Spanner, meet works

2020-03-24-coronavirusSometimes the best plans don’t survive contact with reality, especially when reality decides to shift. But I’m counting our blessings. We’re in decent health (aside from a touch of lymphoma, which is improving.) We have savings that we can manage to live off for a surprisingly long time – which is good, because all of the work that I had booked in for the next few months has now been cancelled, and as a recently self-employed person, I fall through the cracks in the government help schemes. And let’s be honest, staying at home is not so bad when you have a house and a garden.

So, what’s going well?

My treatment for follicular lymphoma is on schedule and the signs are good: the swellings are dramatically reduced, Dr M is happy with my progress and amazingly, given the current circumstances, my treatments are still going ahead as scheduled.

As scheduled, but not quite as normal. My next blood tests will be at a drive through centre in the Sheffield Arena car park. Drive in, roll the window down, stick my arm out, bloods taken. All very sensible. All very dystopian. Going to the hospital for chemo-immunotherapy is equally strange. It’s weirdly deserted and the ward where I have my treatments has literally shrunk – most of it is blocked off and those of us still being treated are all in a much smaller area, which is nevertheless half empty.

I’m simultaneously worried about being at the hospital and delighted that I’m still being treated. I’ve now done 5 out 6 treatments, so the end of phase one is in sight. Then more tests and scans to establish how much of the cancer is gone and I’ll find out exactly what the next phase of treatment looks like.

And what’s not going so well?

As our world shrank, our planned adventures stumbled to a halt.

We’ve been social distancing since I was diagnosed in December. Lymphoma affects the immune system and so does the treatment. I was advised to avoid foreign travel and crowded places, but we could still go out. The pub quiz was off (too crowded, too great a risk of picking up random infections), but we managed a mid-afternoon pub lunch at a table well away from other people. We went to the cinema, but avoided new releases and went in the mornings or early afternoon when it was quiet and sat away from everyone else. We walked for miles, which was lovely, and my Walk 1000 Miles challenge was shaping up nicely.

Then coronavirus arrived and turned everyone’s lives upside down. We stayed home more, avoided the pub and the cinema, but we still went out and walked, picking quiet times and routes that are rarely busy. Our world shrank a little, but it was fine.

Then my letter telling me that I was ‘extremely vulnerable’ and must ‘shield’ arrived. I knew it was coming, but I hadn’t realised how tight the restrictions would be. No going out to get shopping, no going out for exercise, no going out for anything except medical appointments. Bollox. In fact, I was supposed to stay 2m away from Mr TLC and live in a separate room, but we decided that was a non-starter. The letter said this was for 3 months, but barring a Hollywood movie type of miracle, it’s going to be 18 months or so before there is a vaccine. The prospect of 18 months on my own in a room with no chance of exercise didn’t bear thinking about, so we’re both staying at home and shielding together. Mr MTM is shrinking his world to keep me safe.

This means some changes. We are very lucky to have friends and family who have rallied round and helped with shopping. My Walk 1000 miles challenge had to be abandoned, but Mr MTM fitted my bike to his old static trainer, so I can pedal away in the cellar. And I cannot tell you how happy I was when Dr M said gardening is allowed. We still need to be careful – our garden is narrow, and we can’t go near the neighbours – but I can get outside. Wonderful.

So what’s the plan?

Since I won’t be doing any of the things I had planned for this year, I’m finding some new projects to occupy me. I’m sure there will still be some exciting things to do, but they’ll probably be micro rather than mini adventures. For a start there will be a cellar cycling challenge to try in lieu of walking. It’s also high time I sorted through the countless photographs I’ve taken over the last few years, so I might do some time travelling, back to more carefree times and post a few of them here. Grand Tour of Scotland 2019 anyone?

In summary:

We’re as well as can be expected, we’re settling in for an 18-month staycation and some new adventures await. Bring it on.

And now it’s over to you:

How are you? Are you coping?

Image credit: from accessed 21/04/2020

7 comments to Spanner, meet works

  • Thanks for your news – here’s mine – building one of those olden days ‘what’s happening’ letters in Evernote has proved handy 😉

    I’m going a little crazy staring out of the window at the lovely weather during these locked-down days.

    Somehow Easter seemed to pass without the usual amount of fun, although we did still (thanks to Julie) manage a small egg-hunt and we do have a rainbow picture in the window.

