Diary of Unprecedented Times: Vol II

Let’s pick up where we left off in Volume I.

Friday, March 27th

I’m exhausted though and don’t wake til 10.30am. My last day of taking steroids and I am starting to feel stronger. By the time I come downstairs the kids are at the kitchen table in pyjamas doing school work, no thanks to me, their dad is working from home and checking in on them. I dress in leggings and plait my hair. I say “close the door” so much that I make a sign saying “close the door” and put it on the main offending door. I park myself on the couch for most of the day. Ciarán makes flapjacks (at my request). Videocalls with my Mam happen almost daily now. The kids all want in and head off to other rooms with the phone to show her things. I’m glad she’s not home alone, my youngest brother is there with her.  My husband brings the kids off for a walk to Ballymoney beach and I enjoy the peace and quiet.

Boris Johnson has tested positive for covid-19. We hear that there is to be another government press conference at 8.30pm and we sit on the couch listening to the Taoiseach telling us of new restrictions that are to be in plaace from midnight. We are now all told to stay at home unless  we are essential workers (who have to have a letter from their employer with them), we are going to shop for food or household goods or collect a meal, for vital family healthcare reasons or to take physical exercise but within a 2km radius of our homes only. Over 70s are now asked to “cocoon”.

Lockdown light. The mood is low as it dawns on the kids that this means that school and activities will not be back on Monday. Now we can’t drop Easter Eggs or go on day trips to faraway beaches or forests. We will get to know our 2km radius well, or I will as soon as I am fit to walk that far, right now it’s 10 days since I went any farther than our garden.

Miriam O’Callaghan presents the Late Late Show as Ryan Tubridy is self isolating. Cue comments about it taking a global pandemic for a woman to host the Late Late Show.

Saturday, March 28th

When I come downstairs my nine year old has a cup of tea waiting for me on the table with a note saying “Mam this is yours”.  A good start to the day and it certainly lifts my mood after last night’s news. It’s cold but the sun is shining. The kids help my husband in the garden and go on the trampoline. I walk around the garden a few times as I want to build up walking but it takes a lot out of me. I never really noticed the slight incline in our garden but I find myself breathless after walking up it.

I message a friend on  social media friend and she tells me her heartbreaking news, she has lost a parent to covid-19 and her other parent also died very recently. I’ve never met this friend in real life but have known her a very long time. I feel so sad for her. The numbers we hear every day have people behind them, in the race to flatten the curve we tend to forget that and look at the numbers not the people. I am thankful again that my Dad is not here to live through this, the worry that each necessary hospital appointment would have brought.

The whole country tracks an Aer Lingus plane that is gone to Beijing to collect PPE for healthcare workers in Ireland. It’s like they are saving the world, such is our investment in it. They’re saving lives by getting it back. I cry listening to the audio from Air Traffic Control wishing them well on their trip.

Sunday, March 29th

I shower, dress in jeans and straighten my hair. I’m testing myself to see if I am fit to work tomorrow. My short walk around the garden and how my chest feels afters confirms it’s a resounding no. I go for a lie down afterwards. On the news we see that the conference centre in Citywest is being kitted out for aftercare for Covid-19 patients.

46 people have now died in Ireland due to Covis-19 and 2615 have tested positive.

Monday, March 30th

I arrive downstairs after a 12 hour sleep (This would usually be 2 nights’ sleep for me) and confirm that I definitely overdid it at the weekend.

RTE School Hub starts, an hour of home school on TV to help parents keep kids occupied.  My three kids pause their school work to watch, two of them reluctantly. Scientist Phil and his hairdryer experiment leads to questions about whether we can borrow  a leaf blower.

Baking continues. Cathal made porridge bread today and Ciarán made Chocolate Weetabix Slices with Laoise on sprinkles s duty. We are now addicted to Chocolate Weetabix Slices.

School sends a message telling us that extra work is available on the school website. That reminds us that the kids should have been back to school today after the first. Everyone seems to have tigers and penguins in their houses thanks to a new feature on google.

The mobile phone company phone in response to my email saying that the replacement doesn’t work. I croak my way through the call and try to explain that I can’t really speak. The girl asked “Oh God, Do you have…it?” I laugh and say I’ll never know. She promises me a new phone tomorrow and apologises for the dud one.

