07/04/2020 Hmmph!

Well let’s start again tomorrow!

I have felt washed out and fed up today. My cough has returned with a vengeance and driven me insane. I had a bit of a wobble this morning. Thank you to my lovely boss who helped me through it over the phone.

I don’t have a temperature and that is the crucial thing. Apparently the cough is a residual thing. So I have rested up today. At lunchtime I read an article written by @TheSumoguy via his twitter that put me on the right path. I retweeted it and he retweeted my retweet, so that cheered me up. Have a look at my twitter page or look him up to read it, it will help.

Only a short one today, I have not got a lot to say. Apart from today was pants but then again it is nearly over now.

06/04/2020 First day back at work

After nearly 2 weeks I went back to work today. Last night I had a fitful sleep, and by 5 am I was wide awake. It was a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Not so much about the work (I love my job, and my role is not front line patient care) it was more how I would cope physically. By the time I got to the bus stop my head was banging and I was breathless. After a few minutes on the bus I had recovered. It was the same walking to my office, and then walking to the drop-in. I feel like an old man. Once I am insitu and sat down I am fine. It was lovely to speak to people, and see my colleagues. From a well-being perspective going in and being useful, albeit in a small way today was restorative. There is a buzz of determination about the hospital, much more than I noticed last time I was there. Everywhere I looked I saw people working together, solving problems and looking for what they can do to make things better. It is quite humbling to watch. Us providing the support are conscious that we need to be there for all of these amazing professionals to make sure they can continue to do this in the weeks to come. It is a true team effort. Together we will overcome.

I am home now, and my head is banging again, and I am really tired. I have a lot of background work to do tomorrow, so a slightly slower pace with less moving around is required. So I am pacing myself knowing that I will be needed to be firing on all cylinders in the coming weeks.

I know a lot of you lovely people are concerned about me, but rest assured I am looking after myself.

If you are recovering pace yourself and don’t expect too much at first like I did over the weekend and ended up making myself feel fed up. Do things in stages and you will be okay.

05/04/2020 Post Viral Blues

Yesterday morning I was emotional but optimistic, I was symptom free for the second day and looking forward to being able to leave the house today, albeit just taking the dog out for a short walk. I started doing a bit more, I swept the floor and did a bit of ironing whilst watching a bit of Netflix. No matter how productive I was I just felt flat, I felt incredibly sad, and on top of that sapped of energy. When I looked forward to today, I realised that I couldn’t do what I wanted, I couldn’t come and go as I pleased, the country outside was still closed (I hate the term locked down, it feels so melodramatic, and downplays the seriousness). I think what brought it home to me was when a Challenge Cup highlights programme came on the television and the announcer said “as all sport is postponed”. ALL SPORT IS POSTPONED! ALL SPORT! ALL! The magnitude of that just completely deflated me. We are in the midst of the single most important event this century (so far) and to be frank I would rather not be. I want to be reading about this in a text book or watching a documentary about it, not living through it.

So I finished my ironing (getting ready for work next week) and felt exhausted. Exhausted! I only did some ironing and put it away. Everything ached and I felt breathless. That dropped my mood even more. How was I going to be able to go to work? I felt old and useless. By 8:30 I was in bed, I tried listening to some music, to lift my spirits. That made me feel closed in and claustrophobic, and I could feel myself starting to panic. I resorted to some simple mindfulness techniques of checking my sensations, it worked before I knew it I was asleep.

I know this post seems very negative on such a sunny day. What I am doing though is helping myself get out of this funk by writing down what I am experiencing to understand and make sense of my emotions.

When I started to recover I expected to feel better and be back to normal immediately, I didn’t. I had an expectation that everything would good, it isn’t. I was being so unrealistic it is a little embarrassing writing about it. I feel like a little boy again on my birthday. When I was young I would get so excited about my birthday and imagine all these wonderful presents, like an Evil Knieval doll and a brilliant party with me being at the centre of attention. Obviously it never quite turned out like that. So normally by about halfway through my party I would start behaving like a little shit. I was unable to manage my expectations so always felt disappointed. This is exactly what is happening to me right now. I wanted an Evil Knieval doll and got a Gullivers Travels T-Shirt and a colouring book instead.

So by writing this entry actually helps me put things into perspective, and realise I was quite ill for over a week. I just have to give myself some time and let myself off the hook. So today I am going to be kind to myself. I will take the dog for a short walk to post a letter for Janet our next door neighbour who is in her 90s later I sit in the garden and take in the sunshine. Now I am feeling better I need to step up to the plate though and play my part, that means staying in as much as is possible. Tomorrow is another day, one that I am looking forward to and dreading in equal measure, I imagine the same as everyone else.

