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I’m happy to stay home and I’m happy to save lives

Symes lives with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD for short. He explains how he's approaching shielding from coronavirus.

The current coronavirus outbreak is a nightmare of the highest order. Many of us have never seen anything like this. We never dreamed we would.

Three-quarters of the world is now in lockdown. The number of deaths seems scarily high. But the survival rates are higher than the death rates.

It's a confusing time

selfie of symes self isolating
Symes at home while shielding

Why are they higher? Because of the lockdowns. Maybe you're self-isolating, and observing social distancing when you go out for your shopping or your once a day exercise. Or maybe you're like me and you’re shielding because you may be at a higher risk of catching the coronavirus and being hospitalised. We’re all now experiencing, for a few months at least, new rules, in a new world. But these rules are important to help us fight this virus, also known as COVID-19.

It’s a confusing time for us all. I’ve tried to watch a lot of the news, to keep up with not only the latest developments, but to try and get answers to questions, and maybe pick up some good tips for things to do during what I jokingly refer to as house arrest!

I got a letter

I am one of the 1.5 million who received the letter or text. It told me to not leave the house and stay away from any face to face contact. So what do you do when you literally can’t leave the house for 12 weeks?

Well, I’ve been watching lots of television. Not only the news (I need to be careful how much of that I watch for my mental health), but also Netflix, Britbox, and the new Disney+. When I've felt up to it, I’ve also played games on my laptop. To switch off from technology completely, I’ve got a lot of books and comics that I’ve been meaning to read since last year. Now is as good a time as any to get cracking!

People joining the fight are amazing

When the pandemic first started, many of us wondered what would happen when the online shopping delivery slots started filling up, when many people started panic buying and you couldn’t find toilet rolls or pasta for love nor money. When sports we enjoy started being shut down.

Many more of us I’m sure, including myself, were initially annoyed, possibly angry, when holidays or concerts we’d been looking forward to for many months started falling by the wayside, as one after another, they all started being cancelled or postponed.

But do you know what? I quickly realised something. None of that matters. From what I’ve seen, there’s been a huge community spirit and efforts up and down the country to look after the elderly and vulnerable, the like of which we’ve not seen since the Second World War.

20,000 former NHS staff have signed up to return to work, and over 750,000 members of the public have applied to become volunteers in this time of crisis, to fight this war. Because that’s what it is, an invisible war. And all those that are able and want to fight are amazing.

I'm doing my bit by staying at home

My cancelled holidays don’t matter any more. The fact I can’t see my family for my birthday doesn’t matter. What does matter is the global fight. The NHS staff, the care workers, the key workers, the volunteers, all those poor souls that have sadly lost their lives, and those that have survived.

I sit at home now, with a peaceful mind, knowing I’m doing my bit in this fight, by following government advice and staying at home. By not putting myself or anyone else at risk of becoming a statistic and putting extra strain on our already overstretched, overworked hospitals.

It’s going to be a long 12 weeks. But needs must. As the tag lines keep telling us, I’m happy to stay home. I’m happy to save lives. No matter how bored I may get!

You can find out more about coronavirus, including who needs to shield, by reading the information on our coronavirus hub.

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I just want to thank you, Symes, for sharing your heartwarming story! Like you I am under NHS orders to stay home for 12 weeks because of my COPD, and realise now the things I am missing are really minor compared to keeping safe, protecting the NHS, and doing my best to be here for my children and grandchildren when this is all over! I wish you all the best.
I have a family member who lives a few dozen miles away who is dying with terminal cancer she was given months to live in December. I have a 4 year old niece who is totally distraught she can’t see her auntie and uncle, she has meltdowns over it every day. I guess it’s best to stay away,  you know, to save lives. Let alone people with other potentially serious ailments who are now too scared to seek treatment, to save lives even if it could cost them there’s as a result. I am not happy to stay at home because life ain’t that simple. 

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30 March 2020