Clare, who has cirrhosis of the liver, was shielding during 'lockdown'. She shares her experiences of that time, along with how her family, pets and plants helped her through. Thank you, Clare.
"Feeling vulnerable, I faced lockdown with my partner; right at the start I could hear lots of talking but none of it was making sense to me and what I needed to do.
"Realising I would have to stay inside for weeks, the reality of my illness came back to me – I am not ‘better’ and will never be ‘better’ again – this reminded me of my vulnerability.
"Having lived through trauma with my liver condition, and I was feeling almost normal again, this pandemic has shaken me and made me realise I can’t do what other people do.
"I feel like I am working up to being ‘normal’ now, and I am perched on a fence – I could go either way on that fence, making the wrong choices, this pandemic has reminded me of being perched there. Keeping the balance was so hard, my partner and I watched the daily updates at first, it was our goal for the day but we ended up switching it off.
"My brain struggles to take in new information and I needed my partner to interpret what they were saying as it related to me. The graphs kept showing increases and I felt on alert, but my interpretation was sometimes wrong.
"I have found the British Liver Trust newsletters so helpful in giving me direction and knowledge – I have got this not from the Government, but from the charity. We can’t even remember who advised us to shield – I’m sure it was the British Liver Trust, not the Government, in the first place.
"I am still finding it so hard to get through; communicating through masks. Waiting in Iceland, I started putting my shopping on the belt and the chap in front of me spread his five items across the conveyor belt – not allowing me to put mine on – I didn’t know why and I found it hurtful and confusing.
"The support I have from my partner and my assistance dog, Turbo and my lovely Romanian rescue, Pocket Rocket, are what have got me through.
"We completely hit boxsets and would recommend Ackley Bridge, Prime Suspect and Silent Witness. My two boys are with their dad, and they were so understanding and supportive all the way through. We did lots and lots of Facetime and I am so grateful that I have now been able to see them since shielding has been paused.
"And my tomatoes and cucumber plants have also kept me going – I never believed I have green fingers! Stay strong everyone, and reach out if you need help."