Let’s talk about shielding as parent or younger person. To do this I have to get personal. I’m OK with that if you are. I’m writing this blog so that if you are in this position you know you are not alone! You may be shielding for yourself or your child, but regardless there are some feelings this has brought up in me that I imagine you could be feeling too!
In 2018, at the age of 36, I was diagnosed with a low grade Non-Hodgkins lymphoma (blood cancer) and treated with a short, sharp course of radiotherapy. I blessedly received the all clear in January 2019. Since then I have gone vegan and radically overhauled my lifestyle. I entered 2020 feeling strong and healthy.
So, when the Covid19 situation came about and I received a letter stating I was highly vulnerable, I was more than a little annoyed. Had a not spent the last year doing everything in my power to be anything but vulnerable? But as a partner and parent it was, of course, sensible and responsible for me to follow the guidelines and keep myself and my family as safe as possible.
If you’ve read my other blogs, you’ll know I have a very spirited and energetic four-year-old daughter. She has stayed home with me and my partner, who works for The Royal Mail has also been at home, having been furloughed for my safety. All being at home sounded pretty good I thought. And it was…..for a while…
The first thing to say on the subject is that the advice states you have to stay away from everyone in your household, making no contact and eating alone. With a child? Impossible! So that part was out of the window straight away. My partner kept a distance from us for the first couple of weeks until he felt he was safely out of the incubation zone.
Secondly, the advice is clearly aimed at older people. For example, I received a text about staying active when shielding and when I followed the link it said, “Staying active in later life”. This is understandable given that a large percentage of the shielding community is of course older people. However, the text did prompt me to reply saying “Not all of us are older”. Unfortunately, this bounced back as the service is automated
Also, until shielding advice was updated at the end of June, there was little or no mention of shielding in the news for quite some time. This left me feeling alone, forgotten and a little worthless. I wonder if you felt the same? When The Prime Minister finally gave a speech thanking us for our “fortitude” I was a tearful mess…. I felt like he was talking to me personally. I felt noticed for the first time in a long time!
So how has shielding been for us? I won’t lie, it’s been the hardest thing we have ever done. But among all that there have been moments of sheer joy and I have learned so much about myself and my relationships with my family. After all, everything is under a microscope right now! My daughter has struggled; we are an active family who spend a lot of time outdoors. For the first 13 weeks we didn’t leave the front door. We have all been anxious, emotional and, at times, downright grumpy.
How have I coped? Personally, I have used exercise. This label we’ve been given “vulnerable” has sparked something in me that makes me want to be as strong as an Ox! PE with Jo Wicks the Bodycoach has been a gamechanger for me and after 13 weeks I achieved my first full push up! I’m aware this is not accessible to everyone, but I hope you’ve found something you can focus on, however small, to get you through this immensely tough time!
And now we are due to be allowed out into society’s “New normal”. How are you feeling about that? I think I feel every single emotion! I’m excited, overwhelmed, terrified and many more! My advice to you is take it slow, do what you are comfortable with and keep being kind to yourself. And of course, there is always the fear we could have to do it all over again! But we’ve done it once, we can get through it again.
We are not alone, there are lots of us! Some talk about it, some don’t, and we are all in the same sea if not the same boat. No matter what your circumstances are, let me say a huge “well done” for getting this far. You’ve got this, I’ve got this, we’ve got this! We may be clinically vulnerable, but we are strong together!
– Blog written by Terrie