Dandelions and Daisies
We are now entering our fourth week of lockdown and the numbers of people in the UK being infected and dying are not really showing any real signs of slowing down, despite the so-called experts assuring us that the “curve is flattening.”
I’ll believe it when I see it, as nobody knows for sure whether there will be a brief respite followed by another onslaught of the dreaded virus. There are early signs of this happening in China.
It is very frightening; the UK death toll is now over 12,000, and experts are predicting the UK may well end up having one of the highest death tolls in Europe. Indeed, some of the more outspoken experts are warning that this pandemic will not be over until an effective vaccine is launched, which is at least 6 months – or more likely eighteen months – away from becoming generally available.
Despite our government’s assurances to the contrary, we are still a long way from testing all the front line people, (doctors, nurses, care workers, etc.), let alone those who are isolating with symptoms or indeed the population as a whole.
There remains a severe shortage of protective equipment, with staff working in care homes getting the short end of the straw. Even worse, we are still woefully short of respirators (thousands by some estimates) despite the encouraging news some weeks back that a whole range of British industries, (Dyson, British Aerospace, and so on), would soon be rolling respirators off their production lines.
As far as I can gather, these new respirators have not yet been given the green light by the medical experts and we are still waiting for the first ones to arrive in our hospitals. Unfortunately, we now learn that the new respirators are not sophisticated enough to work properly for COVID patients – so much for our much-vaunted British ingenuity.
The issue of respirators is one that particularly affects me. Recently announced government policy states that doctors must carefully control their use.
We are told that elderly coronavirus patients may well be denied critical care under an NHS ‘score’ system designed to free up ICU beds for those most likely to recover.
Coronavirus patients over 65 will be ranked out of 10, based on age and frailty and those with a combined score of more than eight will not be admitted to ICU. Patients aged 71 to 75 will automatically score four points for their age and most will score an extra three points for their frailty.
That puts them at a total of seven points before underlying health conditions are even considered. Dementia, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart and lung disease and other serious health conditions will also incur more points. Patients who score more than eight points will be given ‘ward-based care’ and treated with an oxygen mask instead of a ventilator.
So that just about puts me in the “condemned to die” category. I’m 73, (4 points), frail ( I hope not), dementia (not just yet), high blood pressure (yes), diabetes (yes), lung disease ( yes), and how about throwing in a mechanical heart valve, which means I am at risk of blood clotting, so I take warfarin to thin my blood.
Hmm… probably a goner…
Luckily, our little county of Rutland still only has 9 cases and no deaths within our borders. But Rutland only has a population of 39,000 and there are no hospitals currently open within the county boundaries. This means that serious cases go to Leicester, and if any of these subsequently die, I guess their deaths would be included in Leicester’s mortality lists, rather than Rutland’s.
THANK YOU NHS!
From time to time, our creaking National Health Service has come in for some carping criticism from some who use it, but increasingly from those who don’t use it; principally foreigners – often Americans, even though the USA itself lacks a free health service for countless millions who cannot afford health insurance.
Of course, our NHS is far from perfect, but given the years of austerity we have been through, it’s hardly surprising. While it is undoubtedly the case that more investment will make the system much better, it is a fact that no matter how much money we put into it, it will never be perfect.
No sooner do the powers that be approve funding for one new state of the art treatment for a condition that was previously untreatable, than another dozen appear on the horizon begging for money. The NHS demands a bottomless pit of money to pay for all the new medicines and treatments that are coming on stream every day, but there has to be a limit. Not every procedure new can secure funding and someone has to play ‘God’ in deciding which new procedures or drugs can get the money and which ones will have to wait.
From my own personal perspective, over the past three years, I have received nothing but exemplary care from a whole range of professionals, including my GP, surgery nurses, hospital specialists, doctors, nurses, and care workers. I have a whole gamut of chronic complaints, all of which are treated on a regular basis. OK, sometimes I may have to wait months for a test, or an appointment or follow up, but that is only to be expected considering the massive pressures on the NHS from all directions.
But when my GP suspected I may have cancer, I was examined by an ENT consultant within two weeks. And when a specialist became determined to get to the bottom of some of my gastro problems, which have been bothering me for years, I was given a test which is not even available in the USA – private or public. And what’s more, the test worked and my stomach is in a better place than it has been in a very long time.
So even before Covid 19 made its unwelcome appearance, we, as a country had much to admire in our NHS and we have a debt to them that can never be repaid.
How much higher is that debt now? Doctors and nurses are working their butts off and are literally dying on the front lines. It is traumatic and tragic. So many of them have had to pay the ultimate price when trying to treat and save those of us who are sick from the virus. We should never, ever forget the sacrifices they have made on our behalf. It is simply humbling.
It is also so great to see the whole population come together to show our thanks to these gallant and brave workers. What on earth would we do without them?
Last Thursday, Lek, Song and I stood outside our front door and clapped along with others across the length and breadth of the land. Many, but not all, neighbours were doing the same thing.
