I'm vulnerable but I'm not a number in a database
Julie, who lives with a severe lung condition, explains how people categorised as 'vulnerable' are still contributing to society.
In February I came down with the flu. I am a good girl and I had already had my annual flu jab as I have chronic conditions: a severe lung condition, adrenal insufficiency, lymphoedema and others.
At the time the respiratory virus COVID-19 was beginning to grow in the UK, especially in London where I live. This was the start of self-isolating which turned into shielding. This was the start of being identified as 'vulnerable'.
Don't conflate vulnerability to coronavirus with being useless
Now don't get me wrong, I am happy I have been asked to shield and that I have support from neighbours, a partner and charities to do so. What has troubled me, and I think a few of us is the terminology 'vulnerable'.
There is no reason to conflate the fact I am more vulnerable should I get COVID-19 with any idea that people with lung disease, disabled or older people are useless.
I'm a person with hobbies and a life
I am a person like any other: I'm a middle-aged woman who likes to go for walks, connect with nature, and read a lot about equality. In my spare time, I volunteer in my community to help support people. I have three cats who rule my life and live with long term partner of 30 years - we are northern childhood sweethearts.
I often work from home due to exacerbations of a myriad of health problems and sometimes I am hospitalised. I have become used to this way of living and had to adapt and accept my new normals each time they changed. And they still carry on changing.
I'm adapting, I'm still contributing
Now, I am shielding. I am adapting. I am helping communities and being part of a support network for people and am a valued part of society. All of us 'vulnerable' people contribute in our individual ways and do what we can. This is different for all of us.
Today, my throat is irritated by pollen, I cough and have severe urinary incontinence. I am wheezy. I have womb polyps driving me mad with women things.
I have just had foot surgery so am in bed for a couple of days. An infection of my toe is under control. Regardless of all these annoying things and on top of worrying about catching COVID-19 and making sure everything is in place for that scenario if it is dire, I have worked from home today.
We vulnerable people are resilient
Today I have contributed in my way and other 'vulnerable' people will contribute in other ways. We are resilient and we adapt. Tomorrow I will contribute in another way. Yes, I am 'vulnerable'. But please don't forget I am a person. I contribute to society. I am not a number in a database.