My last day of working actually in the NKF office was on Friday the 20th March. It became clear over that weekend that the Coronavirus was getting worse in the United Kingdom. Over the weekend it also was said that the people in the most vulnerable groups would have to shield for 12 weeks and that letters from the NHS would be sent out to all those they thought were very vulnerable to getting a severe illness from coronavirus and they should protect themselves as much as they can by staying at home.

On Sunday 22nd I began to shield I knew this was coming as during the week the amount of calls the helpline was taking that as a transplant patient I would need to protect myself. I also received a phone call Sunday afternoon from my transplant hospital to inform me if I wasn’t already shielding I must start straight away and don’t wait for the official letter. I am very grateful to the NKF to allow me to continue working from home it has given me a focus and although I’m not in office I still feel part of the team.

It had already been discussed with the CEO and the Office Manager that I would be able to work from home if I had to shield for 12 weeks and this was agreed the following Monday that I could work from home. and on the Wednesday I had my works computer dropped off at my house so I could set up in the spare room. This was going to be new to me I have never worked from home in my life.

I also began to think about visiting my grandma in a care home, she had recovered from pneumonia and had settled in to a nice care home not far from me. I had been going down every Sunday to see her and talking to her for an hour or so and she had enjoyed my weekly visits, she is 96 and she didn’t  understand why I could not visit anymore for a while.

I admit to say the weeks shielding have been very hard and not something I have enjoyed doing or would enjoy doing again! but for my own safety I have had to do it. My sister and the neighbours have been fetching food and prescriptions for me. I really have been well supported by family, friends and the NKF staff who have kept in touch via e-mail and phone calls. The days do seem very long though and I’m sure there is 48 hours in a day now! I have had a few frustrating days this has been mainly over a weekend. Sometimes you just have to give yourself a good talking to!

I have been very lucky with having a nice little garden at the back of my house to either sit in or do some walking. I now have a well-worn footpath around my back garden where I have been walking in the same area for nearly three months! I have set myself targets walking with steps and miles. The good weather has helped me to get outside before and after work and at the weekend more so. I really do feel for those who have been shielding in flats or places that do not have a garden as that must be like being in prison.

Although many of the activities I did like going to the football, concerts and other events have all been cancelled in recent months I have missed the social life and being with friends. It is a very quiet village where I live and although the risk of catching coronavirus is low I haven’t left the home or the back garden.

I do miss going in to the office and working with everyone, working from home is fine but there is nothing like the normal routine of going in to work and then coming home again.

Hopefully the future will be much better and safer for us all and we can get through these very strange times and back to some kind normality!

Stephen