""It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way " ...
Taken from A Tale of Two Cities written by Charles Dickens in 1859, this quote could well be applied to the current Corona virus limbo we now find ourselves in. It may not quite be purgatory but, it is hardly what we expected 2020 to be. With the benefit of hindsight can we go back to 2019 please ?
Here in the UK, as in many other parts of the World, we are now pretty much in lockdown (although some are ignoring advice and/or are confused by it or just don't appreciate the gravity of the situation), trying as best we can to stop the rapid spread of this awful virus and its' devastating effects.
As someone, who is living with ITP (for almost 15 years now), currently on Prednisolone and Mycophenolate Mofetil (immune suppressing drugs), it puts me slap bang in middle of the supposedly "high risk" category of people who may potentially contract Coronavirus (see links at the end of this article). I am in the eye of the perfect storm or at least I could be if I leave the house.
Following the UK Government announcement yesterday (Sunday March 22nd) it would seem that as a patient on immune suppressing drugs I am going to be advised to stay at home for at least the next 12 weeks. I am to be SHIELDED - (see link - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51997151)
Apparently folk like me and many others (up to 1.50 million Britons) will be receiveing a letter or some communication from the NHS sometime before March 29th clarifying our situation. But I have already taken the decision anyway to stay at home, out of harms way.
So as I, and many others contemplate what would appear to be an extended, indefinite, suspended period, it is only sensible that I make the very best use of that time.
As human beings we simply can't be on the back burner all the time, we are not just pending or betwixt and between creatures. We have to be active and positive. Surley that is one of the best features of the human condition.
So, what can we do to use some of our newly acquired time positively, constructively and in a way that benefits ourselves and others ?
Having the luxury of being away from the usual work loads may provide a bit of reflection time for some people and an opportunity to do things that just get overlooked or over taken in the usual course of the daily grind.
So here are a few of the things that I will be putting some of my newly acquired spare time into.
Here is a list of a few books which I have read or re-read this year. I have tried to make it a broad church and hopefully some of the suggestions will be appealing. There are some newish books on the list and some old friends. The truth is I could have included so many others but here are just twenty for 20 so far -
1. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
2. The Innocence of Father Brown - G. K. Chesterton
3. A Study in Scarlett - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
4. The House of Silk - Anthony Horowitz
5. London - A Travel Guide Through Time - Dr Matthew Green
6. Dead Wake - The Last Crossing of the Lusitania - Erik Larson
7. The Foundling - Stacey Halls
8. The Stepney Doorstep Society - Kate Thompson
9.This Boy - Alan Johnson
10.The Angry Island - Hunting the English - A.A. Gill
11.The Road to Little Dribbling - Bill Bryson
12. The Beekeeper of Aleppo - Christy Lefteri
13. The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz - Jeremy Dronfield.
14. The Splendid and The Vile - Erik Larson
15. Cash - The Autobiography - Johnny Cash
16. A Cheesemonger's History of the British Isles - Ned Palmer
17. Detroit 67: The Year That Changed Soul (The Soul Trilogy Book 1) by Stuart Cosgrove
18.Being Elvis - A Lonely Life - Ray Connolly
19. Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo - Tim Parks
20. Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through a Country's Hidden Past - Giles Tremlett
After possibly the wettest Winter we have had in recent times here in little Britain, it is now, supposedly Spring. Our clocks go forward by an hour on Sunday March 29th at midnight, so it is officially British Summer Time from then.
So what better time to get out in the garden and start planting some seeds ? In the current situation it will have an even bigger impact than usual. It gets you out in the fresh air and provides a little gentle exercise at the same time.
Then there is the greater benefit of actually growing some of your own fruit and vegetables. Who knows what we might need as this limbo period unfolds ? A few home grown items can only help. It should not be underestimated. Dig for Victory, remember that from WW2 ? Whatever next, make do and mend ?
Even without a garden, we can all grow a few herbs or salad leaves indoors on the window sill or in a few pots on the doorstep or balcony. It can be done. A packet of seeds costs about £2 and with a little time and effort that sum will be repaid in no time.
PLUS ....There is nothing like home grown produce. Picking fresh raspberries from our garden on a Summer morning for breakfast is one of my greatest little pleasures. Making a fresh tomato salad or a pesto sauce for lunch having swiped the produce from our greenhouse an hour earlier, is also a great treat.
An excellent, general book for home growing for beginners is -
RHS Grow Your Own Veg & Fruit Year Planner: What to Do When for Perfect Produce (Royal Horticultural Society Grow Your Own).
