This is not my front door, but I chose this photo because of the colour. Green – how does green make you feel? This image makes me feel safe, and in harmony with my surroundings (I can’t wait for spring-time light-gardening weather). Also, I can’t stand up for long if someone knocks on my door.
The last twelve months have reminded me of when I had to finish work. It was awful – and I refuse to return to how I felt.
Writing about the end of lockdown in the UK may be premature but it is worth writing about. A word I heard on the news this morning was ‘caution’. This got me thinking… Especially as during my (phone) appointment with the MS nurse last month, she reminded me to be careful about anxiety when ‘things start getting back to normal.’
I have lots of words about the pandemic, but I suppose the most fitting one is ‘fraught’ the past twelve months have been fraught.
Upsetting/stressful/quiet/boring… these are all words that pop into my head when writing this.
I’ve got MS and I lost my twenty year nursing career (I was a band 6 community psychiatric nurse). Now I am used to being at home. While everyone was getting used to the weirdness of seeing the inside of their kitchen and front room at 11.30 am, nothing much had changed for me… except I had company.
I also had understanding, I knew what a culture shock staying at home was going to be for my family. I feel like we were lucky, and we’ve broken it’s back. We are now about to go through another change – I am not going to rush it.
It wasn’t the being at home… I am very comfortable spending time in my own house. Cabin fever is not something I suffer with. It is odd being at home all the time, though.
When I stopped working, I felt like I was losing my identity… my sense of self was stolen, and this wasn’t my employers fault – it was how others treated me. That is the absolute truth.
I’d been so ill… The worst relapse ever. My complete right side of stopped working from my right eye- blind with optic neuritis, a weird pins and needly painful nuisance feeling in my right arm, my right hand was completely useless – I couldn’t even put my glasses on without hitting myself in the face. And I couldn’t walk.
I looked the same, though.
And that’s where the problem began.
I looked the same so people thought I could still do the things that I used to be able to do. I can’t, listening to people talking is draining. If it wasn’t, I’d still be working. Likewise, we should be careful not to expect everything to quickly return to ‘normal’ after lockdown.
Since my diagnosis of MS in 2005, I have worked really hard to follow the advice of the neurology team at the hospital, occupational therapy and physiotherapy (which has been the consistent rescue of my condition – I swear by those appointments all these years later).
But even when I was still off sick, my life quickly became a stressful series of visits – people (not friends… these people were not being friendly) ‘popping round to see how I am’. All I heard was the chatter of loaded themes and bossy statements which all started with ‘What you should do/why don’t you do this/you NEED to do this. All the while, I should have been staying away from stressful interactions and looking after myself. I was so ill I did not feel strong enough to say ‘leave me alone’. Actually, when I did say ‘please don’t visit’, people ignored my requests and still knocked on my door. This is what I don’t want to return to after lockdown.
Sorry to go on about things that happened years ago, but it has all come flooding back in nightmare and flashbacks during this recent turmoil.
(I did speak to another MS sufferer and she experienced the same thing – she even woke up one afternoon to find a visitor sitting on the end of her bed… how rude!)
It took a long time for me to accept and move on. AND I’M NOT LETTING MY NEW LIFE GO. Now I have a routine of physio, rest in the middle of the day and work in the afternoon. I write books instead of being a nurse, and yes, that is work. Also, keeping my fingers crossed for good health. Before lockdown, if I wanted to see my friends, this would be at the weekend – especially as I need my husband’s help to get around. Not Sundays though, Sundays are for COMPLETELY chilling out – husband agrees.
Even though we all look the same as we did, there is no denying that things are different now. Let’s learn from this, and adopt a new routine – with caution.
During this time, I have appreciated (even more) how important it is to be careful, I think we all have.
I can remember clearly (before all this) people had sneezed right in my face. It was disgusting, let’s not go back to those times. Face masks or not, let’s not spread germs.
When things re-open, let’s support local businesses and go to the pub or café instead of ‘popping round unexpectedly’. We can all (gradually) have a safe and enjoyable summer.
It is OK to be wary at the end of lockdown.
Since the start of the year, people have been hinting at breaking lockdown rules and ‘just popping round’. Even though, last week it was announced that people with some risk factors should shield until the end of March. I felt I was right back where I started my house full of people, not strong enough to say no. But that isn’t true anymore…
Although ambivalent, I am strong enough now to say do not flood me. It is ok to be cautious.
I don’t care if this makes me sound antisocial – I’m not, ask any of my actual friends.
Now leave me alone, I’m working from home (as Zandra Bennett said in my novel ‘The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue’).
I wrote these books:
Enjoy the next few months, Samantha 🙂