I find writing down what I am feeling really helpful. If you are feeling down, and cannot seem to get out of it, maybe try writing it down and reading it back to yourself. You will notice all the assumptions that you make about your life, and start to understand what motivates you. You don’t have to put it out there like I do (although I find that process and the comments incredibly helpful). Keeping a journal is a wonderful way to capture the emotion of what is happening to us all. Give it a go, you don’t have to be great at writing, after all you only have to share it with people if you want to.

Have a good day today. Even though the sun is shining, please don’t go to the park or beach, stay at home, save a life.

04/04/2020 For Areema and Aimee

I know I said yesterday that I would write my diary entry in the afternoon from now on, but i got up this morning and was bored, so here I am. For today and tomorrow I will continue to write this in the morning and when I am back at work on Monday, I will start writing it in the afternoon. Yay I am back at work on Monday, as long as I have no symptoms today. In fact if I have no symptoms today I can take the dog out for a walk tomorrow. You cannot believe how exciting that sounds. After 11 days of complete quarantine just walking to the end of the street will be a treat, and on Monday I get to meet and talk to my colleagues, and do some work. It is going to take me a few days to get up to speed, but I cannot wait to start supporting our amazing staff, both clinical and non-clinical.

As you know my background is Nursing, so yesterday was really tough, as I imagine it was for all nurses and ex-nurses. Yesterday we heard that we lost 2 of our own to this dreadful disease, Areema Nasreem, and Aimee O’Rourke. Two beautiful, loving, caring Nurses, and Mothers who have been taken from us too soon. Nurses, Doctors, Physios, OTs, Radiographers, Pharmacists, Pharmacy Technicians, and all other health care professionals who have direct patient contact, have never before in the UK knowingly gone to work and put their lives at risks. For me yesterday it became real, and I was scared, not for me, I don’t have direct patient contact at the moment, but for my friends and colleagues. I am so desperate to get back to work to support them, so they can provide care in these difficult and frightening times. I have faith that we will get through this and we will save many lives, but it is important that we make sure we care for those providing the care, to secure all of our futures.

We must honour the work of healthcare professionals, we must show them how much we appreciate what they do, and what they are sacrificing. The best way to do that is to play our part in stopping this virus and preventing more people getting sick. It is really simple, only go out when you have to, stay at home, don’t be tempted to take multiple trips to the shop in a week. If you go to the shop everyday, you are increasing your risk of becoming infected and spreading that infection. You might become sick, sick enough to go to hospital, where you end up infecting a healthcare worker who is caring for you, who then becomes so sick that they end up in ICU and die. So please I beg you stay at home buy what you need in one go, if you forget something do without.

For Areema and Aimee, please stay at home, and stay safe.

03/04/2020 On the up slope

Well I have woken up this morning albeit very early starting to feel normal after 10 ten days. My cough is now infrequent and the chest pain is diminished. After I wrote yesterdays entry I felt really quite unwell and emotional. I thought I was getting worse again, and for a moment I started overthinking and scaring myself. So I spent the afternoon wallowing in my self-pity. I wasn’t a pleasant person to live with yesterday afternoon. Thankfully I feel much better today and feeling quite positive about starting back at work next week.

Today is tinged with a bit of sadness. Today would have been my niece’s wedding day. We were all looking forward to getting together as a family to celebrate Katie and Craig’s wedding. It has been over a year since all of us have been together. My brother, sister, mum, and niece and nephews all live in an around Chester, and we are over in Hull. The last time we were in Chester was before Christmas, but we did not manage to see everybody, so today would have been a chance to catch up with everybody. Its a shame but not the end of the world. Katie and Craig have postponed the wedding until the autumn. As Katie is pregnant we will have a new addition to the family and a double reason to celebrate. We have put Mum in strict quarantine until this is all over, so all will be good in the autumn, and gives us all something wonderful to look forward to.

As I have no symptoms to really speak of now, I am going to change the time of my diary entries to the afternoon or evening from now on. I did this at the beginning of this process so I could cover what my days at work had been like. So god knows how exciting tomorrows’ entry will be, describing my days moving from the front room to the kitchen, and back to the front room. Brace yourself.

I will leave you today with a reminder of how to get through each day at the moment. About a month ago I wrote a blog about how to make your organisation resilient in the face of coronavirus. It was based on the work of Diane Coutu, it works just as well for individuals and more or less sums up what I have mentioned in some of my more recent diary entries. Diane suggests to be resilient you have to possess three characteristics, and these characteristics can be worked on, we can all develop them with a bit of attention. Below is a little checklist you can use to help you remain resilient and go with the flow during these testing times.

