February 28th 2020
I’ve decided to give up dating for the time being. I’ve deleted my Tinder profile. It’s all too tiring and predictably disappointing. I don’t think online dating works for me. Indian Man was the closest thing I got to a boyfriend, and even that wasn’t right from the beginning, although I deluded myself that it might be. My soul mate is out there somewhere, I just don’t see him, or hear him. He isn’t near me; he doesn’t know I exist. Is it possible to miss someone you haven’t yet met? I feel like I do.
When I was sitting in the car park at Sainsbury’s waiting for the pounding rain to ease off a little, I somehow heard the notification of an email pop into my inbox on my phone. It was from the admin job:
Thank you so much for applying for the Administrator job. Unfortunately, you haven’t been successful on this occasion and we will not be inviting you in for an interview. We had a very high standard of applications, which made it a very difficult decision. Many thanks and best wishes for the future.
So that’s that. I called Eileen and she said she had the same message, so neither of us got the job, which was weirdly consoling.
No boyfriend. No job. Pouring with rain. Ear ache coming back. Today is not going brilliantly. I have an ache on the right side of my head which indicates a migraine is brewing and I’m exhausted because I didn’t sleep well last night. I think the disappointment of having to tell the School Teacher I wasn’t the right person for him was preying on my mind. I also have a cold that won’t go away. I wish my health would stop niggling at me from the edges. Aches and pains, discomfort and irritation. There’s always something.
Talking of health issues, the coronavirus outbreak is really starting to worry me. I’m following the news carefully, both worldwide and domestic, and I believe I see signs that it’s going to cause an enormous problem in society very soon. In a few weeks, I may have two children at home for months on end in an effort to reduce infection and prevent the virus spreading. We had a letter from the school today hinting at closures and it’s come up on the news a few times already. I think there are going to be tough times ahead.
I have a little secret. I’ve already started a food and water store. In the cupboard under the stairs I’ve stocked tins of beans, chopped tomatoes, fruit, and some packets of rice, pasta, and fish, and large bottles of mineral water. I have biscuits and bread sticks and various other things, not a lot, just a few of each item, but it makes me feel safer that I have this small disaster preparation. As each day passes, I get the feeling of impending doom and it makes me increasingly anxious. I haven’t told anybody because I know they’ll think I’m mad, but as I read the news and look at the shops I see empty shelves already and a reduced selection of goods. I don’t want to be caught short, especially because I have to feed the children.
On the BBC news app yesterday I read this:
The Cabinet Office has been in communication with local authorities about their “mass death preparedness” – what their plans are to deal with pressures on public services if deaths from coronavirus are severe, BBC Newsnight understands. This includes, among other things, where local authorities might locate new, and perhaps, mass burial sites.
Official talk of mass deaths and graves doesn’t fit with the prevailing narrative that the virus is mild and most people will recover. If it’s only the elderly and immunocompromised that are at risk of needing hospital treatment, why are mass graves being considered? I think there’s something the Government isn’t telling us. Perhaps once you get Covid-19 it never goes away, or the death rate is much higher than they’re letting on? There’s something that isn’t trustworthy about the information the general public have at the moment, and I get the feeling we’re in for a bumpy ride.
No-one I know agrees with me or thinks along these lines, including my closest friends and family. I’m a lone nutter at the moment. To date, we have nineteen cases of Coronavirus in the UK, all in people who have recently travelled to virus hotspots in other countries, such as Iran and Northern Italy. The virus isn’t yet passing from person-to-person within Britain. One British man on a cruise ship near Japan has died, but I don’t yet know his age. I don’t trust official news sources or the Government to disseminate up-to-date and open information. I think they’ll do it, as and when they think appropriate, for the stupidest citizens in dumbed down language. I prefer to be ahead of the game. Official figures say there are at least 82,000 cases worldwide with 2,800 deaths. I think the number of cases and deaths are much higher than those being reported.
So in my fifty-first year of living on this planet I find myself in a pre-dystopian state. Climate crisis means extreme weather all over the world. Large areas of the globe are both warmer than they should be and wetter than they should be. There are severe floods, and continuing deforestation is causing a variety of creatures to go extinct every single day. Pollution is everywhere in many forms — in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink; and now the new coronavirus means we’re preparing for some sort of apocalypse with mass deaths and people living in self-imposed isolation to try and survive. I can’t believe it’s real. I can’t believe this is actually happening in real life. It’s a very strange feeling. I don’t think the world saw this coming.
