Day 62: A blog of hope with a free cut-out and keep Covid-19 travel mask

Contributor: Mark

CUMMINGS AND GOING?: Your free cut-out and keep Covid-19 travel mask

As a co-founder of this blog it is fair to say I have neglected my commitments to providing updates. I am really pleased others in the group have found the will to carry on and write something. Collectively, those residents on the street helped form a month – 31 days – of unbroken commentary and I think that was quite an achievement. I also wonder if we were exhausted, or had exhausted all aspects of lockdown life. Only in recent days have a wondered if if was time to find space to blog away. I was delighted other writers had added updates the site. Firstly because I always like reading the posts, but secondly that the project was not dead. That people still had things tom say.

My update is one of hope not despair. I am about done with letting negativity cloud my thinking. Watching the easing of lockdown has been tough and stressful. People blatantly flouting rules (or carrying on as they did before in many cases) makes me angry and sad. The government has been increasingly disappointing in its messaging and today the Prime Minister had to explain why special advisor Dominic Cummings should not be fired for his breach of the lockdown rules. I know this has upset a lot of people. Boris knows that Cummings know where the bodies are buried. But let’s not get dragged down by that.

My kids are due back in school on June 1st. I do not intend to send them and entertain the publicity stunt that is schools reopening to a fraction ton of the school, for a handful of weeks until term ends. Because I now feel if we want to get through all this we need to work around the government, not with them.

I’m looking to the positives on Day 62 and my biggest sense of positivity and hope comes from witnessing how people have pulled together (while being apart) helped others and supported local businesses. It’s been good to see Jamal’s taking orders, people buying pints of beer in cartons from West End Brewery and socially-distanced queues at Currant Affairs. I think this support to small businesses by the community might make all the difference when the country rebuilds. Then there’s the army of people making PPE, sewing face masks and collecting for foodbanks, these people are making the best of lockdown and and doing something really positive.

Finally one last positive is the sheer number of humiliating memes and posters being pumped out on social media. Not only do I find them funny, it reminds me that that there are probably millions of us who think and feel the same way about what is happening. So no need to Stay Alert, but stay positive and keep doing the right things. Work around this government, not with with them

Day 50: ‘Over the weekend I saw a few articles, one from Italy and one from Greece – both of which made me embarrassed for our country’

Contributor: Jennifer

I haven’t written on here for a little while, as each time I went to write something I found it to be a rant of disbelief or I dint see it as being noteworthy – i.e. nothing is different. However, I’ve just noticed that in itself is different. We have all become used to the way that things are now – the Teams’ meetings and video chats with family and friends have become a part of our lives for 7 weeks now. Time in lockdown hasn’t been measured in days for a while now, and at the end of this week we can count it in months. On a personal note, I think we are still coping well, there are few days where we need to be in seperate rooms, and there are more then enough pet projects that we can work on individually.  Socially we have been busier than ever, with friends from different friend groups wanting to chat or catch up. After the 4th late night in a row last week, we are feeing as tired as our busiest weekends feel. 

Over the bank holiday, there was a build up an anticipation as to what Boris may announce; some hoping for change and others desperate for things to stay as they are for a bit longer. In my mind it is simple – we have China and Italy as roadmaps of how the virus may progress and the timeline that may follow. Now the UK having the largest death rate in Europe, I feel that we should take the Italian model and apply caution to it – but what do I know? However, it feels like Boris’s vague and conflicting speech has left people more unclear as to what is expected of them, and his all too frequent comments on how we have successfully overcome is leaving the public with an air that this is over. In contrast, the policies and changes that may be coming in the weeks ahead such as closing our borders (!) feel like the virus hasn’t yet hit. 

Over the weekend I saw a few articles, one from Italy and one from Greece – both of which made me embarrassed for our country. The Italian article was a man talking about the lockdown being lifted and how they were just coming out the other side (interesting to note the timing since the Italians were seen as being two weeks ahead of us). He was commenting on how they couldn’t believe the details coming from the UK to do with death rates and PPE issues, and how when they were in the grip of the virus, they saw the relaxed and delayed reaction from the UK government. The next article came from Greece – a country whose financial issues have been widely publicised for some time and yet they have had 150 deaths total – we are still getting more then that daily! They recognised early the impact that the covid virus was having around the word and acted so that their health service wasn’t at risk – knowing that their fragile economy was only just recovering. Both of these articles were a shock – not that long ago we were looking at ‘poor Italy’ dealing with that terrible virus and now that is us to other countries. Hopefully ‘poor Greece’ and their fragile economy won’t be the next thing for us. 

I think this is Boris’s view too – that the economy cannot take much more of a hit, but I fear that will be something we have little control over now. At the point where we had the control, the time where the actions would have made the biggest impact; we as a country delayed and looked on in horror at the wave of illness that was about to hit us. The Boris who got stuck ziplining over London for the 2012 Olympic games was a bit of a joke, but as PM it just isn’t funny anymore. 

