Pandemic diary: I was germ-phobic before coronavirus

bunny lying in sun

I'm blogging this because it helps me. And because I want to write a post to the future. Because everything feels like it is changing for everyone and may never be the same again.

The diary template is forming – photos of fluffy bunnies, because who needs a pic of a coronavirus germ? Things I've been thinking about or need to download. And something to be thankful for to end. BUNNIES, BLOGGING, BLESSINGS!

Anxiety, what anxiety?

I'm still enjoying – if that is the word – the feeling of numbness I mentioned yesterday. Anxiety, what anxiety? I feel frazzled with a short attention span but not consciously anxious. Perhaps it is the feeling of home, the safety it offers now that we have been ordered to stay behind closed doors and not go out unless for emergencies, food, medicine, one exercise a day or to help a vulnerable or isolated person.

I'm lucky not to be a key worker. I'm not on the frontline of the NHS, a health service that has been cut back for years and is now short of enough masks, visors, kits and supplies to keep staff safe. I'm also not being forced to go to a workplace like many others, key workers or not.

Remote working and bug avoidance

My risk profile has changed over the years. As a digital worker, I've been working from home for a number of years. And although I mostly love it, I've become kind of germ-phobic over the years.

With no office bugs to give me immunity I have developed a heightened awareness of crowded environments and germ spreading. Especially during cold and flu season. Especially just before Christmas or summer holidays. A couple of years ago I started avoiding some pub meetings just to avoid the chance of getting ill. It sounds reductive – it was, it is.

A walk with an old friend

On the positive side, it means I'm probably less of a risk to an older family friend. He is 84, has vascular dementia and can't necessarily remember the government rules. He needs to walk everyday for his physical and mental health and he also needs to socialise and have conversations to keep the dementia at bay. He lives alone and if he self-isolates for 12 weeks, he will see no one. His sister is 90 and he visited her every day in a care home – until three weeks ago when they closed their doors to visitors. He is a bit lost.

Today I met him in person. I drove him to his podiatry appointment so he didn't have to take the bus (or remember not to take the bus). It was like chauffeuring royalty, opening the doors so he didn't have to touch anything. Being another gorgeous sunny day, we drove with the windows down. I wore a scarf as a mask for an extra barrier.

The appointment was cancelled so we walked, 2m apart, around the park and chatted. How much has changed in a few days! People were now actively avoiding each other to keep a physical separation – oddly called 'social distancing' – veering off paths and pavements to protect themselves and others.

Empty roads

The roads were pleasantly empty – we might be living without pubs and cafés but we are also living without noise and noxious pollution. It has taken coronavirus to achieve what few would do voluntarily to help the planet – give up car journeys. This could be what the world looked like if the remote-working revolution continued.

Thanks

Today, I'm thankful… that my friend got to his appointment safely and enjoyed some sunshine and company. People are organising via Google docs, WhatsApp group chats and Facebook groups to help care for others in similar situations in their communities. Phone calls, prescription collections, food drops.

But the thing that really brought a lump to my throat, and made me feel something other than numb, was that 500,000 people signed up to become NHS volunteers overnight after a call out for help. Half a million people! That was proper emotional. The kind of thing that unites a divided, broken country.

Photo: Bunminster the bunny slug.

3 thoughts on “Pandemic diary: I was germ-phobic before coronavirus”

  1. I'm on self isolation due to fever in the house, but will be back out at the end of next week. Being a key worker is scary. They tell us at the hospital that we're all going to get this at some point anyway. How to square that casual attitude with the videos in the news of 30-somethings in hospital struggling to get any words out with their lungs under total attack?? Mental health services are going to be inundated…

  2. Ooh comments! Thankyou.

    Kerry – I use Feedly and just paste in a URL to get updates. I think you can also subscribe via email but not sure how.

    Camilla –hope you guys are on the road to recovery. Can't believe it was only three weeks ago we were walking in the moonlight.

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