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Engagement with my mailing list is something I do strive for. I don’t think of it [the list] as merely names and numbers. These are real people. Real lives, real problems especially during these times of the new pandemic abnormal normal.

Some are fans, many have read my books. It follows they know more about me than I of them. That’s why I tried to engage with more of them by asking a simple question in a recent email: do you have a quarantine story to tell?

The email started off so:

Everyone has a story to tell, and I’m sure you are no different. I am thinking of a blog post or a series of blog posts with quarantine stories supplied by you and any of my subscribers.

They can be amusing, sad, inspirational or just about anything at all including new books you have discovered. You can remain anonymous if you prefer or I can attribute the story by way of name, town and country.

Heck, they can even be embarrassing if you like, just like the story behind my birthday photo with my family in the Philippines.

Many replied with stories and I chose this one to share with you because it is enlightening as to just what some folks are experiencing during these terrible times. I will call her Carmen and she lives in the U.K. I have also edited out certain information so she cannot be identified by her own words. Apart from that, this is exactly what she wrote:

You may well find your request for peoples Pandemic stories will see you engulfed in a tsunami of stories. I lead a reasonably simple life, I guess.

 

I am 60 yrs old and live with my husband 62yrs and my autistic son XXXX 34yrs. My oldest boy YYYYY 37yrs lives with his wife ZZZZ 36yrs and their baby daughter BBBB. I have not seen them since February except for alternate days where we get a 15-minute period to say hello. BBBB turns 1yr in a couple of week and I won’t be able to celebrate it with her. That is breaking my heart as I fear by the time I get to hold her again she won’t know us. We plan to hold a virtual birthday party, they will decorate their home, I will decorate mine and we’ll have a facetime birthday greeting. Who would ever thought that in today’s world a simple Happy Birthday would be out of the question.

 

My husband has retired from the police force having served for thirty years. He has his own small film company but overnight the work has just stopped and he doesn’t know that he’ll ever get back to where he was pre Pandemic
He still considers himself lucky for despite his current situation he has a decent pension, so we’ll be ok ( I hope). His mantra it’s all right till something goes wrong ( and now it has).

 

I am a midwife at my local maternity unit. I have been a midwife for 42yrs, it’s a job I love very much. The current Pandemic has not thankfully produced many affected women or babies so far, but we will know they will come eventually. One woman who came into the hospital today for earlier delivery due to worsening symptoms started to cry as we admitted her into the unit. My colleague and I took our time to reassure and support her especially as she was going through the process alone. Our concerns for her were eased as she told us the reason she was crying was because we were being lovely towards her, she thought we would hate her. She had us in tears too. we all needed a hug, but it was a virtual one. J and I had to leave her to other colleagues to care for her. We hope to see her again tomorrow when we go on duty with her baby in her arms and an improvement in her symptoms.

 

Staffing has been an issue as we have seen colleagues hospitalised but recover leaving those of us still at work a wee bit frustrated and tired.

 

Dare I mention PPE haha. We are ok at work but the information changes almost daily. We look like Aliens that have descended upon the earth, we sound like Darth Vadar and we look like we have scraped our faces on the tarmac as we get free dermabrasion from the mask wearing.

 

It is certainly challenging times. My other challenge is to stick to my weight loss plan (I’m on target to make it a 2 stone loss by Sunday, whoopee) I cannot control a lot of things but I can choose to eat more wisely and mindfully and I can do my job well and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to my small but precious family. My husband wants me to have a Nasa space suit but that would just be ridiculous wouldn’t it.

 

The NHS normally gets a bit of a bashing with people frustrated and angry for one reason or another ( and rightly so) to suddenly they are clapping for us on the streets on a Thursday and a wonderful former military man Captain Tom has raised over 20 million pounds for NHS charities. In adversity someone always does the most amazing things. What a gentleman what a hero.

 

Now I mentioned my lovely son XXXX who has autism. He attends a centre for autism Monday through Friday. Order and routine are important to him. He had to come out of his centre 2 weeks ahead of the schools closing as one of his carers was a Covid 19 contact and had symptoms. At first he saw it as an irritation a frustration that had to be endured, then he began to get more and more animated by the day screeching at the top of his voice, bouncing around like Tigger. It all came to a head one day when I found him leaning out of a top floor window cleaning them.

 

I almost screamed then as I grabbed hold of his belt before he fell. ” what on earth are you doing” I asked him.

 

” I’m cleaning the windows” he huffed in a frustrated tone.

 

“I can see that, but why? You could have fallen and then I’d be more upset.”

 

He looked at me and said, ” I’m sorry mum, can you forgive me? the windows were dirty and I wanted to keep the virus out”.

 

Well how can you argue with that. He has since been better as I’ve turned him into a health and safety officer. He checks things and lets me know when they need extra attention. I swear I have never cleaned so much and so often I feel like a hamster on a wheel. Shopping is our least favourite thing to do now whereas before XXXX  used to love getting out and about. That led to a very long and repeated explanation as to why we could not shop as usual.

 

Now everyone says we should be saving because we are not going anywhere hahaha. Well, that’s not true in this house. On one day my washing machine, tumble dryer and freezer all broke down on one day then the next day my car broke down. I think I looked like the famous Scream painting. I may have been £1500 down by the end of the week but I have never had things attended to so quickly. Order one day, deliver the next and my car picked up and sorted within 2 hours. Now that would never have happened in normal circumstances. Amazing or what!

 

So this Pandemic has challenged us , frightened us and changed us, hopefully for the better. With no end in sight and no prediction of when we may emerge from it we will have to learn about patience and vigilance, new ways to communicate, new habits formed and maybe when the phoenix rises we will treat our world and each other a little bit better.

 

Sorry this is an essay rather than a brief reply, maybe I should have done a blog or something ( Mrs technophobe). Anyway, thanks for asking.

 

How are you doing?

I did of course reply and thanked her for her story. I found it both sad and heartwarming. Where would we be without dedicated professionals such as Carmen and her colleagues in the front line battling this invisible enemy?

Some of the replies were on the terse side. Here’s one such example from SM, again in the U.K.:

Yes I do. I work at a facility that makes devices that test for covid19 so we are working 60+ hours a week. Not much time for reading.

SM, thank you for your efforts!

Do you have a quarantine story?

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