  • Be realistic; accepting that things will not always go the way you want them or expect them to, so make plans that allow for that. Make room in your mind for the bad, distressing times, give them the space they deserve. To be happy, we have to experience sadness.
  • Have purpose; be true to what you value, understand why you do what you do. Being a parent, and working for the NHS are important to me, because they make me feel useful, which is one of my core values. Be clear what motivates you and remind yourself of that everyday. Use it as your anchor. Keep working on this, especially when you need to dig deep. I do what I do to be a valued useful member of the human race, and sometimes I have to be courageous to do that. I remind myself of that when I am struggling.
  • Be creative; there are plenty of opportunities to be creative at the moment. There are plenty of shows on the TV encouraging creativity, I noticed Jamie Oliver had a show showing us how to make meals from what we have in the cupboard. There are loads of sites on the internet doing the same. I would also encourage you to use your own imagination and come up with solutions to your own problems. What do you have that you can use differently to make life easier. If it doesn’t work, you have something to laugh about. When I have been skint over the years I am have created some dreadful meals when trying to come up with something in the cupboards, but then again I have made some great meals out of nothing. It can sometimes go back to being realistic. To get yourself in the mood for being creative, go lay down at the top of the stairs.

So there you have it, be realistic, creative and have a purpose and you will ride this storm. Hopefully most of you will be reassured that you have been doing this already. Remember you have to have all 3 characteristics to be resilient.

We’ve got this, it will pass. See you all tomorrow.

Feeling battered and bruised

Today is day 9 of my quarantine, and I am feeling better, my cough was less aggressive overnight. I now feel battered and bruised, I feel breathless and my chest really hurts this morning. It is as if I have been kicked in the chest. I can take paracetamol for the pain and I can rest to allow my lungs to recover.

Like many people though being stuck inside and being prevented from contributing to society. And I am lucky next week I can go back to work, some people will not be able to leave their homes until the restrictions are lifted. Over the past week I have inserted a few tips that I use to help me get through my days. They mostly centre around being in the moment and viewing the world differently. Sometimes though you just can’t get passed the feeling you are experiencing whether that is frustration, anger, sadness or fear. I know it has been said before, but it is true, these are all normal emotions to experience. If they are normal then it is important to allow these emotions to happen, if we try to push them away or fight them they will just get worse. The wonderful Paul McGee (The SUMO Guy) calls it hippo time, a time to wollow in our self pity. Now the thing is with hippo time is that it really shouldn’t be a permanent place of residence. It is a time to recognise the emotion you are experiencing, understand why you are experiencing it, acknowledging it and then to make a plan for the rest of the day, that will be more helpful for you. That might be laying down at the top of the stairs looking for inspiration or starting a new project. Or like me writing it down and sorting out my life on a blog.

I wrote a blog about a month ago about it being OK not to be OK about not being OK. I know there is a lot of OKs. My point is most of us a brought up to stifle and hide our feelings. If that is you, then the message is that is OK. But and there is a big but, you still have to sort through your emotions. Having quiet hippo time will help. You might not be an emotional soul like myself, so you don’t have to lay face down on your bed. Do what brings you comfort, cleaning the bathroom, digging the garden, playing music. Anything that takes you away that is useful that will let you work out your emotions. What is important is that you recognise and understand your emotions and can create the space in your mind that it deserves, so you can get back to being the wonderful you again. And in the mean time you have been productive.

We can be battered and bruised in different ways. Whether that be physical or emotional they both serve a purpose, it is important to acknowledge both if you are going to manage them effectively.

Keep safe, and stay inside, it will pass

01/04/2020 My faith in humanity is confirmed

What a truly lovely bunch of people we all are. Over the past week I have witnessed how kind and compassionate people are. I have had messages every day from people I have known for years and from people I have never met. All of them wishing me well and showing genuine concern for me. Many of them grateful for me sharing.

I am grateful to every single one of you. You have all lifted my spirits and helped me through the past week. I hope that in some way me sharing my diary is helping you.

The news is frightening, and social media is littered with misinformation and scaremongering.

So we all need moments of positivity. There is a lot of positivity on social media. Facebook has some wonderful groups that offer support for people both practically and emotionally. In fact you may be reading this blog via one of those groups. There is also plenty of content via YouTube and other streaming sites. My message to you all and me, is to grasp these offers to lift your spirits. If you are stuck at home start to be creative, and think about things differently. When my children were little I used to get them to lay down on the floor at the top of the stairs and look up. It seems a little silly, but trust me, doing this helps you change your perspective and see the world differently. The options are boundless. Try sitting on the floor in the kitchen and look around, or on the floor in front of the TV looking out at the room. You will notice things you have never seen before. It might spark some inspiration to start a new project, you might notice that you missed a bit when you were decorating. You can apply this to almost anything once you have practiced it. So if are struggling with an issue, start with changing you position within the space you are in. That might be standing up, laying down, or walking around the garden. Doing something that sparks a shift in your perspective might just help. If nothing else, it breaks up the boredom.

