Covid-19: can I just…?

I am as stunned as everyone else at the pictures and videos appearing of crowded public spaces this weekend.  People were arrested for having a b-b-q on a beach, while others couldn’t see anything wrong with sunbathing or busking.  3,000 souls visited one London park which has now been closed, meaning the people who use it for their permitted daily exercise in the concrete jungle we call our Capital now can’t.  FFS.

The Government website lists 4 reasons why we can leave our home:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
  • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
  • any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home

Despite this, some people are deliberately flouting the rules while others are doing so unwittingly because the rules are ambiguous and open to interpretation.

1. SHOPPING FOR NECESSITIES

There is no ambiguity here.  You can collect a prescription or visit a pharmacy for medicines.  You can visit the shop or supermarket for essential food items.  End of story.

Despite that, some people still aren’t getting it.  On my daily run out on my mobility scooter last week, I met an elderly chap in my village out on a walk.  He was telling me he still drives a mile in his car to the next village each morning to buy his newspaper and couldn’t see anything wrong with that.  He wasn’t being defiant or malicious, he just didn’t get that this wasn’t an essential journey for necessities and I think many folk are making journeys simply because they’re not grasping the concept of essential.

Early on in the pandemic, before lockdown, my Dad was also walking daily to the supermarket for his newspaper.  He liked the exercise, enjoyed the social interaction and sitting with the paper and his breakfast was his favourite part of the day.  I had to be very firm with him to stop doing that once lockdown was announced and arranged to have his newspaper delivered instead.

2. DAILY EXERCISE

While on the face of it this appears a simple instruction to follow, it’s actually caused huge confusion and I think the government needed to be much more clear on what this entails.  The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, appeared on Question Time last week to clarify the position and ended up, in part, muddying the water further.

He said that a walk for an hour, or a cycle ride for half an hour, in the area where we live, would seem sensible but that if we’re up to it we can exercise for longer.  NO Mr Hancock.  You give clear instructions and the instructions should be we can walk for up to an hour, or cycle ride for up to half an hour, in the area where we live, and that should be it.

Much confusion has arisen over whether we can drive short distances, park up and exercise on, for example, a public footpath.  In our rural village this has caused aggression and vigilanteism, with people putting notices on parked cars, ranting on Facebook and me personally being verbally attacked.  This, at least, was clarified by Mr Hancock who states very clearly that it is permissible to drive up to 5 minutes in the area where we live, park up and then walk with our pets or household members.

This instruction is really important for someone like me.  I am in the vulnerable group, and caring for parents in the shielded group.  I have been very strictly self-isolating for 3 weeks now so that I can continue to provide face-to-face care for people who can’t manage on their own for the next 3 months.  I have mobility problems of my own and can’t walk for up to 5 minutes some days, let alone a mile, but I still need to get fresh air and let my dog have a poop.  However, I want to exercise in very quiet parts of my area to avoid coming into contact with other people, so I have been driving maybe ¼ mile outside my village and parking up to walk my dog, either on the way back from an essential trip to care for my parents, or on the way to.  It’s great that the Health Secretary has now clarified that this is permissible.

3. ANY MEDICAL NEED, INCLUDING CARING DUTIES

This seems straight forward, but it took a lot of reading and reassurance that I was still allowed face-to-face visits to care for my parents.  You can’t just pop in to check your elderly relatives are OK.  You can drop off shopping and prescriptions, but these need to be left on the doorstep and the relative should then take precautions when bringing supplies inside the house, ie disposing of plastic bags, then wiping down cardboard or other packaging then thoroughly washing their hands.

Where you can provide face-to-face care is if the person has an essential daily need they cannot perform themselves.  In the case of my parents they can’t change beds, do heavy laundry, my Mum needs help with bathing and neither can bend to do things like clean the toilet (vital during my Dad’s recent bowel infection).  I am, however, limiting my visits to once a week (I usually go much more than that) and taking the necessary precautions, eg. I am strictly self-isolating myself, when I visit the first thing I do is wash my hands and dry them on a towel kept especially for me, and I keep 2m away from my parents unless I’m performing personal care.

