COVID AND CHRISTMAS

I’ve just heard a Christmas ad on the radio. I’m sitting at the work-from-home space I’ve carved out in the corner of the sitting room, inside invisible boundary between my working day and evening routine. The sound of the Christmassy jingle startles me and I mutter that it’s a bit early for it, isn’t it?

Except that it isn’t. We’re facing into another “festive” season with Covid still hanging around like the visitor who hasn’t taken the hint to go home, so we can get to bed. We all thought it would be better by now, didn’t we? Most of the population is vaccinated, we’ve all stuck to the rules. We’ve stayed at home to keep safe. We’re working on makeshift desks beside our laundry baskets. We’ve avoided mixing with others to protect the Front Line.  Small children still sing “happy birthday” (twice) every time they wash their hands – they don’t remember a time when we didn’t do that.  The disappointment and frustration, that we are looking at an extension to restrictions, is palpable.

Back in March 2020 I wrote a blog post about getting through the next few months of life with Covid. I really didn’t think I’d still be going on about it now! What a year it has been, we couldn’t have imagined it.

In many ways, I think living with MS prepared a lot of us for life in a pandemic. In the early days after my MS diagnosis, I really just focussed on getting through the next few weeks and months. I didn’t dare look forward years.  On bad days, I challenged myself to get through the next few hours, or to just manage a shower and getting dressed.  I still have some days like that, when fatigue drains every wee bit of energy out of me. Over the last year, I think my brain adopted a similar approach to coping with Covid -  just get through today, worry about tomorrow in the morning.

Living in 2020/2021 has also reminded me about the times MS has curtailed my plans and freedom. I know my friends with MS will relate to the days out that have to be planned meticulously to allow for resting, or worse, cancelled altogether when arms or legs or eyes just won’t work properly.  The disappointment of having to miss a eagerly-awaited event is something nearly all of our friends can relate to now.

All of us with compromised immune systems already knew the importance of having clean hands and not being coughed on. We were carrying sanitiser and wipes before it became the norm. I hope when life returns to normal – whatever that is – our friends and colleagues will continue these good habits, to keep all of us safe and well.

Reading back over my Blog from March last year reminded me of how we were all worried of the unknown, and I know a lot of us still are.  I’d like to end this post with some of the points I listed back then, trying to help balance some of the negatives we all have to deal with. I’ve updated them a little bit, to allow for hindsight.

  1. Take advice and information from reputable sources – messages forwarded from “a friend of a guy I know” should be avoided. This is true for Covid and for other illnesses – according to Dr Google, I’m a medical marvel to still be alive!
  2. Switch off from the 24/7 information when you can. Spend some time doing something away from the internet or news feeds.  Maybe not as extreme as me, getting two lockdown dogs, but they definitely get me out and about.
  3. If you are stuck at home the days can feel very long. I’ve started trying to find some nice things to occupy my time. Those books I bought but never got around to reading are finally being dusted off.
  4. Get some fresh air and sunlight – even if you have to self-isolate, stand in your back yard or on your balcony, or open your windows. I’ve found that a few deep breaths can help settle my mind. See also, chasing two dogs.
  5. Try to find something funny to watch or listen to. Laughter is a wonderful way to lift your spirits and improve your mood – we love a comedy in this house, nothing too heavy that involves concentrating.

I still think it’s too early for Christmas ads, but I am looking forward to switching off from it all over the Christmas break next month. Who knows what it will look like, if we’re going to be at home alone or get to travel to our family still remains to be seen. In any case, I am going to make an effort to breath the fresh air and laugh at the funny shows on Netflix. I’ll worry about next year when it gets here!

Take care friends

Niamh

For information ons MS and Covid-19 visit our Covid-19 information centre.

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