We have been directly involved with covid for approximately 20 months. Our world as we know it has been turned upside down, whilst the virus has killed just short of 4.5m people across the globe! Now, healthcare has been overtaken by the global impact of events in Afghanistan. Things are changing literally daily, in front of our eyes. These are all situations that we have almost no control over, ourselves.
I realised after I got sick in 2007, that there were so many things that happened in my life, not decided by my own actions. Politics, economics, global weather, pollution etc. We can attempt to control the direction of our lives. But ultimately there will be an incredible amount of luck involved for us to reach our goals. In life before covid we all had our own opinions about what risk looked like. Most, I guess had reasonably broad boundaries. Happy to go about our business in a relatively care-free manner. Travelling around, meeting up with friends, eating and drinking when we wanted to. Then came covid.
Lockdown after lockdown, fears of leaving our house and even not being able to meet up with our own family. Almost everything became a risk. Wearing masks became normal, and leaving our house became a rarity. Friends were asking me how I was feeling about the risk of covid, as I live with a compromised immune system. Much of it was normal for me, as I am used to keeping out of congested areas and peak times etc. However since my diagnosis in 2007 and continued unreliable health, I have a very different view of risk.
Of course I won’t be putting myself in any unnecessary situations, but I will continue to live my best life. I am seeing many people now thinking twice about travelling, or even eating out. Foreign holidays are definitely off the menu for them too. Hospital waiting lists are increasing rapidly, and now there are starting to be shortages of everything from food to blood bottles in the NHS. The fallout from Afghanistan will also be having a big impact globally. The world as we knew it will not be returning, anytime soon.
As the virus headlines begin to slow, my work is increasing. I’m also getting back to normal regarding my social life too. Frequent days out with the grandchildren, and catching up with friends from near and far. Getting into London now more frequently with public transport, seems normal again. If society is open then I am too. Yes, the health side of things is still difficult, with no face to face visits to my Consultant in more than a year. More issues to be dealt with as time catches up with me, but sod it!
During recent months I have seen more and more of my personal friends get sick, mostly cancer, but also other complex issues. They are now entering the most difficult period for treatment we have known in many years. Their quality of life is decreasing daily and there is little any of us can do, as waiting lists grow. Sure, we are entering the latter stages of our life, but this is the time that many expect to be enjoying themselves, after decades of work and saving.
I am currently working with several people who have late stage cancer, and the system is still working for them, thank goodness! But anyone requiring reasonably routine work is struggling for appointments and surgery. It is blatantly obvious that we are now creating a two tier health service. People who can afford it will pay to jump the horrendous waiting lists, and those that can’t will suffer losing their quality of life.
Given these facts and my inside knowledge, I will be doing my best to spend as much time as I can with family and friends, doing things that make me happy. My personal risk being that I waste time hiding and lose my life hoping that tomorrow will be different. Nobody wants to see people die, but ironically that is a fact of life. Of course you can avoid many risks, but the result will ultimately be the same.
Personally I believe we are all living the ‘lottery of life.’ There appears little logic to it really. Many people who manage their risk still get sick. Same as people who don’t. We all have a choice and see what is happening. How we live after that is up to us of course. During covid, we all seem to have become more judgemental of others. Vaccines, masks, working from home, and generally the way we now live our lives is stimulating debate.
This piece is for everyone, not just those affected by cancer or other health issues. Please let me know below how you view risk, now that we are living in a covid world.
Thank you Chris, for a most insightful blog, as always and I Absolutely agree that, as you put it, “If society is open then I am too”.
It’s a shame how society’s turning out post Covid; I was definitely expecting a kinder world where we are all looking out more for one another, after the horrendous global pandemic we’ve all lived through and the millions of lives lost and families changed forever by its impact
Thanks so much for your kind words. I also expected a much more unified and kinder world. I thought that working through covid would bring us together. But what it has done globally has showed how our divisions are getting wider. Particular the poverty issues. We have an awful lot of work to do in the future, as I believe a lot of progress we have made has been lost.
We definitely need more kindness and let’s hope that there are enough of us that can improve things.
Very best to you all in these challenging times, Chris
As always I agree with all your words Chris. In 1959 I married my first husband Glyn. He had TB contacted in the Royal Navy, he was told he would not be 21years, he passed away 58yrs. The first 11 yrs of our marriage he was TB positive, we had the same treatment from people that we get now adays not nice. I have found the same from alot of people with this virus don’t come close to me they say. Through my life since I was 20yrs I have been extra clean in the home and have continued to do the same with the virus. The only difference I have found for the second time being widowed this year is more people are kinder which certainly helps alot. Do hope I am making sense. Hope youChris and your family keep well, I am so lucky I am keeping well.
Thank you so much for sharing your own experiences. So much similarity from your early days to now! You make perfect sense and I’m so glad that you are finding people kinder towards you these days. Quite an interesting point as Tochi and myself are finding it the reverse, surprisingly.
We are still in incredibly confusing times, so let’s hope that over time we all see more kindness.
Delighted to hear that you are well. All ok at this end too! Big love, Chris XX
This is a difficult one. My balance has to err on the side of caution as I still have chronic neutropenia. I spend the time I’m not working trying to recover enough to continue working, so travel and social activities just don’t happen.
I remember those days of what you are going through, and understand how tough things are. Wishing you well and hopefully you can have more positive choices soon.
It still makes me sad my travelling abroad days have been curtailed for now but I try & live my life as best as I can taking into account all the risk factors. I’m not as spontaneous compared to pre-pandemic times but I think that’s all of us. Great insight as always Chris. X
So lovely to hear from you V. Very challenging times for everyone, particularly us with unreliable health. I guess there are plenty of risks to see, but must make our own choices. Stay safe XX
I set myself (hopefully) achievable goals Chris, seeing my daughter in the UK as it’s been 2 years! Getting to a game with family & friends @surreycricket @wimbledoncrick @WaspsRugby catching up with old LHR Airplane work colleagues etc but tough with #chemo & #covid I’ll fight on.
They’re fabulous goals Peter and hopefully you get to achieve them all! We’re lucky we live close to our kids/grandkids. Finally got back to #CPFC last week. It really is the simple things that make our lives Peter. With you all the way my friend!
Excellent article, Chris. For us immunocompromised folk, we each need to take a view of both the pot. benefits and risks from our interactions with others. For most, balance will be the watchword – balance between keeping ourselves reasonably safe and having a life worth living.
Thanks so much Pete, glad you enjoyed it. A very individual decision of course. I wonder if more of us are becoming more risk averse because of recent events? Very best to you
Your blog has given me lots to think about Chris, including too much time on social media, in this country if you praise some people (especially celebs) they think you have an agenda when actually you’re just being you.
They’re no better than you and I.
Thanks John, it is always intended to make people think. I agree with you which is why I don’t work in that area at all. Time for a catch up?