Having said all that, I am technically breaking the rules.  You are only supposed to provide face-to-face care if you fulfil all of the following criteria:

  • you are well and have no symptoms like a cough or high temperature and nobody in your household does
  • you are under 70
  • you are not pregnant
  • you do not have any long-term health conditions that make you vulnerable to coronavirus

And there’s the rub.  ME is classed as a neurological disease, and therefore I am on the Government list as a vulnerable person.  So I shouldn’t really be visiting my folks.  Here’s where common sense kicks in though.  I have been in strict self-isolation for 3 weeks.  I have not been shopping, or out in the community other than a short walk each day in the countryside where I live, and I am taking strict precautions when bringing items into my home so as not to bring the virus in on packaging.  A paid carer from an agency, OTOH, would be visiting other people as part of their job, would be mixing with their own families at home and would be out in the community doing their food shopping etc.  The safest person to provide face-to-face care for my parents is, therefore, clearly me.

Other family members are cooking meals for my parents and leaving them on the doorstep, and going to the pharmacy to collect their medication so that I’m not having to do it which would mean me coming into contact with the outside world.  It’s a team effort.

 

4. TRAVELLING TO WORK BUT ONLY IF YOU CAN’T WORK FROM HOME

This is the worst piece of advice by far.  The Government hasn’t said you can only go to work if that work is essential, they have said you can work if you can’t work from home which applies to half the flippin’ population!  So some folks are carrying on work as normal, which is really angering the other half who are stopping at home and suffering huge financial losses as a result.  The anger, and resentment, is only going to build as the weeks drag on.

In my very rural area, we have a large mine and factory which provides work to thousands of local people.  None of them can work from home, but the factory is still shut because it would be impossible to social distance.

Next door to me, a couple are having their house renovated.  They aren’t living in it, so it’s empty, and the builder is coming as usual to work including having deliveries of supplies.  There were 2 of them there last week and I have no clue if they were adequately social distancing.

Why should the builder be allowed to work and have his usual income, where all the factory workers can’t?

As you know, I have a furniture upholsterer who has a business at the end of my drive.  The day after lockdown was announced he was there as usual, with 2 of his employees, all traipsing up the drive to my and my neighbours’ homes when we are all in the vulnerable group and strictly self-isolating.  He even still had customers, walking up the narrow driveway just feet away from where I and my neighbours live.  I emailed him to say he was not an essential worker and could re-cover a chair in his own home, but he replied saying he couldn’t and he was still allowed to work.  I’m not sure who is right or wrong!  He feels justified to be at work and I feel he is putting our health at risk having a business which uses our domestic properties for access, literally less than a foot away from my 80 year old neighbours’ front door.

The Government should have drawn up a list of essential workers and banned anyone else.  I still can’t believe they haven’t done that.  We are not “all in this together” if some are being given preferential treatment.  I understand the economic arguments but it’s no good having a strong economy if a quarter of its consumers are dead.

So while Mr Hanocock feels he’s been “very clear on this” he absolutely has not and IMHO this needs to change.

 

 

Weekly roundup

I feel like I’m living in a state of altered consciousness.  Seeing events unfold from outside my body, like I’m watching a disaster movie.  I have no clue what day of the week it is (this was started yesterday, because to me yesterday was Sunday) and don’t even ask me what month we’re in.  It’s hugely disorientating.

Usually a very robust, take-shit-on-the-chin country lass I have had the worst week for my mental health in many a long year.  I have dealt with a cartload of stress in the past 12 months so was already wobbly before the pandemic arrived.  The verbal abuse I was subjected to this week in my lovely, safe community was simply the last straw and I have cried more in the past week than I have in forever.  My raging, menopausal hormones haven’t helped!

