I Feel Just Like Nella Last

A personal reflection by COPA Trustee, Sue Jones (Gwynedd), written in May 2020.

Well, here we are. Another day in isolation. Not a lot has happened, except maybe the nice man came to walk the dog. I do wish things were better, but they aren’t. I look forward to the chat with my nice dog walker; apart from the texts and odd phone call he is sometimes the only contact in the whole day.

I feel like Nella Last, who wrote her diaries from the thirties to the sixties. She was an ordinary person living an ordinary life, even while extraordinary things were happening around her. I hear a lot of people talking about what they’ll do when they’re ‘free’, but when the pandemic is over, I will probably stay the same. Many older people will continue to stay at home and isolate from others. Oh, you are thinking, why do I say that? Well, loneliness and isolation are a part of daily life for those of us who are retired and who suffer from debilitating illnesses.

I hope that I am proven wrong. It would be nice to think that people will continue to help others like they did at the beginning of the pandemic. If we continued to foster that community spirit, nobody would have to feel isolated again. I am thankful for the help I have had. I have met a great gentleman who takes Rollo, my helping hand dog, for a walk.

Getting food to feed Rollo worries me. Dog food seems in short supply locally, and I am going to have to go further afield to get some. I have noticed that human food has gone up in price too. It’s not much and it varies from shop to shop, but sneakily my food shop seems to have gone up by 5p or 50p per item. I don’t know how it’s going to work out. I get the feeling that after the bills are paid, I’m going to be left with next to nothing. I may be eligible for food bank help or parcels from the council. It seems wrong to ask, but I might have to swallow my pride soon. These are strange times and the usual rules have gone out the window.

Treatment for illnesses diagnosed prior to lockdown has stopped or is patchy at best. Pain relief is the most important thing to some of us; without it we become less independent and less mobile.

The doctors are busy, and you don’t like asking them for help as people are dying everywhere. If you don’t ask for help what can you do? Take extra tablets? Well, that’s a very short-term fix. You can also eke out what you have and save them for the time the pain becomes unbearable. It’s a hard choice.

Yes, we are all suffering one way or another. Yes, you might dismiss us as being ‘just’ old or disabled in your eyes. However, that is not how we see ourselves! It takes a lot of courage to talk about living with disabilities. We all want to live with dignity.

What is the next step? No one knows yet. Thinking about it and putting it into practice will be two different things. I hope the voice of reason will prevail. Older people and disabled people have a lot to contribute when it comes to recovering from the pandemic. Many of us use technology, and although our bodies are different, our minds are sharp. We have learned to adapt and change over the years. We are resilient.

Where should I go to get help?

  • Age Cymru have downloadable information sheets and an advice line. They can provide advice and information on a wide range of issues and will also signpost to other organisations where appropriate. Find out more information HERE.
  • Age Cymru also run a telephone befriending scheme called Friend in Need. If you need support or want to volunteer as a friend, visit this page.
  • If you need to find out where your local food bank is, you can visit the Trussell Trust
  • If you are feeling low and want to talk to someone about your mental health, please visit the C.A.L.L. website. They operate a 24/7 confidential listening and support service in Wales.

More about Nella last