Wake

How I start the day makes such a massive difference to me. My day seems to go better if I exercise early in the morning rather than after lunch. Get my breakfast right and my dieting becomes easier. Avoid caffeine first thing and I feel less on edge for the rest of the day.

But there is one morning thing above anything else that has the biggest impact on my day.

How I wake up.

Do I wake up under my own steam or am I suddenly woken by some external factor. The pesky alarm…..

If I wake up naturally, even if that’s after a night of little sleep then I’m usually good to go. The day seems in synch. Even nights without any sleep at all, I find work ok for me. I can do this single parenting gig.

But if the alarm brings me abruptly to life and it’s all so very much different. Today was like that. Not much sleep until after 5am and then I crash out. All too soon the noisy alarm ends the dreams. But it has not brought the real me to life, it’s the zombie version of me. I can barely function, certainly can’t think straight, parenting is seemingly beyond me. That feeling of being completely out of synch stays with me all day. These are the days I really struggle to overcome depression.

All because of how I wake.

Am I alone in this?

Early

On our trip out the other day it was interesting to see the change in the pace of life. Suddenly shop car parks are full again. All the outside tables are taken at pubs and cafes. The public buses are busy again. People are gathering in groups again. Masks being worn outside are much more of a rarity. Social distancing…. what social distancing.

Don’t get me wrong I’m as eager as anyone to see things open up again. I won’t say return to normal as that thought annoys me – was the old normal that good and why didn’t we seize the opportunity to build a better normal. Yes our vaccination programme being delivered by the brilliant NHS is going really well. But I’m anxious. Hearing the Government announce that the battle is almost won, just beggars belief. It’s not won until all countries get on top of this dreadful virus. It’s not won when we are still getting deaths each day. Still at 2000 new cases a day. In younger age groups the infections rates are rising. Even after a period of lockdown rates are still stubbornly high. Outbreaks of mutations including the really worrying Indian variant are rising. The vaccines are not 100 effective, we are not sure just how long they will stay effective across the population and the younger groups have not been vaccinated at all. The Young can get severe CovidI was reading that as many as 12% of children catching the virus are needing to be hospitalised or are suffering from Long Covid. That doesn’t sound like a war won.

But we start the process of relaxing the rules. Foreign holidays allowed soon. Large Crowds returning to sporting and cultural events without social distancing. The requirement to wear masks in schools in communal areas such as corridors is to be removed. Rules surrounding isolation after contact with a positive case to be dropped in favour of fairly regular resting. The message is clear from the top hence I’m not surprised that the majority of people are ditching the masks.

Yes I’m anxious. At the very least masks and social distancing should stay while the reopening goes ahead, until mutations and case numbers fall to really low levels. Until vaccination is a world wide reality. This all feels like a bit of a punt to me. I just hope luck is with us this time.

Mad

Blueberries just starting to develop.

It’s a mad world. A mad Britain.

So there are growing concerns over the use of the lateral flow rapid Covid tests. The Government has been pushing them in schools, forcing children to take them several times a week. The results available within minutes deemed perfectly robust as a basis of reopening schools. They worked so well that they were made available for free to everyone. I was sent 7 tests this week.

Then we here the the Governments own experts are questioning the accuracy of these quick results. They are potentially too unreliable to use on there own. Should be only used as a guide, a gateway to the more robust tests.

Then on Friday the Government talked about the frustration with testing. It’s keeping too many children and more importantly workers at home. To many false positives. Far too unreliable.

And today the Government announced that it will sanction a large scale indoor test event. A music concert with no social distancing and no masks. That’s 5000 people being used as guinea pigs. Anyone going would have to have a rapid Covid test the same day as the concert. Then the will have to be tested a few days afterwards…..

Can we make our mind up…..

Are we really happy to allow 5000 people to crowd together indoors as a number of troubling mutations are starting to take hold….

Are we happy that the only check is the unreliable test….

Are we happy that potentially clinically vulnerable and unvaccinated people and children are being used as test subjects…..

I remember the Government saying opening up for Christmas was perfectly safe. Just go and look at the death spike that caused. Do we remember just days before the first lockdown and the Government saying that it was safe to hold the countries largest horse racing festival. Studies have shown the large number of unnecessary deaths that lead to…..

Walk

So each night Hawklad tries to walk a few more yards. To extend is external walk. To slowly start to build bridges again. Last night he bailed out early as he saw people in the distance. But it is progress. It’s a start. At some stage he will be ready to even face people again. But in his own time. Whether that happens before he leaves school, who knows.

I do worry that too many countries are just thinking vaccines. No other permanent changes required. The vaccine will beat the pandemic and return us to that wonderful former world….

But surely with a mutating virus which is still spreading and still so endemic, all a vaccine does is buy us time. It gives us a chance to make changes. To find ways to live safely. To get support out to the people who need it. To increasingly try to make it harder for the virus to spread and thus mutate.

