The Ups and Downs of Lockdown – Part 1

July 21, 2020Richard and Lewis

It’s early March and the year hasn’t exactly started the best for us, what with our house break in and both cars being stolen while we were all asleep upstairs, but we are determined to not let these people win. So, Rich being his usual self-went all James Bond style and started his own little detective work and very quickly had a lot of footage of the criminals. We handed this all over to the police, who I have to say were absolutely amazing and within two weeks we had both cars back on the drive and a house that is now fit for a secret service agent, in terms of the amount of alarms and cameras we now have, but this really does give us the peace of mind we need after such an ordeal. Putting all of this behind us and living our lives as normal, we continued to plan the year ahead with a short break coming up in a Caravan in Dymchurch at the start of April, both the kids Birthday Parties in May and then of course the trip we have all been waiting for to Disney’s Magical Pride in June.

During this time the corona virus was mentioned in my clinical meetings at work but very casually like it wasn’t really something we should worry about but to be aware that if patients from abroad experience symptoms to direct them to 111. Within a couple of weeks everything changed, the news was filled with stories of the virus and the world went crazy with panic buying and stocking up on toilet roll (which to this day I still do not understand why). We were watching the news 24/7 and watching the virus spread and countries going into lockdown which felt like we were watching some sort of apocalypse movie, at which point the UK were told to “wash your hands regularly to the beat of happy birthday”. As the days went past, we were slowly watching the world shutdown and lockdown was clearly imminent for us but not yet confirmed. Me and Rich were not worried as we were following the changes closely and doing exactly what we were told and not panic buying or panicking in general. In the back of your mind you do imagine the worst and I remember the mood change drastically, you could feel it in the air when we did go out and about. The streets were getting more and more quiet as people were deciding for themselves to stay home, but I continued to hope that this was surely just going to go away.

Boris and his medical advisers were making daily updates which kept the UK waiting, as no one was really sure what was the right thing to do, as other countries were completely shutdown other than supermarkets and pharmacies which were highly protected with safely protocols such as social distancing and limited numbers in the building. But then on the 23rd of March, Boris did what we all hoped but at the same time dreaded and announced the UK would go into lockdown. We looked at each other knowing that we now needed to act, but didn’t want to show any panic on our faces, so the children wouldn’t pick up on how the mood in the house changed dramatically. “Rich you need to go and buy the essentials now, as tomorrow people will be going crazy”. Rich grabbed the bags and made his way to the nearest supermarket, to ensure we were stocked with what we needed, especially for the kids. It was quite late in the evening so we hoped there wouldn’t be that many people with the same idea. I put the kids to bed and once they were settled, I was fixated on the news and really feeling like it was the start of the end of the world.

The first thoughts that were going through my mind were ‘what if the kids get sick? what if our parents get sick? will this ever go away?’. Constantly going through my head was those words, remain at home, do not leave your house unless you have to, you can only be with the members of your household for the foreseeable future unless you are a key worker. Both myself and Rich come under then “key worker” category, which means we would remain working once the safety protocols were put into place. Schools were shutting at the end of the week, which was half term anyways but we decided to pull the boy out of school straight away.

The biggest worry we had was childcare, as we normally have our parents share the childcare on Monday’s and Thursday’s which is now not allowed, so I have no idea how we are both going to work and look after the kids. Nothing could have prepared us for such a dramatic change to the “normal” way of life. Rich came back with all the essentials we needed without going crazy which I actually was very impressed with, as knowing the way his mind works, I thought he would be building an underground bunker by now. It looks like some crazy times are ahead but like with anything thrown at our family, we will stick together and get through it like we always do, as a team.

Working Arrangements

Having slept on it last night, we have had some thoughts about the childcare and working arrangements and will look to change our working days to fit around work. We know we can continue to send the boy in to school as we are both key workers, but we would have to keep the girly at home, so we have decided that keeping them both home and protecting them and our family as much as we could was the best decision. I have to admit that I am completely up for continuing to go to work, as you don’t work for the NHS for the money, you work for the NHS to help people and hopefully in some ways make a difference but I know that this is Rich’s biggest worry, as I will be at higher risk than most of coming into contact with the virus and then bringing it home, so I need to work out how to make him feel comfortable with this.

Rich has a different kind of risk, I do worry about him sometimes as he takes on so much work and really does have a lot of responsibility. I know we do not say what his other job is away from mortgages, but when I tell you that he very quickly arranged the setting up of a coronavirus helpline and became the responsible person for those shielded patients on the NHS list for our area overnight, then you will know that he had a very important role to play in all of this. I know this will mean endless days of him working early mornings, late nights and probably not many days off until he is comfortable everything is working properly. I know I have said this before but Rich really is a control freak, but in these sorts of situations, he is the exact person you need and why he is so good, he takes control, doesn’t panic and gets the job done.

