That’s how much any of us knew then


Either I am getting worse at being concise, or you are allowing me the confidence to meander better (longer!!!). Whichever it is – thank you ❤️❤️❤️

We are saving the NHS. We are saving those who need a ventilator. We – obviously – will be safe. But that is not the point. We are doing this for you. I am doing this for our country. I bought into that. I believed that. But not so much twelve weeks later.

I am not doing this for anyone other than this sick fear (that was) now constantly in my stomach. The fear (that was) of the outside. The fear (that was) that if I let one invisible particle in I will die. That fear-sickness (that was) has changed me. Now I (no longer) want payback for my sacrifice (that never was). Now its my turn (not).

I don’t think I have been forgotten.

We all knew our dad had terminal cancer. Was going along with treatment that might help by a few months but was never going to cure. And with that acceptance and a faith in his loving God, he simply wanted to enjoy the time he had left. So all of us children kept in touch as we always had. Intermittently. Dad was dad. Always had been my whole life. The strong one. The perfectionist. The one who had the final word in family matters. The one who thought he was and did none of those things.

His medical team, in those last months, were amazed how we all allowed him to remain living as normal in his own home. There were so many – doctors, nurses, cancer ones, pain management ones, ones that did, ones that reviewed, ones that smiled, ones that didn’t … and that was just the hospital. Then there was the hospice and more doctors and nurses. And somehow they were all joined up together. Like a jigsaw. Each piece a person in a white coat or different coloured outfits – all with dad in mind. And all of them were all amazed at what we – five children – did for our dad. Who allowed him to stay at home right to the end. Most families couldn’t and didn’t have the resources or “manpower” to do that.

I always remember that. The experts being amazed at us the ordinary.

But it was so much more than just us five grown-up children. More than me living with my dad. It was Mrs Paul left alone with four growing rebellious children now without their own dad at home. That was massive! It was my big brother who lived above my dad. Who was expected to be there way above his own life, plans and relationships. That cost him dear. It was our little sister a few streets away from our dad. Her family and home became our go-to-place also because of proximity (and space). Their home the “bed and breakfast” (free of course) as we all went to visit our dad. It was my bigger brother (and boss) who made the decision not to fire me when I told him I was moving in with dad for the duration. Decided to keep paying me in full and cover my absence at work. It was our younger sister who coped with a turbulent relationship as all families and parents must. So many people. Just for one man. Just so he could be in his own home as this cancer took everything else.

Looking back I can now understand why so many families can’t. Why the experts were amazed at us amateurs.

Big picture?  8.9 million being paid by the government.  Billions borrowed.  Millions still to come.  The numbers are not of a few.  The numbers are of percentages no government has ever had to cope with.  That no government can ever cope with.  This is not what government does.  Just like when our dad was in unexpected need … none of us lived lives that expected or knew how to respond.  We just did.  And in responding without any plan or counting of the cost WE amazed THEM, the experts.

I don’t believe I am “the forgotten”.  I don’t believe I have sacrificed anything.  I believe I am alive this very day because I have a letter that ADVISED me.  That was – and is – my protection with my employer (should I need it).  That is my key to support not given to others.  That is not “The Rules” I must “keep” or “break”.  Shielding was always a fast response to something no one expected.  And for which there were not the resources in place.  I have no blame.  I don’t live with cynical hindsight.  I carry no bitterness.  And I certainly made no sacrifice for anyone other than me.

It’s a no-brainer!

You think I could die based on what you know?  Then yes – I will go along with the advice.  Thank you for keeping me safe!  Did it serve another purpose.  Yes it did.  So what! I am still alive.  Over 42,000 others are not.  Every one of those numbers a real human being just like me.  Every number a human being no longer here.  Every number with so many more loved ones still grieving.  Grief is not just for Christmas.  Grief is for life.  Just that we each find how to live with grief.  Or we don’t.

I have “responded” the same as we have all responded.  Government, employers, health service, economy, communities, local heroes, invisible heroes, ordinary human beings being extraordinary.  All of us responding to something we never ever imagined we could or would.  I am not sacrificing.

(Initially I was just sh****ng myself. Scared to death of dying. Spent one whole night with a tickly cough afraid to sleep in case I never woke up)

THAT’S how much any of us knew then.

This support group. 5,821 out of 2.2 million.  It’s becoming kind of righteous.  Becoming a self-sacrificing forgotten self-righteous must-be-heard group.  A group that has given so much and now increasingly believes itself “expendable”.  2.2 million people with needs greater than “them”.  2.2 million people protected from dying.  Even if you count us all as one “same group” – even together we are still less than 5% of a population – all with differing needs.  Different health needs, economic needs, belief needs, safety needs, circumstance and situational needs, family and lifestyle needs.  Millions of individual human beings across the population are now – more than ever – counted as percentages of differing needs.

It took our whole extended family PLUS an extended team of diverse health professionals to look after just one “dad” for just “three months” (just realised it was the same time frame).  And yet we 2.2 million expect all of that to be done for all of us.  Us less than 5% with so many differing and individual needs?  Us who already have more medical and health support than so many.  Us that have had to learn to live “with” more than many millions of “them”?  We should be the ones that show “them” how to respond and adapt.  We are not invisible and forgotten.  We are in a very long queue of immediate needs for 100% of the population.

I have the skills and experience of coping not with my “underlying condition” but of living “with” every day. I know how to take baby steps. Know how to risk-assess so I can live “risk-safe”. I know how to live with official advice tailored for the millions who are not me. I pick the ones that work and leave the ones that don’t. Just like I break the rules I don’t like unless going through a speed-cam or following a police car. This is no different to that. My choice is not to be remembered or forgotten. My choice is to do what I have been doing my whole life.

Read these posts: bubble wrap “shields” – back to front macs – PPE hugs – picnic blanket hugs – powered filtered air respirators – dog walks – country walks – going for bloods – hospital stays – having to collect prescriptions – having partners working and coming back – having children seeing their friends and coming back – being delisted and going out and about AND coming back again …

No one is “breaking shielding” – we are ALL choosing how to live or not live with shielding.

My Blood Donation frustration yesterday?  A senior nurse called me back. My COPD is not an issue until it is.  These past 22 donations it hasn’t been an issue, so I can officially carry on carrying on.  As for my helmet and shielding?  Just like government travel advice and insurance – if I want to donate I take responsibility for going against “government advice” – my helmet is not even an “issue” – my helmet is perfectly fine.

My next appointment is 28th August.  All the sessions local to me are fully booked up to then.  Simple.  Just took three phone calls.  Like for most things that I want to make happen for me.



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