Today, 23rd March 2021, marks a year since the UK went into the first Lockdown due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. There have been 126 thousand deaths attributed to Covid-19 and it’s complications.
I went into voluntary lockdown on Thursday 18th March 2020 as I felt I no longer felt I could travel on public transport and keep my clients safe. It was a horrible decision to make, but it was the right one. At the time I knew we had a long way to go but I am not sure I had realised that over the next twelves months I would only be able to work for five months.
This blog is about things I have realised about myself and learned during this year. There is nothing major here, nor are they in any great order and there are so many things I could have added.
OK, this was the biggie this year. Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. It wasn’t that I was dirty before, but like many others the ritual of sanitising my hands on arrival anywhere (at the supermarket, coffee shop, clinic), and then washing my hands for 20 seconds has become second nature.
Also washing down the clinic room and letting the room air between clients has been a massive change to the way that I work. Although the airing period gives me time to hydrate and refresh myself as well, so that enforced break is actually a good thing.
One consequence of this hand washing is that there have been no hospitalisations with Influenza this year (I think) and there has not been a major cold or flu season in 2020-21. So all that dilligence seems to have paid off.
Oh, those three little letters that now are so important. I willingly wear the face mask (Type IIR in clinic, reusable 3-ply when travelling or shopping), the visor for the most of last year.
When required I have also worn a disposable apron and gloves. Although I still can’t believe how warm I get wearing a thin plastic apron!
I will be glad to reduce the amount of waste I have to produce, but I see face coverings remaining as part of my workwear for some time.
The apron, gloves and mask will probably stay in place for all intraoral work I conduct from now on (the gloves always were part of that).
I will not complain about wearing the minimal PPE I have to: as I have total respect for the ICU medics who have to wear significantly more PPE than I am expected to.
3. Social distancing.
This is such a weird one, who knew that being advised to keep 2 meters from people on the street would have such an impact on our lives. I still does. I am now very aware of how close people are, especially in London. It also makes me aware of how caught up in tasks people can be (especially shopping) and so they have little awareness of who or what is around them. I do my best, but its so hard.
I also wonder whether people actually do know what 2m is in reality. I know that I’m about 192cm, so I had the ease of “Can I lie down in that space?”
Well 2020 was certainly the year to have had shares in Zoom. Zoom has been at the heart of my life (no I don’t have FaceTime) and I completed my Award in Teaching and Education with a Zoom exam. I’ve also taken part in Zoom Dinner Parties. I can also run online Yoga classes via a webcam, as well as SMFRTherapy classes, and TMJTherapy®.
I still don’t enjoy it, and much prefer to be working hands on with people than trying to communicate via a camera and the internet.
They are soooooo draining and hard work, but they have made things so bearable.
I am one of those people that can’t help to drink, seemingly constantly, whilst on a zoom call (I don’t understand it either). I have also ended up buying lighting equipment and webcams (and advising my parents too) to give a better zoom class.
“You’re on mute!!!!”
“Can you see me?!?!”
Such are the joys of zoom. Oh, and that awkward little wave we feel compelled to do at the end of a call…
5. Courses and more Courses.
Oh, I did a lot of online courses. The schools of bodywork I know did a phenomenal job of running courses online and hosting webinars.
Courses that were standouts for me are the SMFRTherapy, TMJTherapy® and Teaching Yoga online.
I was also able to watch the amazing Gil Hedley in the dissection room, which is still a dream to complete in real life. Ruth Duncan also ran a brilliant series of Webinars looking at Pain.
I have also thoroughly enjoyed joining my Reiki Teacher, Dr Karen Janes (Natural Healing Energy) for her weekly online Reiki Shares.
6. The importance of nature.
I very quickly found myself in need of nature, and I am so fortunate to have a garden so it is there on my literal doorstep. However, I soon needed a larger space and so used my allowance of leaving the house once per day for exercise to walk to the Walthamstow Wetlands. This became a (virtually) daily occurrence, camera in hand to capture fleeting moments of nature, whilst still moving on. I have had the great joy of watching Crested Grebes courting, watching goslings grow from little fluff balls to adults, and to see the seasons pass.