In some ways the thought of working 7 days a week completely fills me with dread, as when are we going to get our time together and how will we cope with the kids so full on without any breaks, as let’s be honest we all love our kids dearly but you do need some downtime every now and then. At the same time, I am thinking that getting to spend so much time with the kids will be lovely and that this might not be such a terrible thing after all, as I quite like my own company to be honest. We won’t have to worry about the house so much either, as we will not have any visitors for quite a while now either, so that’s a bonus.

A New Addition to the Family

They say it’s silly to plan out your life but when it comes to holidays and breaks away, we are hot on it and normally have our entire holiday leave booked up within the first week of the new leave year and this year as no different our plans were well and truly in place, but now being just over two weeks into lockdown, we realised that Covid-19 wasn’t going away anytime soon and that plans were going to be changed, with our caravan holiday having already been cancelled. I don’t think we would even want to leave the country now with what seems like the world falling apart. I couldn’t think of anything worse when being isolated away from our family in another part of the world, where we cannot speak the language. So we made the decision to cancel our holiday to Disneyland Paris even if we could go, at this time no companies had officially closed anything or cancelled people’s vacations but they were allowing us to amend the dates and that is what we did, hoping that things will be back to normal next year.

The kids are still young and we hadn’t made it a big thing that we were going to Disney anyway, so there wouldn’t be many tears (apart from mine). I jokingly mentioned to Rich “wouldn’t this be a great time to get a puppy? It would give the kids some responsibility and the boy especially would love it”. At first Richards response was just to laugh it off but as the long days passed, his mind was slowly changing as he then started to make those comments too. We haven’t rushed into looking for a new dog and I think the hurt of losing Nutter will never go away, but the boy was still finding it hard to adjust to life without a dog, its all he has ever known. A couple of evenings I could see Rich googling away on his phone, researching different breeds of dogs as we said we wouldn’t choose another Yorkshire Terrier and this evening he says out loud to me “Cockapoos are meant to be great family dogs and get on well with other dogs” while showing me a picture of the cutest little puppies. “Maybe it isn’t such a bad idea after all” he says. I mean I think I have cracked, he now also wants a new dog, after days of trying to convince him and even putting a poll on Instagram stories in hope our followers would help persuade him it was a good idea.

It was now Saturday morning and Rich had secretly found a breeder who had some puppy cockapoos ready for their new homes, leaving the house saying he had to go somewhere for work, I had a feeling I knew what he was up to but didn’t want to ask. Thirty minutes later my phone rings and Rich says “i’m bringing home a new family member” for the first time since lockdown began, I had forgotten about all the horrible things going on and was just so happy and excited. “Well I went to pick up a boy but when I got there he was already gone, but there was a little girl puppy who was just staring at me and waggling her little tail and now she’s sitting in her new bed on the car seat next to me”. “WHAT!!!” I replied so happy, “we have a new puppy and it’s a girl”. I’m sure the girly will be pleased that we have evened it up a bit in our house now, with the male and female divide.

Rich brought the puppy in and I cannot explain the look on the boy’s face, it was the look of pure happiness. We know we can never replace his first best friend but instead try to heal the hole for him with a new best friend. Rich had clearly put a lot of thought into this, as he then pulled an envelope out of his back pocket and presented it to the boy, let him open it and then read it to him:

“To my bestest friend,

I love and miss you so much but I have a very important job to do helping all the doggies in heaven. I know what a great friend you were to me, so I have sent you a new best friend to play with and I’m sure she will love you just as much as I do and I can’t wait to hear about all your adventures together.

Remember just look up at my star and talk into the nose of the cuddly toy I left you and I will always be able to hear you. Have so much fun together.

Love Nutter x”

During a really uncertain time, Rich had given us all something that will make lockdown a positive memory to remember but he has also helped bring a spark back that had been missing from the boy. I know it sounds silly but I could see a difference in his face, you know when someone smiles for a photo you can tell but the smile on his face was uncontrollable, he was literally the happiest little boy in the world right now and it brought tears to both our eyes just watching him with the bouncy little ball of fluff that we now all know as Belle, or as the boy calls her ‘Bellsy’ just like he used to called Nutter ‘Nutsy’. Deep down inside I am already in love with her and so glad we have something new and fun to focus on. I am sure this lockdown now isn’t going to be anywhere near as hard as we first thought, so bring it on.

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