Six weeks ago I went to the doctors with symptoms of high temperature, sore throat and eventually cough. At that time they’ve only just started talking about the virus and they were only concerned about people who have recently been to a specific province in China. I went there with a mask (which my mum sent me from abroad because in England you cannot find masks to buy anywhere – even before the madness started) and protective gloves because I had fears I might be contagious and didn’t want to threaten anybody else’s life. The doctor examined me and as I scored 4 out of 5 on some ‘seriousness’ of the condition checklist they prescribed me Antibiotic. I was flabbergasted! For my 10 years in this country this was the first time someone actually prescribed me something that strong. Normally they do that if they see you are close to dying or with temperature over 40. Anyway, I shared my concerns with the doctor (‘Is it the virus?’) and they laughed at me. They said they don’t even give them masks at their medical centre! Five weeks later I was still coughing and on my second visit I was told to purchase a bigger pillow and keep a bottle of water by my bed: I thought, okay, that’s a good sign, everything back to normal as this is the type of advice I was used to hearing from doctors whenever I call ill.
None of this could have happened today, six weeks later. I would not have been allowed at any medical centre with such symptoms, I would have been advised to stay at home and not even call the dedicated number for the virus advice as this is only for cases that have deteriorated significantly. There seems to be no option for testing unless you are admitted into hospital and if you are being admitted into hospital at that time little does it matter.
One of my friends works for a school and developed the symptoms (slightly high temperature and cough) a few days ago. They (my friend) called the dedicated number and were told with such mild symptoms they won’t even be given a sick leave note and to commence to ‘business as usual’, same was the message from the school itself. So my friend went to work the next day wearing self-made mask in order to protect the kids and staff. They were told to remove the mask and that they won’t be allowed to teach if they wear it. When they refused they were threatened a number of times to remove it, nevertheless my friend persisted and kept the mask on throughout. At the end of the day my friend found out that all field teachers have been banned form visiting the school office. I was amazed by the hypocrisy of it – you are not allowed to wear mask to protect yourself and others at school but you cannot visit the office because the ones that work there are obviously more important than the kids or the teachers that work for them!
Enough on that. I’m down with a new type of cough this week. No temperature though although that’s only as much comfort. Fortunately that came after the announcement that anybody who can work from home should do so because no one seemed too concerned about people coughing before the beginning of this week. So I’m self-isolating and working from home. I’m so glad and sad at the same time that I cancelled my weekly art lessons with a talented young girl that I teach. These lessons were bringing more light, meaning and inspiration at the end of a weekday. But it’s the right thing to do. I cannot sleep properly because I wake up chocking with cough. I’m mad at the people who left this quarantine for too late. We were given false sense of security and advised to take light measures. We were constantly given the impression things are okay when they clearly weren’t. They aren’t.
Thank God there is still at least a sense of humour in this whole wretched thing and people are managing to keep their spirits up. We have to laugh, otherwise we’d cry. Hard times unite people and we’ve seen so many examples of kindness provoked by the difficulties people have faced recently.
From my side, I’d try to see the stay at home as an opportunity. For more creation, for reading, for staying in touch with friends and relatives abroad, for helping others where I can, for spending time with my cat Shadow, for painting and crafting, learning and reflection. Like many of you, I don’t know when next I’d be able to see my parents or close friends. But this will pass, sometimes we just need someone to tell us it will be okay. It will be okay. If you feel you need help, there are organisations such as Mind, the mental health charity, that can offer advise and encouragement.
My heart goes to all the medics and people in jobs of critical importance including shop, delivery, energy providers employees and many more. Thank you for being there, for your bravery and dedication.
It’s also heart-breaking thinking about all the self-employed artists out there and other small businesses that will be hit hugely by the impact of the lock-down. I’d like to encourage everyone who can to purchase from small businesses, book in advance and support them at these difficult times.
I’d like to share links to the businesses of some of my friends and really talented artists. Please do spare a minute to have a look, share or/and purchase something from them. Thank you and stay strong and stay safe. Lots of love.
Maria Sheovska – The Grasshopper CP – custom printing on T-shirts and other garments, stickers and logo design, printing on motocross gear and much more
Jane Ward – Chez Titine Salon – Vintage Hair-styling, cosmetics
Milagros Kuga – Milik – self-designed beautiful handmade jewellery
Ruth Mary – Ruth Mary Jewellery – self-designed precious metal jewellery
Katie O’Sullivan – Katie O’Art – Paintings and murals
Mark Kaiser – Mark Kaiser Art – Paintings
P.S. : Sorry if I missed anyone, please drop me a line and I will add you to the list : )