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Case study: Our Covid Year - Gerri's Story

Our Covid Year

Wow what a year! Lockdown has been a difficult time for all of us - some more than others. Initially the pandemic seemed a bit unreal like it wasn’t really going to happen. Then everything just stopped and we were sent to work at home, schools closed and we ended up in lockdown. I remember getting very emotional when Boris announced about the schools as it was suddenly so serious and people were dying. It was like a disaster movie and going food shopping was such a depressing experience. But here are some lists I’ve made of things to remember. There was a lot I had to remind myself to be thankful for.

Things I'm grateful for and enjoyed:

My family - having my husband and teenage daughter at home and all being healthy. Although my husband got COVID-19 in February 2021 we were so lucky that his symptoms were fairly mild. It was a ticking time bomb at first as he has asthma so it was a worry how it would pan out. So proud of my daughter who’s coped amazingly during school uncertainties and GCSEs being cancelled this year. She’s also an amazing cook and takes over the kitchen regularly.

Living in a nice community - the town I live in is a nice place to live and generally there is a good community spirit. On our street we celebrated VE day and did our own Christmas lights switch on. During the first lockdown we clapped on a Thursday for the NHS and rainbows displayed in our windows.

Living next to a golf course - our own “country park” during lockdown with many different species of trees, birds and animals (including a heron). The magical snowfall after Christmas felt like walking on a different planet.

Sunny weather during Lockdown 1 - As I am a sun worshipper it was amazing to be able to eat lunch and dinner and relax in the garden. I also embraced gardening like many people did, fingers crossed the flowers I planted will come back this year.

Pets - two black kittens bought in August (Mowgli and Macavity), they’ve really entertained us and been company for my daughter, putting a smile on her face with their antics.

Things I have missed:

Extended family. My husband’s two sisters married two brothers and they each have three children who are grown up now with their own families. We are a close knit family and live close.

Friends who live locally and further away in Kent and Canada.

Camping - I love being outdoors so really miss camping. We did manage one trip to Llangollen last summer.

THE PUB - ending the week with a trip to the pub for a pint or glass of wine has been missed.

Work Life

Studies and project work with GP practices went very quiet which was frustrating as during that time you want to help but then there was also the fear of the virus. However I did support a local GP practice ringing patients informing them of the online systems and signposting shielding patients to local support. I enjoyed talking to patients which is not usually part of my daily role.

From October 2020 I started working at Cheadle Hospital (pictured) on the Novavax vaccine trial. It was the best thing I could wish to have been involved in, I feel so proud to have been part of it, something to tell the grandkids and it definitely improved my fitness as my step count went from about 1000 steps to upto 15,000 steps a day!

Challenges:
Logistically seeing the sheer volume of patients in such a short space of time and learning new systems in a short timescale which some of us had never used before.

Working 10 hour days with barely time to eat lunch.

Highlights:
Working with new people and my Network colleagues, whom I’d not seen for over six months face to face.

Being part of a team on the forefront of research for a vaccine that we hoped would be safe and effective and at that time was what the world was waiting for.

Also meeting all the keen volunteers who want to do their bit and give something back restores your faith in humanity.

A BIG bonus was finding out on the national news that the Novavax vaccine was 89% effective! I bought a couple of the national newspapers to keep which have the news on the front page.

One silver lining of this pandemic is the profile of research has been dramatically raised. I think that people now realise that research is about finding the evidence for treatments to improve care for patients.