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  • Lawrence Bailey

Counting myself lucky in unusual times

A week ago last Monday, I woke up with a roller-coaster of a temperature. Whilst this is a sure-fire sign that I’m coming down with something, it’s normally no big deal. Then again, these are unusual times. The odd metallic taste in my mouth, plus blurred vision accompanied by some dizziness was confusing. Even so, I was sure this was a 24-hour thing.

I was a little less confident about that diagnosis roughly 48 hours later as the sweating continued. Being in my mid-sixties and having had bypass surgery a few years ago, I’ve been doing the social distancing with a real sense of purpose; only venturing out for a short walks in the evening.

By the third day, just walking in a straight line was a tough call.

It sounds weird now, but it came as a massive relief that afternoon when the symptoms culminated in a stonking migraine attack (thankfully without the headache).

I was soon kicking off the poorly blanket and making plans to resume daily life when I found they immediately had to be put on hold.

That’s because my better half had sensibly joined me in self-isolation the moment I felt unwell and was now working from home. She wasn’t permitted to return to her NHS job until I’d been tested for possible infection. Suddenly it all felt a bit real.

I can’t share the location of the local test centre. All I can say is that the staff are doing a remarkable job under pretty challenging circumstances.

The big surprise for me though was the near-constant knot that took root in my stomach for the next two days as I waited for the result. When it came back as negative – as I'd known it would - I still had to step out into the garden to give myself a quiet moment.

It’s a piffling little episode compared to the real tragedy that this wicked virus has brought to so many lives. Nonetheless, it was an insight that’s given me a timely reminder of what’s important in life. As such, I count myself lucky.

Keep Safe.


Finally some justice, but what’s needed is protection

I’m delighted to read that Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced a £60,000 payment for bereaved families of health care workers fatally struck down by coronavirus.

On 2 April in this column, I argued that heroes working to protect us deserved something more than applause. My view was that something akin to ‘line of duty’ payments for those who die in active service should apply.

The British Medical Association is unconvinced that the sum is sufficient and suspicious about eligibility clauses and even possible clawback.

I can’t comment on that, although I’m pretty sure that front-line staff would much prefer to have adequate levels of personal protective equipment in the first place.

In that respect, an appropriate motto for prime minister Boris Johnson, who rather likes his classical quotes, might be “Spectemur agendo” which means “Let us be judged by our acts”.

So far the jury is most definitely out.

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