London 26 March 2020
London has been on lock down since Monday 23rd of March 2020 due to the coronavirus, a particularly virulent strain, named COVID-19. As I type this schools are closed, supermarket shelves are empty, people are working from home, not working at all or are otherwise overworking to serve the needs of others.
During February I had the worst flu I’ve ever had. During the first week I was extremely fatigued, had fever, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, muscle aches, a lot of coughing, most of it dry, then some phlegm towards the end. On the very first day I thought I was having a heart attack because my heart hurt so much! I was alone at home pondering whether to call an ambulance or not, then the pain went away and I fell asleep… On one day my legs were actually shaking! This was alleviated by drinking electrolytes. *see below for day by day account of symptoms. I hope to find out one day if it was just the flu or COVID-19. When that was happening COVID-19 was hitting China and there were only a few known isolated cases in Europe. I put it down to a strain of seasonal flu that hit me particularly hard. I decided I’d start taking the flu vaccine from next Winter, because of how bad it was! My husband, on the other hand, didn’t catch it at all. A few other people I know were also knocked out by it. Hindsight has me wondering, but I can’t know for sure, none of us can, because there aren’t yet any tests for antibodies available. Yesterday the news suggested that 3.5 million will be available soon, but people like me won’t get tested, because people on the front line need to be tested first. So we just have to wait, in isolation.
By isolation I mean, not going to Capoeira, not going to my volunteer work in the local school and being with my 4 year old grand daughter, 24/7. We decided this was the best place for her, because we have a garden and a green in front of our house and the common nearby. In the UK there’s a level of help, if you work for someone 80% of your salary is covered by the government. Still, 5 million self employed people have been left at a huge disadvantage, mostly dependent on benefits. People in the Gig economy have just been laid off, so it’s straight to benefits, no salary cover. Should they postpone mortgage/rent payment but still be in debt after? Or continue to try and pay? Why aren’t ALL payments just suspended so people don’t have to worry about future debt? Because, Capitalism…
I’m well skilled in the art of staying at home, because I took voluntary redundancy from my software engineering job 5 years ago, and have since adapted to a slower pace of life. We are also spoilt by internet and have on-demand entertainment coming out of our ears. Too much, I feel, perhaps? I find it hard to settle down and read a book (Currently reading “The Laughing Baby“, written by a friend, Caspar Addyman. Very easy reading and fascinating! Literally hot off the press, the official publishing date is April 2020) because the phone is constantly pinging or tempting me to check something. I’m making an effort the keep the phone in a different room, but it’s hard, because that ping could be something important. I’m managing about a chapter a day. I’m currently watching Seinfeld, because episodes are short, funny and there are 9 seasons of it on 4 on Demand. I’m listening to the news a lot on radio, I don’t feel this is the sort of thing I can switch off from and I feel I need to be up to date on it. I’m avoiding reading about the personal details of the people who are dying, I draw the line on that. I don’t think that is helpful or good for mental health.
Around where we live, South West London, it has been very busy, especially around the common. From my window, which is on the way to the common, on one of the busier roads, I can see a constant flux of people running and walking past. As of yesterday the police started showing a presence on the common, on bikes, to tell people to keep their distance and not have picnics/sunbathe as the weather has been good after a grey Winter. You can’t have groups of more than two people, but families can go out together. Of course, good environmental things are happening too, the drop in traffic is noticeable. One of the things I dislike about my garden is the constant noise from traffic. That’s almost entirely gone! When we’re out there I mostly hear the voices of people going past, the steps of joggers and walkers and birds. The good weather in the last few days helps people not to descend into full pessimism about the current situation, which is on the way to getting very, very bad in London – the peak is coming! followed by the rest of the UK and large portions of the world. But Trump has decreed it all be over by Easter, so yeah, there’s an end in sight, decreed by Super Trump, Deluded, Egotistical Super Hero of the World.
I haven’t been to a supermarket in a week, because before that, going to a supermarket had become an exercise in disappointment and very odd meals. I will have to go soon, but I’m now mentally prepared to do a circuit of 4 supermarkets in the area, rather than the super convenience of getting it all in one place. We have been getting things from the local shops but it really is more expensive. Luckily we have a pressure cooker, which makes cooking lentils and beans a quicker affair, however I keep forgetting to soak them overnight!
With regards to the little one, there’s a strict rule of no TV until late afternoon. Some days are better than others. I’m ready for bed around 9pm! Right now, it’s 9am, she’s lying in bed looking at a Horrid Henry book while I type this. She can’t read yet, but she loves watching Horrid Henry. Her father had a few Horrid Henry books and she’s just been looking at them for last couple of days, making up stories from them. I’m teaching her some basic music reading and we’re still practising the songs she’s learned since I got a keyboard last September. She’s not ready for the guitar yet, but she likes to hold it and strum it.
Mestre Poncianinho has been running classes online, via Zoom. They have been very successful and well attended. I’ve really enjoyed them. On one class we did 500 kicks over a chair!!! I got a nice bruise to show for it when I missed the target and hit the chair with my left shin. A momentary lapse in concentration!!! But what an achievement! Details about classes here: https://www.facebook.com/mojubacapoeira.london. Zoom is in a boom thanks to this virus! Update: Mestre Poncianinho started uploading some of his classes to his YouTube channel.
