Paddy Murray: I almost envy those queuing for groceries or coffee

I worry that if I can pick up a slight infection, well, then I’m capable of picking up Covid-19.

On it goes. Still locked up. Still isolated. And now suffering from Sudoku overload.

But a new worry arrived last week.

I spotted the first signs of a chest infection. I’ve become pretty good at that over the years.

But it still means a call to my GP.

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It seems that many people are reluctant to seek medical help because of their fear of depriving a Covid-19 victim of attention or because they simply think doctors are too busy to deal with them.

We are told that our A&E departments are all but empty. That worries doctors almost as much as the overflowing A&E departments we were so familiar with a few weeks ago.

And while some who find themselves ill, though not seriously so, are reluctant to seek help, I have no such reluctance. If I want help, if I think I need help, I’ll ask for it.

Last week, I did.

Chest infections have become almost routine.

My immune system is still slightly compromised as a result of pre-bone marrow transplant chemotherapy. My lungs are vulnerable because I was the eejit who smoked for 30 years – though it’s 15 years or more since I had my last pull. Between the two, I’m prone to these damned infections.

It is chest infections of one kind or another which have seen me hospitalised 16 times in the past dozen or so years.

Once or twice, it was quite dodgy. Indeed I remember, on one occasion, speaking to a doctor as he discharged me and saying that, when I was brought in, I didn’t think I was going to make it. “Neither did we,” he said.

I wasn’t being literal. He was.

But mostly, the infections I get can be treated at home with strong antibiotics.

Sometimes, they require in-patient treatment and IV antibiotics for a week or 10 days and then I’m out again.

Last time I was an in-patient was in September.

Since then, I’ve hardly been out of the house, but I have managed to become infected three times.

If you wish to be treated successfully for chronic illness, you put your dignity to one side

Four if you include the infection I noticed last week.

I don’t quite understand how it happens.

Is it something that was brought into the house and carried an infection?

I don’t know.

So how do I know I had an infection?

Without getting too gruesome, it has to do with the colour of my sputum. Talking about such things no longer bothers or embarrasses me. I learned a long time ago, that if you wish to be treated successfully for chronic illness, you put your dignity to one side.

Anyway, the antibiotics seem to be doing their job.

While these infections are routine enough, I worry that if I can pick up a slight infection, well, then I’m capable of picking up Covid-19 as well.

So the worries mount.

I leave the house only for a short walk on my street. I can’t do more than a short walk anyway.

And I will drive my wife to a shop – though she’s perfectly capable of doing that herself.

I drive because it’s an excuse to get out even though I don’t leave the car.

I almost envy the people I see queuing for groceries or coffee or freshly baked bread or petrol or dog food. Well, pets have to be fed.

I actually didn’t think that, as a race, we were good at queuing the way Americans are so expert at “standing in line” as they describe it.

I was delighted that Ronan Collins marked the 92nd birthday of the great satirist Tom Lehrer

We’re learning.

And, as it happens, the Americans aren’t.

As one at high risk from Covid-19, I have nothing but contempt for those who flout the regulations currently in place. I don’t really care how much the holiday home or caravan cost. The risks are too high. And if you think I’m talking about the risk to me, I am, and I don’t really care if that’s selfish.

My contempt for them is only outdone by my contempt for Donald Trump.

Radio is my thing right now so I was delighted that Ronan Collins marked the 92nd birthday of the great satirist Tom Lehrer.

It was he who said, on hearing the news that Henry Kissinger had won the Nobel Peace Prize, that satire was dead.

What he makes of Trump, I can only imagine.

As I spend hours staring at my computer screen, sometimes something interesting pops up.

This week I found an old photograph of me standing at what we called “the stone” in the old hot metal days of newspapers.

Lord, how grateful I am that we have moved on and that I and my wife and daughter have the internet.

Last weekend, for the second time, friends got together on Zoom for a chat and a glass of wine.

Such things make this endurance test almost bearable.