After a week with the worst case of diarrhoea I’ve ever come across my Dad has finally stopped pooping, thank God.  However, he’s a super sociable and outgoing person and isn’t coping at all well with confinement, so is really snappy and irritable.  On top of that, my Mum isn’t allowed out to get alcohol and I’m certainly not buying her any (I suspect she’s getting her grand-daughter to get her the odd bottle of plonk from the supermarket), so she’s proper bitchy and critical.  If my parents haven’t killed each other by the end of the 3 month shielded period it will be nothing short of a miracle!

My s-i-l starts her chemotherapy tomorrow, so her daughter has had to move out as she’s in contact with the public through her job as a police officer.  There are some wonderful people out there who have offered free accommodation to front line staff who can’t live at home, so she’s now ensconced for 3 months in a 5 star log cabin on a small holiday complex a few miles out of town.  She even has a hot tub 😉

For 2 nights running I stopped up until midnight to try and book my next Tesco delivery slot and am happy to report that I now have deliveries until the end of April.  Not only am I shopping for myself as a vulnerable person, I’m also shopping for my shielded parents, my 80 year old next door neighbours, my elderly friend in the next town and my elderly, very disabled friend also in the next town, so my one delivery is serving 5 vulnerable folks.  It felt like I’d won the lotto when I was able to secure a slot, though the effort of being woken by my alarm at 11.45pm, having to sit with finger poised for over half an hour until I reached the front of the queue, then of course being so wired I couldn’t get back to sleep for hours left me with a banging migraine for 2 whole days.

I delivered this week’s shopping to my very disabled friend on Thursday morning.  He sat on his walker in the porch with a coffee, and I sat in my car from 6 feet away with my flask and a kitkat.  We were chatting away when he suddenly became tearful and admitted it was the 4th anniversary of his beloved wife’s death.  Being in total isolation he was feeling her loss more than ever and it was awful to not be able to give him a hug 😦  The normal stresses of life aren’t going away just because we are in the middle of a global pandemic.

Lots of people are online saying how bored they are but I’ve been up to my eyeballs as usual.  The cleaning (including having to blitz my parents’ house on more than one occasion due to the diarrhoea situation), washing (ditto) and shopping for 5 households, as well as taking the dog out as usual has filled my time and taken what little energy I possess.  My freezer was becoming depleted, so yesterday I spent hours making smoothies, roasting red peppers for sauce and making low histamine meals to freeze – my back felt like it was going to snap in two by the end and my hands and shoulders are still painful this morning :-/  I haven’t had time to be bored.  This week the dog needs a clip because he’s starting to resemble a Yeti.  He had an appointment at the groomers the day after the lockdown was announced so that had to be cancelled.  It absolutely kills my back to bathe, dry, brush and clip him but the poor fella can’t see out of his monstrous Schnauzer eyebrows and is sitting panting in our lounge in 22C of centrally heated air, so something needs to be done.

Sorry for the downbeat post – I’m afraid if you’re looking for furry kittens, sing alongs and Thai Chi you’ll need to read elsewhere.  If, however, like me you’re currently struggling I hear you!  Love to all x

 

Covid-19: gloves & masks

There is all manner of information online about whether or not the general public should wear either gloves or masks during the pandemic.  The information, even between specialists,is contradictory and we poor souls have no idea what to do.  I thought I’d share my own take on the subject, bearing in mind I am as clueless as the rest of the world.

I am very lucky in that I have not had to go out in a crowded public area for nearly 3 weeks now.  I live in the countryside and the only journey I am making is to town to care for my disabled parents.  Despite only going between my house and theirs, however, the very first thing I do when I get there is wash my hands.  Thoroughly, with soap and hot water.  I dry them on a separate towel my parents keep for me in the bathroom.  I am their only visitor.

I do wear gloves on some occasions – I’m lucky in that I had a box of 100 disposable gloves in the shed to do various mucky jobs with around the house.  I had to have essential workmen in my home last week who I knew had touched metal and other surfaces.  The virus can last well on surfaces, especially in a stable environment like a home, so after they’d gone I donned my disposable gloves and went round disinfecting everything in sight.  Door knobs and frames, light switches, the toilet, taps……anything I thought they could have been in contact with, including the floors.  But here’s the important bit – I then took off the gloves from the inside out and put them in the bin.  I then washed my hands.

