Healthwatch Essex has been capturing the experiences of people across Essex during the pandemic. Written during lockdown, Georgia shares what happened for her during the months when life changed so significantly for all of us.
My name is Georgia-Blue Townshend and I am 27 years old. I’m a secondary school teacher of English and also teach fitness classes such as dance and body pump.
I have struggled quite a lot during the pandemic. At the beginning I didn’t find it too difficult to stay in and watch TV, however, from around the 7th of April onwards I really started to struggle. I found that working from home, for me, was relatively simple, although sometimes time consuming. I spent a lot of my days on the computer creating and setting work for my students as well as answering individual questions from students.
After the first week I then spent my morning doing this and my afternoons marking the work that students had submitted and giving them feedback so that they were able to improve and continue learning, even in these awful and uncertain times. I am lucky in a way that I was working from home without also having to home school any children.
Going to the shops has been quite difficult for me during this time, however, as I find standing up for long times quite difficult and so the lining up outside shops for longer periods of time was quite difficult and painful. Doing a weekly shop on my own was virtually impossible but only popping in to grab one or two things, just wasn’t worth it.
Before the lockdown, myself and my partner, John, were in the process of moving house before our baby was born so that we had space (we currently live in a 1 bedroom flat). The lockdown has meant that the process was all put on hold and so I am now 4 weeks away from giving birth and still haven’t exchanged contracts. The most frustrating thing is that everything had already been sorted but that somewhere down the chain there was a mortgage that has been restricted which means that our sale cannot go ahead. I obviously completely understand the need for the lockdown and all of these measures and believe that the lockdown is the key to beating the virus. Unfortunately, this does not stop the frustration.
The week of the 7th April was the week I lost my grandad to Covid-19 as well as losing my 10-month-old kitten who was hit by a car. A week later, I also lost one of my friends who had an accident at home but there was no-one there to help her. My grandad had been admitted to hospital after he had a fall and while in hospital he contracted the virus. The hospital were fantastic with him and did what they could. Unfortunately, my grandad was forced to have a DNR (Do not resuscitate) and so he was moved to a hospital in Harwich where he received palliative care. He was not allowed his family around him at this time but the nurses were amazing and were there holding his hand when he passed away.
On the 7th of April we got the phonecall to say that he wasn’t going to recover. Myself and my partner had already chosen names for our new arrival but had waited to tell my grandad. Once we got the phone call I knew I needed to let him know what we had chosen. My grandad had been so excited to meet my baby and I had promised him that he would be one of the first to meet the little one. I wrote him a letter and my dad drove to the hospital in Harwich and delivered it. They laminated the letter and took it straight up to him. In the letter I told grandad that if our baby was a girl then we were going to name her after my late grandma Isabelle. The nurses read this to my grandad and he cried and asked them to read it over and over again. I don’t think he even realised that if the baby is a boy its middle name will be James (my grandad’s middle name). The thing that hurt the most was that my grandad was never going to meet his great grandchild, as he was a huge part of my life.
Most of my time during the pandemic has been spent preparing for my new baby, buying clothes online and emailing people about moving house – oh and watching TV, a lot of TV. I think I have probably rearranged my flat about a million times.
My sister has had a tough time during the pandemic. She is a single mum of 3 and one of them is incredibly ill. He has a condition called Disautonomia which causes him to sometimes stop breathing at night. He then occasionally needs to be resuscitated by my sister. There are also many other symptoms that occur during the day. This has meant that my sister and her 3 boys have been unable to leave the house at all to stop the risk of the virus to her youngest. This has also meant that her oldest has been unable to visit his dad’s house throughout the lockdown which has caused issues for my sister and has upset her a great deal.
I think, for me, the most challenging thing has been that I have not been allowed to move house and properly prepare for my baby. I had all these plans for the nursery and baby shower that have gone unfulfilled. I have also struggled with the fact that mine and my partner’s families have been unable to get involved with the pregnancy as it is our first child. John’s parents live so far away that I haven’t even been able to show them the bump through the window or anything and they haven’t been able to feel the baby kick.
It has also been difficult for John to not be allowed at any of the scans or appointments.
I struggle with BPD and a part of that can be that I struggle to maintain information given to me and I find it hard to stand up for myself and request certain things. I have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes which has meant that I have needed a lot more appointments and scans and needed to make a lot more decisions. As it currently stands, John is not allowed to be with me when I get induced at 38 weeks but he can be in the delivery suite when I am in established labour. I am petrified of being in hospital by myself as well as (obviously) the pain associated with labour and induction. All I want is John to be there with me but this at the moment seems to be impossible. The hospital however have again been amazing throughout this time and incredibly supportive the whole time.
We have decided that in the new house we are going to have a home gym. We were not going to do this until we started exercising from home and realised that, for us, this was much easier and we believe would be easier with a newborn baby as well. I think that some of the social distancing that has been happening has been beneficial as well and people, in general, have been much kinder. Unfortunately these things did not seem to affect my next door neighbour (who has now moved) as one night she came round my house and came up and shouted in my face that she was going to set her dog on my cat if she sees the cat in her garden again. This caused me a lot of distress and me and my partner ended up staying at my grandad’s empty property for a day or so in order to keep the cat safe until their family moved house.
The message that I would like to give to people who are still in lockdown, especially those that are pregnant and/or struggling with loss at the moment is that this is all horrible at the moment but it will get better and it will get easier. Try not to blame people and try to stay being kind. We are all struggling with different things at the moment and the small kindness that people are showing is making all the difference. Just keep going.
Don’t give up.
This time, for me, has made me appreciate family so much more. I miss my grandad every day whereas I admit that, when he was alive, I would sometimes not go and see him as it was inconvenient or I was tired. I now regret that and will take every opportunity to visit family whenever I get it – and will instil this into my child as well.