Coronavirus, It’s time we talked.

Seated animal statue wearing anti coronavirus mask

You are a bit of bitch really aren’t you?  Very clever.  Coronavirus, Covid19 or whatever you are calling yourself, you’ve sent the world in to a tail spin.  You’ve made it even harder for those with less and caused loss, grief, fear and stress to many.  You’ve caused economic chaos just when the country’s debt was coming under control.  Corona1, you have brought the best and the worst out in people.  You’ve given the scientists, statos and health analysts a right royal challenge to get their teeth into.  I hate you.  I don’t want to die from Covid19, Cancer already has that sewn up.  I’m cool with that.  You on the other hand are ruining my precious life.  Now bugger off.

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Coronavirus Care Bear

Hospital

Every week when I’ve gone to hospital for chemo, had my blood taken and received an injection, I’ve  risked catching you!  My body perceives such a high threat level that is on edge the whole time I am there.  I am antsy when I have no choice but to walk down corridors where physical distancing is impossible.  I wear double masks, I wash my hands constantly and in my mind you hover on every surface, everyone’s lips, everyone’s clothes.  I cringe with every sneeze and cough heard.  My body is so hypervigilant and tense that when I finally get out of the hospital I am thoroughly exhausted. 

You, Corona, are a cruel cruel virus.  I took time to focus on being as well as I could during my current cancer treatment and to foster as much calm as possible. Huh!  Calm is very hard to come by most days thanks to you, let alone on hospital days when it is nigh on impossible to feel relaxed.

Strangers

I was trying to get my head around you Corona and your ramifications, for my bubble of hubby and me, for my loved ones, when strangers suddenly became very scary entities. Minding my own business in a hospital corridor, a man walked towards me, looked me directly in the eye, shook his head seemingly disapprovingly and then, coughed.  He coughed again, purposefully.  He looked directly at my face, coughed a third time and then with his hands hurled his cough at me.  I was shocked and almost stopped.  He threw his head back, laughed, looked at me again and grinned.  Then he carried on as if nothing had happened. So too did the person behind him. 

It was over in seconds.  My thoughts raced – is that it?  Corona, does he know you have infected him?  Did he want me to get sick?   Why?  What did I do?  Isn’t having cancer enough?  This happened the week before official lockdown here in the UK.  If it was your idea of a practical joke Corona, you got me. I was worried for weeks, waiting to see if you had landed, were going to take my breath away, make me very very sick or you know, kill me.

Assault

Once in lockdown, this incident would be called assault.  The man could be found, arrested and charged. I would report it.  At the time I didn’t know this and it was the last thing on my mind.  I was in shock, kept walking and found myself trying to work out what had just happened and why. I remember feeling and thinking that somehow he had taken offence to my looks or seeming wealth.  I had my headphones on and was listening to a podcast, he looked dishevelled and possibly impoverished.  Did he think me too wealthy, too fortunate?  Well I am fortunate in so  many ways however that doesn’t excuse his or anyone’s attempt to cause me harm.

On reflection Corona, I realised there could be a million reasons why he did what he did, none of which might match with my first interpretation.  I would never know his rationale so there was no point me thinking about it anymore.  Yet somehow, Corona you had made me a target, when I already was one, thanks to cancer.  You forced me to think about a whole heap of virus stuff that I really didn’t have a lot of headspace for.  Instead of hospital being safe, the place I go to heal, you have made it a very scary destination.

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Thanks a bunch Corona.

No more adventuring

Maxed out vulnerability.  People living with (or dying with, if its a bad day) Myeloma are in the seriously at risk group.  If I followed the full UK guidelines to the letter, for people who need to shield, I wouldn’t be sleeping in the same room as my husband, spending time in the same room as him, cooking and eating with him.  I would be alone in a bedroom, only allowed out for bathroom breaks and to use the kitchen separately. That wasn’t go to work.  Not unless one of us got the virus or hubby had to go out of the house a lot.  You almost stuffed up my home life Corona.  You certainly stuffed up my adventuring (two cancelled trips that I was so looking forward to and that would have balanced out being on crappy treatment) .   No, you were not going to get it all your own way.

Best bits

Lockdown hasn’t been all bad.  Consistency has been my main word, mantra, possibility, call it what you will.  I committed to myself to choose somethings I would do while unable to go out and do them consistently.  In fact, you gave me a renewed sense of purpose, a new start line.  I checked in with myself, wrote a list of things I wanted to do and began chipping away, doing a little bit of one thing each day until it was complete before moving on to the next task.  Thanks to being stuck at home with less outdoor distractions I’m feeling good about lots of little and not so little achievements.  Cheers Corona. 

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Not us (obvs) but cool pic

My new morning routine makes me feel great.  I re-established my intake of a litre of water with lemon juice, my herb drink and added in yoga.  Hubby and I completed two 30 day yoga programmes and are part way through another with my favourite online teacher Adriene from Austin, Texas. (links at end).  My downward dog is the bees knees.  My hip flexors on the other hand….are getting there.  I’m loving it. 

