The announcement of what is effectively a national lockdown was not exactly a surprise. The softly-softly approach had been tried and was not getting anywhere, the only step which could realistically be taken was to order people home. That it would be announced at 8:30 on a Monday evening might seem unusually timing, but given the shops had shut by then, it will have limited further panic buying.
As of last week, we had been cancelling routine appointments and switching to phone calls where possible instead. My plan for the day had been to hide away in my office and call the patients who needed a review, while being ready for any urgent work which came along.
With the order to stay home unless absolutely necessary, I had the dilemma of whether I should be going in or not. Clearly, the NHS is a key service at present, but my plans for the day could easily be achieved working remotely from home, and if I needed to go into the office for whatever reason, I live only 10 minutes away.
My decision was made when I received an email from management telling us to work from home if at all possible. Today it was possible, so with my wife in the office as usual, I took over the living room to make it my temporary workspace.
I have worked from home before, certainly not for the length of time we could potentially be isolating, so I had an idea how to plan my day. For example I made sure I was up, washed and dressed for 9, just like any other day. It can be tempting to spend time in pyjamas when working from home, but this is definitely to be avoided.
The IT system worked surprisingly well. I was able to remote access our computer system, checked my emails, reviewed and approved letters about my patients, before making calls to review the patients who need it most.
It is not quite the same reviewing someone over the phone. A big part of psychiatry is seeing the patient’s appearance and body language, but with the risks to my patients if they were to catch COVID19, it was a suitable compromise for now.
I made sure to give myself time away from the computer for lunch. As the weather was nice, I decided to sit in the garden, and was rewarded by this spectacular Peacock butterfly which landed by my feet as I was enjoying my sandwich. It helpful stayed long enough to allow me to snap this shot, and it certainly put a smile on my face.
Sarah and I have decided to take exercise separately. We are going to be spending a lot of time together in the house, having a little time to ourselves to go for a walk I am sure will help prevent arguments. With that in mind Sarah took her walk at lunch, after which it was back to the computer and more calls this afternoon.
Time seemed to fly, and before I knew it, it was time to clock off. I went straight out for my walk, and was pleased to see how quiet- it was. There were people like me stretching their legs, but on the whole it was much quieter than a typical day would be. With a little luck we might just have an impact on the spread of the virus.
We had a video call planned with Sarah’s family at 6. Everyone is doing well so far, not too much in the way of moaning yet.
Dinner today was sausage ragu with penne pasta. It worked surprising well, and was rustled up from only a few ingredients in the fridge and cupboard (recipe below) and there is enough left over for lunch tomorrow.
This evening, we have caught up on the news, but the plan is to watch a few episodes of Friends. Long before the Coronavirus came along, we had started watching the show from the beginning, and being on lockdown seems like a perfect opportunity to make some headway. It is series 4, episode 12 to begin this evening, and I am sure we will manage 2 or 3 episodes before we hit the hay.
Recipe for Sausage Ragù*
- 4 Cumberland Sausages
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 onion
- 3 bell peppers
- Tomato puree
- Worcester sauce
- Mixed herbs
- Salt and pepper
- Pasta of your choice (in my case penne as that is what we have available)
- Grated cheese (optional)
- Fry chopped peppers and onions, before setting them aside
- Chop the sausages into bite sized chunks and fry them until cooked through
- Add the veg back into the pan, along with the chopped tomatoes, purée, Worcester sauce, mixed herbs and salt and pepper to taste
- If needed add a little water to bulk up the ragù
- Bring to the boil then simmer for at least 20 minutes, longer if you want the sauce thicker
- While this is simmering, boil the pasta as per the packet.
- Once it is cooked and drained, add it to the ragù and mix through
- Serve with a sprinkling of grated cheese if you wish
*I appreciate this is not the most complicated or refined of dishes, but it was delicious, and if people are looking for an idea for a meal from what they have in the cupboard, this might give them a little inspiration.