Stay at home!

Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives

As you know from my previous blogs over the last few years, as a family we’ve experienced multiple hospital admissions for our parents. We have accompanied them in ambulances, sat with them in A&E, remained there until they’ve been admitted to wards, visited them every day without fail and after mom’s stroke we were on vigil (taking turns) from start of visiting in the morning to the end of visiting at night, every day for 15+ weeks. During these many experiences we have come to appreciate the valuable job that the NHS staff do (from the cleaners to the consultants) and also understand the incredible amount of pressure that they are under. Wards are often short staffed and under equipped. Staff are often overworked and definitely underpaid. In general, as with many vocational careers (eg teachers), healthcare providers are undervalued.

On each occasion we were fortunate enough to be there for enough time to build up a rapport with the medical team caring for our parent and our physical presence helped to ease their workload as we would often assist by attending to the personal care needs of our parents. The last experience we had in hospital was almost 18 months ago when our father passed away. We were all able to be with him from A&E, to ward admission, in the few days preceding and on the last night before he passed. Even more precious was the fact that we were all with him in his final hours.

Ok so why share all of that? I’m sharing it to admonish you to STAY AT HOME.

Right now due to ill health and/or self isolation, the wards are even more short staffed than before. I have nurse friends telling me stories of how hard it is out there on the frontline, one of whom had just finished after 45 hours of being on duty. Yes 45 hours. And stories of only a minimum amount of staff nurses assigned to large bed wards. People are dying not just from Covid-19 but from other illnesses or issues because there isn’t the capacity to administer the best health care that we all deserve. The NHS is stretched beyond capacity hence the government appeal for volunteers and the measures put in place for final year medical students (doctors and nurses) to be permitted to start working from now. We do not have enough specialist equipment like ventilators, PPE for doctors and nurses or testing kits.

Which brings me to the second layer of my appeal. We are facing a harsh reality. As more people are contracting the virus and admitted to hospital, especially our elderly loved ones (70yrs plus) or those with underlying health conditions, unfortunately now you would not have the experience that I described above. Instead, this is what would probably happen 1) You would not be able to travel with your loved one in the ambulance 2) You would not be able to visit them, as most, if not all, hospitals have a ‘no visitors’ policy in place at the moment. 3) They may even be taken to one of the temporary hospitals that are being set up which may not be local to where you live 4) Through no fault of their own, the NHS staff are under time constraints so when you call to check on the well being of your loved one, it could be ages before you get through. 5) Your loved one may deteriorate quicker due to no visits, lack of physical contact/connection, lack of attention, let alone vital signs being missed 6) If it gets to the stage of them requiring a ventilator, they are in short supply. Elderly patients would not be given priority so they would be left to ‘fight to live’ in their weakened state which would most probably end in death. 7) You would not be permitted to be with your loved one whilst they were dying – no visitors remember 8) No family gatherings to support the bereaved family due to social distancing and lockdown 9) Very limited numbers for funerals and burials, with social distancing being exercised.

For me all of the above is a sad reality. So if we can play our part towards ‘flattening the curve’ and maybe even reducing fatalities then let’s do that. What’s a few months of the inconvenience of isolation/lockdown in comparison to the loss of lives?

If we adhere to the guidelines given by the government we will lessen the impact that the Covid-19 virus has on us as a country and maybe save the lives of some of our very own loved ones.

If you want to get ideas of how to fill your time during lockdown then checkout google, YouTube and Instagram for a number of people who have lots of positive ideas to share with the world at this time.

Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives. Wash your hands. Keep your distance.

Disclaimer: the thoughts shared here are all my own based on information gained from news reports, conversations with friends who are health professionals working on the front line, knowledge of people who have been in hospital recently for Covid-19 plus unfortunately knowing people who have lost loved ones. I do not claim to have expert knowledge on these matters. Please ensure that you do your own research/reading and exercise the measures advised by our government.

Seasons Of Life: Part One

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”

Hey there everyone! It’s hard to believe that it’s been just over a year since my 50th birthday blog and despite my intentions to put ‘pen to paper’ or rather ‘finger to keyboard’ and write regularly, life ‘happened’ and I was well and truly derailed in pretty much every single area of my life – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I have never ever in my entire life felt as challenged as I have felt over the last year. I was functioning (still going to work, still looking after mom) and looked very well, so many people would not have recognised or realised what I was going through but I had unravelled on the inside and it was affecting some areas of my life on the outside.

To put some context to what I’m saying, let me explain a little.

Following on from the mention I made in my blog last year regarding my father’s ill health, his health declined pretty rapidly in the subsequent months and sadly he passed away in Oct 2018. Caring for dad in the last six months of his life was extremely challenging not only physically but more so mentally and emotionally. It took its toll on us all. Sidenote: Although it is a privilege to look after one’s parents, it is not without its own challenges. But that’s for another blog!

Anyway, given all that I had already experienced in the previous five years (since 2013), my father’s death was like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Up until that point I had been holding my life together and I had ‘coped’ with so many different levels of loss and/or life challenges… but this one hit hard. I had to be signed off work for four weeks (that’s a biggie for me as I’m never off sick!).

Summary of ‘life blows’ from 2013-2018

  • Told by ex husband that he wanted a divorce
  • Ex husband left the marital home
  • Death of ex father in law following an accident
  • Unexpected death of ex brother in law following an illness
  • My mother’s health declined (signs of a TIA)
  • My mother suffers a massive stroke (Subarachnoid haemorrhage) and spends 15 weeks in hospital
  • Mom returns home disabled requiring 24/7 care
  • Mom had a 2nd stroke in March 2017
  • Death of ex mother in law, ironically following a stroke
  • Divorce finalised  
  • Dad’s health began to decline (multiple hospital admissions, significant loss of independence)
  • My dad passed away

In addition to the effect of those things on me, they also directly affected my children, in ways that one would never have expected (but that’s for another blog). They also had their individual challenges. One of my sons experienced a relationship break up (engagement broken off) and the other son was unfairly dismissed from work and had two car accidents. My heartbeat (my daughter) shared that she was struggling with depression including suicidal thoughts.

I’m sharing all of this with you, not for you to feel sorry for me but to just get a flavour of the ‘life blows’ that I was experiencing. I know that I’m not the only one and I know that there are people experiencing far worse.

I have always considered myself to be a strong, resilient individual who copes well under pressure… However even I had a breaking point and around August 2018 I began to crumble and unravel on the inside. I stopped walking (my favourite exercise), I comfort ate and put on (more) weight, I was struggling with my workload at work after I returned from my time off. Even worse, was that I was hardly attending church so I felt even more disconnected and spiritually depleted. Looking back on that 8 month period of darkness I realise that I was ‘a mess’.

It’s ironic, yet apt, that I’m sharing this at the tail-end of Mental Health Awareness month because every single one of us has a breaking point or a point at which we begin to ‘not cope’… no one is exempt… and everyone’s reactions to that ‘point’ is different. Please check on your ‘strong’ friend… he/she may not really be okay.

Thankfully for me there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel and I can see it… I’m walking towards it and I will share that experience with you in my next blog post.