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The COVID diaries 9 – Lockdown 2, electric boogaloo

It’s been a long time since I wrote in here. The fact that so much has happened since then has ironically made it harder, not easier, to actually start typing. There’s a lot to catch up on.

To recap: there were several weeks of reduced restrictions as the lockdown seemed to have worked. The strange dream life we lived receded into the distance, people came out again, the traffic came back, the sense of urgency faded.

Then the weather turned. The cold days started. I began using my fireplace and avoiding going out.

Then the cases started to rise again in June and July. The housing commission towers were locked down for a few days to test everyone due to some clustering, but the bigger problem was that the virus seemed to be breaking out everywhere. New case numbers rose daily, into the hundreds.

Restrictions came back, level 3 this time. You can’t leave your house except for one of the “four reasons”. But people’s hearts didn’t seem to be in it. They had covid fatigue, many people didn’t pay much attention to lockdown.

Masks became recommended, then compulsory. Almost overnight people acquired a collection and slapped them on when leaving the house. Conversations were had about mask fit, and about how to stop one’s glasses fogging up. I got a particularly scary-looking one, and it was fun for about a week, then it became annoying. Now it’s become part of my mental armour when I leave the house.

More restrictions. Stage 4 now, with a 8pm-5am curfew. Abbatoirs are limited in their staffing. Now you really have to have a good reason to leave your house. Soldiers are on the streets, assisting police. Checkpoints on the Westgate Freeway. Known covid isolatees are doorknocked to make sure they’re staying home. And a sense of palpable worry has desceneded on the city along with the omniprescent grey cloud.

As luck would have it, I’m working at home at the moment, which had been planned months before. My role is one I have done before, but now I have to battle with Microsoft Teams rather than the office coffee machine. I’m constantly connected to my colleagues but strangely isolated. Lacking the change of mental frames that comes from a different location I find myself absent-mindedly changing my mind via chocolate and wine.

I have very conflicted feelings about being off the road and away from clinical work. My colleagues, particularly in the north and the west of the city are working extremely hard and genuinely suffering at times. And here I am in my comfortable house, with only the chaos of family life and cabin fever to complain about. I feel that in a way I should really be out there seeing patients.

But being a paramedic at the moment is dangerous. You never know what you’re going to attend at the best of times. Right now it’s like Russian roulette. Despite everyone’s best efforts healthcare workers are getting sick in droves. They’re mostly doing ok, being young and healthy, but we don’t know what the long term implications are of this disease. Maybe people will seem to recover, but end up having horrible complications down the line.

Here we are. Forever? Sooner or later we’ll reach some kind of equilibrium, but when will that be? And what will it look like? I’m already starting to think of 2019 and earlier as “the before times”.

Hurry up and wait.

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