Last week Mark started to feel rough – temperature, coughing, sleepy, upset tummy, lack of taste etc. – and on Saturday, I joined in with mostly coughing and feeling bunged up, groggy and really, really tired. Also I noticed that my customary fortifying stove-top espresso tasted of nothing. On Saturday the PCR test Mark had wisely ordered came back with a COVID positive result and so as “Freedom Day” unfurled, we lay about the house intermittently making meals, eating them, and resting on the sofa. One of our neighbours kindly dropped a jam jar of Sweet Peas on our doorstep, and they have been cheering us up ever since.
Symptoms-wise Mark’s been a bit sicker than me but overall it’s not been too bad apart from the epic fatigue (which is not helped by the heatwave). I’m beyond grateful that we are both double-vaccinated as I fear that without this amazing buffer we would be much more poorly than we are. When I was younger I went through a phase of being really sceptical about the value of vaccines, and had a deep fear of “Big Pharma” fed by all sorts of theories circulated by my phenomenally healthy 20-something peers. After I’d spent thousands of pounds on “natural cures” for arthritis and found myself still immobilised by pain, my insightful and patient GP Dad, who had listened to years of my berating his profession, quietly bought me Snake Oil and Other Preoccupations – a book by John Diamond – which completely changed how I felt about doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical drugs, science and humanity. Diamond wrote the book out of his experiences as a high-profile journalist with a terminal throat cancer diagnosis who found himself massively inundated with suggested CURES for his condition. I found more humanity and sense in its pages than I’d previously found anywhere else, and it became a very helpful compass with which to navigate the healthcare system and a prism through which to make sense of my own experiences of illness and disability.
I now get my flu jab every winter and was grateful to be prioritised for the Astra Zeneca vaccine and to get both doses early this year because of my pre-existing conditions. I am thankful for it all. I also – as someone who catches everything going – know that in getting my flu-jab each year and in the COVID-19 vaccine, it is not just me who is protected. I don’t know who needs to read this, but I wanted to share my own experiences and the book that changed my mind and laid some of the foundations for how I now think about disability and illness. With no judgement, a lot of empathy and as someone who used to fear vaccines and “Big Pharma” I wanted to just gently leave the title right here, just like my Dad did for me over twenty years ago.
Back to this house and being ill but probably not as ill as we might have been.
The incredible Rheumatology department at the Royal Berkshire Hospital have a really helpful message recorded on their helpline which told me everything I need to do viz my immuno-suppressant arthritis meds, which is to just stop them for two weeks, and we are completely self-isolating for 14 days from Mark’s positive diagnosis last weekend. The evil tiredness prevails, and has put paid to all my ambitious plans. The KNITSONIK shop is closed until it’s safe for me to go there and send out orders without infecting my friends at Lok ‘n Store and The Royal mail with COVID-19; and my current sleep needs means that talking about and pushing forward the Yarnadelic Remixes 0.1 project will have to wait until I have more spoons.
I’ve had loads of really sweet messages from everyone on social media – thank you so much. Honestly, though, we are doing OK here and frankly my main feelings are of profound gratitude and thanks for all the ways in which this is so much better than it could have been. I’m thankful for our garden and that we are not cooped up indoors in this heat while self-isolating. Grateful for my friends who are sweetly checking we’re OK and sending messages of care. Thankful for the resources to buy good food and cook it. Grateful for a knitting project that’s undemanding enough to pick up as and when I have the spoons, and for little tiny pleasures like how said project matches the Sweet Peas and the Cornflowers from our garden… how my current project perfectly matches my washi tape… and how my journal is a source of kindness and a helpful tool for pacing, gratitude and self-care right now.
Grateful for understanding and support from my friend and collaborator Muriel, whose birthday package arrived today, bringing cheer and, amongst other things, this glorious little jug (into which my favourite flowers were immediately transferred).
Most of all I’m thankful that, however demanding, precarious and overwhelming my self-employed career path feels at times, it does also mean that when my body demands EPIC REST I can move things around to try and accommodate that. I wish everyone who got COVID-19 could have these easeful, helpful things.
Here’s a few things I’ve loved this week while being at home and resting with COVID-19 –
Jackie Kay reading her BEAUTIFUL book about Bessie Smith on Audible (Guardian review here)
The always brilliant and on-point Truthoughts Mixcloud from Rob Luis which features new music, snippets of speech (always on point) and releases from the Tru Thoughts label also run by Rob Luis
Salina Jane’s fantastic fundraiser established to raise funds via art classes for the Disasters Emergency Committee
Newsletters from people whose work I love. I really enjoy getting emails from my amazing friend Janine Bajus who regularly teaches classes on designing your own Fair-Isle knitting, who always finds the best quotes, and whose kindness and integrity run like a thread through in everything she does. Sign up here: https://www.feralknitter.com/
I also really love getting emails from Natalie Warner, who you may know from her excellent and informative knitwear design blog or from her recent appearance on the KDD&Co. blog here. Natalie shares great book recommendations, nuggets of design gold, and glimpses of her lovely garden. Sign up here: https://natalieinstitches.com/
Now, to rest again… with an update on Yarnadelic Remixes 0.1 to come when I have more spoons –
Yours in vaccine gratitude –