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Are the shielded group in danger of being forgotten as the lockdown eases?

This week, our household begins our tenth week of “shielding”  – completely isolating ourselves from the outside world, in a bid to protect ourselves from Covid-19.

Actually, it’s just my husband, Terry, who’s technically advised to “shield”: as a transplant recipient, he’s deemed to be at a very high risk from the virus, and, as such, back in March he received a letter from the government advising him of the measures he should take in order to protect himself. I wrote at length about those measures in my earlier post on the subject, but, to summarise, if he was following the official guidelines to the letter, Terry would currently be holed up in our bedroom, avoiding all face-to-face contact with the rest of the household, and having his meals left outside the door on a tray. He wouldn’t be able to go outside, but he WOULD be able to sit near an open window, which is kind of a big deal, really, when you’re encouraged to believe it’s literally the only thing that won’t kill you right now, isn’t it?

I mean, seriously: try to imagine what it would be like to spend 12 weeks (Which is the length of time that initial letter advised him he’d have to shield for) locked inside a single room of your house, unable to have any contact at all with another human being – not even your spouse or child – and with the prospect of sitting near an open window being the most exciting thing you could hope for from your day. It’s unimaginable, really. It’s also totally unrealistic, and not even remotely practical for most people – which is why, of course, we decided not to do it: or not to the extent suggested by The Letter, anyway.

Instead, we made the decision to isolate as a family: so, instead of Terry locking himself away, while Max and I continued as normal (By which I simply mean “following the same lockdown rules as the non-shielding members of society”), all three of us have been effectively shielding – which means that none of us have left our house/garden since March 16th. So, no trips to the supermarket, no “daily exercise” – nothing, in fact, that can’t be done within the four walls of our house, or the confines of our garden. And, to be totally honest, I’m not actually 100% sure we’re “allowed” into the garden, either… 

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How has it been? 

Kind of soul-destroying, to be totally honest. 

I think there’s an idea that being in the shielded group is a lot like being swaddled in a giant vat of cotton wool, all cosy and protected,and at peace with the world. Actually, though, being “shielded” feels more like being completely forgotten: and, as the weeks tick by, and the lockdown restrictions in some parts of the country start to be eased, I’ve been becoming more and more concerned that the complete destruction of the mental health and general well-being of the 1.8 million people who fall into this category will continue to be seen as a fair price to pay for the “reward” of them simply continuing to exist – even though simply existing is not the same as actually living.

I’ve been becoming more and more concerned that the complete destruction of the mental health and general well-being of the 1.8 million people who fall into this category will continue to be seen as a fair price to pay for the “reward” of simply continuing to exist

And, of course, with the UK still technically in lockdown (Some parts more so than others), I think it’s fair to say that no one is living the kind of life they’d like to be living right now. This huge change in circumstances is obviously not unique to the people who are shielding, and I don’t want to in any way minimise the fact that everyone is suffering because of the coronavirus pandemic: everyone. (Well, everyone other than that one friend who keeps posting on Facebook about how much they’re loving lockdown, and how it’s the universe’s way of telling us all to slow down, or whatever. There’s always one, isn’t there?)

For the shielded, however, there’s absolutely no end in sight. The initial letter that was sent out in March advised Terry – and the hundreds of thousands like him – to shield for 12 weeks. We’ve always known, however, that that time period would be extended, and it now seems likely that those in the most vulnerable group will be shielding in some form until there’s a vaccine: which, we’re constantly being told, might never come. (For the record, I do believe there will be a vaccine, and I’m hoping it will happen this year. Almost every time I see the news, however, I’ll hear some expert or other confidently predict that there’s virtually NO CHANCE of a vaccine, and that, even if there is, it won’t be available for a very long time indeed. So that’s reassuring.)  Just this week, the government’s chief medical officer said we might have to live with the virus “for years”, and, even in the best case scenario, we’re facing the very real prospect that we will not be “allowed” to see our families or leave our home this year at all.

