My Covid-19 Nightmare Continues
Christmas offered a brief escape from the never-ending nightmare that is Covid-19. My life has been paralysed by the virus since March. I am afraid, the government's reluctance to properly suppress the virus will kill me. I am trapped, in a desperate situation, and there is nothing I can do about it - save to try and keep myself safe until I receive the vaccine.
I was having chemotherapy when the UK was plunged into the first lockdown. Numbers were sufficiently suppressed by the three-month effort, but the economy opened up too quickly and without restrictions being enforced. This eventually led to Lockdown 2, by which time I'd had surgery and was waiting for radiotherapy. I will continue to have infusions of the targeted cancer drugs Herceptin and Perjeta for a year. Unfortunately, new virus cases were still very high when England came out of the lockdown. Yesterday, the UK recorded the highest number of new cases since the pandemic began.
I am on the clinically extremely vulnerable list, but official shielding is paused. My partner works in hospitality and is terrified he will catch the virus at work and bring it home.
Now here's the problem... I live a 43 minute (each way) road journey from the hospital and rely on patient transport to get me there and back. In the main, I am transported by car, sometimes by volunteers. There is no screen to separate me from the driver. Social distancing is impossible. The length of the journey means a mask will not protect me, should the driver be infected with coronavirus. Recently, hospital staff have said I should share transport with other patients - and this happened on the return journey of my last visit. I was distraught, having shielded since March. I know how careful I have been and do not trust other people to have been so vigilant. I cried all the way home.
I only have 60-odd per cent lung capacity because of the progressive lung disease COPD, and fear Covid-19 could kill me. To have this disease on top of stage 3 cancer is beyond terrifying. With lockdown 3 being put off and put off by the government, my cancer treatment is now in jeopardy. In addition to my regular drug infusions, I need a mapping scan and 15 doses of radiotherapy. I am also due an echocardiogram. This is going to involve a lot of drivers - often one to the hospital appointment and another for the journey home. They are only being tested to see if they have had the virus in the past - not if they have currently got it. Thanks to uncaring hospital staff, the journeys could also involve sharing cramped airspace with other patients, too. This will put me at even greater risk of contracting the virus, especially after Christmas mixing - and after all my efforts to keep safe.
So, right now, I have to ask myself if it is safer to put off my treatment until I've had the vaccine. In my personal circumstances, what could kill me the quickest - cancer or Covid-19? The irony is, my 25-year-old, heathy daughter has already had the Pfizer jab - because she works in a care home. The saddest thing is that my cancer treatment is working. I had a complete response to chemotherapy but, to stop the cancer from coming back, I need to finish the treatment. I'm stuck.
It is just a bloody nightmare. I am sick of it. The schools should have closed a week earlier before Christmas and they should remain closed at least until February. I just want this nightmare to end. And that is why I am urging the government to lock the whole country down right now and to get on with the vaccination programme. Enough is enough.
Note: Many people are concerned about the impact of lockdowns on the economy and jobs. Let's be clear, the new strain of the virus is out of control. Soon, the economy will be paralysed because people won't risk going out to the shops or visiting hospitality businesses. Without a total lockdown, financial support will not be available to those in lower tiers. Today, right now, a nationwide lockdown is the right thing to do. For the NHS. To save lives. And, yes, to support the economy.
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