It wasn’t the trip we expected 🙂
The last time Phil saw his Father was March 2020. He flew to the Isle of Man days before shielding began, and days before the island closed their borders to visitors. For over a year. Living with advanced dementia, and in a residential home, we couldn’t even ring or video call him. So when the borders re-opened, and with Phil able to work from any location, we sailed over in October, for a three week visit. A Dad reunion. There was also to be sleepovers with the niece and nephew, school pick ups, and daily dinners together. Two special birthday parties, a photo-shoot, and of course, plenty of Dad walks. Quality family time after months and months apart. Well that was the plan! 😉
And for the first few days it was just that. 🙂 We cuddled the children, chased them around the park, and built lego monsters. Played Mahjong with his Mum, shared dinner each night, and introduced his Father to bouncy Kepler. The October Manx weather was even unusually sunny and warm. 🙂
But then, on the fifth day, Phil’s brother tested positive for Covid. The intimidating news headlines had finally reached us. Although he was young and healthy and vaccinated, as the first family member to have caught it, we worried for him. Hoping he would be one of the lucky cases. And to amplify the stress, he’d spent the previous evening… with us. Inside. Talking and eating and chasing Kep away from the cats. Fuck! And ironically, that was our first time in another’s home. Sods law! 😉 Thankfully the windows had been opened, we’d sat apart, and I’d had my third jab a week earlier. But after nineteen months of shielding and lockdown and strict self-imposed rules. After nineteen months of being reportedly warned that the vulnerable would die. My first exposure made my stomach a-tangle, and my nerves a-jangle (read the blog). Anxious, worried, anxious, worried. And to make it worse, I was a sea away from my specialist hospital and Pulmonary Hypertension team… and had only limited medical insurance (read the blog). So for the next few days, we cautiously hunkered down, and tested daily. Negative, negative, negative, negative. Thank goodness. 🙂
The following weekend, Phil’s Mum turned 70. 🙂 We’d been looking forward to celebrating her big day with a special party- our first inside shindig for over a year. But whilst the island had remained Covid free for months and months, by the day of the dancing, the BBC were reporting that it now had a higher case rate than anywhere in the UK! Gees! Bet they regretted opening their borders! 😛 After the previous week’s scare, and with the sky-high numbers, I was torn whether to attend. Celebrating and supporting his Mum versus the potential for another face-to-face with the scary C. I nervously put on my party dress! 🙂 But… sods law again. Three days later, whilst having dinner at our house, Celia received text after text from friends who’d tested positive for coronavirus. Nooooooo! The scary C had gatecrashed! From the 52 people who attended, 8 caught Covid! 15%! Double Fuck. Two close contacts in a week.
And then Phil’s Mum tested positive. Yep. Hours later, after spending the evening with us. Inside. Triple Fuck!
By then I was a nervous wreck. A nauseous, shaking nervous wreck. I’d had three close encounters too many. What were the odds of evading the virus three times?! It felt like I was being forced to take part in a terrifying and dangerous game of Russian Roulette. I just wanted to run away. Catch the ferry. Go home. But it felt unethical to travel as a -triple- close contact. So we waited it out. Nervously doing daily lateral flows. Nervously scrutinizing my body for symptoms. It was pretty horrid. The waiting. The worrying. I berated myself for getting exposed after shielding and keeping safe and avoiding danger for so long. I berated myself for agreeing to meet-up inside after nineteen months of only only only meeting people outside. I berated myself for letting my guard down, for breaking my strict self-imposed rules, for making some dangerous choices when I’d made soooooo many sacrifices to avoid the virus.
Then a few days later, I developed a cold. And a chest infection. Sniffles and itchy throat and coughing up yellow phlegm. Thankfully I was testing negative for Covid. But despite emergency antibiotics, my oxygen saturations were in the 70s with movement, and 90 at rest. My alarmed home GP instructed me to go to A&E, but I couldn’t face the island hospital. By now I was past the point of calm controlled Sarah. This was too much. My smoldering anxiety had turned into a raging fire. Each close contact and sketchy symptom had been fresh wood upon my embers, fuel on my flames. Each scare saw the blaze growing bigger, brighter, hotter, more intense. And now it was scorching, searing, sparking. The inferno was almost out-of-control. Almost. I needed to go home. To be in my own fortress, near my own doctors, close-by the best medical help. Only then would the fire extinguish. But with ten days still remaining, I instead implemented my back-up plan. Distraction. A full diary. No time to think about the nightmare.
So we did just that. 🙂 Daily walks along our holiday cottage beach- collecting stones, spotting seals and watching the shore change with the tides. And post-work trips to explore the beautiful -and deserted- Manx coastline. We discovered so many beaches and coves that I’d never visited before! And I even scootered in the Manx mountains for the first time in eight years! Amazing! 🙂 With everyone in isolation for the majority, and it too risky to visit his Dad, it wasn’t the family reunion we envisaged. On the same island at last, yet still sharing our lives through Whatsapp messages! But we adjusted our sails, and actually had a lovely trip. 🙂
Happily, the family all quickly recovered from their encounters with Covid, and Phil and I miraculously remained negative (thank you third jab). 🙂 On departure day, as we ate fish and chips, and watched our ferry come into port; we laughed about the trip. We’d been over for three weeks, yet -not once- had the family all been together. The photo-shoot would have to wait! 😛 It wasn’t the holiday we planned, but we certainly won’t forget it. 🙂
And bonus… we’ve discovered so many beautiful new beaches! 🙂