I am lucky to currently have Tesco delivery slots, and am shopping for 3 elderly friends as well as myself and my parents.  Tesco are great and leave the shopping in bags at the front door.  I wear a pair of bright yellow rubber marigolds to then bring the bags into the house.  I take the food items out, put them on the counter and chuck out the plastic bags (the virus can linger for 72 hours on plastic!).  I then wash my gloved hands, then remove the gloves.  I leave them well alone in a corner away from everything until the next time I use them.  I then wipe food packaging before putting it away and finally disinfect the counter tops.

I don’t really need to wear the marigolds.  However, I’ve found that by doing this is really makes me think about cross contamination and I’m also much less likely to touch my face with them on.  And that’s a good thing.  The gloves serve no real physical purpose, but help me mentally.

The virus can also survive well on cardboard, so any boxes that have been delivered stay outside.  I slit open the top with scissors and bring the contents inside.  I wipe the contents down, before washing the scissors and my hands.  I then don’t touch the contents for a few days – probably over-cautious, but better safe than sorry.   The box and packaging is left outside for 3 days then placed in my shed ready for recycling.

I was out walking the other day and had to go through a gate.  I knew that other people had also opened and closed the gate, using no precautions whatsoever.  I didn’t have disposable gloves with me, so I used a mitten I had in my pocket.  I then took off the mitten from the inside out so it was rolled up and put it back in my pocket before touching my car keys or the car door.  My anorak and the gloves then went in the washing machine the second I got home.  I then washed my hands, thoroughly with soap and hot water.

The thing about gloves is that if they come into contact with the virus, particles are then on the gloves.  You have to be very mindful of that.  It’s pointless wearing the same pair of gloves all day and touching everything – you’re just transferring the virus all over the place!  In that situation, you’re far better to not wear gloves but use regular amounts of antibacterial hand gel containing at least 65-70% alcohol – at least, that’s my understanding, which could be totally wrong!

On to masks.  As I said, I’ve not had to go to areas where there are crowds of people like a tube but I do take daily exercise.  My village is teeming with folks doing the same thing and it’s actually really nice to have a chat to break the isolation.  We are all being very mindful to social distance, cross over the road when we see someone else coming towards us and shout at each other from at least 6ft away!

There have been a lot of scare stories about the fact the virus can be transmitted by air, and this is based on fact.  From my understanding, little as it is, if you are close to an infected person who sneezes or coughs you are at risk, not only from breathing in the virus laden air but from droplets landing on clothing and even your skin, which is why social distancing is so vitally important.  The more of the virus you come into contact with, the greater the chance of infection which is why health workers in close proximity to infected patients are so at risk.

Having said the virus can be contracted via air, most of the current thinking is that the viral particles are heavier than air so will quickly travel downwards and settle on surfaces.  I’m actually more concerned about what’s on the sole of my shoes when I get home rather than any fresh air I’ve breathed in, which is why my shoes come off at the door and stay there.  However, other scientists are convinced the virus can be “aerosol” transmitted, ie the particles are smaller and lighter than droplets and can travel further and last longer.  The truth is, no-one yet knows.

There is conflicting information about whether masks need to be worn by the general public.  Some officials say they help, others say they may make the situation worse – most masks don’t fit well so people are more likely to touch their face and fiddle with them, while paper masks can become wet.  Apparently.  The cynical in me wonders how much of this advice exists because there is a serious shortage of masks and they are needed for health workers in close proximity to the virus (and rightly so).

After the workmen had been in my home, I wore a heavy duty DIY mask I had in the shed, with a close-fitting nose bar and a filter hole, in my house for a full 3 hours (the time during which airborne particles are thought to be infectious) which stopped me touching my face.  I have no idea whether or not I needed this precaution but it felt reassuring to me.