Even in the best case scenario we’re facing the very real prospect that we will not be allowed to see our families or leave our home this year at all

I honestly can’t even begin to explain what that feels like: and one of the worst things about it is that one of the many things the shielded group are not allowed to do right now is complain. Because, the fact is, the alternative for them is just unthinkable, isn’t it? Shielding might be unutterably awful: but at least it’s keeping us safe – and how can you realistically complain about something that’s supposedly saving your life? Instead, then, the shielded are expected to shut up and get on with it: to just quietly accept that their lives are effectively over until the vaccine (That might never come! Don’t ever forget there might NEVER be a vaccine!) arrives, and to be grateful they’re not dead.

It’s hard to argue with that point of view, obviously: and I’m sure I speak for the majority of the shielded group (Although probably not all, to be brutally honest: because, for some people, there are things worse than death, and I’d guess total isolation from the rest of the world is one of them…) when I say that yes, OF COURSE they’re grateful to not be dead. Let’s be honest, though: for most of us, simply being alive is not the only goal we’ve ever had for our lives: it’s just the absolute minimum we expect when we wake up every morning.

for most of us, simply being alive is not the only goal we’ve ever had for our lives: it’s just the absolute minimum we expect when we wake up every morning.

Now try to imagine what it’s like to be told that being alive is now the absolute MOST you can expect: that you will continue to exist, but it will be a very empty, narrow kind of existence, which will not include seeing the people you love, or doing any of the things that gave your life meaning, for the foreseeable future: and possibly for years on end, if the worst of the doom-mongerers are to be believed. It’s really easy to screech, “JUST STAY HOME!” or “AT LEAST YOU’RE NOT DEAD!” at people when they admit they’re struggling, but, to do so betrays a real lack of empathy, because the fact is, what’s being asked of these people isn’t remotely realistic, and my big concern now is that, as far as the government is concerned, out of sight means out of mind: that, having advised the most vulnerable to shut themselves away indefinitely, they can simply wash their hands of them, safe in the knowledge that it won’t be their fault if some of them eventually crack, and decide they just can’t cope any longer. They did warn us we’d die if we left our homes, after all: what more could they possibly do?

as far as the government is concerned, out of sight means out of mind: that, having advised the most vulnerable to shut themselves away indefinitely, they can simply wash their hands of them, safe in the knowledge that it won’t be their fault if some of them eventually crack, and decide they just can’t cope any longer.

Actually, though, I think there’s probably a lot more they could be doing to help the group they claim to be most interested in protecting. At the moment, however, although the shielding letter promises that Terry will be supported in attempting to meet the guidelines, there’s been very little in the way of actual support for him: in fact, other than a single phonecall from a nurse (Who opened the conversation by wryly asking Terry if he was managing to stick to what she described as the “totally ridiculous” guidelines, before assuring him not to worry, that not many other people were managing it either…), and the offer of a free food box should he be unable to secure one of the priority delivery slots made available by the supermarkets, there’s been no real sign at all that those in power are trying their best to make indefinite shielding a realistic possibility. We don’t feel supported: we feel forgotten – and as the rest of the world gradually starts to come back to life again, the shielding advice continues to insist that ALL activities outside of our house are too dangerous to be contemplated.

People who are shielding can’t do “unlimited” outdoor exercise, for instance. They can’t sunbathe in the park – or, indeed, meet someone from outwith their household there. These are, in many cases, fit, healthy people, who are willing and able to work, but who are now facing financial ruin, because they can’t go back to work, send their children to school, or accept family help with childcare. Almost every day, I see people talk about the importance of fresh air and daily exercise – apparently oblivious to the fact that there are 1.8 million people in the UK right now who aren’t supposed to set foot outside their own properties, and who are assumed to not require fresh air, exercise (Yes, we could do exercise videos at home. Would you want Joe Wicks PE to be your only physical activity for months, or possibly years, on end, though?) or face-to-face contact with other human beings. 

And this, I think, is the root of the problem: this “othering” of the shielded, who most people seem to think are frail and/or elderly, and so sick that they’re probably used to staying at home anyway. That may well be true for at least some of the people in the vulnerable group, obviously, but it’s certainly not true for ALL of them. Terry, for instance, isn’t remotely frail or elderly: in fact, he’s a very healthy, active man, who, up until March of this year, was leading a totally normal life as a small-business owner, father, and mountain-climbing fan. He isn’t on the shielded list because he’s “just going to die anyway”, as so many people seem to assume: he’s on it because of a kidney transplant in 2003 that left him on immunosuppressants for the rest of his life.

