I’m trying to focus on the positives – because although it’s been at times stressful – today has been very very worthwhile.
It didn’t start so great though – because I think I came about as close as I’ve ever been recently to a fight or flight state.
Those who’ve been reading for a while will know that one of the consequences of my push into fitness and health was that I ended up with an absurdly low heart rate that averaged around 40bpm.
I was really proud of this fact – and I knew that it was related to not only eating better – but moving more.
Over the last few months I’ve slipped (through stress and worry) into some old eating habits – but even though I can’t swim at the moment I’m still walking back and forth to work to get daily exercise.
This was all going very well – until the last few weeks – because lately whenever I look at my resting heart rate it’s been hovering in the high 50’s.
It’s clearly not this way ALL the time – but the above graph shows quite clearly what’s happening this month to my (and probably many other people’s) state of mind.
This is the physiological impact that worrying about COVID-19 is having on me – and this morning – lying flat on my back in bed (worrying about being around people when I went shopping) my watch told me the grim truth of what this was doing to me.
At the moment my partner is in an ‘underlying health condition lockdown’ so I’m the only one shopping.
To be clear I want it to be this way.
I want her to be as far out of harm’s way as humanly possible – so it has to be done – and I have to just be as careful as I can to make sure we’re both ok.
Shopping loses any joy however when you don’t worry about silly things like whether or not you’ve remembered all of your bags – but instead have to stress over whether or not you can get into the supermarket car park – and who you’ll have to interact with when you’re there.
Thankfully I found some decorating latex gloves this morning in a box under the sink and I couldn’t have been happier.
I grabbed our last bottle of sanitiser to take with me and took a deep breath.
This was shopping – apocalypse style.
At 9am (on a Sunday) in contrast to last week when it was complete chaos Tesco’s car park was rather quiet (about 1/3 full) – and as I walked to the door I saw an unfamiliar sight standing in front of it.
Several security guards standing alongside a Police Community Support Officer.
‘Are you NHS?’ One of them asked.
“Yes.’ I replied.
‘Can I see your ID please?’ he said – looking at me sterny.
I showed them my (almost brand new) pass, they nodded and waived me in.
As a start to a shopping trip it’s not the best user experience – but it’s encouraging that compared to last week Tesco are now taking things very seriously. Once I’d gone past the guards things started to thankfully chill out a bit. The next hour (the length of time you have to gather items before the checkouts open) wasn’t too bad at all – and I was thankful that I was sharing the store with people involved in healthcare because everyone was keeping a respectful distance.
It did make for some comically polite moments though as we all offered to let each other past and got jammed in aisles where three people really didn’t want to pass too close to one another.
The only downside with this NHS hour is that the people shopping can’t go through the tills until 10am – which means that by the time you reach the tills everyone is already queueing – and that means (since you’re standing two metres apart on the hazard taped lines on the floor) you’re bizarrely about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way back into the store.
Staff are continually checking these lines to make sure there’s no bad behaviour (which is very reassuring) but it isn’t without its problems
While queueing you are of course standing in front of items that people need to get at – so the whole time you’re waiting there are people (who by now are now now just normal customers filling the store because it’s past 10am) attempting to reach around or over you to get what they want.
It was probably the hardest thing to deal with about the whole experience – particularly because I had unexpectedly been asked to go into work today and on top of this I was clock watching.
Normally if someone suggested working a Sunday in previous jobs I’d have to think long and hard about it – but in this case when my colleague called me the night before I hadn’t hesitated to say yes when he’d told me why.
He needed some support deploying a technological solution that would enable users in palliative care to talk to loved ones at a distance.
I got offered the chance to help make sure that someone in their final moments gets to speak to their loved ones – and all I had to do was give up my Sunday.
In truth when I went in it was a grind of a task (many technological jobs are simply endless repetition) and took a long time – but by the end of it we had a box full of kit ready to go on Monday morning.
It’s really rare that there’s a task in my IT roles over the years that’s been so satisfying.
It’s wasn’t a rush job because of a corporate complaint or escalation. It wasn’t something to enable more stocks to be sold or provide an office with a video conferencing facility so that their execs could speak face to face in HD.
It was for real people near their end – and I got to have a hand in (hopefully) making their final moments better. After six hours of boring configuration work I checked my resting heart rate.
It had dropped to an average of 48.
It’s not where it should be – but at that moment in time it was a welcome change.
Hopefully I’m going to get used to all of this locked-down-ness soon – and when I do I’m going to fall asleep like a baby and just take it all in my stride.
Until then I’ll just carry on doing my best to move through the world being respectful of other people’s health and space and providing help wherever I safely can.
Stay safe everyone.