Six months of (mild) isolation

Today marks six months (half a year!) of my COVID19 isolation. It seems like pure madness that I have been (mostly) isolating for so long, hiding away from society to keep myself safe and healthy. But there you have it: six months of (mild) isolation.

I say “mild” isolation because I have not been in a complete bubble the entire six months. Indeed, I did have a short (and surreal) visit to The Real World a couple of weeks ago when I had my kidney check-up. However, given the way things are it is unlikely that I will venture into The Real World again anytime soon!

Before I tell you about this last month of isolation, here’s a short recap of my isolation timeline so far:

Month One and Month Two were my most isolated months. During those months I stayed within the bounds of the rural estate where I live, not entering any buildings other than my cottage. It was emotionally isolating (but I coped)! By Month Three I began to think about venturing further from the cottage, and some of my runs were taking me through the nearby village. I even made a (quick and unsettling) visit to my GP’s office for a blood draw. Then towards the end of Month Three, a friend and his dog came out to walk around the estate with me. That began my period of “near” isolation, or “shielding lite” as I like to call it.

Starting in Month Four, I began to slowly venture further and further from home for walks on beaches and in the hills around Midlothian and East Lothian, sometimes with a friend. These walks and mini-adventures continued into Month Five with a couple of gentle woodland walks and a visit to a ruined broch. However, my off-estate adventures were all with the same friend who was/is taking every precaution to stay safe and avoid the bug, meaning that I feel safe enough in their company.

So, what did Month Six look like?

To be honest, it wasn’t too terribly different than Month Five with two exceptions: An in-door, socially distanced visit with a friend and a surreal trip to The Real World for a doctor’s appointment.

Yes, my friend and his dog from the end of Month Three returned for another socially distanced walk around the estate at the start of Month Six! Only this time they came inside the cottage afterwards for tea and cake (a lovely carrot cake provided by my friend).  We enjoyed our walk first, then when we got back to the cottage my guests came in for a visit. We made sure there was air circulating and that we kept a fair distance from each other in the cottage, so my friend sat at the table in the corner of the living room whilst I prepared and served the tea and cake. I then sat on the other side of the room whilst we visited. (The dog was given free range, but just kind of stood there watching.)

I felt quite happy and safe with this, as I know that my friend and his wife have been taking all precautions to avoid COVID including avoiding shops and working from home. And although they themselves have had a couple of in-door visits with friends, they have kept the same kind of distancing protocols and have only invited people over who are also in some form of isolation. So, it felt like a very low-risk activity. (And well within the government’s guidelines.)

The other change between Month Six and the previous five months is that I made my first trip to The Real World for a doctor’s appointment at the hospital. (A routine check-up for my kidneys, Bob and Dave.) This meant that I took a taxi there and back and that I had to wear a mask for the entire adventure through the hospital.

Previously, I had popped into a sweetie shop for fewer than five minutes just as it was opening. But this was different. This visit to The Real World was on the surreal side and slightly unsettling, but I imagine that things will be easier when I go back for my next check-up in March. By then I will have had a couple of short visits to my local GP’s office for blood draws and a flu jab, and maybe I’ll even get into a shop or two. And that might help me to feel less out of sorts for my next visit to a crowded place. We’ll see.

With six months of isolation behind me, I am entering Month Seven with the realisation that this may well be a year-long period of isolation. Also, I am more and more convinced that, rather than moving forward with plans to re-join society a bit more, I will need to become more strict with my isolation over the next few months, especially as the infection rate is on the rise and flu and cold season is on the horizon. I worry that my overall risk of illness will increase if I continue to venture out – even if I am keeping social distance from others, and even if masks are worn. In fact, I saw the “crowds” in Peebles the other day and that only served to further my convictions: Now is not the time to be lax in my COVID safety practices!

But, overall, these past six months have been OK. I am accustomed to living an isolated and lonely life, so this is just an extension of that. However, I am also hopeful that I will be able to re-join society before too long – even if only by a small margin. And I am also grateful that my adventure friend is still willing and able to join me for some great walks on the weekends. (Although with the autumn and winter months ahead, we might need to limit those a bit.)

Six months. I just can’t get over that. But that’s where we are. And until the clever scientists finish their important science-y work to get us out of this, we’ll just have to keep socially distancing, masking up (but not like this!), and carrying on. Stay tuned to see if I survive Month Seven! (I will, I’m sure of it.)

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