Being in lockdown, being in isolation it’s made me re-experience a life I had before and compare the feelings I have now, to that I had back then.
We all live life a little blindly, we all learn from an early age about death, but for many years we’re shielded from it by our parents, then when we do understand it, we don’t talk about it.
We accept that death will happen to ourselves one day, but that day won’t come for a long time so why pursue it?
Our first experience of death for some can be the death of a family pet, some parents may purposely buy a pet with a short life span, for example, a hamster, a rabbit.
For the child to grow a bond with the animal for well knowing in a couple of years that pet will get sick and die, then you can introduce your child to death slowly.
You can explain that it happens to all beings, we all die and this pain and sense of loss your feeling will dissipate in time but your memories never die. (That too can be a lie!)
We can’t control death, even when we put plans in places it sometimes can bite you in the ass before you can say boo to a goose or bury your cat at the Pet Sematary.
So I go back to Sunday 16th March 2008, a day where my life would change me forever, in time those changes would dissipate and life would go back to where it was.
On this day I would have a cardiac arrest whilst running the Hastings Half Marathon, I did not know that I had a rare heart condition.
I had warning signs, looking back on a blog I posted a day before the Hasting Half Marathon suggested so.
Below is an insert from that blog:
“My training for New York started well but the last couple of weeks I’ve faltered due to a bad cold.
Last Sunday I wasn’t still quite right and around the 10-mile mark, I could feel my chest getting tight and found it hard to breathe. So I opted to run with the women and ended up doing 15 and a half miles, the rest of the group did 17 miles.
This Sunday I’m doing a Hastings half marathon which is only 13.1 miles, so yeah should be a walk in the park. It’s hard to know what time I’ll do it in ‘cause I’m used to running a longer distance, I have a certain pace but won’t need to leave that extra in the tank…. So erm yeah wish me luck!”
We had warning signs with COVID-19, I first heard about this virus when leaving the UK to go on my holiday to Gran Canaria this year.
The following month the news was escalating daily, we saw what was happening to Italy and yet so many of us were asleep to what was happening.
Maybe we didn’t think it would happen to us in the UK, I didn’t think I would be locked away in my flat from the world.
Knowing I was not well before the Hasting Half Marathon I was asleep to this deadly condition that I have.
On that Sunday I caught a lift to Hastings with another runner I met through Brighton Jog Shop run group that was also running that day.
I’d never been to Hastings before, the day was warm but grim with fine rain, I remember chatting to other runners, having to pee on the beach.
I sent a group message to people, one that I remember writing and sending, I won’t lie, I wanted attention, I wanted people to know that I was running when I finished the run I wanted to see who responded.
The message was the following “Hey Everyone I’m running Hastings half marathon today. It starts at 10.30 I’m feeling nervous. Not good, something not right so wish me luck”
One hour and forty-nine minutes later I collapsed at the finish line, which if you ever run the Hastings Half Marathon is also the finish line.
I don’t remember running that day, I don’t remember the crowds, I don’t remember the St John Ambulance doing compressions on my chest, being taken away from the crowds to a tent to be given defibrillation treatment.
I don’t remember the blue and twos of the ambulance driving me away to my isolation, I don’t remember yanking out the endotracheal tube, through all this mentally I was asleep.
Wednesday 19th March I woke from my induced coma, next to me was Sweep (stuffed toy) and a whole world of confusion.
I knew I was in the hospital, with all these wires and beeping monitors that I was attached to, I felt like a puppet on a string.
Being attached to machines, this is where my independence was stripped, having to push the nurse call button if I needed anything.
It was easy to get upset, I’d get upset if I needed the toilet and the commode was rolled over to me, especially because nurse Ratchet was happy to unplug me from all these monitors and let me use the toilet on the ward, so why couldn’t nurse Wilkes?
Though I guess I should be thankful that I was alive, why do I need to leave my bed, she wasn’t keeping me here against my will.
Needing a pee, a pulp disposable urine bottle was brought over, curtains drawn.
Sometimes they would wait for you to finish your business, other times they would leave you and not return which felt like an entirety with your business stewing in your private enclosure.
Privacy is a luxury, being on a ward curtain closed meant a few things, toilet, sponge bath, or the nurse doing their rounds.