But here’s the thing. The vaccine doesn’t really help with the growing tide of mental health issues facing our society. Speaking with the team trying to support Hawklad. They are being swamped by rising child mental health problems (and the identified problems are just scratching the surface of the real volume of problems out there). Plus was the old world that perfect. Even before a pandemic there was a mental health crisis.

Society and Governments need to quickly wake up to this. There are somethings a vaccine can’t fix for them…..

Mix messages

So two days after my first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine and alright. Didn’t feel much on Friday apart from a little prick but hey what’s new… Yesterday I felt a bit achy. Had a two hour spell where I felt really hot (that’s so not me….). As if I was going down with something but that ebbed away. So currently it’s been ok.

What’s not ok is the mixed messages. The medics are telling me that until I get the second vaccine then any protection may be limited. Even after the second shot I will still pose a risk to others. I can still carry and spread Covid. The vaccines may only provide up to 50% protection against spreading it to others. So it’s vital I stick to social distancing and wear masks for the foreseeable future. YET this morning I heard a government minister say that when you get the shot you are covered. As soon as lockdown eases get out to pubs, to the cinema, to the stadiums and most importantly to the office. By June the minister said we would be back to normal.

Then our really hard working PM. A fine man, who is honest, much admired, never corrupt, never racist, never sexist and most certainly never a self absorbed git…. Most definitely never a someone who has an affair with someone and then gives his lover £126000 of public money. Anyway that pillock was unbelievably working at the weekend and talking. Apparently now was the time to stop home working and get back into the office. Office’s and public transport are completely safe. “Time to stop the DAYS OFF…….” I heard someone in the Government use the term HOLIDAYS….

Do they know 126,000 people have died so far from this pandemic. Days Off and Holidays are the most distasteful terminology to use but it just sums them up. Staggeringly people are still prepared to back them. So what do I know….

Anyway again it’s mixed messages. The Government are telling people offices and schools are perfectly safe. We are soon going to be back to normal. No need to change anything. YET their very own scientific advisers are warning that we are in this for the long run. The vaccine programme is only a part of what is needed. They are warning of the need for long term social distancing. They are calling for places like schools, offices and trains to be fundamentally improved. To make them safer and better placed to work safely during a pandemic (and after). Better ventilation and more space have to be built into them urgently.

MIXED MESSAGES.

Pictures

We haven’t don’t this for a while. Draw a picture in the ice forming on the outside of the window. Then turn the room light on and see what it looks like on the pavement. Makes us smile anyway.

It’s a tradition. Something we repeat. We do it every night we get the opportunity.

That’s a theme in our Aspergers household. Repetition.

The same foods on the same night. Week after week. Things like cheese have to be the usual brand and flavour.

Wearing the same type of clothes.

Buying the same toothpaste and the same toothbrushes. The same soap. Even things like the same toilet paper.

Watching a select group of movies and tv shows, time after time.

The same morning and nighttime bed rituals.

The same subjects we talk about most nights.

Having the same objects in the same places in the house.

The same fun animal story we tell every night. We have done this since he was a toddler. EVERY SINGLE DAY. I dread to think how many episodes we have told.

Playing the same games on the console. Just a couple of games. Microsoft might as well hardwire them into our box.

When we could get outside, walking the same walks and the same routes. Driving the same routes on the way to places. Even if that means more driving time. If we vary then we need to double back and drive the usual route as soon as we can. Going to sit in the same seats in the same cinema. Going to the same shops. Going to the same fast food joints and buying exactly the same order. Going to the zoo and visiting the animals in the same set order.

Repetition provides Hawklad with security and comfort. It provides stability for him to build bridges between his world and the big mad world. Variations can and will send him into a the realms of anxiety. At school any change to the set timetable will throw him and severely effect his performance. So it is just how things are in our little family.

So if ice forms tonight, I wonder what picture will appear on the pavement?

Eat chocolate

I received a lovely present today in the post. The government support package for Hawklad will expire soon. So I need to reapply. Helpfully they have sent the 50 page application form to complete. I can’t submit the old paperwork and need to have more recent assessments and evidence. That’s a nightmare at the best of times but during a pandemic!!!!!!!

Only thing for it….. A bar of dark chocolate, a decaf coffee and listen to some angry music. Today’s choice, the latest from Roger Waters. That’s one seriously cheesed off artist recording those songs. That fits as that’s the music I would make today. Normal people are forced to jump through hoop after hoop for their kids yet friends of the Government are awarded multi million pound contracts without any due process. Roger Waters would certainly get the irony.

Well I then made a start. Book an appointment for a new assessment from a Paediatrician. On the waiting list. That’s currently a one year wait and growing. It’s a start…. Where’s the next chocolate bar.

But here’s the really scary thing. Our Son is fortunate as he has had some support. We somehow battled through the intentionally difficult minefield to get that. So many are either unsuccessful or are just missed. That’s the children, adult support is almost none existent. Discarded by our society that has its priorities so badly skewed. What’s the answer. Certainly to keep fighting. Most definitely to eat chocolate.

