Well, it's been a long and difficult winter and I'd been SO looking forward to ...Read More
Here in the Cycle Sprog household, we've all been struck down with the symptoms of Covid-19. Thankfully we haven't had to go to hospital and therefore haven't been tested. So we can't be 100% sure, but our symptoms have been nothing but those associated with coronavirus. At the time of writing, we've been self-isolating for 16 days, and we're still not fully recovered - we remain breathless, tired and still have the occasional cough. The doctor has asked us to stay away from shops/chemists etc until 21 days have passed to be 100% we're not contagious any more, as they really don't know how this virus works.
Over the past two weeks I've had plenty of time to think about things. We've not been able to go shopping and stockpile things. Watching on TV the queues of people panic buying made me consider what I'd have stockpiled prior to having to go into self-isolation (and it's not toilet rolls!)
Now, we're a reasonably fit family. We run a family cycling website, for goodness sake! Our holidays are spent riding our bikes, our hobbies involve cycling and other sports, and perhaps, more importantly, we are an "active travel" family, meaning we try to walk and cycle everywhere rather than using a car. This means our base level of fitness and lung functionality is pretty good.
However, we've all been left incredibly breathless by this virus. Our youngest Sprog did a swimming badge just before he got ill - he swam 50 lengths in about an hour. Last week he was getting breathless going up the stairs - you can't lose that level of fitness in just two weeks!
You can survive for 3 weeks without food, and 3 minutes without oxygen. Rather than queuing, I just wish all those shoppers I saw on TV, were out doing some exercise.
I was the most badly affected out of our family. It turns out I have an "underlying medical condition" I haven't thought about for years. When I lived in Manchester and London in my late teens and early twenties I developed asthma associated with air pollution and required an inhaler. As soon as I moved out of London I stopped needing it, and over the next two decades, I'd more or less forgotten about this.
The only lasting side effect is that during the winter months I occasionally get a coughing fit when going from a warm building into very cold air. What I'd not realised is that this would come back to haunt me now. The tightness in my chest came back, and a week into the symptoms I was really struggling to breathe. I can say this is really, really, scary. Chris was, at one point, getting himself ready to take me to hospital, but thankfully it didn't get that bad. However, I'm now on twice-daily medication, and I'm back to using an inhaler during the day when I struggle. I don't know when I'll be able to get out on my bike again - especially as we live at the top of a very steep hill, and there's no way at the moment I can put in anywhere near the level of effort needed to ride (or even push) up it.
I really wish that the air quality in our cities wasn't so poor - how this virus is going to affect those living in polluted cities is terrifying me. I wish I'd done more to campaign for clear air through getting more people out of their cars and onto bikes.
If anything good comes out of this pandemic, I hope it's that people realise the awful damage that air pollution is having on people, and how quickly air quality has improved now the roads have had such a sudden and rapid reduction in motor vehicles.
As a related aside, if you smoke (or vape) I'd really recommend stopping if you can.
I know a lot of people, from all stages of my life. Some I've never even met in real life, but have brilliant on-line relationships with (including many Cycle Sprog readers). Modern technology is great and means we can all keep in contact during this pandemic.
But can any of these people go and do our shopping whilst we're self-isolating? And can I go and help any of them, once we're over this and allowed out again? The past fortnight has brought it home to me how important our immediate local community is, and how our 21st Century way of life has eroded so many of those community links that used to bind it together. We are very lucky that our immediate neighbours are wonderful. People have been checking in on us, doing our shopping and even bringing us freshly baked bread and soup. I'll never be able to thank them enough.
However, I'm ashamed to say I don't even know everyone who lives on our road (and there's only 16 houses). And the majority of those I do know I don't even have a contact number for or really know anything about their lives. Do they fall into the vulnerable category? Do they have anyone close by who could look after them if they got ill? Is it their birthday today?
And, going beyond our road, how many other people in our neighbourhood need help? I'm watching remotely as there's a brilliant effort via Facebook to set up networks of support to identify and help those in need. I feel terrible that this is needed, that I can't immediately identify those locally who need my help.
When I was little my mum always used to say we couldn't snack between meals. "It'll spoil your appetite" she used to say. This is funny, given that during the late 1970's and early 1980's there just wasn't the same amount and type of food available there is now. Don't get me wrong, we never, ever went hungry. We just weren't always full.
By contrast, my Sprogs are constantly snacking. The youngest takes "healthy snacks" to school, the eldest can now buy (unhealthy) snacks throughout the day at high school, and the moment they feel anything like a hunger once they're home they manage to find something to eat. I try and stop them, but now they can reach into even the highest cupboards (and use chairs to get onto the tops of them) it's a losing battle.
We have been what, in other circumstances, might be called "early adopters" of coronavirus. We were having to self isolate prior to everyone else going crazy and stockpiling huge quantities of food, drink and other supplies. We had more than enough to see us through our self-isolation, especially as being ill means you don't really feel like eating. However, now we're getting better and appetites are returning, things outside our door have changed massively. We don't have the same quantities of food available any more. We need to be careful with the food we do have and come to the dinner table with hungry tummy's ready to be filled again.
We're incredibly lucky to be able to come to that table. There are so many people in the UK who were already suffering from food poverty prior to Covid-19. How they are coping now worries me, and if we all start to understand, even just fleetingly, the worries they face each and every day, then perhaps some good may come out of this terrible time.
During the past few weeks I've seen so many things on social media and had so much come into my email box, about how we should now be leading our lives. From homeschooling to global choirs, from volunteering to help the NHS, to refocusing your business to cope with Covid-19, from daily exercise routines to online pub quizzes, virtual tours of zoos to downloadable audiobooks - it's been a crazy few weeks.
I've had to learn quite quickly to filter most of that stuff out. I can't sing - I don't need to feel guilty about not being part of a global choir. I never really went to pub quizzes before, so I'm not going to start now. I hadn't planned to go to a zoo this weekend. I need to remind myself I'm not a lesser person for not having done these things.
Plus, we've been ill! We've been operating at about 25% of our usual energy and speed. This has been a time to reset our expectations and focus on what is really important to us. Which, initially, was getting better.
Now we're on the road to recovery, I need to start to think how to keep going with those things that are really important in my life, and forgive myself for all the things I don't get round to during the coming weeks (and possibly months). Might be harder than I think!
One plus side is I'll (hopefully!) have more time to write, so if you're not already signed up for our newsletter, do please do so here - I've not managed to send one out for about 9 months, so you've not missed anything, but may do now! Also, don't forget to follow Cycle Sprog on Facebook and Instagram!
We now need to work out how to keep Cycle Sprog relevant and helpful at a time that more and more families are looking to cycling as their means of daily exercise - if you have any thoughts on what you'd like to see do drop a comment below.
Do keep yourself and your Sprogs safe.
p.s. For those of you who are interested, I can confirm that the symptoms of coronavirus don't result in you needing any more toilet roll than you'd normally use if all the family were at home all day!
Other articles you may enjoy reading whilst you're here:
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