Submitted by John
Advanced Practitioner Reporting Chest Radiographer
March 2020. Three-week holiday in Canada visiting my sister on Vancouver Island, what a treat except the signs of a pandemic were brewing as I departed Heathrow.
As the holiday progressed various shops and facilities were closing down, and one could sense a certain fear throughout the world when observing the news on radio, television and on-line.
Covid-19 was quickly advancing throughout Europe, so I felt reasonably safe in the outback of Canada.
My return flight was cancelled, and rearrangements had to be quickly made. I returned a day early to an alien environment of England.
The fun now started! Having arrived back at home on a sunny Thursday morning, because of being ‘vulnerable’, I was not able to enter the house as my eldest son having demonstrated signs of Covid and was one week into a two-week isolation along with the rest of the household, so I was in effect homeless.
Hotels and guesthouses were all closed, somebody suggested, can’t you stay with a friend! I was ‘vulnerable’ and having just travelled a third of the way around the world, I was at high risk of having caught the virus myself.
In the back of my mind, I envisaged sleeping in the back of my car or kipping down in a sleeping bag at work, as they say, desperate times, desperate measures. My boss was horrified with these suggestions, so keyboards were tapped and I was given a room at staff accommodation at Worthing to tie me over for the coming week.
I was jet-lagged, hungry and needing food. Thank goodness for the volunteers providing basic food for NHS workers in the carpark at Worthing hospital. I bought some potatoes, eggs, bread and tinned tomatoes, what a feast! I also got a free two-kilogram bag of coleslaw, which had been donated by one of the local fast-food establishments.
After several day recovering from my flight, I was back at work in Southlands Hospital in the safety of my own office. There wasn’t any time to waste, and I was straight in helping out behind the front line dealing with what would become a long fraught battle with a world-wide pandemic.
I worked through the spring and summer of 2020, observing through the media the advancing surges of the Covid pandemic. As the roads were quieter than usual, I decided to cycle to work on certain days as I needed the exercise and of course it’s good for the environment.
Into November, and I’m told to go home to shield. HR had finally caught up with me and there was no escape. I wasn’t happy as I wanted to stay at my post, but had to go home and isolate.
It’s now April 2021, three lockdowns later and I’m finally allowed back at work. I’ve been one of the fortunate ones.
I hope people remain safe and be sensible in the coming months and years and never forget all the individuals who succumbed to the effects of the virus.
As Captain Tom famously quoted, tomorrow will be a better day!