This wonderful guest post today is from David at The HopScot. I was really excited to share David’s post and read what he had to say because we’re all aware that COVID has affected us all so differently. And learning about other people’s human experiences during this time is really important.
I’m very lucky in that things have been ticking along quite nicely during this last year. Of course, I’ve had low mental health moments and times where I’ve just been utterly sick and tired of it all (haven’t we all) but there’s been no real issues at hand in my personal life.
But we’re ALL familiar with the risks and effects of COVID. With those in the vulnerable category being more aware of these risks than anyone. In this post, David shares the ways in which he has kept positive during lockdown, as an amputee with a heart condition – putting him in the high-risk category.
If you’ve missed any of my previous guest posts, you can check them out here:
A Guest Post From David:
Covid on the Horizon:
I will admit, in December of 2019 when I first heard about Covid 19 I wasn’t particularly worried for my own personal safety. I was far too busy preparing for my upcoming marriage in January 2020 to be too concerned over a new kind of flu on the other side of the world.
Although, as the situation worsened, my concerns began to grow. Not for myself but I have a lot of family living in Nepal and that seemed uncomfortably close to the apparent origin point of the new virus.
I recall waking up one morning a little later to discover that, seemingly overnight, Italy had essentially become a no-go area.
That was starting to get too close, especially with the reports saying that it was dangerous for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.
I was born with a congenital heart condition and to this day continue to need monitoring and occasional procedures to keep things ticking along smoothly. Thankfully my health has been on the up and my condition hasn’t been causing me any day to day problems for some years now.
But this virus, it scared me. I was just glad it was still far beyond our shores here in the UK.
Fast forward a few months and our country was in full lockdown due to some of the highest infection rates in the world.
Just a few months after our wedding my wife and me were living with my parents and little sister, who had just managed to get back from University before traveling restrictions were introduced.
Five adults, in one house, not allowed to visit others and all worrying that both my dad and me were particularly at risk.
Doesn’t that sound like a recipe for a chilled out few months?
So, how did I stay upbeat and positive through all of this?
Frankly it wasn’t always possible. There were days and even weeks when, like most people, I really felt the weight of what was going on around us.
However, through it all we managed to enjoy some really great times.
Out and About:
My wife Bipana is from Nepal and her visa was due to expire in May, when we would then apply for her spouse visa. Because of the lockdown, all visas were extended which meant that she got a lot more time than planned living with my family and getting to know them.
Most days she would take long walks with my mum and sister, talking and becoming more familiar with each other. To the point where I would find my wife and mum ganging up on me with jokes (not great for me but at least they were bonding).
I couldn’t go out for walks unfortunately as eight and a half years ago my right leg was amputated above the knee.
Around the same time lockdown started I began to have problems with my prosthesis fitting. The inability to get it fixed at hospital meant I would have to spend a good few months primarily using my crutches.
With that option out the window, I started to look for other ways to keep lockdown insanity at bay.
Fortunately, I didn’t need to spend too much time on my search, as other opportunities began to present themselves.
For a number of years now I have been part of a group brought together by the British Heart Foundation. They arrange events for people up to thirty years old with heart conditions, allowing them to come together, take part in activities and meet others with similar health problems.
Normally, I would only see my friends from this group when an event was on or very occasionally when we organized to meet up ourselves (two of this group made the long trip up north to attend my wedding).
However, because of the recent surge in the popularity of video calls, I have seen more of this incredible group of people in this last few months than in many previous years. It has been truly remarkable just how much more interaction we have had with each other and that has given rise to a constant and reliable support network. Not to mention some new traditions, such as a game I occasionally host where my friends have to figure out which one of them is the bad guy.
Mean as it might sound but always in good heart, watching their trust for each other crumble is an amusing form of entertainment in it’s own right.
A Quick Coffee Before Slaying the Dragon:
On the subject of games, I began to immerse myself in them a little more, which might not sound like a great thing in itself but what I mean is, I started to put aside more time for playing online games with friends.
Whether it was embarking on epic quests across fantasy lands, or using night vision to sneak through the shadows of an enemy base, it became another form of socializing and although a habit that should be limited, I do believe that in moderation it is a fantastic way to wind down and spend time with others (particularly as back then we couldn’t physically spend time with each other).
I have even made an entirely new group of friends through gaming, with people from all over the world, all experiencing the same thing and brought together by their shared purpose.
It’s Only Words:
Last year I decided to finally take the time to do something that I had been talking about for a long time.
I started a blog.
It was a place to share my story and that is still what I primarily use it for but I’ve also started adding different kinds of posts. Some with information about my conditions, some answering peoples questions and even one talking about the events I have attended through the British Heart Foundation.
It has been a real confidence boost to see the very positive ways in which people have been reacting to what I have been writing. I’ve had some truly uplifting comments and support, much of it from people I had never met or spoken to before I began the blog.
As I mentioned previously, long walks are not my strong suit and not really an option for me when it comes to keeping fit. Prior to lockdown, I was very involved with the local musical theatre scene and so the rehearsals for that, especially the ones where I did a lot of dancing, not only served as my social outlet but also helped me stay in shape.
Fortunately, my dad and me have been training with weights together for a few years now. To compensate for the lack of prancing around on a hot stage and fend off the lockdown biscuit binges, we upped the routine.
It didn’t seem like the most pressing thing when this all began but given my health condition, keeping my fitness at a certain level is important and it would have been easy to let that slide this past year. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a family that won’t let me get away with a lazy week.
A day maybe, but a week is pushing it.
Passing It Along:
Whilst I would not claim to have the cure-all answer to fight off the lockdown blues, I do hope that sharing my own experience through this last year will resonate with some of you reading this. Even if only one person thinks “yeah, that makes sense”, then it will have been worth writing.
Not losing touch with people is the number one thing I can recommend at times like this and that really is the running theme through most of my previous points. I don’t just mean specific people with whom you routinely socialize but also, don’t lose touch with people in general.
If you can’t upkeep enough contact with your pre-lockdown circle, join a Facebook group of like minded people, find a Discord server about a topic that interests you, join a guild in your favourite online game or if the mood takes you, write a blog about your experiences.
I have only just started to properly dip my (five) toes into the blogging community and already I’m finding myself engaging with kind and interesting people from every walk of life.
Take care of yourself, physically and mentally and no matter what, remember that this will pass and the scars it leaves will eventually begin to fade. Stay safe and be excellent to each other.