I woke up today to a beautiful sunny day – the perfect weather for this Summer Weekend. A day to be out with family, friends or just by myself with a perfect book and a fruit cooler from Costa enjoying the sun. However, that’s not happening; not today and not for the next few weeks at least.
Today actually makes the 120th day since I stepped out of my house. As a sickle cell sufferer, I am categorised as one of the high-risk individuals susceptible to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) that has brought not only our nation but the world to a standstill. Thankfully, I did not catch the virus. However, as a preventive measure, I was advised by health experts to ‘Shield’ until end of July: another 21 days at least. This is with the hope of discovering a vaccine, finding a cure or a significant drop in infection rate. In any event, the letter strongly advised that I shield for an initial 12 weeks and this has since been extended.
Now, as I looked out of my window, wishing more than anything just to be out there, to be set free to enjoy nature and the lovely summer sun; craving for that freshly made ice cooler from Costa a certain sense of gloom attempted to consume me. A sense of ‘if not for Sickle cell, I would be out there’; this ‘why me syndrome’ that is unfamiliar wades into my mind. I am not one to feel sorry for myself, or so I thought, and I definitely don’t do pity parties, so where could this be coming from? I soon realised I had let the voice of the media and well wising love ones drown me. The media is the media: doing what they need to do, to bring the news to us – good, bad or ugly. Whether it’s facts or a piece of exaggerated truth, news on COVID-19 had to be reported. Not just reported but reported to engender national compliance to all expert and government advice. Loved ones also called and especially in the early days before the nationwide lockdown with all good intentions asking after my wellbeing, but always emphasising the 12-week restriction. Sometimes it came across like I was under house arrest and they were helping with counting down to my release date. Identifying the source of all these negative emotions helped me to quickly snap out of it. As a young girl, my father always said to me ‘you cannot control what people say but can control what you do about it’. This is one of the many principles I live by, and today I decided what I am doing about it. I am dumping it all in the bin. Yes! in the bin because that’s where all those negative feelings belong. Before you judge me for living in denial, please read on.
I know COVID-19 is real and unfortunately many have died from it. It is also the reason I am under house arrest. Did I just say house arrest? Sorry I meant Shielding. Although many have died, many have also survived. The exact ratio of survival to death we may never know for years or even in our lifetime. I have just decided that nothing will stop me from making the best of this year, regardless of my lacking freshly made ice cooler from Costa or enjoy the lovely sunshine out there. And knowing the nature of the British weather, I am clear that I may not be able to enjoy the sunshine till next year. By then, COVID-19 would be a thing of a distant memory, hopefully. I am making the best of this year. The fact that I may not be able to go out to the shops to pick my fresh vegetables or make impulse purchase as I walk down the supermarket aisle is not going to steal my gratitude. The fact that I may not be able to decide on what alternative to get if the item I want is not in stock is not going to stop me from being grateful for the picker that did my shopping. The fact that the item delivered is about to expire, and I may have changed my mind about buying it if I had gone to the shops myself is not going to steal my joy. The fact that I may feel frustrated from starring at the same four walls day-in-day-out is not going to stop me from being grateful that I have a home. The fact that I may get frustrated sometimes with loved ones who constantly remind me of the seemingly never-ending shielding is only going to make me more appreciative of the fact that I still have all my loved ones around me.
I know like me there are many out there who are shielding, and I know there are days you wish you could just open the door and go for a good old run. Maybe you don’t do cold drinks so a freshly made ice cooler may not be your thing but wish you could go to the beach this summer. Perhaps you are an extrovert, feeling caged in right now, or an introvert who feels bogged down with the million and one phone/videos calls from loved ones, constantly checking on you. Would you join me and let us stand shoulder-to-shoulder, let us settle this once and for all in our mind because I believe the battle is half won if we can resolve this in our mind. Staying at home is the safest option for us. We are blessed to have a home; the reality is there are also many vulnerable homeless people who unfortunately do not have anywhere to shield. Let us use this season to equip, educate and build ourselves. Everyone is an important strand in the fabric of any country, and vulnerable and disabled people are no exception. Let’s use this season to train and equip ourselves so that when this is all over the world can see that vulnerable and disabled people are also a force to reckon with.
P.S: Dear loved ones we know you care hence why you call to check on us but please also be mindful of your choice of words when trying to check on our wellbeing. We love you too!