I’ve chosen to continue to shield

Aaron has severe asthma and has been shielding since early March. He shares how it’s going and why he plans to keep staying at home, despite the guidelines changing.

Aaron who is shielding at home

I’ve been shielding since Friday 13 March. It’s a monotonous way to live, but my wife and I have done our best to stick to our routines. Some days are tougher than others, and there’s been times when anxiety has taken over. We’ve kept in touch with our family and friends, including our 2-year-old granddaughter who is more tech savvy than most!

During the time, there’s been a lot of sadness and heartache. But the community spirit and compassion has been brilliant too. Lots of people have offered to pick up food deliveries and prescriptions. Now we wave and chat to neighbours who we’d never spoken to before.

My journey into shielding

In December 2019 I had a terrible chest infection. I was off work for weeks and I had to go into A&E. I only started to feel better at the end of January, just in time for a holiday to celebrate my wife’s birthday.

But I still wasn’t feeling 100%, and I spent a lot of time reading while we were away. I read all about this new virus and didn’t like the sound of it! By the time we came back, we’d started to think seriously about what might happen. I knew that if the new virus came to the UK it wouldn’t be good news for me.

A lot planning went into my journey into shielding. I didn’t wait to be told what to do. 

Later in February, we started to plan what we’d do if a lockdown was put in place. Luckily, my employers were taking it seriously as well. There was a noticeable increase in handwash and wipes available, and systems were introduced for remote working. I was only too glad to be the guinea pig for the rest of the company, trialling out the different phone and IT systems to test they worked smoothly from home.

A lot planning went into my journey into shielding. I didn’t wait to be told what to do. Which is lucky, as I only got a letter advising me to shield on 22 April! I’d had to really push for it, asking both my GP and hospital consultant – no one knew what was going on. I ended up getting 2 identical letters in the space of 2 days.

I can understand why some people want to go outside. But I’m staying put.

The relaxation of the guidelines

It was a shock when the shielding guidelines were relaxed a few days ago. I can understand why some people want to go outside. But I’m staying put.

I know it’s easier for some people to go outside than others. If you live in a rural area, with hardly anyone in your village, it might be possible to guarantee you won’t see anyone on your walk. But speaking as someone who lives in a town, I can’t guarantee that whatever time I go out.

I think the threat to shielded people is still there. If I get the virus, I have no doubt I’d be seriously ill. So I don’t understand why all of a sudden the stringent rules are changing for all of us shielding all around the country. The vast majority of people who are shielding knew what they were getting themselves into. What was the point of shielding for 3 months to go outside with no proven logic? Without knowing the precise evidence that informed the decisions, in my opinion it feels like the government doesn’t care if we now get ill.

The onus has been put on the individual to decide what’s best for them. A huge decision, which will cause a lot of people great stress and anxiety – that’s certainly my own experience.

It will be tough when the time comes to go outside

I know it will be tough for us who are shielding when we do finally go out. We’ll have to adjust to the risk of getting the virus.

I have a very serious nut allergy, so I’m used to this in a way. I’ve learned to manage that risk by being careful with what I eat, but all the while knowing there is a chance. Now I might have to learn how to manage the risk of the virus, when I choose to just leave the house.

My wife asked me recently when I will feel comfortable to leave the house, and I told her I didn’t know. It will be a big decision when the time comes.

Aaron, Abigail, Ginny and Mark share their thoughts on shielding and the easing of the government guidance


Got a question about shielding? Or what to do if you live with a lung condition? Check out our coronavirus hub for the latest updates and guidance.

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9 June 2020