A huge heartfelt thank you to David for having a chat with us and joining in on the #SameStormDifferentBoat conversation. You have given us a real insight into your lockdown experience, and we are very grateful for you sharing your story in your own words.
My story: shielding
If I remember right I went into self isolation earlier before I started shielding. The reports at the time of lots of infections and the rapid spread, kind of moved me to isolate quicker. Then about two weeks later I got the letter to start shielding. Luckily having worked in the voluntary sector for a few years, I knew the people to contact and get support from.
I was luckier than many people, as I have a large garden and I have been trying over the last few years to grow food. Sometimes successful, others not so much. But at least with shielding, it gave me more time to get things done in the garden. The first job was fence painting – a mammoth task. It took a number of weeks and 25 litres of paint. I also had more time to experiment with cooking and making curries.
The day before my 71st Birthday
It was during this period near the end of May 2020, I had my blip. I can’t remember what I was cooking, but when standing at the cooker, I started to very woozy. Then, when I tried to move my world started spinning and jerking about violently.
Somehow I managed to get in to the living room, and sit down. Luckily I had my phone nearby, all this time any movement caused more spinning and dizziness. I called my daughter and tried to explain what was happening but I wasn’t making much sense. She told me hang up and phone an ambulance, which I did. It took a bit of time, but she [call handler] was very patient. I explained that I had food on the cooker and that the door was locked. She kept me calm and told me the ambulance had been called, but due to the outbreak they were running about twenty minutes late.
The emergency services
While she [call handler] was talking to me, I heard sirens and and a fire engine turned up, because I had the gas on and the door locked. They were going to force the front door, but I managed to let them know the back door was open, so they came through my neighbours garden and over fence and got in that way. These guys were brilliant, they got me on some oxygen and kept chatting to me and checking I was ok, but I wasn’t really making much sense to be honest. During this time my family arrived as well, and then the ambulance. Very shortly I was on a trolley in the ambulance, but because of COVID-19 restrictions no family members were allowed to travel or go hospital with me. To me, that was the scariest thing. At the Royal Infirmary, I was speedily rushed in to an assessment room and very quickly checked over by various doctors.
The kindness of NHS staff
The staff were great, chatting to me, reassuring me and keeping me calm. A consultant spoke to to say he thought I may have had a mini stroke but was unsure. So they decided to keep me in overnight to keep an eye on me. I have never been a fan of hospitals when I was younger. I seemed to be in them a lot, but old age brings patience they say. Staff were lovely and brought me some food and a drink and through the night checked on me regularly.
Which brings me to the crux of this story. The morning nurse who was checking my vitals noticed my chart and remarked that it was my birthday to which I replied, “yup great way to spend my birthday.”
My relief in the all clear
Later on during the doctor’s rounds, the consultant I saw when I was brought in, spoke to me and said that after checking my bloods and other things, he felt that it had not been a stroke after all; much to my relief. He thinks it may been some kind of inner ear infection. So he said I would be able to go home later that day once they sorted out my medication.
NHS Heroes and my 71st Birthday
After lunch, I was sitting on my bed when all the nurses on the ward came in singing happy birthday to me and they had a lovely big chocolate cake for me. I have to admit this was a lovely gesture from them all and I was very overwhelmed by it. It was chocolate cake all round the ward!
About an hour or so after I got the all clear to head home. So this was a COVID-19 tale that I will remember for a while. And the great kindness and treatment I received at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
I arrived home to lots nice cards from neighbours and family and back in to lock down again, and back to my garden and growing stuff. My son in law had got me an old polytunnel frame, so pretty much rest of lock down was getting it up and setting it, laying out beds and planting.
Hopefully once this pandemic is over, there will be many other people’s stories to tell of their time during this crazy year. 2020 will be a year to remember for many.
By David Jacobs.
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