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Column: Five months into 'cocooning' and I’ve learned it’s the little things that get you

Aimée, 32, writes of missing Lidl and walks on Bank Holiday Mondays.

Aimée

I MISS LIDL. Particularly the mystery middle isle. If you had asked me seven months ago what I would miss if I had to isolate, reasonably priced garden furniture and air fryers wouldn’t have been high on the list.

Five months into Covid-19 and I’ve learned it’s the little things that get you.

I’m 32, live in Dublin with my partner, and I’ve been self isolating for five months. I’m immunocompromised, both because of a chronic autoimmune disease and the immunosuppressants I take to control it.

I’m extremely high risk, I have been told that if I contract Covid-19 it will almost definitely be fatal. I am lucky in a way, as a friend’s dad is an epidemiologist, I got advice from him to self-isolate at the start of March, before the government had even coined the phrase ‘Cocooner’. (By the way, I’d love to know if the creator was referencing butterflies or the 1985 film Cocoon.)

My partner is cocooning with me as they worry about causing my death if they contracted the virus. I am lucky to have excellent friends who do our food shopping and go to the pharmacy for me.

I used to be a really social person, meet with friends during the week, get dinner or a pint; go to a gig or for a dance on the weekend. Now weekends are what I dread the most.

We try to get as many walks in as we can during the week, as it’s impossible to leave the house at weekends. Where I live you can’t leave the house at the weekend without bumping into people who refuse to socially distance or wear masks. It’s not worth the risk.

Sunny bank holidays used to be a source of joy, no longer. Some days my anxiety about leaving the house is so strong, I can’t even go for a walk. I’ve never been a very healthy person, but facing my mortality in such a stark way at age 32 is not something I was prepared for.

IMG-20200819-WA0013 Gardening has been another outlet for Aimée during the pandemic

I was so happy, and so proud of Ireland, when the figures got down to single digits.

Everyone had worked together to protect people like me. Then something changed. When I’d leave the house I’d see big groups of people with not a metre of space to be seen. Not a mask in sight. I had spoken to my friends about starting to do my own food shopping once figures stayed below 15 for 10 days.

I was so excited, I love to cook and I had missed buying my own ingredients, choosing things at the spur of the moment. However, when the figures started creeping up my friends said they weren’t comfortable with the idea of me in shops because of how people were behaving, like the virus didn’t exist.

I started seeing more and more people saying ‘let’s go back to normal, vulnerable people can protect themselves’, ‘we have to live with the virus, vulnerable people can just stay indoors’.

In 2016, there were 637,567 people over 65, and 418,743 people under 65 who have a disability. That means there is potentially 22% of the population cocooning. Are over one million people people meant to permanently stay indoors until there’s a vaccine?

Of course, society can’t stay in a permanent state of lockdown. But we can do everything in our power to suppress it.

I implore you to wear masks, remember to socially distance. Don’t go to house parties. If you’re a restaurant or pub owner, don’t allow situations like Berlin D2 to happen. Email your TDs about ending the inhumane system that is Direct Provision, the cramped conditions that allow Covid-19 to spread like wildfire.

Email them about the dangerous working conditions of meat processing factories and vegetable farms. If you’re going out, support local businesses that are following all of the recommendations. Remember people like me, who need a little bit of hope at the end of a very long, and very dark tunnel.

Finally, thank you to all of the frontline workers. Thank you to the doctors and nurses who I know will do their best to save me if I contract Covid-19, and if they can’t, will allow me to die with dignity.

To all the vaccine researchers, brostaígí oraibh yeh?

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Aimée (surname provided) wanted more stories from so-called ‘cocooners’ to be vocalised as restrictions are wound down in some areas of life. 

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Aimée

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