Allan Richardson is four years into his kidney cancer journey having had a radical nephrectomy in May 2016; Stage 1 grade 3 at Norfolk and Norwich hospital. He is currently being monitored for two lung nodules which his last three scans have classed as benign. In this time Allan’s life has been stressful and complicated. He’s been trying to sell his property in Spain, so has been travelling back to Norwich every four-weeks or so, as his partner had a kidney and pancreas transplant a year ago, but she is now unable to travel or go out in the sun due to the possibility of skin cancer. Alan splits his kidney cancer treatment between UK and Spain and has just returned from Norwich stopping off on the way, they closed the border and so he found himself locked down in Gibraltar; stuck between his home in Norwich and his Spanish house in Marbella.
This is his lockdown story:
I’ve been out of lockdown in Gibraltar for three-weeks now, the first week we were given two-hours a day to leave our homes and go to designated beaches to exercise and get some fresh air. Prior to that, I guess I was lucky as I was able to go down to the basement car park in the apartment block and walk round and round with my dogs for a couple of hours each day. It was mindless but, we got out safely into a lift, sprayed all the buttons and wore a mask.
I was lucky because I had no issue with getting food deliveries, and I wiped it all down each time before putting it away.
In lockdown here in Gibraltar, like all of us, the only contact I had was by video but this, for me, was a double edge sword. Yes, lovely to see all my friends and family, but at times finding it very very hard being alone even though my two dogs are great company.
Now I’m back in my home in Marbella, sat on the patio looking at clear blue skies, the dogs are happy they’re back in a house with a garden, they are no longer sleeping all day with nothing to do.
I’m sure like all of us, I coped, but now with the ability to go out, walk the dogs, and with freedom I’ve changed. I’m still keeping my distance from everyone, I’m not shopping, I’m still getting deliveries, and also some friends are doing it for me and leaving it outside the door.
I’ve mentally and physically aged these past months. Physically, I’m not able to do gardening or exercise in the gym, my scoliosis has been so bad this last four-months without the gym, there have been times when I’ve just had to lay on the floor for hours to ease it. And then getting up off the floor was a nightmare!
Mentally I feel I’ve aged, it’s hard to explain. Maybe it’s more drained than aged.
I still haven’t seen any friends or family as I can’t travel, neither can they, but hopefully soon we can. Will I travel; yes. Coming back to the UK will mean renting for two or three weeks and just seeing my partner and aunts through windows as they’re still self-shielding, but that is better than nothing.
Like many, my scan has been delayed, hopefully I’ll be able to have it in July, which is eight-months instead of six, but that’s fine and I’m ok with that. I know the strain that many of us have had with delayed appointments/ scans/ follow-ups etc. have been hard to deal with, and of course now maybe some of us are still wary or even a little afraid of going back into a hospital, but we need to and we have to realise that all precautions in hospital units are in place to keep us safe.
I know so many of us have felt alone, anxious may be slightly depressed. But, we are slowly coming out of this, though some like my partner and aunts are still self-shielding and its so very hard for them, as it is for anyone who is still self-shielding.
I also have friends who were self-isolating, a few are still fearful of going out or having relations and friends in the house. They are just seeing them in the garden or through a window.
I am not the same person I was in March. The simple things in life have taken on a greater meaning, things that I took for granted, like seeing people, friends or relations, are now so important to me. Sitting in the garden seeing flowers, hearing birds sing, freedom albeit not as before. I’m walking my dogs along the seafront, I have my mask, but as its 28c here it’s impossible to wear it walking so I just avoid people. We have to wear them in shops, not that I’ve been in any, I do wear it if I stop at a cafe, sitting away from everyone, but I still feel uneasy doing that.
Life hopefully will return to some normality, but the world has changed, and we need to adjust. Maybe, like me, you’re finding out that some things you thought were important in the past are not so important anymore.
Family and friends mean more than before now and I no longer take them for granted.
Keep well, keep safe and look to a brighter future together with our loved ones