It’s a terrifying time for people with poor respiratory health

Despite a poor diagnosis, isolation and boredom, I’m still making plans for summer

“My walks now are around the back garden/yard. As I have mentioned, it’s beautiful. But if I want to walk a mile I reckon I’ll have to walk around it about 100 times.”

There are moments of blind panic.

And it’s not a fear of becoming infected with Covid-19.

It’s a fear of one of my other conditions worsening to the extent that I need treatment and finding it almost impossible to access that treatment.

I’ll admit that hypochondria is one condition from which I’ve suffered all my life.


Indeed many, many years ago, one wonderful doctor in Bray told me, as I sat in his surgery for probably the tenth time in as many weeks, that I was barred.

“And I don’t care if you’re knocked down by a bus as you leave here today. I won’t see you. I won’t see you again for six months. Thank you for funding my annual holidays. Now go away.”

It worked. I was too ashamed to near him for months, years probably.

But lymphoma isn’t imagined and that’s the diagnosis I got in 1998. Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma which resulted in many treatments, successful treatments, including a Bone Marrow Transplant 12 years ago.

Now, though, I have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) which doesn’t get better. The hope is it gets worse slowly and,so far, that’s what’s happening. But I DO know it IS getting worse.

But as I watch and listen to news every day – and I know I shouldn’t – all I can see and hear is illness, respiratory illness, and images of people in masks, wearing goggles and gloves and full body personal protection equipment.

And it makes me worry more than I usually do that if something goes wrong this time, it won’t be as simple as a trip to A&E and a week or 10 days of intravenous anti-biotics.

Now, poor Charlotte doesn’t even have school lessons during the daily online contact with her teachers.

She’s on her Easter holidays – but her teachers and headmistress have made sure there are many, many links to sites which may help occupy her until the online schooling resumes.

Tik Tok isn’t among those recommended but it appears to be a current favourite. And it’s hard to enforce rules about too much time on such sites when your teenage daughter is bored out of her brains.

She’s not alone.

My walks now are around the back garden/yard. As I have mentioned, it’s beautiful. But if I want to walk a mile I reckon I’ll have to walk around it about 100 times.

But at least I can.

And it makes me think that maybe, just maybe, in a few weeks’ time the sun will come out and we’ll be able to sit in that garden and enjoy a glass of wine with a couple of friends – no more who will be sitting two metres away!

Poor diagnosis

Friends and family have been magnificent staying in contact, offering help – just being there. I’ll need to thank an awful lot of people when this is over.

You know, if there is one advantage of having such poor respiratory health that I have been, effectively, barred from flying for a dozen years or more, it is that we have holidayed in Ireland every year for more than a decade.

We have certainly been in every county in the Republic of Ireland which has a coast.

We’ve only been on inland holidays in Monaghan and Westmeath and are working on plans to finish our slow tour of the country eventually.

That’s where my positivity comes in by the way. A poor diagnosis doesn’t stop me making plans.

And right now, isolating and bored, I’m making plans for the summer.

I won’t deny that I’d love to go back to some places we’ve already been. But I’m also anxious to visit the counties in which we haven’t yet holidayed.

Yes of course, we've spent time in Tipperary and Roscommon where my mother and father were born respectively and, I might add, respectably.

A boat on the Shannon maybe so we can cruise from one to the other?

You never know.

But as the time drags by and I continue to overthink, thoughts of a nice pub in Donegal, of a beach in Mayo Galway, a spectacular drive in Kerry or Cork or a day on the beach in Waterford (which for reasons which escape me isn't on the Wild Atlantic Way) help to lift the spirits.

Meantime, staying alive is the priority.

When you’re suffering from chronic illness, that can be not so much hard work as demoralising work.

I just want to be like the people I see walking outdoors, going to the shops, out in the fresh air.

I’ll let John, Paul, George and Ringo cheer me up as they always did.

And I’ll keep making those plans.