Don’t leave me this way…

Since we seem to be heading full steam into SUCK IT territory for the disabled & chronically ill I wanted to talk about my experience of covid. There has been an overarching theme of those with existing health conditions being dispensable from the start, but now it’s pretty much being explicitly stated by our leaders. I want everyone to know how frightening this is for those of us that so many are happy to sacrifice.

As a person with chronic health issues (arthritis, fibromyalgia, stomach disease, anaemia, PCOS) I took covid seriously from the beginning. Lockdown was a complete lockdown for me. I stayed at home. I had no visitors. All my essentials were delivered. The only contact I had with anyone was the occasional driveway visit. My sister or bestie would stand in my drive and I’d sit in my open from door. I didn’t touch another human being or leave my house for months. I had hospital stays without visitors, didn’t celebrate my 40th birthday and spent Xmas 2020 at home on my own. My lockdown stretched on further than the official stay at home orders. Since early 2020 I have spent the majority of my time at home and I have been scared since the beginning. I had no idea what covid might do to me. I’ve experienced catching bugs or viruses that were no biggie for others, but sent me to the hospital. Every time I heard of someone dying being caveated with they had existing health problems, I knew that could be me. This pandemic has always been an emergency situation for me & those like me.

I now regularly see family & one close friend. I wear a mask, sanitise, stay outside as much possible. If I must be inside I go to places that follow all covid precautions and I exercise extreme caution. Doctor appointments aside I leave my home about once a week. I still have everything delivered and avoid contact with those outside my immediate circle. I do home tests before and after I go anywhere. With a couple of exceptions a restricted life has become my normality.

I contracted covid 19 in oct 2020. At that point I was spending 99% of my time alone at home. I was seeing only my sister, mum & nephew and wasn’t visiting anyone indoors. I still managed to catch the virus despite none of the family I was in contact becoming infected. The acute illness was not severe. It lasted about ten days & felt like having a stomach flu. I had more gastric than cold/flu like symptoms. My cough was very mild. I lost my sense of smell & taste. I felt terrible, but I didn’t require any medical attention. In the following weeks I really struggled with breathlessness & racing heart but assumed this would pass. It did not.

15 months later I am still dealing with long covid. My already limited mobility has been massively impacted. I become breathless even moving around my own home. I have to sit even to brush my teeth, make a cup of tea etc. I have overwhelming fatigue, brain fog and widespread pain have markedly intensified since having covid. I experience palpitations and chest pains on the slightest exertion. My heart rate regularly climbs to heights whilst trying to complete the most basic of tasks. I have been hospitalised on 4 occasions because my heart rate would not slow down to an acceptable level. Drs can monitor and treat symptoms, but they know almost nothing about long covid. They can’t tell my why these symptoms persist or if they will ever go away. My chest x rays are clear, my heart is not damaged. The tachycardia & breathlessness are a covid mystery.

A frightening and very real mystery. It is scary to feel as though your heart is going to burst out of your body. Or to be so out of breath that your head spins and chest burns. It’s a million times more terrifying to be told that the experts have no idea why it is happening or how they can make it better. Fear has been common thread. 2021 has been a really hard year for my health. All of my existing symptoms have worsened. The added problems have caused me serious problems and I think I have picked up every cold, stomach bug & infection going. All of which has been alarming. I’m worried that the next illness or flare might be the big one. I’m stressed about all the work I can’t do and the financial repercussions of that. I am chilled at just how little I am now able to do before becoming too exhausted/sore/dizzy/breathless to continue. Most of all I am terrified of what could happen if I get another variant of covid.

I am fully vaccinated (& boosted). I have masks galore, anti bac in every bag & pocket. I still leave parcels & deliveries by the door for an hour before I touch them. I bought a device to sanitise my phone. I’m never in crowds. I rarely go out. I’m acutely aware that I was being even more careful when I caught covid the first time. Every single aspect of my life has been affected by this pandemic. I know I am not alone. Most people have sacrificed. Many are in the same boat as me & others in far more treacherous vessels. I understand that this has been a collective trauma that everyone is eager to put behind them. I just wish more people would understand that this isn’t over yet.

When you justify the need to ‘live with covid’ by saying that most healthy people only experience mild symptoms I am the exception in that sentence. People like me will die or be permanently disabled if we ignore how dangerous covid still is. I understand that you want your life back. You want to stop worrying and missing out. I do too, but if we throw caution to wind now it’s not without consequence. If we pretend that covid is just another part of life we are throwing the sick, disabled, old & vulnerable to the wolves. I believe that those lives are worth as much as any other. Our needs are already ignored in so many ways, please don’t abandon us altogether.

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Finally the tables are starting to turn…

Trump lost. Between unsubstantiated cries of fraud and threats of violence his supporters have already launched a new form absurdity. Backed by centrist liberals with the very least to lose, they are calling for the left treat to them with respect & kindness.

Yes, you read that right. Trumpets are forcefully requesting that we be mindful of how hurt they are right now. The ‘fuck your feelings’ brigade have had a change of heart now that their feelings are they ones in peril. ‘Don’t gloat’, they say, ‘You’ll never win us over if you aren’t nice’. This may well be a good strategy to teach small children embarking on team sports. It is not however, a rational approach to facists.

Hearing this woe is me nonsense from the right is infuriating. Though, Since hypocrisy & self interest are their watch words it is entirely predictable. The thing that’s really making me angry is the mildly left leaning white folk repeating it. Trump is trying to stage a coup and liberals are calling for reconciliation. Pleas to reach out to trump voters & forgive are frankly, repugnant. Nothing shouts my privilege protects me more than declaring amnesty on white supremacist, misogynistic, ableist, homophobic, transphobic, rapist, child abusers. Those who have been in the firing line of this administration need more from us.

They deserve our roaring support. Minority groups should be able to trust that we, the left, have their backs. They need to know that those of us with more privilege will not desert them as soon as we no longer feel personally endangered. They warrant more protection because they are valuable human beings. Also, because they more than anyone have worked to procure this victory. Democrats owe this presidency to black women & activist groups tirelessly toiling to get the vote out. It’s a punch in the face to forgive the people who object to their existence.

Your political beliefs are who you are. Conservatives have shown us what they believe. They have shown a willingness to exceptional harm. They have enjoyed the crass cruelty of the last four years. Trump voters were not duped. They are not all unintelligent. They chose him because he spoke their language. They want more. This is not the time to forgive and forget.

Healing doesn’t happen by asking victims to absolve their abusers. We’re not talking about people have seen the light & sincerely wish to make amends. Their views have not changed. They are still ok with children in cages, police brutality & turning women into breeding stock. Or at the very least are happy to be complicit if it benefits their life.

It is reasonable to remove such people from your life. It’s crucial that those who enabled Trump’s reign be held accountable. We should fight to remove these people from power and make their lives uncomfortable. Don’t patronise their businesses. Don’t tolerate their vile rhetoric in your schools, homes or work places. If you see a member of his administration in a restaurant you should feel free to tell them they are scum. Far right ideals didn’t begin with Trump & they won’t disappear when his term ends.

It is essential that we come together and make it clear that actions have consequences. You cannot be in favour of exterminating groups of people and be happily welcomed into decent society. I’ll consider absolution if I ever see any repentance.

In case you are wondering, I do not point this wrath solely at the Americans. We need to hold true to this doctrine in the UK. The Tories aren’t any less of a threat. They are engaged in the same jingoism. Austerity, Brexit, the hostile immigration environment are all part of the same right wing hellscape. Now is the time to dig in for real change.

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