This, I think, is the root of the problem: this “othering” of the shielded, who most people seem to assume are frail and/or elderly, and so sick that they’re probably used to staying at home all the time anyway.

The vast majority of the time, Terry’s transplant has absolutely no effect on his life at all. This year, however, it’s felt a bit like he’s being punished for having been ill 17 years ago, and that the very thing that saved his life back then has brought it to a shuddering halt now. He’s one of a huge number of previously fit and active people whose mental health and physical fitness is now considered to come second to the threat presented by Covid-19, and who are encouraged to believe – possibly incorrectly – that a socially-distanced walk in a secluded area would most likely kill them. Those who are shielding are also instructed to accept that, as long as they remain alive, they should just be grateful for that, and not expect anything more – not even any of the very basic human rights that most people still take for granted, even in lockdown. The right to hug your child, say. To go for a walk. To sit in the same room as the rest of your family, rather than locking yourself away, and talking to them from the other side of a closed door.

“What’s the alternative, though?” people ask, when the shielded dare to suggest that all of this is just a little bit much, maybe. For the last 10 weeks, we’ve been told repeatedly that the ONLY alternative to it is certain death: that we CAN’T expect things to change, because if someone like Terry sets a single foot over the threshold of this house, he will almost definitely die.  While we have absolutely no doubt that catching Covid-19 would be very, very serious – and quite possibly fatal – for Terry, however, as time goes on, we are starting to ask ourselves if total isolation really is the ONLY way to avoid that.

Would it REALLY be so dangerous for us to take Max for a stroll around our cul-de-sac, for instance, given that all of our neighbours are aware of Terry’s situation, and know better than to approach us? We’re not expecting to be to able to start going to the supermarket, say, but can we REALLY not hope that we might at some point be able to meet up with my parents, who have also been isolating for the past 10 weeks, and whose chance of having contracted the virus without leaving their home (And while diligently washing / quarantining all of the groceries and mail that come in, too) is as as small as ours is – not even from a distance? We’ve accepted that our lives will revolve around our home until there’s a vaccine, but will Terry REALLY die if he drives once around the block, without ever getting out of the car? 

The current government advice says that YES: Terry would place himself at an an unacceptable level of risk were he to even consider doing any of these things. Common sense, on the other hand, suggests that might not be strictly true: and that, actually, the greater risk might come from the deepening depression we’re both starting to experience as we contemplate a life in which we’ll continue to exist, but no more than that. And, ultimately, as we approach the end of that initial 12 week period of shielding, and there’s still no end in sight, I think we’re rapidly reaching a point where even the most vulnerable in society will have to assess their own risks, and decide for themselves whether Covid-19 really is the only real risk to them right now. Because, if our country is to take the position that even minuscule risks must be mitigated, no matter what the cost, then we’re all facing a very bleak future – and not just the shielded, but presumably everyone else who decides to do something that carries even the slightest risk: so, all of us, basically.

If even minuscule risks must be mitigated, no matter what the cost, we’re facing a very bleak future

In closing this post, however, I just want to quickly caveat it by saying again that I’m not in any way trying to minimise the difficulties of this situation for other groups, too: particularly those currently working on the front line, or who are being forced to go back to work, in conditions they don’t consider safe.  I’m sure those people would love to have our particular set of problems, just as we’d love to have some of their freedoms, and I want to stress that, just because our family finds shielding hard sometimes, that doesn’t mean we think everyone else has it easy, or that we don’t recognise how fortunate we are to be able to stay safe. Pandemics suck for everyone, in different ways, and this purpose of this post is not to play Tragedy Olympics, but simply to talk about the ways in which this one sucks for us personally – which is the only perspective I’m qualified to give. 

Are you currently shielding? I’d love to hear how you’re coping, if so!