It was like clockwork, every 4 hours the nurse would come round and take your vitals, sometimes they would take your blood for good measure.
Being on a ward I had to be considerate of others, at 10pm lights went out, being a night owl sleep never came easy.
Forget self relieving, my little friend popped up a couple of times, yet there was nowhere for him to go.
During this time that I felt like I was in isolation, being in Hastings I was too far for many people to visit.
My sister would come when she could, my parents went back home after I came out of the coma, so for 3 weeks, I felt truly alone.
Yes, I had other bedfellows, being on a cardiac ward these people were all from a different generation. 12 years on these bedfellows have all surely now moved on!
Back then wi-fi in hospitals wasn’t a thing, Debbie did purchase me a dongle so I could go online.
I had a bucket load of Dvds brought to me from home that I watched on my laptop, “Kill her mommy, kill her”
During this time I had to keep myself busy, as I am doing now, I posted blogs online telling people what had happened to me.
I called people, I made an effort to talk to people, I reached out, wanting to be heard.
You learn very quickly during this time the people that matter, or at least you thought that mattered.
Currently, my life is my flat, it’s not a holiday for me, boredom sets in, I don’t have an outside space.
So being in isolation is nothing new to me, you find your way of coping, staying in contact with friends, doing Skype calls, Zoom parties, watching Netflix until you can watch no more.
Some people may treat this as an extended holiday, using this time to fully recharge their batteries, being able to go for walks and complete those jobs they’ve been putting off for years.
Others will find this a struggle, being told not to do something we want to rebel like a 5-year-old child in a supermarket.
The doctors, cardiologist were unable to do any investigations until I recovered from a chest infection, once I recovered it was the Easter Holidays so everything was put on hold.
I knew from day one that I would have an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator) implanted in my chest.
I’m an outside person, I never stay home, every day I go out even if it is the betting shop.
I hated missing out on things, I had tickets to the X-Factor tour that I had to give up, I missed out on watching Wrestlemania with my friend Nick.
Respite would come, to get to the bottom of why I had a cardiac arrest. I had a day trip to the Royal Brompton Hospital in London via a private ambulance.
On the motorway nurse, Ratchet promised that we would stop by a hot dog stand, so I could have a hotdog
After a couple of weeks of hospital food, that greasy hotdog smothered in ketchup was like an orgasm in my mouth, small blessings.
Uncertainty, there was a lot not knowing, I didn’t know how long I’d be in the hospital, I didn’t if I would be able to work again.
I didn’t know how I would pay my rent and bills; instead of focusing on recovering, I spent a lot of time worrying about not knowing.
I can relate to that now when the lockdown measures are eased will I be able to return to work?
I think that I won’t be able to return to work, currently, the furlough scheme is running until the end of June, I have to hope that gets extended if the shielded are unable to return.
Back in 2008, my work promised to pay me until I was able to return to work, kind of like the furlough scheme, still I didn’t know how long this kindness stretched.
Once I got my diagnosis of Brugada Syndrome things started moving rapidly, within days I was transferred to Brighton Sussex County Hospital, and this is where I would have my ICD implanted.
After three weeks of not seeing anyone, I made sure I had many visitors and one point it came overwhelming that I threw up.
What is happening now in the world, we are all experiencing, some of us are on a different level, but we all can relate.
When I was finally released from the hospital I was told to rest, I was unable to rest.
Being able to go out and see people, I felt alive again, walking along the seafront, hearing birds, no longer the beeps of monitors.
I had to learn to adapt to the new me, at first it was unclear if I was able to exercise, I was told not to get drunk, no to drugs, no to sauna’s, the list a mile long.
When the lockdown is eased we’ll have to adapt to a new way of living, social distancing, wearing a face mask, queuing outside supermarkets to get our provisions.
There will be people that won’t take this seriously, or it is not in their mental capability to consider others.
This is a virus, anyone can get it, and many people will have minor symptoms but I dislike people that think they are above it.
Yes, I have a condition, yes I am high risk, so being locked in my flat from others is my life for now.
This virus has taken healthy people, it’s taken people without underlying conditions, it’s taken, young people.
Listen to the advice that is been given by the scientist, the government, your loved ones.
End of the day you are responsible for yourself, and the people in your household.