I am not wearing a mask when walking outdoors in the countryside, but if I had to go out in town in a confined area, the pharmacy for example or the supermarket, I definitely would.  I’d rather err on the side of caution.  Having said all that, there is then the dilemma of what to do with the mask afterwards.  I only have the one, so can’t chuck it away.  I think I’d spray it with Dettol and leave it out in the shed for at least 3 days before using again.

The general public are terrified, myself included, and information can look really scary.   For example, there is stuff online about viral particles being found in cruise ship cabins 17 days after the occupants left, but the story is much more complex than it looks.  The presence of viral particles doesn’t mean they are infectious, transmissible, particles.

This is a novel virus.  The world has little clue, really, how it survives and transmits.  I wanted to know how it survived on outdoor surfaces, like styles and gates, but could find no information on how it behaves in an outdoor environment with differing temperatures and humidity because it hasn’t been studied.  There is more information emerging about how it survives indoors, particularly in air-conditioned (and therefore linked) environments and contained environments like cruise ships, but as yet no-one has all the answers.  We’re winging it, which is scary considering it’s a potentially lethal situation.

Personally, I’m trying to stay safe and mindful without becoming paranoid.  It’s a fine line and I’m not sure in any way whether what I’m doing is right or wrong.  I guess if I’m still here in 3 months time I’ll have my answer!

Covid-19: double standards

The two people who have confronted me this week have shown remarkable double standards.

I was politely interrogated by a neighbour who lives a few hundred yards outside the sign which denotes entry to my village, for exercising “outside the area” with my dog, yet I met his wife the day before exercising their dog inside the village in which she doesn’t live.

The day after, I was screamed at to “fuck off home” by a passing cyclist for taking my daily exercise on a road about ½ a mile from the village sign, despite the fact I was on my way home from an essential trip.   The fact that he was in the same area as me on his bike seemed to pass him by.  Pandemic aside, did it even cross his mind that a man screaming at a woman out alone on a deserted road could feel really threatening to her?!

I was in the wrong on neither occasion.   We are allowed to make essential trips and we are allowed to exercise once daily.  We are also allowed to combine the two.   In fact, it would be irresponsible to make an essential trip out, then go home, then go back out for my daily exercise.

There is confusion about what we can and can’t do, for which I blame the government for being unclear and giving mixed messages.  To clarify, on the BBC this week Michael Gove said of exercise that there is no time limit, though a walk of up to an hour, or a cycle ride of up to half an hour, would seem sensible.  However, if we are really fit and can exercise for longer he said that’s also fine.  Walking or cycling for an hour is going to take people some distance from their homes, which is OK so long as we are all observing social distancing measures should we meet other people out exercising, which from what I’ve seen where I live we are all doing admirably.  As someone who lives alone, I’ve really enjoyed meeting neighbours I wouldn’t ordinarily see while out on my mobility scooter and most are being super friendly and chatty which is helping with feelings of isolation.

If you see someone parking a car and getting out to exercise don’t assume they have made a special trip into the area.  Even in a tiny village I don’t know all my neighbours and they could simply be on their way home from an essential trip for food, or from work in an essential industry.  For all the cyclist who screamed at me knew I could have been an NHS worker coming home from a 48 hours shift needing a much needed breath of fresh air!  As it was I’m a carer for a very ill person who can’t manage alone.

The people who are judging others, while doing exactly the thing they are criticizing others for, forget that this pandemic will resolve and we will all have to live together again.  They are not doing themselves any favours or making themselves particularly popular by being vigilantes with double standards, especially in a teeny, tiny village in the middle of nowhere where people have very long memories.

If someone is flouting the rules and thereby putting themselves or others at risk, community police officers can be reached on the non emergency number 101.  We are not vigilantes – we have a police force to enforce our laws.

We are all tetchy, worried, scared and bored but taking our emotions out on other people doesn’t help anyone, however well-intentioned we think we’re being.  We will only get through this by following government guidance, helping each other and being kind.

 

Covid-19: feeling emotional

I don’t know about you, but I’m very emotional atm. I don’t feel any more isolated than usual, but I am worried about my parents and I’m praying that all the people I care about come out of the pandemic unscathed.

