Straight Talk – A Dozen Eggs
Let’s be honest, sometimes it is difficult to find the positive in life. It was the day before the UK went into lockdown, Mother’s Day to be exact. I had been feeling a little sorry for myself leading up to this point. The world, as we know it, was changing. We were (and as I write this, still are) under attack from what feels like a silent and invisible predator. The Coronavirus.
Not only had we been advised to avoid social contact, which meant that I hadn’t seen my family for some time, but the supermarkets were being emptied by panic buyers. One day in particular, I had been on the hunt for a dozen eggs (for mum) and some little apple tarts (for dad who likes one with custard after his tea). They are both vulnerable over 70-year-olds who had been ordered (by us, their children) to stay home even before it became an official thing.
I went from supermarket to supermarket, on the hunt for 12 eggs (I had found the apple tarts, no problem!). It would probably have been easier to find a priceless diamond at that moment, rather than a single egg. Funny how a crisis can do that – highlight what is truly important. Trying to avoid social contact also seemed a highly improbable task given that the supermarkets were teeming with other ‘hunters’ aka people looking for the basics. I saw a man walking out of Wilko with a pile of toilet rolls. When he was spotted, people turned around almost gasping at the find, and some proceeded into Wilko to forage for the treasure that is a loo roll. Last stop, a smaller shop, where I achieved victory and found the last tray of eggs on the shelf.
Lonesome Mother’s Day
So that was then, and a lot has changed since in just a few weeks, with supermarkets having put restrictions on certain products. Social distancing has also been enforced there too, with strategically placed markers to queue behind. Something to be thankful for – at my last supermarket visit, I managed to find eggs with ease.
But back to the evening before Mother’s Day, just before the official lockdown. I’d spent the evening watching TV and chomping my bodyweight in chocolate and crisps. I was also indulging myself in sombre thoughts about spending Mother’s Day without my children or my mum.
That night, I began to experience extreme abdominal pain like nothing I’ve ever felt before. It kept me awake most of the night and was interspersed by bouts of vomiting. I could not stop retching even when my stomach had nothing left to give and after I found myself having passed out on the bathroom floor, I was scared. I honestly thought that I might not make it through the night.
At around six thirty in the morning, I dialled 111, aware that with the Coronavirus outbreak I may struggle to get through but fortunately that wasn’t the case. After a brief chat, they decided to send out an ambulance.
The paramedics arrived, apologetic that they had to wear protective gear, which of course, I didn’t mind. Their caring support, their professionalism, their dedication was unlike anything I’ve experienced. It takes a certain type of human being to be that selfless and make a person feel safe and taken care of, all at the same time. After assessing me (I didn’t have a fever or any COVID 19 symptoms) I was taken to A&E, where I was seen by another wave of amazing NHS staff. Doctors, nurses and a consultant didn’t hesitate to look after me, whilst they assessed what could be causing the pain. After several hours (and some Morphine) had passed, they elected not to keep me in for observation, which would have been the first choice, but to let hubby take me home with some medication and painkillers.
Even though the experience was scary, and I remember thinking that only I could have a possible stomach ulcer or gallstone attack (for the first time in my life) during a pandemic, it changed my outlook. It put things into perspective and instead of feeling sad about my Mother’s Day, I was just so happy to be home and relatively pain-free. I also felt immense gratitude to the NHS Superheroes in our midst.
We know that life has a tendency to be rife with contradictions but somehow living in lockdown magnifies this. From our reduced worlds, which have shrunk to the size of our homes, we are living through a terrifying pandemic where people around the world are ill and many are dying, and my heart goes out to them and their loved ones. Sometimes, especially at night, it can feel overwhelming.
Reasons To Be Positive
But we do still have hope, we have an amazing community of people in this country. We are a people who step up to the challenge. Where even in lockdown, we still show our support and community spirit by coming together to applaud those in the NHS and other essential workers. We are defiant in our tenacity to get through difficult times. People are revamping their businesses to help – some breweries are making hand sanitizers and UK manufacturers such as Vauxhall and Airbus are planning to 3D print parts for ventilators. We are resilient.
People are still smiling; I’ve been on my ‘once a day’ exercise, whether walking or cycling, and had more smiling interaction from strangers (at the safe distance) than ever before.
I’ve spoken more to my son and daughter, my mother, my sister and overseas family in these past few weeks than I would have seen them in ‘normal’ times. Video calling is our new go-to, thanks to WhatsApp and Zoom. My daughter and I even recorded a little song, where I sang the harmony and she filled in the high part to the recording afterwards, then sent it back for me to hear. We were delighted with the outcome – sometimes it’s the small things.
I’ve noticed the birds sing more loudly, or perhaps it’s that people are quieter, less noise from traffic. My hubby and I have created our haven at home, a bubble of safety, where we are intentional over the time we spend together. We talk more, exercise more and often sit outside in front of the firepit listening to music. Because now we have the time too.
A Changed Perspective
These times have taught me to appreciate what is really important. I realise that I don’t need a thousand pairs of shoes and fancy clothes in my wardrobe. I don’t need fancy gadgets or even a nice car. When the chips are down there are only a few things that really matter to me. Everyone is different and your list may be different to mine, but for me things that stand out are my faith, my family, food and water and a warm place to lay my head each night. (An array of comfortable ‘around the house’ clothing helps too!)
In closing, I’d like to shout out to all the people who have stayed on at work to provide us with the services that we need. People in the food industry, internet providers, care workers, refuse removal people, to name just a few.
And, if I have to stay home for the longest time to protect those beautiful souls in the NHS, I will. They are, without any shadow of a doubt, the angels of humanity and, in my opinion, once this is over, they should all be awarded something of the highest honour to show how grateful we are as a nation.
Written by Stella Nicholls