As I look out the window now I can see a police car. These are worrying times because there will be a rise in domestic violence and there will be a rise in child abuse and there will be a rise in divorces. We will come through it, but many of us will be traumatised for life, some won’t make it. I’m one of the fortunate ones. And I thank the universe, fate, orixás, god, whatever you chose to call it, every day. And for people who say this is “like the war” “blitz spirit”, no, it’s not. This is nothing like “The War”!!!! As much as Boris likes to fantasise about being Churchill, he needs to stop thinking like that, and he needs to stop seeing this as a war. At least he stopped using that rhetoric lately. It just made him sound ignorant and deluded when he first came out with that nonsense.
Running/jogging has been interesting because there are so many more joggers around than usual. In a way this has been good because a lot of people seem to have started jogging. On the other hand this seems to cause untold stress to many other people. I’m on the Facebook group for the ‘friend’s of the common’ and there are a lot of stressed out walkers begging joggers to keep their distance. Despite the chance of getting the virus from a jogger going past being extremely remote – they would have to expel a bodily fluid onto you, preferably into your mouth/eyes/nose – I can understand the fear, and I have started to mostly avoid the common altogether; running on the streets around/near it, so at least I can see a bit of nature when I’m out. Every now and then I go in there, but even then if someone is coming towards me or if I’m overtaking I just go onto the road. The roads have been quiet and there’s little pollution – so really, anywhere is OK to go for a run!
Remember: Exercise and Nature are great weapons for fighting anxiety. Take care!
* Illness diary. According to this it’s unlikely it was COVID-19 HOWEVER it was now known to have already been in the UK on January 31st… I guess that’s when we should have quarantined for a couple of weeks instead of now, in hindshight.
Weds Feb 12 (middle of the night/early morning) – started feeling achy and fluey and nausea, spent the whole afternoon in bed, with 20 minutes of really bad chest pain, nearly called ambulance, then it went away. Shoulders and chest hurt too but that was probably from physical work I’d been doing. Felt like zombie. Took night nurse and slept until 2am.
Thursday Feb 13 – from 2am until 7 I couldn’t sleep, kept drifting in and out of sleep, but every time I was about to fall asleep I’d wake up, shivering I think. Didn’t feel like I had a fever though. Jeff picked grand daughter up, then I slept until midday, gd came up, she’s ill too, we slept until 5pm. Woke up feeling better. A lot of burping in this flu. Cooked dinner, but food tastes odd. Went to bed at 11 with gd and slept through till around 8.
Friday Feb 14 – Felt better, as did gd. Dropped her off at Nursery at usual time (12:50). I figured it was probably better for her and she was happy to go. Did most of Yoga but stopped towards end of seated sequence as I felt nausea and tired. Went to bed feeling hopeful I’d be able to go for a jog on Saturday.
Saturday Feb 15 – Had to take night nurse, that helped, slept till 5am, but woke up with top drenched in sweat and chest hurting. Today I’m coughing (cough had been dry and sporadic until today) and producing a bit of mucus, hurts much when I cough. Used hot water bottle and Vicks to on chest and it REALLY HELPED with the tightness, how didn’t I know that? Well, maybe I did because I did it sort of instinctively.
Sunday Feb 16 – First full night’s sleep in WEEKS! Can breathe more freely but still feel weak, around 50% capacity. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-flu-levels-according-to-phe-statistics-2019-to-2020
Sofa all day, did some cleaning and stretching.
Monday Feb 17 – Didn’t sleep so good, but better than expected, I didn’t want to take any Night Nurse. Coughing a lot but cough feels good and doesn’t hurt like before. Dead by 21:30, so that’s when I went to bed.
Tuesday Feb 18 – slept ok, woke up about 3x. Think I feel worse than yesterday. gd stayed overnight and we did nothing much all day. No energy.
Weds Feb 19 – Dropped gd at 10, went shopping, then spent rest of day mostly lying down. Did some very gentle stretches late afternoon.
Thursday Feb 20 – tried to take gd out of the house but all we managed was the chemist. Both still feeling poorly, but I have been feeling irritable, which means I have energy and also need to exercise SOON!
Friday Feb 21 – Feeling stronger, went to Homebase with gd and Capoeira in the evening. Spent most of the day doing things around the house, played guitar for a while. Getting back to normal. Capoeira was tough but everyone else was struggling too, it was a hard class. My limbs weren’t quite doing what they were told though, lost balance in roda a couple of times when I normally wouldn’t.
Saturday Feb 22 – Went for jog but only managed 3.2 km and had to walk some it, did some weights after. Feeling better but not there yet.
Sunday Feb 23 – Capoeira: Music only, no exercise, after 10 hour sleep. Feel ok, starting to feel irritable from lack of exercise. At least I’m sleeping ok, waking up about once every night to have a coughing fit.
Monday Feb 24 – Nose is a bit runny and coughing but, apart from that, all other symptoms are gone.
Tuesday Feb 25- SLEPT THROUGH, no coughing fit in the middle of the night! Went for jog, only stopped once for about 2 mins, but jogging is slow. Had a massive coughing fit when I got home, triggered by cold temperature + end of flu. Did most of weight circuit and some handstands after jog.
I stopped writing in my calendar after that, but from then on I got got better.