So the big day 31st March 2021 has come and gone, for which many people won’t even take a side ways glance. For me and thousands others, this date marks a huge date, with the end of shielding in England to the Coronavirus pandemic.
My friends and family may be shocked to hear, that I truly have mixed emotions about this monumental event. Although I haven’t been shielding for 12 months, like many others with underlying health conditions, my frequent changes in medication has increased my risk in recent months. My immune system has been at all time low, but I’m so hopeful that it is on the way up, as I re-gain my strength and symptoms subside… but for how long?
The news of the end of shielding comes with a large degree of trepidation on my behalf. To say I’ve not been my natural self for more than 12 months, is so true, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Normally I’m quite a social person and in the least, love spending time with my extended family. Organising family gatherings, house parties and large Sunday dinners I’m in my element.
Like many others, the furthest I’ve been out recently is to the local park or fields near our home. This has been exacerbated with illness which left me unable to drive and even walk alone with my kids. My home has been a double edged sword: my sanctuary and my prison. With COVID on top, the thought just meeting even immediate family, feels awkward, unable to give the hug I wouldn’t have given a second thought to and where we have to make difficult decisions, do we even dare meet on the doorstep for fear of getting COVID. The risk of my children not having a parent has for the first time in my life, made me feel very vulnerable.
Having the privilege of having my first vaccination truly feels like a lifeline. I was literally jumping up and down and messaging all my family when I got ‘the call’. This however doesn’t remove the fear and anxiety of trying to get back to a new normal. I went to a town park last month, with the huge amount of people who were there, I truly found it completely terrifying! I was shocked by the complete ignorance of many people on the basic 2m distancing. Take me to a National Trust property any day where I at least know limitations on people attending will be enforced! Then, throw in mixing with my own family and friends, which I long to do so much. The last time I saw some of them, was days before I went into a Crohn’s flare and was admitted to hospital. Yet, I’ve got stupid thoughts running through my head… Will I make the journey in the car? Can I drive, can I cope with the kids with my symptoms? Will I be repeating history and go straight back into a flare?
What do I do?
So what do I do? Hide in fear for the rest of my life?
I’ve started with small steps… I’ve started taking journeys in the car on my own again, then followed by journeys to the park with the children (on my own). Who’d have thought a trip to Sainsbury’s, or the Range, or even going to the hospital for an infusion is exciting! I feel for those on the other side of my journey’s out, I literally haven’t stopped talking I’ve been so hyper! My poor bank balance has taken a kicking too – who thought that a trip to get £1.70 chicken would result in a £100 bill?
I’ve taken the leap and now actually planned some short get together’s with friends and day trips with them. I’m being honest with myself on how capable I’m feeling on any one day and be honest with those around me. I will build myself up to the big work launch event in May (my first time on site since August – next thing to worry about will be fitting in my work clothes!) and hope that I can start planning and growing my social interactions to those closest to me once more. It may not happen overnight, but I think the only way is to ‘accept’/feel the fear and go for it! Wish me luck!