I haven’t left my house in over a year – Freedom Day has come too soon


l have been looking after my mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, for 12 years (Picture: Laura Shaw)

Listening to Boris Johnson announce that Covid restrictions were lifting in England on 19 July shocked and upset me.

As a full-time carer to my mother, I have been in complete lockdown since the start of the pandemic with no support.

Now, to remove all measures, including mask-wearing and social distancing is surely madness, particularly when cases are on the rise.

Yet the Prime Minister seems to be throwing the vulnerable under the bus.

l have been looking after my mother for 12 years. She has advanced Alzheimer’s disease – she is in a wheelchair now, at risk of seizures and is entirely dependent on me for everything, from getting her up to dressing and feeding her. 

We can’t socially distance.

I’ve not even been out for a walk for fear of catching the virus and bringing it back to her. This fear governs my life.

Many like me will be housebound and scared to go out. These issues are too important for personal choice. We have had to continue to shield and it makes me question: Do our freedoms matter at all?

The unlocking date will strike fear into the hearts of the 6.5million unpaid carers in the UK who have been hit particularly hard by isolation and limits on what they can do.

Boris Johnson’s language was reminiscent of the start of the first lockdown, warning of more deaths, that the pandemic was far from over yet at the same time throwing caution to the wind.

This is not freedom – it is a ‘free for all,’ which will certainly make life impossible for the elderly, the vulnerable and those caring for them.

The easing of restrictions should be delayed (Picture: Laura Shaw)

As many contemplate more freedom, I have not even been to the shops and continue to get a weekly grocery delivery. We have only been out of the house once to get Mum a chest X-ray after we were double vaccinated and when cases were lower (prior to the Delta variant).

We both look as if we are auditioning for a part with Tom Hanks on Castaway such is our lockdown hair! I had to cancel a recent appointment when cases began to rise again.

The gym also remains out of bounds – I miss my Zumba class and the coffee with friends after. I continue to exercise at home. 

Our story through this crisis has been like a roller coaster ride – each time you think you are emerging from the tunnel, the light seems to go out again. For example, when we were double vaccinated before cases began to rise again and the Delta variant appeared.

I was my mum’s sole carer prior to Covid but I used the Nursing Guild, to look after her when I went out, to enable me to have a break. I stopped this due to the risk of infection.

Mum also went to a fantastic centre occasionally, but like many, it remains closed. When you become a carer, your freedoms are restricted as many found in lockdown – but the virus made things much worse.

In March last year, I think Mum had the virus but she was not tested as that was the policy.

At the same time as the Prime Minister was in hospital, she spent three weeks in bed screaming in pain and could not tell me what was wrong. She had been sick, had a very high temperature, her bloods were not good and her nose very congested – she had a seizure and we were then put on antibiotics. 

When nursing her back to health, at one point I was very concerned I would never get her out of the bed again.

We are immensely grateful for the vaccine, but are worried about the risk of variants and the threat they could pose (Picture: Laura Shaw)

She was upset when I tried to sit her up or even raise the bed. It was heartbreaking. I had to focus on getting her better and get through it, but it was a difficult time. 

However, we persisted and she has been downstairs every day since.

But her breathing is not so good and I have to wonder if she is one of the many victims of long Covid. 

I then pinned my hopes on the vaccine – waiting for Mum to get it was perhaps the most anxious period of all. 

I was worried she might have a seizure and end up in hospital before getting the jab and catch it there.

We got our first jab on 8 February and the second one on 17 April. I was very concerned I would have to go out to get the jab and put her at risk, but I asked if I could get one of the leftover vaccines and with relief, we got it at the same time. 

We waited to be double jabbed and I was tentatively making plans to get out – at last getting a haircut, going for a walk, perhaps going back to the shops when the Delta variant took off and cases began to escalate.

While we are immensely grateful for the vaccine, I did not have that sense of relief due to the risk of variants and the threat they could pose. 

It was not going to be a magic bullet but rather a Iife raft that would keep us afloat. 

For the vulnerable, this is a very frightening situation and it is very hard to know when normality can return and that is hard to live with along with the loneliness and isolation. 

Looking after Mum is a full time job but I am looking to work as a freelancer alongside my caring role. I had to give up my job as a BBC news journalist when she became unwell – home working was not an option then.

My caring role keeps me very busy but when I can, I cook, bake, exercise, read, enjoy a good TV drama and try to get some sun in the garden when it appears!

If cases are brought under control, mitigations remain and more people are double jabbed, I hope things can change for us but we will have to be very cautious.

As it stands, after going through all of the challenges of the past year we have to continue to shield as cases are so high and that makes me question whether our freedom matters at all?

The easing of restrictions should have been delayed and a much more cautious approach should have been implemented going forward. It is also imperative that social distancing and mask-wearing remain as ending these mitigations will put many including the vulnerable at great risk.

We are seeing rocketing cases before we are all vaccinated and this could lead to many more deaths and another variant posing a serious problem.

I would appeal to our political leaders not to let ‘freedom’ come at the expense of the lives of the vulnerable and those that care for them and let’s not squander the progress and sacrifices we have all made.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing jess.austin@metro.co.uk

Share your views in the comments below.


MORE : Government is recklessly washing its hands of coronavirus responsibility


MORE : I spent £10,000 to go to university for just eight hours of in-person learning


MORE : Will there be another lockdown in 2021?





READ SOURCE

See also  Sorry, guys, you can’t be an actor and moan about body image | Suzanne Moore

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here