We have comfort food for dinner and the kids spend a lot of time hurling and on the trampoline.

Spain is the current Covid-19 hotspot, with over 800 Covid related deaths in 24 hours. Ryan Tubridy has tested positive.

Tuesday March 31st

I get up when I wake rather than rolling over for another snooze and I phone my GP.  I am very hoarse, have little breath and still feel exhausted. He says I no longer meet the Covid-19 testing requirements so to treat the symptoms with paracetamol and rest. He recommends not returning to work until at least next Monday and only to go then if I am up to it. I’m surprised at the idea of being off for so long. I’ I let work know. Now I know that I have to force myself to rest to make sure that I recover properly.  I always struggle when I can’t operate at 100%, I  use all my energy early and wear myself out. I promised myself that I  won’t do that. It’s now two weeks since I noticed my first symptoms so technically I could leave the house or return to work if I was feeling well. I never had a fever.

My replacement phone arrives by courier, it felt so odd when the courier who I have known for years went to hand it to me as to how that was supposed to happen. Could I touch it? Could he hand it to me or should he leave it on the ground? I followed his lead. . I gave him the old one to send back. The new one  works. I spend hours setting it up and getting the apps etc back up and running on it.

Due to HSE guidelines funerals are now limited to 10 people.

Wednesday, April 1st

Usually April 1st would mean a false story on Morning Ireland or in the papers but the national mood is not able for frivolity so we make do with rehashs of old ones.

There’s to be a school assembly by Zoom at 10.30am. I’ve asked the kids to please be dressed by then.  They make it, by the skin of their teeth. They sit around  my laptop at the kitchen table (elbowing each other as if that will mean they get a better view) and swipe through the screens of other users trying to spot their friends. One of the teachers introduces his 3 week old baby, we love technology. The Principal plays a little April Fool’s joke on them and it goes down well. In a very clever move she has set every to mute, until the end where we attempt to all sing a song together. You can imagine what that sounded like over 350 laptops and phones.

School Assembly via Zoom

Text from a friend asking if we would record a happy birthday message to her husband for his lockdown 40th. Kids made their own tortilla pizzas for lunch. Eldest made banana bread, something we often make but apparently it’s now a pandemic thing to do. I go for a lie down in the afternoon,  really trying to rest. Laoise enters another online colouring competition.

I feel like I have been out sick forever. My energy is still low but I have take things very easy. I tell my sister I’m looking forward to being able to walk to the end of the road. Small steps.

The Chief Medical Office, Tony Holohan, the calm voice who tells us the numbers in the press conference every evening is in hospital, but it’s not Covid-19 related.

Thursday, April 2nd

I get up earlier and watch the kids doing the Joe Wicks PE class. The thoughts of one squat or lunge is enough to make me cry.

The reason I’m up earlyish is that two of the kids have zoom meetings with their classes today. I let them do the calls on my ipad so that they can see more faces up close. I watch their eyes light up as their teachers talk to them about how they have been getting on. The familiarity and connection seems to really touch them.

Laoise does some very easy Easter art as recommended by her teacher, painting easter eggs that I have cut out of cardboard. Ciarán has set himself a GAA challenge and is working away at it every day.

I park myself on my favourite chair in the sitting room and read “Girl. Woman. Other” in the sunshine. It was a slow burner with me but really picked up towards the end. If I read what I consider a “worthy” book I tend to invest a lot of my brain in it so take a couple of days off from reading or read something very light.

My energy is starting to pick up today. Maybe rest really does work. I’m also not watching the news as much, am I becoming disinterested? The numbers diagnosed don’t shock me any more, and given my own experience I realise that they’re not important in the grand scheme of things as there are so many undiagnosed that won’t be tested and are to self-isolate.

Dr Tony Holohan is back to work at the press conference this evening.

Friday April 3rd

Arrive downstairs to the Body Coach session in full swing in the living room. Ciarán has his year group Zoom meeting this morning, and after that it’s the Easter school holidays. (Technically)

The kids are grumpy this morning. Some days work and some days definitely don’t. We are not used to spending so much time together and some days we all rub off each other the wrong way. I do some work with them today, the only time I have actually done this. I think that they haven’t done much Irish so I play a game that was on one of the work lists from school with the smaller two. My homeschool conscience is clear.

