It's been an eventful few weeks, whilst we've all be up to nothing.
For over five years, my months have been punctuated by the writing of my monthly intro, the ‘Hello’, for each issue of The List Frome. It has become the most pleasurable part of my month - thinking about something I can write which connects with List readers, maybe makes them laugh, or just gives them a glimpse inside my home, head and heart. When the decision was made to pause production of The List I was bereft. It has been part of the rhythm of my life for such a long time that I suddenly felt quite adrift. And I also realised just how cathartic my monthly column was: a chance to look back at the past month and work through thoughts and feelings about events and situations. So, though The List is in lockdown, I thought I’d write a ‘Hello’ as the last few weeks have been something I think we all need to work through.
When lockdown started, I was feeling rather cheery. It was a chance to spend time with my husband and child, unbound by time constraints, free to bake, to garden, to bond, to better myself in every way. And, like anyone else who was wearing their rose-tinted glasses in early March, I had a rude awakening. Once the novelty of Zoom quizzes, endless time at home and close proximity with just two other people, wore off, we realised we were all starting to cough, a lot. I then had a temperature. We self-isolated for over two weeks and then, full of lockdown beans, we emerged back in to the world. It was fair to assume that we had all had Coronavirus. It was also fair to assume that we had all had it mildly and then recovered. We celebrated Easter, managing a Zoom chat with about 46 members of my family. We tucked in to a bottle of homemade rhubarb wine from our friend, whose home-brews are legendarily strong, and we felt lucky at our mild dealings with, and easy recovery from, the virus. But after a few weeks my cough and my temperature came back with a vengeance. Body aches, headaches, breathlessness, sleepless nights and a general feeling of utter confusion and exhaustion ensued. Needless to say, it was a right laugh, and a time I’ll remember very fondly. My husband was a spectacular nursemaid and my son was a spectacular three-and-a-half year old, making up for what he lacked in empathy with boundless energy to entertain/bounce on me. I’d read stories of people who had caught the virus, how they recuperated, what their treatments were. But, because of the newness of the virus, stories documenting the long, drawn-out process of recovery had not been available. Then I came across an article in the New York Times (online) by a woman who was finding the recovery process confusing, worrying and debilitating. Reading her account of ‘recovering’ from Coronavirus was incredibly helpful for me. One day I feel full of beans, the next my glands are swollen and I am in bed all day. I’ll fall asleep anywhere, any time and my ability to focus on anything is, err…what was I talking about? On it goes, but I can feel that I am getting there, however slowly.
I had a scary time, but still, I was incredibly lucky that I didn’t need to go to hospital, that there were no deep concerns that I was worsening to a scary degree. I was lucky in other ways too. I was inundated with offers of help. My amazing friends and neighbours came into their own, dropping round toys for my son, food for us, checking in constantly. It’s been one of the most heartening experiences - to be so well looked after by so many people. I know that this is happening all over the country, all over the world - people rediscovering a sense of community, looking after their neighbours. But for Frome, it wasn’t something we had to discover, it is something we already do. Our community has always been connected and strong. We’ve always communicated, always supported and always cared. So, full of heart and hope, keep on keeping on, Frome - we’ll get through this, together.
We won’t be producing another List until our advertisers need us again (soon, hopefully) so in the meantime, we will be running a new, regular feature on our website: Stories from the Sofa. We’ll talk with Frome residents about their experiences of life during the lockdown, ask them for tips for keeping entertained and about their hopes for the future. Keep your eye out for the first of our Stories from the Sofa next week.
If you are self isolating and need help with food and shopping, contact Frome Town Council, who will pair you with a volunteer.