I am a kidney transplant recipient so I was aware from the press in mid-March that I was to be confined to the house. I made a few preparations, e.g. stocking up my freezer with meat from the butcher and buying cards and gifts for upcoming birthdays. However, I did not do a big shop as I had wrongly assumed that my husband would continue to go out and shop for us. 

When the lockdown started on March 23rd my husband was already confined to bed with a possible covid illness. He was not tested. He was ill with ups and downs for the next ten weeks. Naturally I kept away and used a separate bathroom and bedroom. Periodically I delivered drinks and light meals e.g. scrambled egg to the door of his room. I felt very alone. I was totally dependent on others for food and medicine. I have an elderly neighbour without a car who delivered a few items to the porch. I could not get access to online shopping for a long time. My sister added some shopping to her online order and drove many miles across London to deliver them. My son, who lives much closer without a car, also added items to his online order and sent them by taxi to me. After about six weeks I managed to get priority status for Tesco who have delivered weekly ever since. It was such a relief to be responsible for my own shopping. 

My Medicine was even more of a challenge. Medicine is essential for a transplant patient or the kidney is rejected. My neighbour dropped off prescriptions but often there were problems which had to be sorted by phone calls to the doctor. The worst moment was when azathoprine was not available at my local chemist - thankfully the receptionist at the doctor tracked it down at a further away chemist. 

Incidents like the medicine problems made me feel very tearful and helpless. Throughout lockdown I have been aware that I am much more touchy and emotional than usual. 

I have found the uncertainty about shielding and its end date very difficult. At the beginning I felt trapped and confined and wondered if I would ever be allowed out. I was very relieved when at the beginning of June we were suddenly given permission to go for a solitary walk once a day. I was very frightened the first time and I am trying to avoid other people as much as possible. I wear a mask and walk in the local cemetery which is empty and peaceful and has birdsong, roses and mature trees. I feel calmer once I reach the cemetery gates. 

I have been supported emotionally by my family. My daughter phones frequently and sends cards through the post. My sister and I whatsapp frequently. The whole family has a regular zoom session on Sunday evenings. Family birthdays have been tricky - the zoom celebrations have been emotional. 

I have been very lucky to have a garden. I have walked up and down the side passage regularly for exercise. I have watered the garden and done some gardening under instruction from my husband as he got better. I have really enjoyed watching the plants develop. 

I have also been helped by online entertainment. I have watched operas, ballets, plays and concerts. I have attended art lectures and the Hay Festival. I have done tours of art exhibitions and galleries. I have watched programmes on iplayer. 

In conclusion it has been a mixed experience. It has been difficult emotionally and physically. Family support, online entertainment and the garden has made it bearable. 

Josepha Murray