30 Dec 2020

KATIE'S BLOG: Here's to a happy and healthy 2021

Well I didn’t quite expect the last few days of, an already pretty miserable year, to end in quite the way they have.
On Monday night, my dad was admitted to hospital after suffering a small heart attack.
For my mum to have to drop him at the door of A&E and not be allowed to go in with him, was just so incredibly distressing.
For my sister and I to not be allowed to go to her and hold her hand or hug her while waiting for news, was also very distressing.
But I know this is the reality for all families who have had loved ones taken ill during the Covid pandemic.
It was only when we heard that pretty much every single hospital bed, including all of those in ICU were full up, that the true reality of the nightmare we are all currently living through really dawned on me. My kids finally understood what all the messages over the last 10 months, telling us to Stay home, Protect the NHS and save lives, was really all about.
Ambulances backed up bumper to bumper outside the hospital and the patients inside those were the lucky ones, as we were told many patients were waiting for up to 6 hours at home for an ambulance to arrive to pick them up. All because every single bed and ambulance was full of Covid patients.
So really, dad was one of the lucky ones, getting one of the last few remaining beds. But as more and more emergencies came in, he was pushed further down the list of priorities.

A lifetime's work

Dad has devoted 40 years of his life to the NHS. Most of the staff there would’ve known who he was, but he would never dream of queue jumping, in fact he actively discouraged it, as he sat patiently waiting for his turn to go down to theatre. This was triaging of a different scale.
He empathised with the drs and nurses who looked beyond exhausted, some having worked back to back shifts due to staff shortages as so many were off sick with covid themselves.
He knew only too well what it felt like to be working these sort of hours under enormous pressure, having been in their shoes many times before.  However he had not worked in quite this way, this was akin to a war zone.
Thankfully he finally got the treatment he needed yesterday and we are beyond grateful to every single member of staff who looked after him, but It has been a very worrying week and just makes me realise how fragile life is and how we must never take our beloved NHS for granted.

We're the sandwich generation

Meanwhile while this was all going on, one of my kids was unwell at home and so I found myself running frantically between looking after my mum, looking after him and trying to keep everything at home ticking over too.
Thank goodness for my husband, he has been my absolute rock and has kept me sane this week.  I’ve been holding all my emotions in trying to stay strong to make sure everyone else is ok, but my chest is tight with anxiety and I’m exhausted from quite a few sleepless nights.
This is the reality of the pressures of being a midlife, sandwich generation woman and this is why I set up The Latte lounge - to acknowledge the challenges that we face day in day out, and to help support and signpost women whereever possible.
I’ve found it hard this week to actually reach out myself and ask for help, as I'm normally the person coping, but I have to say I couldn’t be more grateful to all the amazing women who have been there for me and all my family this week.

Hope and gratitude

So as this dreadful year comes to a close I wanted to end on two positives.
Firstly, of course that my dad is ok and home in time today to see the back of 2020, and secondly that we now have approval of the Oxford Vaccine which means that although we are not out of the covid woods quite yet, there is a lot more hope on the horizon for a more normal spring/summer.
We may not be able to get dressed up tonight and go out and party, but right now I'm just grateful for the simplest of things, which we all take for granted - and that is LIFE.
Our health and wellbeing is EVERYTHING. Without it we have, and are, nothing.  So tonight, I quote a lyric from one of my favourite musicals  - 'Fiddler on the roof’ and I raise a glass "to life, to life, L’chaim*”.
(*L’Chaim in hebrew is a toast meaning “to life”!).
I will also raise a glass to our amazing NHS and front line workers, you are our true heroes.
Wishing you all a healthy and happy new year and pray that 2021 brings us back to the lives we all took so much for granted.
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