I’ve been sat here pondering about whether or not to post anything about the current pandemic, I know I for one am finding social media to be full of the worst case scenarios, rumours galore and generally just lots of doom and gloom right now. But I figured I might as well write something, and no, this post isn’t going to be all doom and gloom. Because what good does that do anyone? No, this post is going to highlight how, despite the current pandemic and resulting panic, not a lot is going to change for me. And I suspect this is the case for many other people who are almost, if not completely housebound.
You see, for the past 15 years I have lived in what it seems is now being called self-isolation, and my family have had to live in a form of self-isolation too; doing what they can to protect me from catching any viruses which are doing the rounds.
We keep hygiene to a high standard, wash our hands often, particularly after having been outside anywhere. We use the antibacterial gels, wipes, hand wash etc. but not to over the top standards; my little bubble doesn’t need to be 100 percent sterile. We just do what we can to minimise the risk of me catching anything. It is now an embedded part of our routine.
And as for social distancing, well I myself only really leave the house for medical appointments, to visit my Grandparents and for the occasional shopping trip on ‘better’ days. My parents don’t exactly go out a lot either as usually someone has to be here to help look after yours truly here; they go out to work, visit my Grandparents, do the shopping and such, but rarely will you find them out socialising or at concerts and the like.
You see, my health has meant that the things everyone else seems to take for granted, the things they think they should be able to do, and life will be terrible without, my family have tried to avoid for the 15 years since I became unwell. That’s not to say they don’t occasionally go out to concerts/theatre/pubs/meals whatever, but it doesn’t happen often, and more often than not that would be in summer when there are less viruses doing the rounds, and my health tends to be a little better anyway.
And I think this is what has led to my utter bewilderment at some of the things I have seen on social media since this pandemic started: people wondering how on earth they will survive 14 days in self-isolation, stating how utterly awful it will be and so on and so forth. It’s just highlighted the MASSIVE difference there is between my life and seemingly most other peoples. I mean to me 14 days in what they are now terming self-isolation would be a breeze as far as I’m concerned; it’s not unusual for me to be stuck in the house for 14 days at a time, granted over the last 15 years mostly spent stuck in the house I have found things to do; little bits of housework, DVD box sets to watch, a few hobbies such as knitting and card making, all things I can manage within these four walls, and pick up and put down as my health allows.
But being isolated for 14 days, or even a few months or years, isn’t as terrible as it once was. Granted it’s still not exactly pleasant, especially if you are used to socialising lots, you will miss out on things, but at this time EVERYONE is going to miss out on things. You won’t just be sitting there thinking about what a good time everyone else is having at the concert while you self-isolate, because that concert has likely been cancelled anyway.
Besides, compared with the first few years I spent self-isolating, there is A LOT more you can do and a lot more interaction to be had while stuck at home. As a girl who became housebound, and was self-isolating, back before the internet was a big thing, when households only had the one computer for everyone to share, and social media was still in the making; it may only have been a few years before it became main stream but even then it wasn’t as big as it is now.
I can honestly tell you that self-isolating now is an awful lot easier than it once was. You can have contact with friends, family and the like without leaving the comfort of your own bed if necessary, heck you can even attend tutorials online from your bed (after all that is basically how I did my degree!). It doesn’t even have to just be through messages and phone calls, you can see each other through video calls too these days. Self-isolation doesn’t mean you are completely cut off from everything quite like you used to be; I could go weeks without hearing from my friends because we couldn’t afford to text that often, I wasn’t well enough to sit at the desktop computer and write an email, or to write a letter and get someone to post it for me. Nowadays I often hear from at least one friend a day, even if it’s just a quick message to say hello. Those messages often brighten my day, it’s through losing things that you learn to truly appreciate what you’ve still got, and while self-isolation may feel extreme to some, it can be absolutely necessary, and during this pandemic you at least know that your self-isolation is temporary, many of us with chronic illness live like this indefinitely.
The media are going wild about how people need to change their routines and life will inevitably be disrupted over the coming weeks and months. And I know for the majority of people that is true, but there’s also me sitting here looking at my own little life and thinking that actually not a whole lot is going to change, or even needs to change.
Yes, inevitably I will in all likelihood cut out all but essential trips out of the house: no more shopping trips on ‘better’ days, probably less visits to my Grandparents too, but that’s nothing I haven’t done before during rougher periods of health anyway; it is part of my ‘normal’. Actually as I write this I have turned down the chance to go out with my parents, something I would usually have jumped at the chance of, and yes it does make me feel a bit down, but I know it’s for the best.
We might wash our hands a little more often, maybe even wipe down surfaces a bit more than usual but the fact is our cleanliness levels are already high. There’s not a whole lot more we can do. No, we are not imposing the stay two meters away from anyone in the house as part of social distancing, because quite frankly the house isn’t big enough for that, and in the 15 years of my being unwell what we have been doing has been sufficient and I don’t see why this should be any different.
Please know I am taking this pandemic seriously, and I am worried about it. I don’t doubt that for a lot of people this is a massive change in routine, but for me the majority of the advice I’m hearing are things I am already doing.
The fact is we just have to do the best we can to minimise the risk of us catching any virus, within the limits of the basics (work, food shopping and the size of the house! etc.) After all our best is all we can do.