3.TURN the MUSIC UP - PARTY DOWN
Dig out your old records, tapes, CD's and playlists. Music is such a great healer and takes us all to the places that we love the most. It often takes us to places that we might wish to forget too but that is another story.
Play some music that cheers, whistle while you work, sing when your'e winning, listen to the radio, tune into special Facebook concerts being broadcast by numerous artists (free of charge), check out You Tube for the many live performances from past and present.
A couple of examples of Facebook and other "live", FREE, daily concerts -
4. LISTEN to the RADIO
This is helpful anyway as it means you are in tune with regular updates on the Corona virus news and advice. It also keeps you in touch with everything else.
My programme of choice is the Robert Elms Show on BBC Radio London, daily Monday to Friday 10am to 1.30pm and Saturday 10am to 1pm. As a Londoner born and bred the show keeps me in tune with everything about my City. You may leave London but it never leaves you !
From music, to art, architecture, books, films, theatre, events, community projects, news, and everything else it is a real gem of a show. You'd be hard pressed to find anything better on the radio.
5.THE OPEN UNIVERSITY - Future Learn
There are numerous 'free" online courses offered by The Open University - FutureLearn programme.
They are open to everyone, wherever you are. Just check out the following link and take your pick.
I have completed quite a few of these courses. They are a great way of sampling things that you might wish to persue in greater detail either through a longer course or just to follow as an interest.
6. DO SOMETHING CREATIVE
Whatever it is that you really love, have a go.
Take some photographs, draw, paint, write something, just keep a diary or journal, write a blog, get creative. It is so therapeutic and if nothing else, the more you do something, the better you will become at it.
Times of trouble, struggle and strife are often the most creative and productive periods we experience. No surprise that some of the most important poems, prose, architecture, sculpture , music and art was produced during and in the aftermath of WW1.
For any of us living with ITP, it is often useful to write down what we are going through just as a reminder of our current treatment/drug regime. So why not write it up in a blog or if you want to keep it private just write a journal ?
There are numerous inspiring ITP blogs and here are a few for consideration...
7.VISIT a MUSEUM or GALLERY ONLINE
Many of the World's leading museums and galleries have fantastic access to their collections online. Just a dozen of my personal favourites are ...
1.The British Museum, 2.The V and A Museum, 3.The Sir John Soane Museum, 4.The Tate Britain, 5.The Asmolean Museum Oxford, 6.The Museum of London, 7.St Paul's Cathedral, 8.Lord's Cricket Ground, 9.The Foundling Museum, 10.The London Transport Museum, 11.The Wallace Collection, 12.The Charles Dickens Museum.
8.CHECK for UPDATES and SHARE
We all need to keep abreast of the latest Coronavirus news. Whatever our medical situation we are all in need of regular updates, advice and information.
As someone living with ITP the need for regular, reliable information is even more important, so I make no apology for re-posting the following links.....
1. The ITP Support Association on Corona Virus - https://itpsupport.org.uk/index.php/en/news/coronavirus-covid-19-news/167-coronavirus-covid-19-information-statement-from-prof-adrian-newland
2. The ITP Support Association on The NHS and Corona Virus - https://itpsupport.org.uk/index.php/en/news/coronavirus-covid-19-news/166-coronavirus-covid-19-latest-government-and-nhs-guidance
3. The Platelet Disorder Support Association on Corona Virus - https://pdsa.org/covid-19
4. The NHS on Corona Virus - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
5. BBC - Corona Virus What Should I Do ? - General Advice on how to prevent the spread of the Virus - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51711227
6. UPDATE from the ITP Suport Association as at 17-3-2020 https://www.itpsupport.org.uk/index.php/en/news/coronavirus-covid-19-news/170-coronavirus-covid-19-updated-information-statement-from-prof-adrian-newland-17th-march-2020?fbclid=IwAR2qe0VtYtnGjOPL8hLx4pH1ipH4D11bl0jFDJ9-MUsnJO6H8MTV4LpSbgE
7. CORONA VIRUS - LATEST UPDATE FROM THE ITP SUPPORT ASSOCIATION 23-3-2020
These links are just a few of many but as always with ITP, we need to keep in mind that each case is different, we all have different medical histories and different treatment experiences and responses.
We all need to take great care in these difficult times and there is plenty of general advice.... But as ever our ITP specialists, medical professionals, doctors are the people we need to speak to about our own individual cases. They are the people who will know our case histories and are best placed to advise us as individuals.
JUST to conclude this episode of the blog and despite very tricky times, we also have to remember that -
No matter the circumstances you find ourselves in, you can still make life instead of life making you. It starts with your outlook !!!