual real life.

I have been delighted at the sense of community, from the rainbows springing up in front windows to the box of eggs a kind neighbour left on our doorstep. Like everyone, I am so grateful for the heroic efforts of the NHS staff and the other key workers keeping us going, and it was so emotional joining in the 8pm round of applause from our front path last night, and seeing all our neighbours doing likewise. I heard yesterday that my clinical trial has been cancelled, along with all other clinics trials at my local hospital, so that the staff can be diverted to help deal with the Covid19 crisis. I had been expecting that to happen, and obviously it is totally the right thing to do.

My lovely study nurse, who is 62 and has worked in the NHS for over 40 years, currently works 9-5 as a specialist research nurse. At my last visit we were talking about her plans for the future, and how she might consider retirement, or at least part-time work in the near future. What she certainly wasn’t considering was putting her own health at risk by returning to shift work in ICU, caring for the sickest patients with a highly infectious pandemic illness, and yet from Monday that is exactly what she will be doing. That is one story of one person’s bravery and selflessness, and these mini human stories are being repeated over again all round the country, and it is truly humbling. I hope that one good which will ultimately come out of this is a recognition that the NHS needs to be far, far better resourced than it has been over the last ten years.

In this context I really do know how lucky I am, and yet it is still hard when my 5yo cries because she misses school and her friends, or I see my 11yo getting more and more anxious at the thought of secondary school looming – a challenging transition anyway, without any preparation or closure on her life at primary school.

I keep repeating my ‘one day at a time’ mantra, and we are getting through with lots of baking and cake-eating (always my go-to solution), WhatsApp chats with friends and family, cuddles and watching the excellent new BBC production of Malory Towers, which is the ultimate comfort viewing for uncertain times. I hope everyone else is finding their own coping strategies.

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