I am a paramedic and a member of the Shepwayvox Team.
While getting prepared for a shift on Saturday, our son – Alan (not his real name) asked me if I was going to die from Coronavirus. He’d heard that I would. Then came his tears, his frustrations, the tissues.
“Do you know mummy that it’s the worst sickness ever? Stay please stay mummy, please.” Then more tears and tissues.
My husband and I had been expecting these questions. We had been expecting it because he had asked about why he would be going to school and many of his friends would not.
“Are they all ill?”
“Are they going to die?”
Could he still go visit, Peter, Zac, Jennifer and Alice?
He wanted to speak to them, could he speak to them, please, please, please.
We made that happen via Skype to allay his growing anxiety, but at the end of each call there were tears, lots of tears, lots of tissues, lots of hugs, lots of love.
To be honest we didn’t want to let him go. We didn’t want to let go of our bundle of joy, our bundle of love, but the clock was ticking
“I don’t like this coronavirus” he screamed “and I’m gonna beat it up.”; which to be honest made us laugh; which in turn made him laugh and shattered the sombre mood
Alan asked me why some people catch it and some don’t. I told him that it was because some people were more vulnerable as they had less good germs to fight the bad germs in their bodies. Then I drew him a list of symptoms which we have been given to us at work, similar to those set out below. Then we acted out these symptoms as best we could. More laughter, more smiling, more joy.
He asked me why people were hoarding toilet roll, and food especially as they probably wouldn’t be getting diarrhea, or going hungry. Fear! I told him. He said they were silly and if he saw anyone doing it he’d tell them off. More laughter, more joy.
He asked me if I knew why more than a million people have it in England; which of course they don’t. I told him that wasn’t true and corrected him by drawing him a simple graph of people who have it in Kent & Medway
He asked me and his dad when we could see grandma and grandpa again. We explained that coronavirus makes old people very sick. Children, like adults, can carry coronavirus but not know they have it. So we can’t visit grandma and grandpa in case we give them the virus. More tears. The good news we tell him is that he can talk to them and see them on the Ipad. They miss him very much we told him, and they love it when he shows them pictures or when he reads books together with them via Skype at bedtime.
More tears, more sadness, more screaming, “I hate this virus” after a while the tears dry up and I dial up my dad and ask he read to his grandson via Skype later. He jumped at the opportunity.
Before I left for my shift on Saturday evening, I snuck upstairs and put my head into his bedroom. There he was with my husband, his father, listening to his granddad read the Gruffalo for the umpteenth time. I snuck away into the night.
I don’t know if I as a parent reduced my son’s obvious anxiety about coronavirus. I hope I did. All I know is I will be there for him and try to answer his questions as best I can.
During the drive to work, I cried and I screamed at the selfish bastards who left nothing for a fellow paramedic to eat. I let out as much as possible.
If I am honest all my colleagues in the health service and other emergency services are anxious/fearful. But we are protected as best can be and we will do our utmost to protect the people of Kent. In return I ask, as no doubt others key workers would to, leave something on the shelves for us to eat.
I don’t want any patient I deal with to die. A death takes its toll on one’s psyche, some much more than others. So far I haven’t had to deal with a person with coronavirus thankfully, but that no doubt will change as the rates of infection climb in Kent.
The Shepwayvox Team and I wish you and your family a safe passage through this virus. It’s not going to be easy, but we can if we follow the advice come out the other end a better and stronger nation.
Are you on the official list of of UK personnel who can still send children to school? If so, we would like to hear from you. If you’re a health worker please get in touch or a teacher. All details will be treated in the strictest of confidence.
The Shepwayvox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime