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Adapting to the Coronavirus World

It’s a bit of a jolt to find you are considered vulnerable. After all, I am only 73 and visit my local health centre only once a year for my ‘flu jab. A total of six days off work in the last 10 years says it all.

And yet .. my lung function ain’t what it used to be. That’s partly age and I used to suffer from asthma. So last time I was in, the nurse insisted I took a device to measure the size of my breaths.

So I think I have to accept that anything that goes for my lungs will affect me more than a strapping fit 21 year old.

Catching the COVID-19 bug means being close enough to other people for it to jump across. Keeping away from others is an obvious thing to do. And I have always had a list of people to avoid. But now it’s avoid everyone as much as I can.

And wash hands for longer and more frequently to remove the bug from my hands. Good sense!

For a week or two, we’ve moved from handshakes to elbow bumps. Quite amusing, a practical barrier to passing on bugs and a constant reminder that we need to avoid passing our bugs to others or pick up theirs.

Good habits can be good friends and these regular little reminders of changes in our routine work quite well for me.

Like lots of others I have been strongly encouraged, actually, it felt like an order, to stay at home and away from work.

That hasn’t meant idleness. Oh no!

Because in this modern world it is quite surprising how much of my work is done via a computer keyboard anyway.

The challenge of working at home I am finding is getting the peace to do it. Others in the household might seem to forget that you are away at work, but not actually away.

I miss the gossip as I pass along the corridor in Parliament en route from my office to the hot water machine for my tea. And miss the exercise when I walk to Parliament and up the five flights of stairs from the ground floor to my office in the MSP block.

Currently, I walk between 20 and 30 miles a week and being at home risks a decline in fitness and an increase in weight. Stopping using the lift at work has increased the volume of each breath by about 15% and that improvement is under threat.

Being at work means there is a daily routine and structure that keeps me fit physically and mentally.

Therefore the first thing I did was to create a new daily routine and write it into my electronic diary. It nags me as well as any paid assistant.

The day starts, as it always did, with an hour from about 0530 reading the world’s media while munching a bowl of porridge.

But now it’s followed by an hour labelled “walk”.

Yesterday and today that was 2.7 miles around Linlithgow Loch. I am amazed during today’s hour or so I met, and said good morning to, over a dozen runners, dog walkers and people like me.

So, yes I was keeping apart from others on my solitary walk, but not isolated from the human race. Perhaps I was more social than usual at 0700 in the morning.

I am now on a nearly deserted off-peak train to Inverurie. There are two others in my coach.

And my spouse advises that our store cupboard is adequately full. Country people usually see it is.

Hello Banffshire!



Published in The National, page 10, 20 March 2020

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