Worth it

That was the backdrop to my early morning workout. So much better that grey, damp , gnarly mist.

At the end of the workout I was finishing off with 10 minutes tai chi when a couple of thoughts crossed my mind. Apart from ITS FREEZING and why on earth did I come outside in cycle shorts.

I thought about clearly looking like a complete Wally and also what my family would think if they could see me now. One of my sisters would be cool with it as she does yoga. The others not so sure. My brother would definitely mutter something involving the word ‘hippy’. My parents would have talked about the world clearly going completely mad. Their idea of a mindfulness workout would have just about stretched to putting on the kettle for a cup of Yorkshire Tea. It’s a Yorkshire thing. We have a saying here

If the country raises the threat level to national panic, Yorkshire would raise the threat level to ‘ put a mug of tea on’.

I guess we all have to find whatever works for us.

But that’s the thing. I’m not sure my parents ever really did. Too many people don’t. We still don’t talk about mental health enough. That has to change.

So tomorrow I will be outside and trying to master Tai Chi. I might look like a Wally but that’s fine with me. Trying to deal with mental health issues is so worth it.

School

That’s as clear as it’s been so far today. The mist lifted for a few minutes but far too quickly returned.

In the UK the Government’s handling of the pandemic has been an absolute shambles and that’s putting it mildly. Sometimes following the science, sometimes following politics, sometimes it’s all about common sense, sometimes it’s about enforcing rules but then not applying those rules to themselves. Telling people a national lockdown would be an unnecessary madness then days later enforcing one. Banning many safe activities but allowing other much riskier things to continue. Dithering on things like masks, testing and social distancing. Culminating in telling the public to go out and mix as it’s our civic duty to get the economy going THEN weeks later blaming people for meeting up and causing the virus to spread again.

It’s just a complete mess. So how tough must it be for schools to operate in these circumstances. All major social gatherings are banned but schools are instructed to stay open. My beef here is not with headteachers but with those above them….

We received an email from our school yesterday trying to set out the current rules. To summarise

  • Even though the country has entered a national lockdown the School remains open but large numbers of pupils and staff are isolating. The school has a number of confirmed cases. Pupils and staff are struggling to get tests undertaken.
  • Pupils must attend school unless they have written confirmation from a Doctor that they are not medically cleared. Even if a pupil is clinically vulnerable they must attend unless a doctor has signed them off.
  • If the pupil lives in a household with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable then the government line is that the pupil should still attend school.
  • If a pupil develops symptoms then the school recommends that the pupil isolates until a test is undertaken however this cannot be enforced due to Government rules.
  • If a pupil is legitimately unable to attend then they must use the online teaching systems. They must stick to school timetabling or punishments will be issued.
  • Masks should be worn on school buses, while walking in school corridors, visits to the toilet and while queuing for school meals. These will be enforced.
  • Masks can be worn outside school buildings and at times during classroom time but not when answering teacher questions or during group work. The wearing of masks in class cannot be enforced due to Government instructions.
  • Pupils are encouraged to observe 2m (6ft) social distancing outside of the classroom. Space does not permit that in classroom settings. The school is not currently allowed to install additional screening in the classrooms.
  • Pupils must not mix with pupils outside of their designated year group during the school day. That includes family members and close friends.
  • The school is still not permitted by the Government to make more general use of online tuition to free up space within the school.
  • During winter it will be necessary to keep many windows open for improved ventilation. Teachers have the discretion to allow pupils to wear coats if the classroom temperature drops. The wearing of hoodies or non school uniform is not permitted.
  • All out of school activities have had to be suspended due to Government instructions.
  • Due to the number of staff absences it is likely that a growing number of lessons will be taught by teachers who are not the normal class assigned one.

How stressful is this for children, staff and parents. Its such a mess which according to the Government is a bastion of best practice. We are told schools are perfectly safe, feature the highest standards of care and that it’s a parents civic duty to send their children into school……..

OK so here we start another week of homeschooling.

Help with yoga

What on earth are you doing Dad.”

This is supposed to be yoga.

Really, looks like torture.”

This position is supposed to be called the Downward Dog”

More like Dead Dog.”

And this one I’m transitioning into is called the Reverse Warrior.

You look like a Buffalo trying to do ballet.”

That’s not really helping Son.

This is very funny are you going to try another one Dad.”

This is a Mountain.

That’s just standing…”

Well this is the Siddha Pose.

Now that’s just sitting on the ground”.

Ok well this one is the Crescent Moon.

You look like you’ve just been struck by lightning.”

No pleasing some people. Well this one is Forward Fold.

Looks like you’ve dropped some money now.”

Right be prepared to be impressed now…. This one is called the Standing One legged Pulling Pose.

**** 3 seconds later I’m in a crumpled heap on the ground****

Awesome Dad, I’m calling that the Dead Muppet on the Ground position”