There is such a dense population of humans on this beautiful, fragile planet and we have no respect for its flora and fauna, which we continuously destroy at a terrifyingly fast rate. But it seems we do have a built-in self-destruct mechanism: avarice. Nature is the perfect plan, the sacred blueprint right there in front of our noses showing us The Way. Everything that is needed has already been designed. Before humanity, the planet was a flawless recycling ecosystem — there was something for every creature and every creature had its place and purpose. Now mankind is dominant, we don’t recycle and don’t have a purpose except, it seems, destruction.
The persistent gales battering the house only serve to emphasise my impression of being under assault. This is the fourth consecutive weekend where we have a named storm raging outside, agitating the bins and rattling the roof tiles. Inside my throat there is a lump, a strange feeling of an infection brewing. I know this feeling. I’ve had it many times before over many winters, and it makes me uneasy. I don’t like being ill with something indeterminate that drags on and on, and which I know could develop into something really nasty. I feel as if there’s something furry and cold wedged in my throat. I keep trying to swallow it down, but of course it doesn’t move. Thank God I have a doctor’s appointment on Monday for my ear when I can also mention my throat. What on earth is going on?
March 1st 2020
My mother finally had her doctor’s appointment and they’ve diagnosed her with bursitis, which I’d never heard of before, and which neither of us think she has; and also anxiety. I asked her whether they considered Parkinson’s disease what with her muscle stiffness, lack of sense of smell, and full body internal tremor, but the doctor dismissed it because she told him she was fine during the night.
“Is that true?” I asked, doubtfully.
“As soon as I go to sleep, it’s all gone and I’m back to normal.”
“How do you know this if you’re asleep?”
“Because if I wake up in the night to go to the loo I feel fine. There’s nothing wrong with me.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Yes,” she said with utmost rapture. “Everything disappears as soon as I’m asleep.”
“So I have anxiety!” she grinned, in an apparent state of exultation.
“But did you tell them about your other symptoms?”
“I have another appointment in a month’s time. Meanwhile I’ll take the vitamin D tablets and apply the cream, and hopefully it will all get better.”
“Cream? For what?”
“For the bursitis. But I don’t think I have bursitis.”
“Cream and vitamin D? For Parkin—”
“Shall I collect the children from school on Friday?”
“Oh. Well yes, thank you, that’d be lovely.”
She can be sensitive to questions about her health, and often tolerates only two or three minutes on the topic before she changes the subject. Luckily I’m able to get the hint. My younger self would have bulldozed ahead trying to get answers disregarding her feelings, pushing until it descended into an argument. I would have been neurodiversely tunnel-visioned about getting to the bottom of the problem there and then. Nowadays I’ve learned to let things lie and be more tactful, it’s one of the nice things about getting older. My need to know doesn’t trump her feelings of discomfort.
The plan of action is for her to take the prescribed medication and in a month’s time (when absolutely no difference is seen and her condition has worsened) go back to the doctors and get a proper diagnosis (although I personally see no need to waste a month waiting). This morning in the car she admitted that she had lost a lot of weight. The other day I told her she was looking thin but she denied there was any change in her size. She must have gone upstairs later and had a look and seen that she’s dropped a stone or more. She must be only eight stone now. It’s not a good sign. I do worry about her.
Oh, important news before I forget! I’m getting bogged down in concerns about health — always a temptation for me. I had an email from the council informing me that both Jack and Amy have been allocated our school of choice for their secondary education. It’s great news! Eileen, Jas, and Lindsay got their first choices too, so we’re all absolutely delighted and relieved. We’re going to plan a celebratory curry night out… if any of us dare leave our homes.
The novel coronavirus is still scaring me. I’m very close to keeping the children at home and not going out at all. The Government has said that widespread infection is highly likely in the coming weeks and months. I didn’t go into volunteering last Monday and I don’t want to go in the next. I’m worried about letting them down, but I have to do what I feel is right to protect my family. The Macmillan support centre is adjacent to the front door in the foyer of a major hospital and of course our clients are patients dealing with cancer, which I think is a fairly risky situation. I don’t want to be accused of over-reacting, but I want to feel safe. I’m at the stage where I don’t know what to do. My gut says we need to start social distancing now, but my head says, what will people say? They’re going to think I’m panicking and paranoid, which is embarrassing. I might even get into trouble with the school for keeping the twins at home. It could start a row and I could lose friends… I’m not sure what to do.