It’s been a long haul for me, on 26th February I was admitted (planned) to hospital for a nephrectomy. It didn’t go well, (if you're waiting for a kidney rip out, don’t let this put you off, what happened to me was most unusual). When I was discharged two weeks later, I was very weak but things improved daily. The time came when I was preparing to go out, visit friends, arrange meeting with mates, well God loves a plan, and lockdown was announced. I was made housebound. My wife of some 40 years, a 6-foot scouser threatened to break my legs if I went out, I take her threats very seriously. (actually, she is 5’2” and cute)

The first day release I could get was for, by now rare event, a face-to-face appointment with the transplant clinic, (did I mention I had a transplant last year thanks to my fantastic daughter?) On the morning of the appointment, I grabbed the fob for the limousine parked on the drive, something I had not done for some considerable time, entered and pressed the start button, the limo coughed but would not start, so I jumped into the wife’s bone shaker and made my way. Because of lockdown it was a pleasant journey to the hospital and an extra level of entertainment was the sight of drivers on their own, in a car, wearing a mask, I guess they were protecting themselves from the person on the radio. I had not received any information from the hospital about preparations for dealing with the virus. I parked in the nearest car park to the out-patient department, only to find the doors locked and no instructions, I decided to walk to the A&E department, if any part of the hospital would be open that would be it. I walked around the hospital and on arrival at A&E, I was met at the doors by a big burly security officer and a nurse sister who was masked, gloved and gowned. She told me the only entrance I could use was in a different hospital. I’ll explain, the hospital I had my transplant in is a massive hospital, never mind how many floors it has! It comprises of four hospitals, joined at the hip with a common corridor joining them together. I had to walk around all four hospitals to get to the entrance and once in make my way back where I started. I was not dizzy at this point, but I think I should have been.

By the time I finished with all the checks, bloods and a chat with the surgeon, I had to make my way to pharmacy, which is situated back where I entered the hospital complex; no worries though, this is where I would eventually have to go to escape. It was now lunch time and near this place is a café, so prescription in, and off I trot to the café for lunch. It was not until I had bought my lavish banquet that I was told that only staff could use the tables, so it was back to the pharmacy waiting room to sit down and eat my food. As nobody else in waiting area had food or drink, I felt like Billy Bunter (if you don’t know Billy you might search YouTube). 

Anyway, I finished my lunch and shortly after my sack load of tablets were ready. Once collected it was back to the ranch, or rather the suburban semi, to jump start the limo.

There are days to fill, while under this house incarceration, if six years of military service taught me one thing is was PMA (positive mental attitude) will get you through anything.

Being involved with my local KPA, the National Kidney Federation and Kidney Research UK scheduled meetings have been held by telephone conference or webinars. I also found out that the Royal Society of Medicine holds webinars that the public can join in, on such subjects as the coronavirus and interviews with popular personalities, which I have found very interesting.

I am lucky to have a largish garden and I am unlucky because the largish garden needs a lot of attention. Most days involve an inspection of the garden and much weeding done; this sounds like an onerous task for someone (me) who does not like gardening. The truth is, many years ago I realised that in my dotage it was highly likely, I would not be fit enough to care for a large garden, therefore the garden was made in to an ultra-low maintenance garden, weeding means spraying the stone areas with weed killer.

As previously alluded to, technology can be a wonderful thing. I have spent a lot of time in web meetings with different groups of friends and keeping in touch with family by phone.

Something I have noticed is that if not going out, little changes from day-to-day. I sometimes have to check my phone to see what day it is. I really miss nipping out to buy small things. When things are normal, I often meet friends maybe for lunch or dinner. I miss hugs from my children and grandchildren and I miss not having my hair cut. From the age of about 14 through to 18, I had long hair, it reached my shoulders, should I go for that look again?

All in all, shielding has not been too bad for me. My heart goes out to those who are having a rough time during this lockdown. 

Keep safe.

John Roberts AKA The Lancashire Lad