Topic / Blog

To shield, or not to shield...

MS writer Martin Baum kindly shares his experiences of shielding, and talks about what might happen next.

A dictionary definition of the verb shield produces the following results:
1. protect from a danger, risk, or unpleasant experience
2. prevent from being seen
3. enclose or screen (a piece of machinery) to protect the user

 

Governments, the health services and individuals have used the word profusely in 2020, as it has impacted many lives. We hope no one is ever not 'seen' and the OMS community comes closer together to prevent that happening.  

The 2.2 million people who have been self-isolating in England have been waiting for Boris to lead them out of shielding. The post-pandemic mood music has been encouraging.  Now ex-shielders can meet up outdoors in a group with up to five others and form 'support bubbles' with other households.  It’s like Christmas has come early but for me, however, this gift of freedom brings a certain amount of unease.

Despite the government’s ‘eat out to help out’ initiative, I find myself wondering if a half-price burger and chips is worth leaving the house for?  While Chancellor-come-maître d’ Rishi Sunak has taken care of the catering, what he has failed to consider are the patrons who still think themselves above wearing a mask.

But more than that is the feeling of vulnerability that I share with friends too scared to leave their homes until a vaccine has been given the green light.  If living with the threat of becoming a Coronavirus statistic for the last four months hasn’t been bad enough, any idea of going from isolation to sudden inclusion deeply concerns me.

However, at the age of 60, I cannot allow myself to be too scared to leave home because to me that’s not living, it’s existing, a reminder of a time when I used to live MS not life.  That scares me almost as much as COVID-19 does but, in truth, I’m tired of living in fear as much as I am of shielding and I’m not having it.  

Life and shielding is all about common sense.  I’ll be washing hands, maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask and - remembering that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch – so I’ll also do my best to avoid going to crowded places like restaurants.

I hope everyone finds their own way and has peace with their decisions. 

More information about shielding is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

(The 'Eat Out to Help Out Scheme' finishes on Monday 31 August 2020 https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-a-discount-with-the-eat-out-to-help-out-scheme)

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