 

Amber

COMMENTS
  • Emerald

    REPLY

    Poor Terry! I really feel for him, especially since you say he loves his hill walking. It sounds nightmarish for the three of you and I just hope it passes quickly.

    I guess I may have had to have shielded if I’d had my radiotherapy treatment more recently than two years ago, but my GP called to say I was fine to just social distance. I have a friend in London who’s shielding. She lives on her own in a flat – it must be hell! But what else can she do? She’s been getting deliveries, food and medication, but it must be so lonely for her.

    And yes, it’s all very well that some folk are enjoying lockdown. For life to slow down, etc. That may be true. Isn’t it lucky when you’re in good health, have money coming in and can go out for daily exercise? That’s me (now) by the way, but not everyone is this fortunate.

    May 19, 2020
  • Amy

    REPLY

    I’ve been shielding too. I started around 4th March and I agree, the only logical end to this for extremely vulnerable people is a vaccine and that isn’t coming for some time. Only other thing would be a very effective treatment, which might be more likely.

    I couldn’t get my local grocery stores to recognise my vulnerable status, despite registering as told on the Gov.uk site. I’ve been relying on neighbours for food and prescriptions. I don’t even dare touch things to wipe them down, I bring them in, put away fridge and freezer stuff, wash my hands and leave everything else three days before putting them away.

    I have been taking slightly more risk than you and Terry though, I’ve been going for night (really about 9pm) walks in my street. I’m in a horseshoe shape with two other streets and the only people here are residents. I cross the street to avoid people (but I rarely meet anyone). My wife is isolating with me and she has been really good about helping me feel safe outside.

    I want to say that there is hope, but it is hard to find it at the moment. Good luck to us all!

    May 19, 2020
  • Anna

    REPLY

    Dear Amber,
    use your own judgment. At least your government has one opinion on how to survive the pandemic. Or it seems so from your post. Here in the USA republicans tell us one thing, democrats tell us something different. Every doctor has his/her different opinion. Every state seems to have different rules how to deal with the pandemic. Do what you think is best for you, your husband, your family. If you don’t think that going to the park will hurt your husband, then go to the park! We might have to live with this virus for years. Can not put our life on hold for years, can we? Good luck to you and your family!

    May 19, 2020
  • Rebecca

    REPLY

    You and Terry have my full sympathy. I’m currently ‘shielding’ (God, I despise that cringey term…) because I have an autoimmune illness and have to take immunosupressants. My partner, on the other hand, is a key worker (police) and can’t just stop going to work unfortunately. We decided right from the beginning that the official advice for me to just fester away by myself in a bedroom for 12 weeks (and, let’s face it, probably much longer) was totally unworkable.

    My partner takes the utmost care with hygiene, wipes everything down, changes clothes when he gets home from work, etc., and we feel that is the best anyone can reasonably do. Is it more risky than if he was totally shielding with me and never leaving the house? Of course. But for us the alternative is worse. Already over the past couple of weeks I feel my mental health has sharply declined. I dread to think how I would be shut away in a single room by myself.

    We’ve had lots of conversations recently and they really do echo all the thoughts you have written in this post – how we are being forgotten about and the incompetency of those in charge. We have also read numerous scientific articles lately, stating that the risk of catching the virus outside, on a socially-distanced walk in the fresh air for instance, is miniscule to non-existant. As time goes on, and if no further updates are given for us, I am seriously considering using my common sense and starting to go for nice walks in a secluded place. The alternative is too grim.

    May 19, 2020
  • Mary Katherine

    REPLY

    Thanks for perspective, Amber. Your lockdown has been much more brutal than anyone’s I know, and everything you’re told about the future is so bleak. Yes, I think you have every right to complain. We all know the world isn’t fair, but that doesn’t make it less heart-breaking. Know that I’m wishing the best for you all soon. That doesn’t get you piddledysquat, but that’s the best I can do for now.

    May 19, 2020
  • Helen B

    REPLY

    I think the points you make are extremely valid. It appears the advice to shield – whilst no doubt well-intentioned – took no account of the potential impracticalities, or psychological costs it would incur. Especially as the much vaunted support has been so lacking.

