The challenges are many

My daughter shared a quote this week that really resonated with me – “what a bloody year this week has been”, and it certainly has, things are changing very quickly day by day.  I also had a conversation with my Mum that, on reflecton, sounds unbelievable.

Mum: “what have you been up to today”

Me: “actually Mum, I’ve spent the day trying to shop for food”

Readers of my blog will know that after years of waiting, I was finally due to start my biological medication this week to help improve the symptoms of my Ankylosing Spondylitis.  I had gone through the decision-making process and I’d decided it was the right thing to do to improve the quality of my life, even though my last attempt at biologicals had gone badly wrong.

However, following the speed at which COVID-19 is spreading and the realisation that our daily life will look very different over coming months I have cancelled my prescription.  I don’t wish to burden the healthcare system with a potential allergic reaction or increase my risk of complications if I contract the virus.  If I do contract the virus, I would have to stop taking the biological anyway so delaying the start makes complete sense now.  These drugs will lower the ability of my immune system to fight infections and self-isolating now would also be necessary.  It was a difficult decision, but the right one.  I can now remove biologicals from my worry compartment and focus on more important things, our family.

I’ve also had to digest new information about my current medication.  The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) issued a statement on 17 March 2020, in response to recent news and social media reports related to the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) drugs and COVID-19. These include Ibuprofen and one of the drugs I take, Naproxen. 

Currently, there is not enough information on Naproxen and COVID-19 to advise people to stop using it.   There is no published scientific evidence that NSAIDS (which includes Ibuprofen) increases the risk of catching COVID-19 or make the illness worse. In addition, there is also no conclusive evidence that taking NSAIDS is harmful for other respiratory infections.  That said, current advice is that if I get COVID-19 symptoms I should stop taking Naproxen and use Paracetamol instead.

There is so much to take in on a daily basis and I need to be careful I only read accurate facts and limit my daily use of social media.  I have found myself refreshing the BBC news web site far too often.  I also look at the Worldometer statistics which shows the number of new cases every day in every country.  I have limited myself to reviewing this twice daily as I was on the site up to 7 or 8 times which is crazy.  I had become a world expert in quoting new cases by country which I had to stop doing for my own wellbeing.

Whilst acknowledging that everyone has their struggles in life and some people are dealt better cards than others, generally, we’ve had to play the best game we can with the cards we’re dealt.  However, we’ve still had the freedom to do pretty much what we want, when we want.  It is difficult to comprehend how much this will change over the months ahead. 

As a family we are trying to think and plan ahead, using the technology available to us.  In addition to what the schools are doing, we want to set up Skype sessions with our grandchildren and family. Using FaceTime and Skype will help us all to feel closer to each other.  Communication and kindness will be key to helping us all get through the challenges we are going to experience.

I also have elderly parents, 87 and 91.  They weren’t keen on moving closer to us for reasons I understand, so trying to keep them safe when we live 350 miles away is another challenge.  I have a good support network in their home village for which I am very grateful. I did have a rant on Facebook about people “panic buying” though.  One of my parent’s lifelines is the weekly on-line shop I do; currently I can’t book delivery slots as they are all taken in advance, so I need to get my act together and be better at planning ahead.

I have always thought of myself as an optimist; I tend to be hopeful and confident about the future or the success of something.  That said, in our current situation, I think it is better to a realist, like my husband.  Jamie accepts a situation as it is and is prepared to deal with it accordingly.  Changing my naturally optimistic nature to accept everything that is going on at the moment is very difficult.  My worry compartments are all mixed up and I often feel anxious and nervous about the future.  There will be a large number of people like Jamie and I who are only a few years from retirement and who have carefully saved and planned for this time in our lives only to see the bottom fall out of our pot of gold.

Like many others, we are also concerned about our business.  Jamie and I have managed to run our small search and recruitment business for the last 12 years and before the start COVID-19, 2020 was looking OK.  Most things we were working on have, understandably, been placed on hold so a difficult year ahead from that perspective too.

To top it all we have sold our house!  It’s always been our plan to downsize to help fund our retirement.  We accepted an offer right at the beginning of the COVID-19 virus, before any of us knew the full implications.  Whilst we have a shortlist of 2 or 3 houses that are suitable for us to buy, we have no idea whether our sale will work its way through so watch this space 😊.

There was a recent article in “New Scientist” that pointed out many people seem to be dealing with the recent coronavirus outbreak in one of two ways: by panicking or shrugging. There is a great degree of uncertainty around how bad the COVID-19 pandemic will get, which means it’s easy to over or underreact and make the wrong choices. By understanding the psychology behind what is going on, they ask the question whether it is possible to find the elusive middle ground of worry.  I do hope so and I’m currently working on understanding the psychology which, if I learn anything useful, I will share in my next blog.

Keep safe and listen to the advice.  Thank you for reading and sharing my blog. 

Until next time  xx

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