Best birthday present ever? Hi, my name is Antony. My 63rd birthday present came on the 23rd March. The phone rang and I was expecting cheers from the family when I heard “so you have to stay in for the next 12 weeks”. Well, what a birthday present. “Thanks” I said. “That’s just what I needed”. And so my shielding started. I’m a transplant recipient for 31 glorious years. No way did I want to throw it all away after all this time so shielding it was. I registered, got priority slots with supermarkets. I even got my box of goods from the government (more later on that score). But it wasn’t all plain sailing… I soon became very lonely. Texts and emails are one thing, actual face-to-face contact is another. As someone who lives alone, I expected more contact from family but this was not the case. I suddenly felt very lonely and isolated. Every appointment I had, I had to do the chasing. The only advice I got was from the government. The only exercise I was getting was walking from room to room for 30 minutes twice a day, which I soon increased to 45 minutes otherwise I would just sit and do crossword and sudoku puzzles all day, which is not healthy. My repeat medication was all awry. I generally get 28 days supply but for some reason, some medications were 56 days which confused me, the next I asked for a repeat prescription as these were rejected. Why do it this way is beyond me, totally confusing. Even my pharmacist who now knows me was equally confused. My dermatologist rang me at home and asked if all was well. I mentioned about a small growth forming on my head. She said “keep an eye on it”. Think about it now, come on. But hey, we all have our problems. Some with mortgage problems, work problems, etc. We just have to make do and do our utmost best to keep plodding on because, one day, this will all be over and we can get back to normal, the new normal. I managed to get priority delivery slots, started cooking more, eating more healthily, my walks became faster. My only problem was, well 2 actually, I managed to get delivery of booze! Oh so easy to over-indulge. (Lots of willpower, there). And the other was the food box from the government. They were great, really, except they contained too much tomato soup, tinned tomatoes, Dolmio tomato sauce and guess what? I have to limit my tomatoes because of high potassium. So I got pasta, rice, potatoes, carrots, Ready Brek every week. I ended up with four boxes of Ready Brek, 6 bags of rice etc. But nothing to go with the rice, pasta and potatoes! Thank goodness for my priority deliveries. I’m still shielding, not been out and managing OK. I’ve hardly had any face-to-face contact/conversations and I’m just looking forward to the new normal. End of June, I’ll go for a proper walk and treat my self to some well earned fish and chips (Oops, chips and potassium, I’ll have to improvise). It’s hard. Being on my own poses one problem but if I had family, that could pose another problem. Just be sure to support each other, be there for them but most of all, do not take out your frustrations on loved ones. I can do without my fish and chips and booze, what I crave is a hug. Take care, everyone…Antony.