    May 19, 2020
  • Amanda

    REPLY

    Thanks for your post – it’s like you articulated so much of what swims around my head. And I totally get what you mean.
    I’m on the shielding list but like you we decided that my husband and 2 boys would all stay home too. It’s complex as I have an incurable cancer – right now I feel well but my time will be limited in some way so I feel so frustrated at being constantly told to wait it out until a vaccine maybe next year. I may not be able to just “wait it out” until next year. 2020 could be as good as it gets and not seeing my parents and siblings who live in another country is awful.
    But I do “get” to leave the house for treatment appointments where I feel a mix of excitement at being out and absolute terror re infection.
    As I’ve gradually had to accept the date will extend I’m using my own common sense – if I can drive to the hospital I can drive the long (& more picturesque) way home. If I can have my best friend drop off prescriptions she can enter my garden without touching anything and shout a conversation at me from 6 m away. Otherwise I just can’t do it without the promise of an end date to it all.

    May 19, 2020
  • Myra

    REPLY

    It feels like we are living in a dystopian novel right now. I can go fo days without even having sight of another living thing, apart from birds or squirrels in my garde. I am lucky to have a garden and it is keeping me sane right now, its never looked as good, although with the warm dry weather the grass is dying again. Marsha brings my shopping once a week, cleans everything with wipes and packs it away, while our Max runs through the house without touching anything and plays football with Teddy in the garden until his mum calls him and then it’s the same in recerse. But on 1st June she has to go back to school, and will need to leave Max with me, and yet that is against guidelines.
    I think you could see your parents as they have been isolated for the same length as you. Stay well and safe.
    How is Max coping with his restricted existence, that must be very difficult for him to understand, especially not seeing his grandparents.

    May 19, 2020
  • Myra

    REPLY

    This is heartbreaking for Max and you and Terry. I think this will have a huge effect on children. It will be difficult to give them back the carefree relationships they once had. Hopefully a vaccine will be found and we can get back to some kind of normalcy.

    May 19, 2020
  • Miss Kitty

    REPLY

    I would use my common sense over government advice if I were you. I know that’s not an easy thing to do right now when everything is so scary, but research has shown you need to be around someone for approx 15 minutes before they can pass the virus on. So just walking past someone in the street, unless they do a sneeze or cough right at that moment, is not really a risk at all. Going for a walk around your street without talking to anybody should be even less risk, as long as you touched nothing and changed and showered when you got home. Going for a drive is even less risk again because presumably nobody else has been using your car, so there’s no way for the virus to make its way there. Except of course using your car means that eventually it will need to be refueled and a possible contact point with the virus, which is why our govt limited driving during the first 4 weeks of lockdown. Anyway I’m sure you’ve already thought of all this, I certainly feel for you in your situation, I hope there is something you can do to ease your shielding that you are comfortable doesn’t put you at any further risk.

    May 19, 2020
  • Rita

    REPLY

    Hi there, i am a carer for my mother who is terminally ill with breast and lung cancer so she is ln the extremley vulnerable list and to be honest the sheilding was not to bad at 1st but now we are thinking surely taking her to a secluded country spot and just a little walk or to sit in the sun and feel the breeze on her face would not hurt? I do think that the time has come to put our own risk assessment in place,!! I had to take mum to a gp appt last week and although every measure was put in place to keep mum safe look at the high risk involved there!. I do not know how long mum has got and to think she may have to spend the rest of her life a prisoner in her own house and garden is torture. I completley get where you are coming from and the things you have put in place to keep Terry safe, from wiping down letters, antibacing all shopping, 2 metre distamcing etc, wiping down anything touched…never ending .
    It is comforting to know that i am not the only one who thinks that it is ti.me to give our loved ones back some of their lives , safely of course.

    I wish you and your family the best.

    Rita.

