Updated: Mar 12, 2020
I go over my corona-fight programme as I click down the pavement, ensuring my crutch doesn’t trip the elderly brandishing walking sticks, snag the wheels of shopping trolleys, prams or the ankles of kids skipping between us all. Nowhere near as crowded as a city street, but still popular and forcing us all within spluttering distance, it makes me wonder how many of us are infested with one of the many winter viruses.
Those bug carrying kids help spread stuff which diminishes our population. Some of us upon this pavement are vulnerable. There’s three pregnant women, a couple of babies, as many in their eighties and at least one other wobbler like me. This winter nine people died within six weeks in the small village we’ve not long left. A year ago I’d stood beside a strong, healthy man in the community shop, and a short while later almost everyone, from the postman to the farmer shed tears for that much-loved ex-politician Paddy Ashdown. Someone gleefully said, this corona thing is nature fighting back. If you believe in Starfish Wars, imagine future invertebrates finding billions of fossils of a weird ape termed humanity on top of the dinosaurs.
Casting my eye about, I wonder how many of us will not be here in a few weeks. That seems a common thought, judging by the emptying shelves in the supermarket (somewhere we hardly visit, so good are our local shops). Rather than hoarding loo rolls, exercise and hand-washing, are the best protection, as well as avoiding those who splutter into your face as they speak. I kept moving from a man's spittle spray during a rare visit to the pub on Thursday night, but he kept coming closer. Ugh.
I didn’t need my doctor reminding me that I’m particularly at risk. On top of everything else wrong with me, it's been a horrible winter, house-bound, attacked by five viruses, with two nasties lingering despite dangerous pills which affect my ability to fight back. But fight I am, ensuring my weak body gets as strong as it'll let me. Hey ho! Here we go!
Beyond the cheese shop the pavement clears. I speed up, pushing my lungs into corona-fighting mode. Our best response are our T-cells, which we make less of as we grow older. T-cells, only produced in the thymus, are a vital boost to our immune system and are only created by forcing muscles, in other words, exercising. On bad days like today my chest hurts, oddly, exactly where the thymus lives. Those who know me know that, regardless of how I feel, even when bed-bound, I try to exercise as best I can.
The road steepens and my effort increases, aching these weakened legs depleted of muscle due to months of ill-time. Back home, heaving like a donkey, I drop. Upon surfacing, I realise I was so determined to exercise that I’d forgotten to pop my long list of vital pills! Help!! In the recent past I’ve been rushed to A&E. Plugging back into exercise-mode, standing on one foot, legs bent, rising and sinking, gobbling my life-savers, I’m so concentrated on exercising my body that I choke on a huge life-saving pill. I cough. The pill hits the window.
My wife laughs - “What a strike! It's not yet your corona swansong!"