Last Sunday, my lovely Mum – who works for the NHS and like so many others was redeployed to the Covid-19 intensive care wards – got the results of the Coronavirus test that she took last Friday. It was positive.
Like everybody else, I’ve been feeling quite afraid of the virus, a fear that’s intensified by the media and reports of death. Until this week, it’s felt very much invisible, just lurking and waiting for the next person to infect. But now it’s in my family home, I feel as though it’s personal. It feels like an intruder that has infiltrated my family’s space and got to my lovely Mum. It’s frightening and it feels unfair that it’s chosen the body of somebody who loves and cares so deeply for others, and does so for a living. But of course, it isn’t personal and Coronavirus has no boundaries. That’s what’s so awful about it.
I felt so desperately sad that I couldn’t be there to care for her like she does for me. In February, I was extremely ill. I was put on two separate rounds of antibiotics as whatever I had just would not shift. My Mum drove to my house in Manchester, equipped with my favourite home-cooked meals and loads of treats to spend the next few days with me. She batch-cooked for me (literally her favourite hobby), cleaned my house, did my washing and gave me endless cuddles. I’m extremely needy when I’m ill, and this was the perfect remedy to get me on the mend. So when I found out that she had Coronavirus, all I wanted was to be able to be there for her. And obviously, I couldn’t.
When I found out about my Mum, I went into meltdown mode. With my family in Liverpool and me in Manchester, what has always been known to us all as ‘just an hour down the road’ suddenly became the distance between Earth and the moon. Knowing that I couldn’t get in my car and drive home to be with them was painful to say the least. For days, I contemplated driving home, regardless of the restrictions, and just standing outside the house – that way I could at least see her. I would happily have sat outside for hours to be near to them. But a call with my Dad confirmed my suspicions that it would only be more distressing to her and the last thing I wanted to do was cause her any more stress than she was already facing, especially with being unable to breathe properly.
Worry, Worry, Worry
Aside from the neverending parade of frantic thoughts doing laps around my head for the last week, one of my main concerns was that there are four other people in that house who we were informed were now likely to catch the virus. My baby sister (who isn’t a baby at 19 years old but will always be my baby sister) came home from university for lockdown, and my aunty and her partner, who were visiting from Crawley at the time lockdown was announced, decided to stay put given that there’s sufficient space for all in the house. Four people that I adore, who are now also at risk of catching this terrifying virus. The emotions that this evoked were, at times, too great for me to comprehend.
There’s only so much worrying somebody can do before they are physically exhausted and unable to worry any more. I think that’s where I was at by Thursday/Friday of this week. Worrying that my Mum was going to get worse. Worrying that I can’t be with my family if it were to get worse. Worrying that they don’t have enough food (they do – my mum’s incessant batch cooking like she’s preparing for the apocalypse is finally coming in handy). Worrying about what I’ll do if they all catch it. Worrying about whether it’ll get worse for my Mum out of nowhere. Worrying that something will happen in the night and I’ll miss the text or call. Worrying about who will be the next to get ill and then worrying about going through this whole period of worry again for them. I’ve been on tenderhooks 24/7. It’s almost a little laughable at the time of writing this, but I genuinely have felt all of those things over and over again this week.
It took me pretty much the entire week, constant contact with my family, and seeing Mum’s minor improvements day by day to regain my rational head and remember that the Coronavirus doesn’t necessarily mean a death sentence. When the media is filled with constant reports of Coronavirus deaths, it can be hard to think rationally about this whole thing and to not just panic. There are people who have had Coronavirus and survived it. But so many people who have contracted this virus have unfortunately not been lucky, and my heart goes out to the families who have been left devastated by it. This virus is very unlike anything we’ve ever known, and the circumstances for the loved ones of those affected are beyond cruel.
The Kindness of Loved Ones
My mum has so many people around her that love and care for her and that’s been made even clearer this week as she’s been inundated with flowers, cards and well wishes. I’ve had people I love dearly checking in daily about her, and whilst I hadn’t told a lot of people about her having it (something which I just couldn’t seem to face), I’ve had constant reassurance and kindness from those I did tell. I have felt so much love and kindness this week and I know that she has too. It is truly humbling. Mid-way through the week, the most beautiful bunch of sunflowers arrived on my doorstep from one of my beautiful best friends, and they have literally brought sunshine to my day every day since. People have been so kind and it has really helped during a time that I felt vulnerable, afraid and isolated from my family.
At the time of writing this, Mum’s symptoms are ever-so-slowly improving. Without speaking too soon, the body aches, tiredness and fever seem to be diminishing, and whilst she’s still having issues breathing, this *touch wood* doesn’t seem to be worsening right now. We have now gotten to the point where we can vocalise our fears that, just a week ago, we daren’t let ourselves contemplate.
When I spoke to my Mum before on the phone (thank god for Facetime), she looked incredible. She has felt well enough today to do her make up, and she has put lashes on because that’s what makes her feel good and positive. She told me how afraid she has been that she was going to die, and vocalising what we’ve all been terrified of for the last week, somehow made me feel reassured and less alone. She joked about how ‘the bitch is back!’ and my family joked about how she’s been annoying them all day and is back to her old self. I tell you what – I’ll take her being annoying with immense pleasure, thank you! She has a free pass to do whatever the hell she wants and none of us will bat an eyelid. Just how it should be.
This last week has been a solemn one, and we’ll count our blessings every single day when she is fully well again. I know full well that so many others aren’t so lucky. She told me earlier that they’re going to have one hell of a party when this all blows over.
And I absolutely cannot wait.