    May 21, 2020
  • Nicola

    REPLY

    I completely agree with you about the ‘othering’ of the shielded group, and anyone who’s in a more at-risk population. As an asthmatic, I’m at a higher risk than others my age (though my asthma is mild and well-managed, so I’m not in the same position as Terry is). It makes my blood boil to see people commenting that those who are at a higher risk are “frail” and more likely to have died anyway – it’s a way of reassuring themselves that they won’t possibly get it, but to do so they have to treat the rest of us like we’re less worthy of living, like we’re burdens and our deaths aren’t worth the economic damage. I’m a healthy, tax-paying 30-year-old, but even if I wasn’t I would still deserve not to die alone, choking on my own lungs, with only faceless doctors in PPE and a video call connecting me to my loved ones.

    May 21, 2020
  • Bridget Fisher

    REPLY

    I posted on Facebook last week much the same thoughts- some replies I received from ‘friends’ I’ve known many years were extremely aggressive- telling me I was ungrateful and that people were having their lives wrecked to save people like me ( presumably because I have a disability). Or to stop feeling sorry for myself. ( that was not the tone of my post) . Several suggested going out for walks or drives in the countryside. When I pointed out shielding prevented this they were genuinely surprised. We are rarely mentioned at any briefing and perhaps the general hope is we will just eventually give up , go out and if we become ill it was our fault.
    I have an idea ( shades of Baldrick!)
    When the Yorkshire Ripper was doing his worst, the police advised women to stay at home. Rightly, women said actually men should stay home. Perhaps we should have days when the general population stays home and the shielded can go out. We won’t infect each other, we’ve been isolated for weeks.
    Thanks for sharing your story -it has made me feel less ‘isolated’!

    May 21, 2020
  • J

    REPLY

    Hi relate to each of you , we went threw 4 years of multiple trauma only to loose our business and home last year, now stuck in temporary homeless accommodation in a 2 bed small flat in a high rise , watching others go about their day , may I add not all Of them adhering to lockdown rules presently But seeing it as a joke a holiday !,, , being in high rise and the foot-fall in this building , we have no choice and to much anxiety to take the risk of going out , we have infact been in full lockdown for 4 month. There is no end insite, we where only trying to rebuild our lives the best we could prior to this So now to be a family shielding what options are there moving forward. I’m left with many sleepless nights thinking of the future , thinking of the limited choices moving forward , and worrying so very much for my two children age 4 and 13. There seems to be so little discussion for the shielding groups , I don’t mean to be ungrateful and am thankful for the help of a food parcel but to be honest I’d much rather be free and do my own shopping, it’s all so depressing and leaves me often in despair I need to keep kicking myself to stop feeling sorry for ourselves , I do believe eventually we will be left to make hard choices alone to take risks to our lives or be in prison for forever so to speak until a possible never vaccine. I wish you all well , stay strong xx may I add this does not takeaway from everyone in the communities and their real worries and concerns moving forward , it is just the option of a person in shielding , I pray for everyone xx

    May 23, 2020
  • ann fortt

    REPLY

    Hi everyone, my husband has underlying illnesses so we have both been shielding since 17 March. At first although it was hard, we just looked forward to the 12 weeks being over, counting the days. Now of course, we fear that it may never end, a continuous ground hog day. We have been lucky in respect of getting a regular delivery slot with ASDA, having medication delivered by our chemist etc. No actual problems of that sort. But although he has these illnesses he is actually in good nick inasfar as we used to go out to the theatre, to restaurants, to the pub and on holidays. He just kept taking the tablets! We had so much planned for this year. We are both in our 70s and lets face it, not being morbid or anything, but years are precious now, who knows how long we have left anyway. We can put up with anything if there is light at the end of the tunnel, but there is no light!

    Also, we are starting to get comments from friends and neighbours when we speak on the phone that suggest we are being paranoid now, although they were sympathetic at first, everyone seems to think it is all over now, going to the beach etc. and with stores starting to open, they seem to think we have become agoraphobic.Some people say to me “well you can go out can’t you” It is so hard to explain unless you are in that situation. I am perfectly healthy, and long to continue our life, but would never forgive myself if we decide to “take the chance” and then God forbid my husband caught the virus. If it was just me in “danger” though I would definitely go for it.