Anything China can do…
We can do better. The Chinese built a 1,000-bed hospital in under two weeks, so we built a 5,000-bed hospital in 9 days, although to be fair, we had a standing building complete with services to start with, whereas China literally had to break new ground.
Even so, it wasn’t a bad effort.
Boris the Hero?
And then there is our beloved leader – Boris the magnificent (‘Bojo’ to you and me). I used to like him when he was just a journalist and wrote those very witty pieces about the excesses of the EU, but since he has become our PM, I had grave reservations about whether he is the right person to lead our nation.
But then came the news that poor Boris wasn’t only in hospital, but had been moved to the ICU. I don’t mind admitting that I was floored – even scared – when I read the breaking news. It’s funny really; when I realised that we might lose him, I felt very worried for the future. Why was this? Well, I suppose it’s because as much as I criticised him as a man and politician, I honestly couldn’t think of another person in front line politics that would come even close to replacing him in these challenging times.
Raab? Gove? Patel? Hancock? – all of them probably competent in their own way, but none of them come close to what we require in our PM at a time of national crisis. Not even Keir Starmer – probably the best that Labour has to offer, would inspire the country.
So we can thank our lucky stars that Bojo is on the way back to fitness, and I for one will breathe a sigh of relief when he is well enough to fully take back the reins of premiership.
Now for some good news.
One of the many unexpected consequences of Covid 19 has meant that our hard-working local council of Rutland have stopped all work on trimming the county’s grass verges and parks. For the first time in many years, we are able to admire a bit of wild flora when we take our daily social-distanced walks. Enjoy them while they last.
Rutland, along with our neighbours, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, and Lincolnshire, are all predominantly agricultural counties and the double-whammy of Brexit and Corona virus has led to an acute shortage of farmworkers from Eastern Europe. The Brexiteers have got what they wanted, albeit somewhat quicker than they had imagined.
With no one to pick the crops, the farmers tell us they will need to find at least 30,000 pickers over the next few months, if the crops are not to be left in the ground to rot. Farmers have launched an appeal for temporary workers from those out of work or on home furlough. It strikes me that people on furlough, who will be receiving at least 80% of their salary, could make a nice little pot of money by becoming pickers for a few weeks – or months, in addition to their salaries.
I wonder how many of our native-born Englanders will take up the challenge and return to the soil from whence their ancestors came? If we are to have a sustainable agricultural industry, post-Brexit, we will certainly need quite a number of them to rise to the challenge.
Or have we all forgotten how to do honest manual work? We can all do our work-outs happily in the comfort of fitness centres, but how many of us are willing to become slaves to the idiosyncrasies of the British weather on a windswept farm? I can’t wait to see how much British produce we will have in our stores this summer.
Mobi and Family
So how are we all doing in sunny Oakham? Well apart from a few scares when Lek developed a persistent dry cough, so far we are in pretty rude health.
Lek goes shopping probably more times than necessary, and she has taken to wearing a face mask when she enters the stores, not realising that she is more likely to protect the people around her rather than herself. I have tried to tell her but old habits die hard. In Thailand, if anyone goes outside without wearing a mask, they are liable to instant arrest, so I guess that influences her thinking.
She is still doing her hour-plus daily run to Rutland Water, with Song following on behind with her scooter.
Lek’s 40th birthday was on 6th April and we had a laid back celebration – well no celebration at all really. Song made her mum a birthday card, but I didn’t even give her a card, as I don’t go into shops anymore.
Her friends from work had been planning a big party for her 40th, but that became yet another victim of Covid 19. They say once the lockdown is over they will resurrect the party plans.
I am continuing my daily walk of approximately 2 miles with Olly the dog.
Here’s a few pics I took en route.
Olly the Sock Dog
Olly continues to entertain all and sundry, both out on his walks, and back home with his captive audience of three mutt-loving nuts.
Actually, Olly is a very strange mutt. He has a box jammed full of toys – from miniature tennis balls to fluffy toys, to rubber squeaking ducks, to all manner of junk that he has previously shown a passing interest in.
But for 99% of the time, all Olly is interested in is socks. He finds them all around the house – bedroom, bathroom, the laundry basket, and God knows where else. And when he can’t find any socks during his daily hunt, he sits in front of Lek and squeals until she lets him take the socks off her feet. Not content with one sock, once he has extricated one and placed it carefully on the floor, he then returns for the second.
He will play with his stolen socks for hours and hours, and rarely takes a look at any other plaything. Even worse, he insists on involving us in his sock play-time. He places a sock at our feet and squeals until one of us throws it to the other end of the room, whereupon he dashes at breakneck speed to retrieve it and puts it back at our feet. If we try to ignore him, he starts bashing our feet or legs with his paws until we bend down and throw the sock for him. In the end, we have to keep throwing it until he becomes tired and falls asleep.
But we wouldn’t have it any other way; he is such a dear little pooch and he keeps us constantly amused. This at a time when if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t really be in any mood to play.
He’s lucky; no one’s told him that we’re in the middle of a virus lockdown.
Sorry, folks, for the over-verbiage. Hopefully, being in lock-down, you will have more time to read it.
Keep safe and stay well.