I hope that helps some people, I do it all the time when I am struggling to solve something.

I have not mentioned my symptoms, mainly because it is starting to bore me. I still have my cough this morning, my chest is hurting but I don’t feel as unwell today. So I will take that and hope things improve throughout the day.

So have a good day. Now go lay down at the top of the stairs and see your home from another perspective.

I have just realised what day it is. Trust me this is not an April fool it does work.

31/03/2020 Day 7 of the symptoms

It has been nearly a week since I started with symptoms. Yesterday I think was the worst day I have had. The coughing fits seemed more frequent and I was more fatigued than I have been. Last night was pretty rough too, I woke about 2 am with a cough, that just wouldn’t stop. I brought myself downstairs and then had a fitful sleep, waking again abou 5:30 coughing again. I am still coughing with a banging headache. I have a feeling today is going to get worse. The nausea has returned, and I am trying to have a warm drink.

I got through the day yesterday in part listening to playlists on Spotify. I have a few go to playlists. Both I have listed on here before, one is funk and soul that is always great to the lift the spirits. Have a look through my previous blogs to find it.

However mine and Lisa’s favourite playlists is entitled ‘My Boys’. Both my sons are in different bands. Ben is the bass player for Vialetters (if you live in Hull you may have heard of them). Jack is in a relatively new band called Speakeasy, he is the rhythm guitarist. I am biased but I think they are rather good. The amazing thing is just thinking about them makes me smile and makes the day more bearable. If you are struggling to find something positive, look for something that makes you smile. A favourite book, an old album, a musical, a comedy. Anything that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. Indulge yourself in it. Make sure you find something everyday to make you smile. Be creative, the Internet is a wonderful place for finding old favourites. I sometimes search you tube for old clips and songs.

In the mean time here is my play list to make you smile.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7g2x8tgl0Bo1ERPdkhTKvP?si=ZWKPc62eQ4S-_a1sjTByOw

30/03/2020 Well yesterday was pretty rubbish

I mentioned yesterday that day 5 is apparently the peak. I hope it was, I don’t fancy repeating that again.

After I wrote my entry yesterday I went back to bed and slept though to the afternoon. I had coughing fits all day, and felt generally awful. Now I know I am getting a mild version of this virus. I can still manage to eat and drink and I am managing to stay at home. Want I want to be clear is that I am not feeling sorry for myself, but what I want to do is to highlight what it feels like to have the symptoms of this virus and how important it is to isolate and not spread this virus. Even at it’s mildest it is really quite rubbish, and we know for a significant number of people it is deadly. So please stay at home.

I was hoping that today I would be feeling a lot better. Maybe I was being a little unrealistic. My chest is tight and is really hurting. My cough overnight seem better, but is back with a vengeance this morning. My head feels hot and it feels like I have pins sticking into my scalp. Most of all I feel beaten up. Maybe this is just the last throws of the virus and I will start feeling better this afternoon.

Obviously at the moment I am sat or laying on my sofa staring out of the window, and I am noticing how many people I have never seen before are walking down my street. Now it is wonderful that people are taking exercise, but I think we all need to think about how far we are walking and how necessary all these trips are. We have to remember why we are being asked to stay at home. This is to slow and eventually stop the progress of this virus. So looking for loopholes in rules to try and get out as frequently as you can is working against this. If you have an elderly or vulnerable relative or neighbour then please stay in for them. If you keep looking for excuses to go out you are putting them at risk, maybe not straight away but maybe 6 months down the line. I know it takes a mindset shift that is not easy. The stark question you need to ask yourself is; what is more important you going for a stroll or someone’s life? If you stay in you will be saving not just one life but potentially hundreds of lives.

This has taken me ages to write so I am going to sign off now. Stay inside, stay safe, save a life.

29/03/20 This is day 5, apparently it peaks at day 5

Yesterday I felt bored. I managed to watch 4 films and was bored out of my skull. This I my book was a good thing. This meant I was feeling better, which meant I was nearer recovering and getting back to work.

So day 5 wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

Well so far so bad I woke up coughing over an hour ago with a pounding head and I have not stopped coughing since.

I wanted to write something just in case I feel worse later. If I feel better later I will write another entry otherwise I will catch up with you all tomorrow when I will be over the worst and a day nearer getting back to work.

Stay safe everyone.

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