We were allowed to leave the house for a single exercise period, and I took advantage of that. Initially it was to walk to the Walthamstow Wetlands, but soon I felt like I needed more cardiovascular exercise. So I started (and just about completed) the Couch to 5k, and actually felt like I started to understand some people’s fascination with it. I then managed to trigger an old injury, and that has been a recurring injury that still pesters me, but I’m not able to get to see anyone.
I also dusted off the bike and started to cycle more and briefly started to cycle to and from the Clerkenwell clinic, until volume of traffic and other cyclists made me feel unsafe.
One thing that I really enjoyed was getting my evenings back. Please don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but when I am working I don’t get home 9pm, and then have dinner.
So it was a real pleasure to be able to eat at a reasonable time and enjoy having evenings at home with my partner. I finally managed to catch up on a lot of TV series I didn’t have time to watch before: Star Trek Discovery, Star Trek Picard, Black Sails, The Alienist, The Mandalorian (yes, I’m obsessed with The Child) amongst others.
9. The need to laugh
I am so grateful to the friends who’ve helped make me laugh, as it has been an important way of coping. I miss you all and so want to meet up in person. But thank you for the laughs.
Oh, TV has really to helped bring a sense of lightness and levity to my life. Comedies that made life better for me this year have been:
- Staged (David Tennant and Michael Sheene [or is it Michael Sheene and David Tennant] being so wonderful at the foibles of zoom.)
- Parks And Recreation. So delightfully wacky and just nice, not really nasty at anyone but wonderful.
- Schitt’s Creek. Zany and wonderful, and tear inducing (both laughter and joy and sadness).
- The Good Place. I’d seen a single episode on a plane (randomly from season 3) and had meant to watch more, and it’s worth it. And it’s made me more philosophical.
- Grace and Frankie (currently working through it)
If you can suggest any others, then do let me know.
10. Art & Photography
So if you follow my “blog” then you will know that I take part in a photo a day challenges, and these have been such a blessing. They have helped keep track of the days, which can be challenging at the moment, and also allowed me to be creative. I have also been able to play around a bit more with what I take for them.
Wildlife photography has also been so important at this time: helping to watch the world around me.
I have also been so pleased to engage with more artists at this time: AngryDan, Maud Milton, Ben Rothery, Chris Riddell, Jackie Morris are all inspirations at this time and I’ve had interactions with most of them.
Charlie Mackesy should also be mentioned as his book “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” has probably been the book of the Pandemic.
11. The importance of Touch.
This should probably be it’s own blog, but we are social creatures and safe, non-threatening touch is a vital part of our well-being. I am oh so fortunate to live with a partner I dearly love and can hug whenever I want (well mostly). But I miss touching other people (yes, I know how that sounds): but I really miss giving my parents a hug, my job is to place my hands on people (really does sound dodgy).
I struggled not to cry the first time I placed my hands on a client after the fist lockdown: I had massively missed the physical contact. I have no idea how I’ll react when I return to work in April (fingers crossed).
12. Societal trauma
This is probably a subject for another blog, but this pandemic has been a societal trauma. The fabric of our society has been threatened across the globe and for most of us it is the first time we’ve had to face this.
We all have the right to respond and react in different ways, and for those to change on a daily basis.
I know I have gone through periods of exercise need and times I haven’t. Times of joy and times of sadness.
Each day I am taking things as they come, and being nice to myself.
13. I’m enjoying longer hair.
Just to finish on something lighter: I’m enjoying having longer hair.
During the initial lockdown I never felt the great need to cut my hair and actually felt like it was an opportunity to play with a change. I had had the caesar haircut for many many years and had felt like a change: lock down gave me that chance and I’m enjoying it for the moment.
This third lockdown is meaning it is able to get even longer, so we shall see how far it grows.
So thank you for reading this brief summary of what I learned and discovered over the last twelve months of this pandemic. I hope that with the vaccine roll out that some form of normality will return to our lives.
However, I fear we won’t really know what shape that will take until next year (after another winter) and that some changes will be around for a while yet (mask wearing for one).
I hope you all stay safe and well and I look forward to seeing people back in clinic from next month (all being well).
Thanks for reading this, my lovely Interonauts.
Return to clinic dates April 2021
Clerkenwell (02074904042) : Monday 12th April 2021
Stanmore (02089548311) : Friday 16th April 2021.
These dates assume that we stay on course with the easing of Lockdown but can be subject to change if the UK Government decides.