Laoise has been keeping a diary, like an “our news” style. She is rigid in her reporting and each day has to have the same verbs as I gave her as suggestions on day one. She often writes her entries the day before with generic things like “I ate a yumee lunch”. It will not help historians decipher  what life for a six year old in the time of covid-19 was like. However, when looking at today’s entry I noticed that while she changed the month on April 1st she continued with the numbers as being the same. So today’s entry is for Friday, April 34th. She may have a point.

Smoothies have been a  big hit this week, they ask to make them almost every day. I guess it’s getting some vitamins into them and the dishwasher can sort out the blender, so they make lots. I wish I hadn’t bought the fancy bottles with straws though as they’re tricky to clean. Laoise begs to play with water and has all sorts of complicated ideas. I go to Pinterest and using the word “easy” in my search I use bubble bath and my hand blender in an old Ikea box to get myself 45  minutes of clean outdoor play on the deck. I feel smug.

We watch a movie together and I write one of my now traditional Friday night list posts. I’ve lost interest in the Late Late but for the record Miriam presented again this week. I definitely feel stronger today, my breathing is back to about 75%. I think work will be OK on Monday.

Saturday, April 4th

After a good sleep I decide that the time has come to leave the house. Cathal is making porridge bread in his pjs so I procrastinate and wait for that to be cooked. I meal plan, and write a very big list.

I last passed my garden gate on St. Patrick’s Day, it’s also the last time I was truly alone. My first big trip will be to  go to the supermarket, it feels like a weekend away. I quiz my husband on Covid-19 shopping etiquette. Are there queues? Do people wear masks?  Do the shops look different? Is everything out of stock? I realise I’m procrastinating some more and go.

I get into the car, and have prepped for so long that I even remember to bring shopping bags.

I go to Aldi first, there are no queues but there are markings on the ground showing people the distance they should be from others. I get my bits and pieces and panic if I cause a domino effect when I have to double back on myself. A few people are wearing face-masks. I happen on a friend and we  have a socially distanced chat, it’s nice to talk to someone who isn’t related to me.  One man walks past us and drops his face-mask on the floor. I wonder whether he will put it back on later and say goodbye to my friend. Most things I want are in stock except eggs and hand sanitiser.

It’s like playing a computer game when someone walks past in an aisle, avoiding obstacles and leaving an acceptable amount of room between us.

The tills have queue marks going down the aisle to ensure social distancing and they have perspex screens built around the till operators. I notice that after every interaction with a customer the staff are using hand sanitiser.


After Aldi I drive up town, and go to Dealz for some things I needed and while there I get make and do supplies. I was surprised it was open, I stock up and then swing into another smaller shop on they way home and get eggs. I’m gone nearly two hours.

Laoise reminds me that I promised she could bake, so she makes chocolate buns (recipe from One Yummy Mummy here) and by the time they are done it’s time to get dinner and I realise it’s five hours since I went to the shops and I haven’t sat down since. Then I remember that I was meant to rest, but I am also thankful that I had the energy to keep going for that long.

Sunday, April 5th

I do an online yoga class on Youtube, for the first time ever. That, printing from Twinkl, PE with Joe and making banana bread mean I have now unlocked the next level of covid-19 isolation.

The reason I looked up the yoga I want to ease my body back in to sitting at a desk and I feel that my neck and shoulders are really tense. I google and do a Yoga with Adriene session for “Text Neck” on Youtube. I feel so much better after it, I might be a convert.

We make a late brunch of BLT bagels and spend the day doing bits and pieces. I listen to a lot of my audio book “The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood while wandering around the garden.  It’s not cheerful but it probably reflects my mood.

I have the worst case of Glenroe fever going to bed on the last night of my sick leave, and set the alarm for an early morning, but not as early as usual as the commute is only downstairs.

Today 21 people died in Ireland from Covid-19, making 158 that have died here so far, and almost 5000 that have tested positive.

To be continued


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