I have been in self-isolation for more than eleven weeks now. I live in Wales and at this point in time we lockdown has been extended for another three weeks at which point the situation will be reviewed by the Welsh Government. At present the local health board believes we have not reached the peak of infection in North Wales . The UK Government are relaxing lockdown much quicker than Wales and it now appears that the rest of the UK has forgotten about social distancing. Last weekend beaches across the country were packed out like football stadiums with no room to move. I predict that within a fortnight we the UK as a whole (particularly England) will see a significant rise in daily cases and more importantly an escalation in deaths. If people don't adhere to the two metre rules and avoiding large gatherings this situation will last much much longer. That will enevitably mean that people like me will have to be "cocooned" at home for months on end. This will mean a rise in mental health issues and physical deconditioning .
It took six weeks before I received my government shielding letter by which point I had been shielding for weeks. As a patient with complex medical issues you have to make an informed decision about your level of risk and take personal responsibility to limit that risk.
Shortly after I met my electrophysiologist she said " if you get another infection you are f****** ". My fear is not catching the virus but developing serious complications and needing an intensive care bed. The chances of coming off a ventilator (due to coronavirus) are approximately 50%. In the past. the medical teams experienced problems with extubating me (removing the breathing tube). This virus is new and there is relatively little peer-reviewed evidence available and therefore their is minimal evidence as to how the virus effects patients with congenital heart problems. However, there is some anecdotal evidence that it has caused permanent cardiac damage even in healthy people.
There is some promising news from Oxford University and their pursuit for a vaccine. However even if the human trials as successful it unlikely a vaccine will be ready for at least 12-18 months. Like many thousands of people I receive my annual flu jab and I hope that one day we have something similar for Coronavirus. I believe we will have to live with this virus circulating through the population for a number of years. But I will not be first in line when a vaccine is ready.... I don't intend on being anybodies guinea pig.
A couple of weeks ago I was struggling with the whole "lockdown' thing. The idea of staying indoors and not seeing family and friends for months was getting to me! FaceTime and zoom have been brilliant for staying in touch and checking-in on some of my cardiac friends. But now I'm thinking of all the things I'm going to do once I can venture out fully....like going to my favourite Italian restaurant or going to the beach.
Many patients I have spoken to and particularly those who are "shielding" are extremely anxious about going back out into society. Another concern for many cardiac patients is the fact that many of their hospital appointments and planned surgical procedures have been postponed and at present they have no timeline as to when they will restart. I know that (bar an emergency) my upcoming procedure is unlikely to happen until at least January 2021.
On Thursday I went out for the first time in two months. I went out in the car with my sister. Of course I carried antibacterial gel and wore a mask. A mask is definitely something I'm going to have to get used to and FAST ; because it will be part of my wardrobe for a very long time. I certainly won't be travelling on public transport anytime soon. Whilst going out was exciting it was also a scary prospect - by it's very nature the virus is an invisible enemy. Yesterday the Welsh Government announced that wouId be asking those who are shielding to continue until at least the 15th of August. have decided that I won't be changing my behaviour once lockdown officially ends and I probably won't start booking events in my diary until at least September/October. But at some point we will all have to return to "normal life"....................I'm just not sure when that will be