    May 28, 2020
  • Dorothie Jones

    REPLY

    Thank you for your point about ‘clinically vulnerable’ not meaning ‘old and frail I wish people would realise that. My daughter has an auto immune disease and is on immunisuppressants. She is in her 30s and is otherwise healthy. She is a mother of 2, works with autistic children and is a foster carer with her husband who is a primary school teacher. She is an economically active member of society…now stuck at home for the foreseeable future. I also have autoimmune disease so heaven knows when we can meet each other again. So hard and we feel forgotten. Govt think ‘just stay at home’ solves the problem…but really?

    May 28, 2020
  • Magda

    REPLY

    Hello
    Thank you for your wonderful post. It’s the first time I have read someone who has had the guts to tell it like it is.
    I am asthmatic. Found out I had to shield. Bit wild when the asthma nurse has never explained your asthma is severe. I managed five weeks in. My daughter came home from uni. She did our shopping. Couldn’t get a delivery slot and we have dietary issues so didn’t want to burden friends. I usually live alone. Work was my social life. Now like most people I am wfh. So coupled with shielding double whammy.
    I got to week five and just mentally couldn’t cope with being in. I also have a limited income and needed cheaper shopping.
    I have been to the shops 6 times and now walk most days. Prior to lockdown I was. Three mile a day girl as I don’t have a car.
    I thought long and hard about it. But just couldn’t take it. Asthma has dominated my life for ten years. I took the view that it still does despite Covid. So I was going to go out
    I don’t know if that’s ok. But it’s ok for me. What saddens me is I was briefly disciplined for being off three time’s in six months with my chest by work. Now I am not allowed back at all because of the guidelines. When I do go back I’ll have no immunity to my colleagues. So will probably get sick
    Thank you for your article and I send you a huge hug. I hope my “rant” doesn’t come across as self indulgent.
    Regards
    M

    May 30, 2020
  • Tommo

    REPLY

    Hello Amber and thank you! And thanks to the others on here who have made me realise I am far from alone in how I feel.

    My husband is shielded as he is a dialysis patient, so I have shielded too, although there is nothing wrong with me. I am now feeling isolated and forgotten, know that my mental health is suffering badly, yet all the time conversely feeling that I should be grateful. But grateful for what? Being alive? This is no life, it is an existence, and no-one seems to care. I listen to the government updates, and they rarely mention shielded people. The last time they did was when they eased lockdown considerably for other people, and said “this doesn’t apply to shielded people. We will tell you what is happening with you next week.” Nothing since.

    I never thought I would say this, but I actually envy my husband his dialysis sessions. He is allowed to leave the house 3 times a week to go to the dialysis unit, where he at least sees his “dialysis buddies” and the staff. They are a lovely crowd, so he has some social interaction and banter. I see no-one. I have not seen anyone apart from delivery drivers and friends who drop stuff off, leaving it in the porch. Social media, phones etc is not the same as real contact, and I feel like a leper.

    The latest easing for the masses has hit me really hard. We live in a cul de sac so can see all comings and goings clearly. Seeing and hearing people having friends and relatives coming to their gardens, and going out to meet other people, has made matters even worse for me mentally. I am keeping blinds and curtains closed, because it upsets me so much to see what I can’t have. Over the years I have become close friends with the wife of one of my husbands dialysis buddies. We have been each others support through times of our husbands’ bad illnesses. She feels exactly the same as me, and says she does not know how long she can carry on like this. We cry down the phone with each other, but in normal times she is a very strong capable person, not at all flaky. I really fear for her at the moment.

    So we have recently had one degree of easing, where my husband and I can go out once a day together. But we still cannot meet anyone, even at a distance. Big deal.

    I am just glad I happened across this site, and found others who are as frustrated and angry as me.

    June 16, 2020
  • Lynne

    REPLY

    Hi,
    We are also Shielding as a household to protect out 16 month old baby as he is on home oxygen since being born at 23 weeks.
    While we are happy that some are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel, it feels a lonf way of for us sometimes. We have been awaiting the arrival of our letter about our personal circumstances and if any restrictions can be lifted, only to hear today (we live in Scotland) that clinicians have only been contacted today to start work on these. If feels as though those who are vulnerable have become out of sight, out of mind.

    July 2, 2020
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