For the first two months I cycled on an indoor bike at least once a week, paced the length of the garden until I got dizzy or had listened to hours of a podcast and worked out with weights. I felt stronger and healthier than I had in an age.  I finally submitted two research papers to journals for peer review  (core topics: dementia, family involvement, interventions).  Another paper I was involved with, was published.  Manual client notes from work completed prior to using a record system are now online.  My continuing professional development log is up to date.  It even contains new entries from the multiple courses I’ve down during lockdown.  I’ve enjoyed growing my Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) skills.

I baked gluten free, natural sugar only, snacks and slices that all turned out to be edible (by me at least).  I cooked loads and cleaned like I had never cleaned before.  Well that’s not true (some of the end of tenancy flat cleaning days were mammoth) but I cleaned more thoroughly than I had in an age.

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Silver Rooster Easter Bonnet

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Blurry Bonnets!

I’ve kept in touch with loads of friends.  Had virtual drinks and dinners, coffee catch ups and laughs (especially over the Easter bonnet competition which included a plane and a silver rooster, no less). Had friends drop off yummy treats and delicious fresh fish.  Clapped for the NHS and frontline workers.  Formed deeper connections with my neighbours through whatsapp about shopping, helping out, puppies, compost, birthdays and more.  Learned about tiktok, seen some things about Trump and some other dodgy characters that I never want to see again!  Corona you have forced a new world upon me and I will remember the bright spots.  Even though….

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low day(s) duvet day(s)

Limits

You almost got me.  My mental health took a hit.  I made it to about day 50 when cabin fever hit.  Half way through the worst 24 hrs Corona, I discovered my knickers were on inside out.  I didn’t care but it did sum up the day.

You are scary but I was over being home.  I was desperate to go for a long walk.  My right hip was giving me grief and I knew walking would help.  In early March, my hip decided to drop and rotate forward (it’s done this before).  Joy of joys.  You didn’t care Corona.  You had your own schedule.  Before I could book a physio appointment to feel the relief of alignment you made everyone stop work and close doors.  No face to face let alone hands on work was allowed.  My body hated you. 

My hip got steadily worse.  The pain was constant, worse when I sat down or lay on that side.  I felt like one of those bobbing dog toys hanging from a car driver’s mirror; up, down, side to side, up down, side to side.  I’m surprised hubby didn’t slip me something in a cup of coffee so I just stayed still for a few hours.2

 

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Joyden Woods Walk

Latest

Dr B gave me permission to leave the house!!  As long as I avoided everyone.  He wanted my mental health to be ship shape because the next step of treatment is a tough one.  I woke up early.  There was no one about. I put my masks on and walked.  Walked for an hour.  I breathed deeply.  It felt so so good.  Ha Corona.  Take that!

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Despite you, the pain in my hip is now improved and I’ve completed another seven months of chemo.3  OK my consistency has gone to pot over the last two weeks but part of me loves that; I’m human after all and needed to rest my painful hands and wrists.  Even so Corona, your attempt to disrupt my treatment, health, heart and hope has been futile; I’m ready for the stem cell transplant (SCT). 

It does look like I’m going to have to do the SCT alone.  Without face to face visits from hubby or friends to make me laugh and just be with me.  Corona, you had to have the last word didn’t you?  You really are a bitch.

——————————————-

1  I can’t get the chorus from My Sharona (The Knack) out of head so Corona, my nick name for Coronavirus/Covid19 stuck, sorry.

Not a joking matter I know.

3   A quick update on this to come in another blog

Great yoga sessions and teacher:

https://yogawithadriene.com/

https://www.youtube.com/c/yogawithadriene/videos

 

Acknowledgements

Unsplash Images: 

Sarah Kilian – Bear with Mask

Robin Benzrihem – maskonground

Robert Collins – man_woman_dance shape

Mika Baumeister – thinkingmask

Jurien Huggins – duvet

Ashkan Forouzani -stayhome

Anastasiia Chepinska – ClosedCovid

Other images:

Others – Me & Hubby

anastasiia chepinska ClosedCovid unsplash 300x200 - Coronavirus, It’s time we talked.

© 2020 Janine Hayward www.psychingoutcancer.com.  All rights reserved.

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June 26th, 2020 by
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Aine
Aine
4 months ago

You are fab! And a great writer. Sending you love and yeah corona is a total bitch Xxx

Kate Robinson
Kate Robinson
4 months ago

Janine I feel very moved by this and I am in awe of how you have coped with the situation. You are one hell of a woman. Sending you love and support for the next 4 weeks. Kate xxx

Nina
4 months ago

Thank you sharing your story and although its unique to you it resonates with all of us. Its wonderful writing and made me feel all the feelings. Good luck with your treatment. Lots of love from nina at number 34

Jude Robertson
Jude Robertson
4 months ago

I have missed your down to earth blogs. Hang in there Janine. Don’t let C19 get you down. Love from down under xx

Patsy Clark
Patsy Clark
4 months ago

Janine brilliant article and as always you are so inspirational. This new virus is causing chaos and is a very unwelcome visitor. Stay strong and keep smiling, Patsy