It hasn’t helped that my period has chosen this week to arrive after 51 days with no show (I swear I’m going to be the only woman in history who doesn’t go through the menopause), or that I’m not sleeping due to my leg and hip pain, or that I’m not eating because any kind of emotional upset affects my appetite.

Today I am feeling very MEish.  My body feels poisoned, my limbs like lead, my brain muddled and my concentration sadly lacking.  I feel sick, I hurt everywhere, my throat is sore and I am beyond exhausted with everything I’ve had to deal with lately.

My elderly neighbours are both tetchy and not their usual selves.  Ditto my parents and some of my friends.

Having neighbours who have taken it upon themselves to police the village and its inhabitants, and being shouted at by a total stranger for doing nothing wrong yesterday, hasn’t helped.  I feel really weepy and overwhelmed.  When you live alone and have no physical contact with anyone, no-one to make you laugh or give you a reassuring hug, it makes crisis situations harder to deal with.

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.

Usually, I would go on my computer, or in the garden, or do some photography to distract myself but I actually feel too unwell for any of that today.  So I lie here, alone, and try not to cry.  But I’m fighting a losing battle.  I was struggling with feeling down before the Pandemic even began and for the first time in many years I simply can’t pick myself back up again.  Life seems too hard to cope with at present.

Tonight, I have to try and stay awake until 11pm to book my next Tesco delivery slot.  I’m shopping not only for myself, but my parents, my disabled elderly friend, my elderly neighbours and another elderly couple.  It’s a huge responsibility and I don’t know if I’ll manage it as I can’t keep my eyes open past 9pm :-/  I was awake at 4am this morning and went online and all the slots had gone.  Again.   I don’t know how anyone is managing to book a delivery, as the website crashes every night as soon as the slots become available.

I know the emotions I’m currently experiencing will pass in time.  I’ll feel stronger tomorrow maybe, or next week.  I’ll get my sense of humour back and not be on the verge of tears every second of the day.  I hope it happens soon.

Covid-19: discrimination

My parents are 80 years old.  They were poor as children and both left school at 15 without much of an education.  They are not au fait with technology and struggle just to use their cordless phone – they don’t have a tablet or the internet.

My Mum is severely disabled and my Dad has mobility issues and mild dementia.  They both wear hearing aids so even speaking on the phone can be challenging.

Most of the information regarding the pandemic is being made available online.  From important new laws, to Government recommendations on social distancing, to whether or not their recycling is being collected as usual.  They have access to NONE of it.

Each day, the British Government do a televised daily briefing.  The Scottish briefing is signed for the deaf.  The English briefing is not.  Apparently, deaf people don’t need to know what’s happening.

There are NO home delivery slots available for groceries for the next 3 weeks (shame on you if you have booked a slot but are under 70 and healthy), forcing the very old, the disabled and the chronically sick onto the street for food.  I don’t know if you’ve ever gone round a supermarket on a mobility scooter or in a wheelchair, but 80% of the items on the shelves are inaccessible.  You can only reach the food on the shelves at eye level, so often have to ask others to pass you stuff.  But of course, we are social distancing and this can currently not happen.  How, then, are these vulnerable people supposed to shop?  Or get through a checkout when the operator is behind a screen?  (which obviously they have to be, I’m just pointing out the situation from a disabled person’s perspective).

I’ve lived for nearly 20 years in a tiny hamlet in the Lake District.  I’ve spent the week dealing with a very poorly 80 year old parent, so forgot to put my mobility scooter on charge.  I need to be strict with social distancing, as I am caring for very ill parents, so am taking my daily exercise on the edge of my village (I can only walk short distances on the flat).  Normally I’d go out on my mobility scooter, but as the battery was dead I drove ¼ mile to the edge of the village in order to get fresh air and walk my little dog (the only companion I have as I live alone).  I was hollered at by a neighbour for making an unnecessary journey.

