Hey all! I hope everyone has been as safe and well as possible during the difficult time that has been ‘lockdown three’ in the UK. I’ve had some family and health issues to deal with, which has kept me busy, but thankfully things seem to be calmer now.
Shortly after lockdown began I came down with the flu, which unfortunately turned into a chest infection. Added to that was a dash of pneumonia – as things were not already chaotic enough!
Due to my arthritis medications making my immune system compromised, the chest infection and pneumonia decided to hang around, so I needed antibiotics and all of my energy was drained for a few weeks. On top of that, my appetite becomes really crappy and I struggle to keep food down when I take antibiotics, so I end up losing weight. Needless to say, getting back to my normal self and recovering from everything took a solid few months.
But the experience got me thinking. Life in lockdown has been similar to having an illness such as arthritis, especially as living with a compromised immune system means we’re used to dodging infections! As I’ve battled severe RA – which can be somewhat like a rollercoaster – for some time, I know how devastating it is to have to cancel plans too. And having been admitted to hospital for surgeries over the years, I’m used to that feeling of being scared that something could go wrong – there was always a chance that my life would become more complicated.
This whole Coronavirus situation has had me extra worried about my health. I’ve never been so stressed by the thought that I could end up in hospital just by being outside. Or by taking public transport just to get from A to B.
I remember getting the first letter from the Government last April, with regard to going into the first lockdown and how this horrible virus that has killed thousands is highly contagious. I knew it was only a matter of time until those of us who are moderately or severely immunocompromised due to our various arthritis diagnoses and treatments would be advised to be extra careful.
A few days later, it was announced that those in the UK who have pre-existing chronic conditions and very immunocompromised systems would be labelled ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’. Millions of people in this category – including myself, were told to shield at home. I think I can speak for everyone by saying that this awful situation was a complete shock for us all. Our lives changed and unfortunately not for the better.
To make my days shielding more enjoyable and less dull, I took up going for gentle walks whilst listening to my favourite tunes on my phone. During the summer, I was able to take full advantage of the decent weather we had for a change! As per doctor’s orders, I’ve tried to keep up with my physio exercises as much as my body allows – there’s always some days where my joints seem to rebel against wanting to move at all!
Being stuck indoors because of complications is something that I’ve got used to because of RA, so lockdown life has involved some of my other hobbies which make the most out of the situation. I like arts and crafts, such as crocheting. Another thing that helps me is meditation and yoga. It really works.
The downtime I’ve had through shielding has really allowed me to focus on myself. Normally I’m super busy running around like a headless chicken! I don’t really get much time to myself, with doing the weekly grocery runs, taking care of my father and when I’m working at the hospital, taking care of the patients, I tend to work long hours.
For the past few months, I’ve been able to do some of the things that I have been wanting to do for a long time – like I’ve finally managed to lose a little weight, which in turn makes my joints feel less creaky and sore.
And even though staying home for so long can get a bit much at times, I know that a lot of my friends who have arthritis and EDS have been so happy to find new ways of keeping active. Tai chi and yoga classes can now be attended via Zoom and having long leisurely catch ups online is something that has helped us get through all three lockdowns.
We in the arthritis community know what it’s like to have to have endless patience – that’s what makes us warriors and despite the pandemic being extremely frustrating for the most part, sticking together in our awesome community is the most important thing. Putting aside how we have felt fed up, anxious, scared, and isolated, we can still be there for each other, whether virtually or physically (whilst maintaining social distancing rules!).
Alright guys, that’s it for now! To end this blog post, I just wanted to say that we are all strong, patient, resilient people and by having been through so much already, we can – and will – get through this pandemic.
I hope and pray that everyone continues to stay safe and well until the end of this final lockdown and watch this space for my next posts.
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(Any opinions expressed in Anoushka’s blog are not necessarily shared by Arthur’s Place. Nothing that you read in Anoushka’s blog constitutes medical advice.)