Guest blog: Expect the unexpected

Lockdown in phases

“Write something about your experience of lockdown,” they said.  Well, last week, the highlight of the evening was discovering quite how hairy my fingers were and then announcing it to anyone who’d care to listen.  That’s right folks, I’ve reached a state of delirium.

Jo-Tolley

Corona has taught me many things; how to effectively stifle a cough, how to tolerate incessant Facebook memes about 2020 whilst still finding them unnecessarily amusing, and how to store umpteen loo rolls on my wheelchair as I dash out of Tesco.  I’m only joking about the latter, but then we are heading into a second wave so maybe I should learn the art of playing bog roll Jenga.  Mostly though, it’s taught me to expect the unexpected.  One minute we’re told to keep our distance, the next, we’re eating out to help out just before we hear the devastating news that the Seven Dwarfs aren’t allowed to go for a walk together.  It turns out that Grumpy has a reason to be grumpy after all.

Expect the unexpected.  Expect to be grateful and hopeful on Monday and cynically biting on Tuesday.  I’ve always been an all or nothing kinda gal, but this pandemic has really demonstrated the extent to which this is the case.  At the risk of making a sweeping generalisation, I think most disabled people have the same attitude: go big or go home.  Put this in the context of coronavirus and it’s been quite the rollercoaster.  Again, at the risk of making another sweeping generalisation, I’m going to hazard a guess that the majority of you reading this have wheels and therefore have a disability of some description.  If this is accurate, I’d be interested to know how similar your experiences have been.

Phase 1: Pandemic: what pandemic?
January/February saw me uneducated and oblivious.  You know the ‘COVID-19 is just a bad cold’ state of affairs?  If I contracted it then so be it.  I didn’t understand the panic-buying (I still don’t). Who needs enough toilet roll to last them until 2053?  If Corona did turn into something as serious as what people were making it out to be, then I was pretty sure it’d all be fine and dandy by then.

Phase 2: Holy Smokes, they were right!
Things got real and I got sensible.  I surrounded myself with anti-bac wipes, hand gel and disposable gloves.  There was a packet of Doritos and Pot Noodles in the cupboard.  If I got thirsty, I could suck the lemon out of the lemon-infused wipes or get tipsy on sanitiser.  I also spent my last few pounds on an air purifier which I was unreliably informed may have eliminated viruses from my abode.  So, when Corona strolled through my open window and contaminated the breeze, I was ready.

Phase 3: Gratitude and epiphanies…Also, what day is it?
Somewhere in between the fourth and the four-hundredth Wednesday in April, a thought popped into my head… Without a doubt, disabled people have an extra layer of feeling trapped.  Not that I really like to think about it this way, but the clue is in the title: dis-ability.  On an average day, there is something that we can’t do.  Whether this be to walk the streets, to communicate conventionally, to function in a manner that’s deemed acceptable, we are all at an arguable disadvantage.  Corona has made us on focus beyond what we cannot do.  Nobody can walk the streets without being at shouting distance, so we have to communicate unconventionally, and everybody has to function in an alternative way.  We are living in an ever-changing new normal which has a by-product of providing a level playing field for people who live with a disability.

Phase 4: This one…
An interesting blend of phases two and three apparently leads to me finding my hairy fingers hilarious.  Having had approximately a week of something which resembled my old life, I put myself back in lockdown which is where I’ll remain for the foreseeable.  That said, I think 2020 is a gamechanger for us all, albeit an ugly one.  I stay optimistic that things will, on the whole, work out for the better.