Professor Joe Goldblatt
It began with a wee tickle in the throat. Next, my nose felt slightly stuffy. However, after managing to duck, dart and dodge from the dredded Double Bars of the Covid Lateral Flow Test Result, I tested positive on a recent Sunday evening.
The previous week had been exceptionally busy with national and local events marking Holocaust Memorial Day, orchestrating multiple elements for my wife’s major milestone birthday celebration and a visit to the Metropolitan Opera, live from New York City at the Cameo Theatre. Throughout each of these events I tested for Covid before and after, socially distanced, and wore my beautiful and stylish mask, continuously. However, the persistent and grim Covid virus still found a way to pay me a visit.
Upon testing positive, I immediately contacted NHS Scotland Test & Protect and was surprised and delighted how easy it was to enter my test number and other simple details in their user friendly website. The hard part was the next discussion with my wife of 45 years for whom I had just orchestrated endless tributes in honour of her special birthday.
She told me in a perfunctorilly manner “I shall make up the futon for you in the study where you will stay until you test negative.” These words sent a chill up my weakened spine as we had not slept apart for extended periods of time in the same house even for one evening in the past 45 years. Such is the power of the nondiscriminating Covid. Even a domestic dispute had not relegated me to the futon but now this invisible little monster Covid had succeeded where oue raised voices had previously failed.
Perhaps the hardest part of my sudden change of plans was the need to notify neighbours, friends and family of my recent news. Their responses ranged from “Ohhhhhhh…” to “Oh no!” In every instance I believe that folk were surprised that someone as healthy as myself could be captured alive by the desperado Covid bandit and of course they were worried now about their own health. As I told them over and over again “Covid does not discriminate. Everyone must be vaccinated and be careful.” Fortunately for me, I have been boosted and although I have been as careful as possible for two years, I now find myself surprised at this strange turn of events.
Faster than you can say Jock Tamson’s Bairns, I was sentenced to seven days of solitary confinement. However, my lonely confinement did include much socially distanced tender loving care along with three square meals per day, all provided by my generous and hardworking caregiver. Depressed and despondent, I climbed under three duvets and buried my feelings in a very strong hot toddy.
The following morning, I rang my local GP surgery and following three short rings they answered and told me to stay home for seven days, contact Test & Protect, and ring them back if I needed any further help. I told them I was being well looked after and they said “Good luck.” I was now growing more and more confident that there was actually a positive and efficient system that was designed to help me win the future battle over Covid. I was no longer alone.
A few minutes after ringing the GP surgery, a lovely Scottish lass rang me and identified herself in her sweet brogue as a case worker with NHS Scotland Test & Protect and then she asked me if she could ask me a few wee questions. She began by lowering her voice and slowly saying “Professor Goldblatt, I am so sorry about the news you received last evening.” Her genuine empathy brought a wee tear to my ageing eyes. Although she began by saying she was not qualified to dispense medical advice, she obviously did care about my welfare and hoped that I felt better very soon. Score two for NHS Scotland!
Then after we completed the preliminaries of confirming my address and other details she wanted to know the names of everyone I had been with for 48 hours before testing positive. I checked my diary and dutifully provided the names and phone numbers for all my contacts and also told her whom I had individually notified the day before. I must admit it felt a wee bit like my college years when one of my friends would test positive for a sexually transmitted disease and as a precaution everyone they knew was contacted, often with much embarrassment, by local government health officials!
She concluded the interview with asking me, as did the GP Surgery, if I needed any help in the house and I explained that my wife was caring for me and our children stayed nearby. She sweetly said “Well let us know if you need anything, even a carton of milk!” Once again, I felt as though the huge loving arms of NHS Scotland were wrapped tighter and tighter around me to provide comfort during my time of need.
As I thanked her for her prompt help she said “It was my pleasure! You were a delight to speak with today. You really made me smile.” Well, from the depths of my sick bed I am glad I could still bring joy to someone else who is doing such important work, even for a wee while.
Later on, I received telephone calls and texts of support from neighbours, friends and family who offered to help in any way, albeit from a distance. It seems that Covid brings the potential of many packages being left at your front door as you remain isolated.
As I lay in my bed contemplating my future, I hope having been a victor rather than a victim over Covid, it is my fondest wish that my fellow citizens will further recognise how important it is to promote vaccination and test and protect so that we look after one another during these continuing dark days of a global pandemic. I certainly am grateful for the support that my government has put in place in a very short period of time to compassionatrly care for so many so well.
Now, I am counting the days until I escape solitary confinement and am free at last or at least for now! I do wonder now if my wife will require me to wear a mask when I return to the martial bed?
Professor Joe Goldblatt is Emeritus Professor of Planned Events at Queen Margaret University. To read more about his views visit www.joegoldblatt.scot