• Georgina Hay

Travels With My Wheelchair - The Key Word Is Lockdown

As the time came around this time to write this latest feature, I was torn as to my subject. I often take inspiration from something I have seen in the press, TV, or social media which I think has some relevance for us as Polio survivors. This time, my topic has been rather overtaken by events in this country and around the world. I mean, of course, the spread of the Coronavirus.


I did think I would just give it a passing mention, hoping everyone was staying safe and well, but events have definitely overtaken me and at the time of writing this, the country has just gone into lockdown. For at least the next three weeks, we are all being told to stay indoors and to restrict our movements and contacts with anyone not currently a member of our household. For a few us, who live alone, this will mean that we will not have face to face contact with anyone for a minimum of those three weeks. If, in the interim, you start to exhibit symptoms, your isolation period will be longer. Those who have any underlying medical conditions, of course, were advised a couple of weeks previously to essentially hibernate for 12 weeks.


Here I think my article will really start. For the last couple of weeks, the supermarkets have been full of people who are panic buying. It started with toilet rolls (who knows why) and quickly spread to items like dried pasta and rice. I struggled to see the need to stockpile toilet rolls as none of the symptoms of the virus indicate the need for them. I am lucky as I bought a couple of nine-packs just before Christmas as they were on special offer and I thought I would advantage of the home delivery to get them. That said, the current pack in my house at that time was also a nine-pack and it had only just been opened. So, for the foreseeable future I am fine for toilet rolls.


Pasta and rice, I have to say are another matter. I often find myself having meals with one or other of these items several times a week. Consequently, I like to purchase one or other every two to three weeks. I was lucky enough to get a box of rather expensive pasta when shopping locally last week – the first for about three weeks. I have enough for my immediate needs, but would be happier if I could get another pack or two. To stretch existing supplies, I have decided to reduce my portion by a small amount. I’ll probably manage one extra portion, or maybe a wee bit more, from each packet. I’m sure my stomach won’t object too much. What has become more of a problem with people staying at home, either through choice, or through following Government/medical advice, is that more and more people are looking to do their shopping online. Perhaps the physical panic buying in store has reduced a little bit, the same cannot be said for the online shop. Delivery slots are like gold dust. In my own area none are available for the next three weeks. The main supermarkets are all saying that they will prioritise delivery slots for those who are unable to leave their homes to go shopping and do not have anyone to do a shop for them. This announcement seems to have only made things worse – people who think they should be identified as being in the vulnerable category, and who didn’t receive an email confirming this from Sainsbury’s on Sunday 22 March, were given a number to call on Monday 23 March. I have yet to hear of anyone who has actually been able to get through to this. I did hear of one young disabled person (not a child) who was told she was too young to be categorised as vulnerable. This was not from anyone with any medical training, but someone in a supermarket call centre! It reminded very much of those who claim that the only people who should qualify for a blue badge are the elderly and any young person is probably faking it.


Now I have shopped with Sainsbury’s online in the past, but not recently, preferring instead to visit a local store, or one attached to a shopping centre I use. However, having had no luck getting a delivery slot with Tesco, I thought I would see if there was any availability. Went to log in to my online account and the system didn’t recognise me. It would appear that they can choose to delete your account without contacting you and giving you the option to keep your account active (and perhaps encourage you back with a special offer). So, it looked as though I would have to register anew, so clicked the button to register. DUE TO HIGH LEVEL OF DEMAND AT THIS TIME WE ARE NOT TAKING ANY NEW REGISTRATIONS. My capitals not theirs! So, there I am, trying to follow the best advice and not go out, but forced to risk a shopping trip to get food for the coming week or more. Make no mistake, I will be limiting my exposure and ensuring that I shop wisely to make sure that I do not need to go out too often. Because of rotten weather – lots of wind and rain – I haven’t been out too much this year, so have been socially distancing myself before it became a necessity. And I will be taking all necessary precautions while I am out.


I hope you will pardon my indulgence in getting my frustrations off my chest. Hopefully by the time you are reading this, the worst of the madness has passed, and we are beginning to see a reduction in the number of new cases, and the numbers dying are also tailing off. If we’ve all done our duty, and tried to give the doctors and nurses of the NHS the chance to do their job, rested and fed, then perhaps life will be beginning to return to something more akin to normal. We’ve seen the examples of other countries where they had to make the really hard choices and this terrible virus had less of an impact. Let’s hope we’ve managed to follow suit.


Georgina Hay


Please note this article was first published April 2020

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