Day 43: An Adventure Beyond The Front Garden

Contributor: Chris:

So week 7 of lockdown begins and I guess it’s time to reflect on the days gone by and the impact they have had on my psyche. I try not to count down the days until shielding may or may not end as it only causes frustration for myself and those closest to me that I miss seeing face to face.

The big news from week 6, I actually got to leave the house twice across two days… Hoorah!!!

Sadly not, the two day trips that I talk about were in fact visits to A&E at Leicester Royal, not the outings I would have chosen for a bid for freedom from Shielding but in hindsight a change of scenery anyway. Please don’t panic, I wasn’t there for anything Covid related thank goodness so no need to cast me off to the caves with the other lepers.

I wanted to talk today about my experience of my visit to A&E and how it left me feeling around both my own personal battle with health issues and also of the constant struggle that Key workers face day to day. The first difference from what was before was the initial contact at A&E, gone is the stroll up to the reception desk in the smart new £48 million unit. Instead I was guided by a multitude of signs and barriers to a portacabin in the area in front of A&E. I have to wait outside (luckily alone) as another person is already in the cabin being assessed, but after only a couple of minutes I am greeted by a HCA who takes some personal details. I am then led into the portacabin to be interrogated by a Nurse Practitioner around whether I have any symptoms of Covid-19 at all. The Nurse assessing me has a sense of relief that my issues are not Covid related and immediately the atmosphere changes from one of caution to friendly conversation in the blink of an eye. On questioning the nurse, she explains that the new A&E department is only for Covid admissions and is off limits to everyone not currently placed there. I am then directed to follow a series of yellow arrows spray painted on the floor and various signage which all takes me on a long walk over to the old A&E department in the Balmoral building.

On arrival at the reception in the old A&E, it is quite a shock to see all of the staff wearing so much PPE. All the nurses are wearing aprons, masks, goggles and gloves. The doctors go for the masks, goggles and gloves but instead go for white plain T-Shirts that can be changed and disposed of throughout their shifts. Prior to visiting I hoped that all staff would be properly protected but seeing this image in the flesh is very daunting and fills me with so much fear that I shouldn’t be in this environment. I ask the receptionist if I am allowed to take some photos of staff and the department for our Street Diary but my request is declined due to Data Protection Issues. The photos on here don’t involve the faces of any staff or patients.

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Due to being high risk I am provided with a mask and gloves which gives me a minimal sense of comfort in this environment. The staff are constantly monitoring the Waiting Area to ensure that all patients are following social distancing, alas there are still many that don’t follow the guidelines and have to be directed like a young child on a school trip. It is frustrating to see the health professionals being pulled away from their duties to have to manage people in this manner and I witness numerous instances of ill feeling to the staff across my two visits around maintaining safe distancing (Humans can be such ignorant shits sometimes).

Upon my first visit on Monday, it was decided by a consultant that I require an ultrasound, but this can’t be completed due to it being late in the evening so I am booked to return on the following day. I had an awful sleep on Monday night and this was only down to the fear of having to return to the same setting again and putting myself in harms way. I also feel that I am burdening the staff in some way, they don’t have a choice whether they attend work or not and they are put in the firing line both physically and emotionally every day they step across the hospital threshold.

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My return visit on Tuesday alas does not go to plan and due to some inter-department political issues, what should be a few hours there turns into a nightmare 7 hours. The staff are very positive throughout and keep me up to date as much as they can. One of the consultants made my case her own personal mission and she devoted so much of her time to ensure that my procedures were completed and I got the treatment needed. She was also very caring in regards to my Crohn’s and the need to eat and drink, there are no shops or cafes currently open at LRI so there is no option at all for patients to purchase food. Due to me being high risk, the consultant took the time to source water, crisps and biscuits all from newly opened packaging  – I don’t believe I have ever taken so much satisfaction from a bottle of mineral water and a packet of Skips.

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On the Tuesday afternoon at 6pm there is loud applause coming from the end of the corridor and I can see many staff surrounding another staff member. I asked one of the staff what the applause was for thinking perhaps a birthday or leaving a role, but the staff member explains that the person being applauded is finally taking a day off after working 12 hour days for 12 days in a row – what more can I say around this other than dedication at its highest level.

Finally at 7pm on the Tuesday, after 7 long hours, I have been tested, diagnosed and treated and am finally allowed to escape. Leaving the hospital feels such a relief and I go home to reflect on the impact the two days have had on me. I understand now more than ever how important the NHS is not only to the nation but to me personally and how different my life would be without it.

Across my two days at the unit I have had the pleasure to come across such amazing doctors, nurses, cleaners and receptionists. They are working under such pressure due to the Covid beast but do they show any strain in front of the public? No, they are smiling, polite, energetic and dedicated more than ever to ensure that each and every one of us gets the best possible care from start to finish.

Today’s entry has not be political at all, only a huge shout out to the Backbone of our country now and hopefully many years into the future!!!