Steph’s story

Steph is under the same roof as her husband and children but isolating alone

There’s nothing too unusual about my COVID journey thus far, and I don’t have much to complain about. Yes, like many, my income will suffer, we are doing the schooling at home thing, and we dread the supermarket journeys. But we aren’t key workers, we have a roof over our heads and family and friends to chat to. It’s alright. 

However, this week, something happened which has thrown my household out of kilter, and I’ll bet there are a few people who’ve gone through the same, or similar. 

I’m nearly 40, I live with my husband and 2 little girls, who are 7 and 5. My husband Craig is a vibrant, hands-on Dad. We have an awesome partnership. And he’s pretty healthy, apart from one thing – he is a Type 1 Diabetic. And guess what, the science thus far shows that having diabetes ain’t ideal if you happen to contract COVID. 

Since lock down Craig has been isolating at home. We live in a picturesque village, we have a little garden, and he’s a massive gamer – so he’s been okay with being at home. I’ve been doing the errands – trying to limit my outings to one grocery shop a week, and nipping out to get the odd extras, as and when. 

On Monday of this week, I started coughing. I get hay fever, so I thought, ‘hey, see how it goes, it’s probably nothing’. As the day progressed, other symptoms kicked in – sore throat, a headache and pain in my chest. It’s now Thursday, and I still haven’t had a temperature, but according to all the NHS info, sometimes COVID doesn’t present that way. Is it the dreaded virus? Is it a cold? I don’t know, and the good news is I’m starting to feel better. 

However, as soon as my symptoms showed, we decided that the best call would be for me to isolate from Craig and the kids, and we began the seven day process that evening. Even though the kids would likely be fine, they could be carriers, and they could in turn pass it on to Craig, who may not fare so well.

I would never have guessed how heart achingly tough the following days would be, and how difficult it has been not to be present for my children. It’s been sobering and shit, and has made me totally appreciate how lucky I am to normally hold them close. 

Listening to my husband get increasingly frustrated at trying to juggle two lots of school work, keep on top of the chores, do his own work, oh, and fix the broken dishwasher, has been guilt inducing. And then to not be able to hug him, but just to utter encouragement from the top of the stairs feels glib and insufficient. 

But my girls, my hearts, the ones I’d do anything for…

The look on their crest fallen faces when they come in for a morning hug, and I have to groggily tell them no and send them away.

My eldest banged her elbow in the garden yesterday, and I could tell from her cry that it really hurt. To hear her say to her father “But I want mummy to kiss it better” was like a stab to the heart, made worse by the knowledge that it must have made him feel  shitty too. And knowing that the safest bet for everyone was for me to stay put. 

My youngest has been regressing to tantrums the last few days, and when Craig scooped her up saying “it’s okay baby, I understand”, to then hear her angry sobs at the unfairness of it all made me weep into my dressing gown. 

Tonight it was almost too much. The little one ran out into the corridor, and I instinctively ran out to meet her then slammed the breaks on. I smiled at her from the end of the corridor ‘are you okay?’ before spotting the wet patch on her PJs, and her embarrassed little face. ‘It’s okay, don’t worry!’ I said, both of us longing to lean into one another. I called my husband, who, as per the rest of the week, dealt with the situation with his patience and gentle nature and sang her back to sleep.

So we have another three days of this, and I have to learn how to manage my heartache. 

And I’ve learnt these things: 

  1. People across the country are dealing with their own small battles like this every day, and having to dig deep into their resilience. No wonder we are all exhausted. 

  2. I am so lucky to have the partner I do, and I’ll be telling him that more often. 

  3. I love my children more than I can express. 

  4. I can only imagine how hard it must be to have a loved one who is truly sick and in need of comfort, and to not be able to embrace them. 

  5. Humans need affection. 

I’ll hold onto the fact that it’s because I love my family that we are doing this, and keep my fingers crossed that no one else gets poorly! Wish me luck. 

What’s your story? Tell us here.

Published by Kerry

Champion of neurodiversity. Carer. Music obsessive. Freelance writer. Music and Arts editor.

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