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The Long Walk of Freedom

Does it sound too dramatic? Possibly, but then, everywhere around us is drama. It doesn't matter which way you turn, all our lives are affected by Covid-19, whether we like it or not.

On Tuesday morning, for the first time since Thursday, 27 March 2020, the day before the lockdown started in South Africa, I could go for a long walk. In the weeks before then, when the Government urged us to self-isolate, we could undertake shorter walks throughout our one-horse (without the horse - only goats, pigs and cows), -town. The streets are wide and if you time it properly, you don't have to see a soul but then 27 March happened, and our walks came to an end. Now, I can tell you, in recent years exercise and I hadn't been friends. I don't go to the gym. I don't jog. I wouldn't say I was fit, but I enjoyed the walks, especially here or overseas when I felt free to walk.

This week, since we moved to level 4 of lockdown on Friday, we are allowed to exercise between 06:00 and 09:00. The first few days I either felt too miserable or it was wet and overcast, but since Tuesday morning it is nice and clear and it felt wonderful to go for a long walk in the countryside.

That's when it hit me.

Not only can I walk, exercise and breathe in the fresh air. I appreciated that, yes, but at that moment I appreciated the fact that I CAN breathe. I can pull all those fresh air into my lungs, feel it moving through my diaphragm, feel my chest expand...

As an asthma sufferer, I've experienced those times when it felt as if you are going to die when you couldn't get enough oxygen into your lungs. I suffered from asthma as a child, but for years it was dormant, until 1998. It was a cold and wet winter in Cape Town and had two bouts of bronchitis. When I arrived in Scotland later that year, it was just before winter and as you may guess, I had another bout of bronchitis. That was when the doctors first diagnosed bronchial asthma, which would have gotten worse if we stayed in Scotland. That was also one of our primary reasons to move to South Africa.

This morning reminded me of that, and those times when I had suffered from asthma.

I guess I had, like so many of you, had heard of all the horror stories relating to Covid-19. You may have read the survivor stories and the sad ones, mostly those written by care workers telling of people in ICU, and their last moments. It is as if we all have this morbid fascination with the virus. Some of you may have suffered from it and survived. Some of you may know someone who had suffered from it and survived. And then there are those of you who have lost a loved one. My heart goes out to you. I understand your sadness, the almost helpless frustration that you can't be with your loved ones, and you don't have a chance to say goodbye.

I think the reality of it all only sinks in when the virus attack closer to home than you like. Yes, you guessed right. On Sunday we heard that a very close family member, in her late eighties, diagnosed positive for it. You may ask how? Didn't she self-isolate?

We ask the same questions as you. She is already in a care home, a frail care unit. She hadn't been out of her room in months. She doesn't eat in the dining room but in her room. She doesn't share a bathroom as she has one in her room. Nobody visited her since the Government issued the regulations in the UK. She might not be only one in that unit. And there is nothing we can do, absolutely nothing.

Thinking of her, made me appreciate my walks so much more. Monday's anger and frustration about people that wear masks but don't social distance, I've put on the back of my mind as I did with all the conspiracy theories, the unfair treatment of individuals and companies, and I just concentrated on my walks. I set my mind free, so to speak.

Again, as an asthma sufferer, I found my best remedy is fresh air and being mobile. I need to sit up to breathe, so I can't believe that it is healthy to lie down for weeks, breathing through an oxygen mask. I also believe in natural remedies rather than those manufactured in a lab. But hey, that's me. That's only my opinion and it is not to say what works for me works for anyone else.

I, like so many others, had my own theories of whether Governments should enforce lockdown or not, and about the treatment given to people. We are all in different situations with different perceptions and experiences. I saw this on a social media post the other day, and this person said it much more eloquently than I can. We may be in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat.

Whatever your situation is, whatever you're going through right now, just remember that somewhere in the world, there is someone that might be in the same situation, or worse. Take the opportunity to walk, if and when you can. Breathe deep, thinking of those who can't and appreciate it so much more.

In the meantime, stay positive, stay healthy and take care of yourselves.

Until next time


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