    I’m pleased to say that most of the neighbours came out last Thursday to bang saucepans and clap fr the NHS and my relative (David) is thankfully back at home after 11 scary days in ICU at Harlow Hospital

    Julie’s been along to the Topsham Museum to check it remains secure, and it is kind of spooky inside now, with dust-sheets and darkness. The Museum kitchen wouldn’t look out of place in a Frankenstein movie.

    It is prettier outside, where the flowers are popping through in the Museum garden, and that’s an altogether cheerier sight, even after the rain.

    As for the river, it is flat as a millpond. Although I don’t think they’ll be putting the boats back in the water in May somehow.

    The family bake-ins are continuing via Zoom and this time it was cookies (there are pictures)

    Zoom has been a friend despite what all the herd-instinct journalists are saying. We’ve had family meetings, my weekly German Stammtisch, a lads get-together, Julie’s weekly choir singing, the bake-ins, a pub quiz, Julie’s Management meetings and even a family game of hangman(using the Zoom whiteboard).

    For one-to-ones we still use FaceTime though, which is easy from a phone and means we can show one another things around the house, like the latest antics of George the Robo-vac, or the kids in their new hot-tub.

    My best wishes during these strange times. Here’s a little bit of a video about the current predicament, from our northern contingent.

    I’ll have to send you a link to one of my novels too. It is surprising how much one can produce in these strange days.

    I’ve rigged up a laptop to the static bike and suggest as a cellar tip that it is good fun. Either to watch a box set whilst pedalling or to blast around New York, London (including as far out as Box Hill) or Harrogate(!) – even up the side of a volcano or across the deserts of Utah and Arizona on a virtual ride.

    Take care. I always notice your walks to the hospital on Strava and think ‘Go Lois!’

    Best wishes,


    • Lois Lindemann

      Sounds like you are keeping busy. Alan (Mr MTM) is clearly wanting to get out into the sunshine, but we’re making do with indoor cycling and lounging around in the garden. Somehow we’ve managed not to use Zoom yet (suspect it won’t be long) but we have clocked up a fair bit of time with family and friends on WhatsApp.

      Adding the laptop to the bike is this week’s project. I treated myself to a power meter, now I just need to get it working. My set up doesn’t look as swish as the ones in the promo videos: bike in the middle of a moderately untidy cellar, laptop on Aldi’s finest workbench. Happily I installed a mesh system in the house last year, so the cellar wifi turns out to be magnificent!

      Best wishes to all of you, especially David – I hope his recovery goes as swiftly and smoothly as possible.

    • Lois Lindemann

      P.S. Love the video!

  • Pleased that your treatment is on course – I’ve heard of many people who have had ops and chemo cancelled, which I think is hugely unfair for them.

    And well done for getting creative with the micro-challenges.

    Let’s hope that positive developments in health care (eg drive-through blood tests) continue after this (first of many I suspect) health crisis is over. It would be a huge improvement on the current situation.

  • Oh – and – I’d be very interested in your tour of Scotland – being so close these days and having seen very little outside of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen and their immediate areas before.

  • Hi Lois,

    I didn’t have your email, so I’ve put a couple of links below to Ed Adams books. epub works with (double click) Apple Books and Mobi with Amazon Kindle(drag to Kindle App). I’ve included the PDF as well, for good measure.

    Archangel – My latest and “free” short novel: A 137pp biography of Christina Nott, borrowing from my last holiday in Iceland.

    Edge – a 300pp dystopian thriller about magnetite mining on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede

    Let me know if you’d like/prefer any of the others(!)

    The links should work, if not then ping me at

    Best, Ed

  • Z

    Glad to hear your news, I’ve been wondering. I think you’ve found a sensible balance with your lifestyle changes and hope that, once your treatment has finished, you’ll eventually become less vulnerable.

    My sister was due a hip replacement next month, but of course that’s postponed indefinitely. Having heard this week that a friend (whose health is desperately poor) has contracted Covid-19 in hospital, I’m glad she isn’t going to have the op yet, though waiting a year or two will be a problem with her lack of mobility.

    We’re fine. Tim is in his 70s so we’re being very careful but we’re both in good health and we’ve a big garden with fields all around, so quite isolated; apart from a friend and her family who live in my granny annexe. We just keep the requisite distance apart. The family all get together on Zoom but I am finding that not seeing the grandchildren is very hard, especially the baby who will be 3 months old on Wednesday, by which time I won’t have seen her for nearly 8 weeks.