Jocelyn Reid seeing the positives in being forced to adapt to the virus
Jocelyn and John before the pandemic began. Picture: Jocelyn Reid
Jocelyn Reid led a “hectic” lifestyle before the pandemic but shielding at home for nearly a year has brought about some unexpected positive perks that she believes has changed her life for the better.
The Ealing resident and her husband John decided to begin staying at home from February last year after Jocelyn was rushed to hospital due to a reaction to a prescription drug.
Having been forced to leave old routines behind however, the 73-year-old has found comfort in a new daily exercise routine with fitness classes ranging from Strength and Balance to Zumba Gold over Zoom.
Before lockdown she would attend one class a week and two Pilates classes, but now it’s ramped up to 90 minutes of exercise a day, five days a week.
“My lifestyle has always been chaotic, hectic and busy, I have never changed, I never really had any spare time, I’ve always been a busy person,” she said.
“I have missed the purpose of not having to get on and go somewhere in a hurry in the morning.”
But she added: “I just find those fitness classes have just changed my life, for me I feel better, I feel fitter, I lost weight, so many people don’t realise how important it is to do this and to have a purpose in life. It has given me a focus in life.”
For retired people such as herself and her husband, the mother-of-one said it can be particularly difficult, but looking on the positive side, she said: “[They’ve] lost all the things lockdown stopped them from doing, we have found another thing instead.
“This was the biggest thing for me.”
Instead of the usual jet setting off around the world – having to cancel three trips to Sri Lanka, Florida Keys and Doha last year using their free staff travel concessions – the former British Airways customer service worker has also managed to try new experiences such as a free bread making course, and enjoyed spending time closer to home.
For example during the summer months, visiting green spaces such as Richmond Park and Ealing areas, before the couple “would never have spent so much time walking around,” Jocelyn said.
And with her main contact with the outside world being through food shopping delivery drivers, she’s realised how other people’s lives have changed too.
From chatting to the drivers she’s found how many of them were doing their jobs before the pandemic, with some including former black cab drivers, carpenters and office managers.
She added: “It’s incredible how many people’s lives have changed.”
Their generosity and going the extra mile to help the couple has also been something that’s stuck in Jocelyn’s mind.
Online shopping has been a major game changer for the couple that Jocelyn thinks has changed their habits for the better, and they have been happier with the wealth of choices on the internet.
While John used to do a weekly food shop and Jocelyn would walk to a shop daily for top up bits, lockdown online food shopping however hasn’t been so straight forward.
She said: “Trying to get food wasn’t easy, I stayed up until 1 or 2am in the morning to put delivery slots on….
“It was a frustrating situation, you couldn’t find things especially normally you could buy it off the shelf.”
Due to Jocelyn’s medical condition of an auto-immune disease, she is on a special diet from the hospital, which means her choices narrowed from what she could order.
It has also caused more issues if something turned up that wasn’t exactly right.
This included the need to buy under ripe bananas for her specialised diet. But a real annoyance was that “really ripe” bananas would turn up weekly instead, until she sorted a solution with the supermarket.
Luckily for Jocelyn she hasn’t had any further health scares over the pandemic, but is doing all she can to avoid hospital as she is more vulnerable to being severely hit by coronavirus.
She continues to have hospital appointments by telephone and has decided with her consultant not to switch up her medication during the crisis in case of any adverse reaction.
She said: “As long as I can keep to my routine and keep on those special diets…it’s not life threatening but I would not want to be in hospital if I had the choice at the moment.”
Near the end of February last year Jocelyn was taken in an ambulance to Charing Cross Hospital and stayed on the acute medical ward in an isolation room.
Describing her experience, she said: “I could tell they [the medics] were twitchy about getting me out…
“Covid wasn’t as serious then but I just wanted to get out as soon as I could.
“I don’t know if they had any Covid cases but anti-bac wipes were everywhere, apart from that, I just got out in time.”
And she added: “I just felt the hospitals knew it was on its way to us and they didn’t want patients there who were vulnerable and who could catch it.
“They were then trying to keep the wards clear and trying to keep people from catching it, it was more dangerous to be there and better to be at home.”
But despite Jocelyn’s medical vulnerability to Covid, she was surprised not to receive an official shielding letter from the NHS, and decided to use her own “common sense” to stay at home.
She added: “It was a loophole in the whole health system. People like myself should have been included.”
For safety reasons, Jocelyn will not be able to take the Pfizer vaccine, but she is increasingly worried about how to secure a spot getting the Oxford vaccine in advance.
After she was invited and attended an appointment to have her vaccination at St Thomas’ hospital, it was realised after queuing she could not have it done as they only had the Pfizer vaccine available.
And she said: “I’m also really nervous about being exposed to the virus, it was the first time I have been out…I have been living on my nerves since then.”
While the couple hope they won’t be giving up some old habits like holiday plans abroad once the pandemic is over once and for all, it’s been the fitness routine that has stuck out for Jocelyn and brought a new enthusiasm to their lives.
She feels fortunate that the pair have been in a position where they can take on the classes, while it may not be the case for many others struggling during the pandemic.
John and Jocelyn attend daily fitness classes on Zoom. Picture: Jocelyn Reid
She said: “They have been our lifeline, when they stopped the ones in the community…I didn’t know those people standing up and doing a class. Now we see each other every day, we talk to each other, we have got a WhatsApp group, it’s been a tremendous support.”
Anahita Hossein-Pour - Local Democracy Reporter
January 26, 2021