I want you to meet this crazy lazy. She’s my best friend, the life of every party and my go-to when I’m lost and confused. She’s my support and confidante when I battle with my amaxophobia and my dog walking companion on those days when I’m too anxious to go out. She’s the one who taught me to stand up for what I believe in, to say what’s on my mind and to let loose and go wild from time to time. She currently has rainbow-coloured hair as a nod to the promise that she made to my late father, that she would go on living her life to the fullest in his absence, no matter what.
And yes, this bundle of insanity just so happens to be my Mum.
Not long after I flew the nest in 2011, Mum began working in a residential care home here in Bristol. Mum’s job is to provide activities to residents (or “ressies”, as she affectionately calls them) and she organises monthly group birthday parties and celebration of life services for those who have been lost. Mum’s pet dog has even been trained as Pets As Therapy Dog and accompanies my Mum on visits to some of those who are otherwise unable to leave their rooms.
“Helen, it’s not if, it’s when. We already know we’re going to get it, it’s just when” she said glumly. I tried to find hope and inspiration and draw upon my experiences from the swine flu pandemic, some glimmer of hope I could give her that everything was going to be okay. There was nothing that I could give her, this was no comparison.
Then it came, their first confirmed case. He passed away the next day.
Within the past two weeks, the home has lost several more residents, with others now in hospital.
One of my biggest fears in this outbreak has been a family member contracting Covid-19. After losing my father last year, I couldn’t lose my Mum now, too. I also worried about my father-in-law, who is 67 and smokes, and my younger brother, who also smokes. I also worried about myself a bit, but not as much. I’m young, I don’t smoke and I’m female. I’d be fine, maybe.
Earlier this week, I got a message that bought my biggest fear to life. Mum had been working in a care home with confirmed Coronavirus and inadequate PPE and she said that she wasn’t feeling well. She had a headache and a fever, she said, so I sent her for bed rest. Although Mum hasn’t yet reached 60, I was still worried about her. Even though she takes her medication religiously, Mum still has high blood pressure which puts her more at risk. I’ve been trying to be rational about her health, but I was worried.
There has been an ongoing fear during this pandemic about the fate that awaits those infected. We often think that those who are infected will surely die, and despite the overwhelming number of people (more than 4 in 5, consistently) who recover, the worst parts are what the media consistently focuses on. TV adverts show ambulances driving along deserted streets or elderly people in hospital beds on ventilators, emails and texts are sent from every company you’ve ever signed up to, reminding you to stay home and stay safe. People are needlessly sitting in darkened rooms with their curtains drawn to keep out Covid-19, and yet the reality is, most people do recover from it- Covid-19 is nothing like the Bubonic Plague!
For a few days, I’ve been anxiously checking in with Mum, wanting and willing for a positive update. I couldn’t sleep for several nights and I struggled to function, I was so worried about her.
If this is it, then I’ve either got it mild or I’m stronger than I thought. As it is I can handle this, easy 🙂
We ran through some online information and decided that Mum most likely has a mild case of Covid-19. Her symptoms match up – fever, fatigue and a headache. She’s currently an unconfirmed case and waiting to get tested. Even though Mum couldn’t stay awake for long, she was able to have a laugh and a chat for a few minutes.
I wasn’t done there.
I took to Twitter to share my Mum’s story. I explained what she does for work and the fact that she got her own pet dog trained to assist her in comforting the elderly. I asked for a heart or a comment, anything to give her some support that I could show her to show that people care. Sadly, not one person liked or retweeted it, but then, I’ve never got on with Twitter.
Just to let you know I’m feeling a bit brighter today 🙂
That was the message to grace my screen this morning. After two days of bed rest and fluids and Mum was on the road to recovery. Because she’s been teaching Coronavirus breathing techniques, she’s been able to implement them, too. My greatest fear is soon becoming a distant memory. Even though I can’t see her right now, I can at least look forward to seeing her again.
Unfortunately, I know there have been many families that have been devastated by this awful virus and I know that many more will be. I didn’t want to share Mum’s story to tell you to stop washing your hands or ignore social distancing, I wanted to share her story to remind you that normal people really can and do get better. In the UK, after Prince Charles and Boris Johnson recovered from Covid-19, some people looked to the fact that these will be men who can afford quality healthcare to ensure they get better. My Mum is nothing like these men, my Mum is just a normal working-class woman like most other people. An amazing working-class woman, but a working-class woman, nonetheless.
Please, please take all of the precautions that you need to in order to keep you and your family safe. Be aware of Covid-19, but please don’t be afraid.
Until next time.
Stay safe & have fun.