My genetic disease, and brain injury, aren’t going to suddenly disappear because there is a pandemic.  I may not be able to live exactly by the rules all of the time because I am not healthy or fit.  Does that mean I should be verbally attacked in the street?

We are only 10 days into lockdown and already neighbours are becoming vigilantes.  It reminds me of the Jews in the war who were turned on by their communities and dobbed in by neighbours they’d known all their lives.

It’s already becoming dog eat dog.

Some people think they’re being good neighbours by offering to shop and help the vulnerable in their communities.  And while this is admirable, these people didn’t get sick or old or disabled last week.  They have struggled and lived in isolation for years, while you have busily gone about your life and ignored them.  And when the pandemic is over, you will ignore them again.

We are not a “community”.  We are the sick and the healthy.  The young and the old.  The able-bodied and the non-able-bodied.  We live totally separate lives and none more so than now.

 

 

Dealing with fuckwits

I was really upset by my encounter with my fuckwit neighbour yesterday, who chastised me for driving within the tiny hamlet in which I live to take exercise (I am disabled).  I thought about it last night and decided that a response was needed, so I wrote him an email:

“Dear x

Following on from our conversation yesterday by the Wood, I just wanted to write to you to let you know the impact your actions had.

You know me.  You know I live alone and have serious health issues.  I currently have NO HELP and am living in total isolation.

My parents are both 80 years old.  My Dad can hardly walk as he’s waiting for a double hip replacement and his operation has been cancelled.  My Mum has half a lung, severe COPD, has had a heart attack and has kidney disease.  She WILL die if she contracts Covid-19.

Despite being ill myself, I am their main carer.  My bother, sister-in-law and family usually help but as they are all essential workers (my niece is a police officer) and my sister in law was diagnosed with cancer last month and is starting chemotherapy on Monday, they are not allowed to visit my parents.  I have been on severe lockdown for 2½ weeks now so that I can continue to visit and care for them.  It’s hard work on my own when I am also ill.

My Dad became acutely ill on Tuesday.  He was so poorly on Saturday morning I needed a doctor, but the surgery was shut.  I was directed to 111.  I was on hold for 2 hours, then was disconnected and had to start queueing all over again.  I was on hold for another 2 hours, then again disconnected.  I had to eventually go online and lie that my Dad was bleeding just to get a doctor to ring me back.

We waited 6 hours for the doctor to visit.  My Dad had a raging infection and needed urgent medication.  Because of all this, I forgot to charge my mobility scooter.

I currently have around 30 people a day from the village walking 4 feet away from my front door.  The village is really busy with people taking exercise, which we are all allowed to do for an hour each day.  Which is why I am trying to take my daily air on the edge of the village.  As you know, I often come down the road to the Wood on my scooter but as my battery was flat yesterday I felt it was fine to use my car to separate me from people so that I could have a short walk.  And it was short, because I’m currently in a lot of pain.

I’m not sure why you took offence to me taking photographs as I walked?  I didn’t take offence to you being on the verge spraying, when that is not exercise and you should be within your home.  We all have to pass the time somehow, and if that’s your choice it’s none of my business.

I have to visit town in my car to care for my parents.  I often stop off on the way home to walk my dog in the area which I live.  This is allowed during the current restrictions, as it is classed as essential travel and daily exercise.  The people whose cars you have been policing (not your job by the way, and the reason we have a police force) may have been locals doing the same thing.

I cried after my encounter with you.  I have had the week from hell and was only doing what I am allowed to do, while trying to stay as far away from the public walking in the village as I could to keep myself and my parents safe.

Be a hero.  Knowing I live alone and am totally isolated, it would have been much nicer of you to ring me and offer help, or shopping, or just a chat to break the isolation.  The lady in the village who I employ to walk my dog for me each weekday morning, and who needs the cash as neither she nor her husband are currently allowed to work, are now afraid to drive to my home to take him out because of the actions of people like you.

We are all tetchy and living in a way we are finding difficult.  Helping, not criticizing, each other is crucial to getting through.”