Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 70(3) August 2020

Coronavirus: A retired physician’s tale

Steve BrennanMy Covid-19 lockdown has been very pleasant so far (Mid-June). Well retired, my wife Trish & I have coped with 3 months together (just a moment in 47 years!) Both doctors, we got put back on the “Register”, but not used, as only of use at a “distance”. It’s been quite like a “Retreat”, with so much more time for prayer and more money for charity. Our Priest e-mails his weekly Sermon and a mid-week stimulant. We know what time he says Mass and where. After a “mental” Mass with him, I “livestream” from St Marie’s Cathedral in Sheffield. Actually, I have felt quite guilty, with so pleasant a house and garden to “lock in”; half a mile from the nearest neighbour, I disobeyed the order to stay inside the house, and did lots of gardening, now having filthy hands and a splendid pair of old “Suit” trousers with muddy knees, plus lots of vegetables.

The car has done about 40 miles in the 3 months, with a couple of trips to a post box and a cash machine in the middle of the night. The only exciting trips were a blood test in Sheffield, accessed by putting my arm out of the window in the Arena car-park and a CT Scan at the local Private Hospital, taken over by the NHS. I have joined the older brigade, trying my best not to foul up the system by getting admitted.

We’ve had food (and wine) deliveries from children who all live within 25 miles & an occasional Super-Market Van, plus too many white van “parcel” deliveries (not my fault!)

I have done a lot more communicating: weekly “Zooms” with my sisters, regular phone calls with old colleagues and neighbours: a weekly e-mail with a younger colleague still at the “coal face”. On the local Parish Council, I have been able to “attend” many more meetings than usual.

I fear that our Grandchildren (an 8th arrived during this time) will one day ask: “Grandad, what did you do in the War?” Reply, “I wasn’t born”: “What did you do in the Pandemic”. “I hid away as I’d retired”. “What DID you do, Grandad?” “I worked for the NHS for 42 years”. “Grandad, what was the NHS?” No! To be serious, as I used to say when returning from Uganda, “Thank God for the NHS”, let’s hope we can keep it.

Steve Brennan FRCP is a retired chest physician.