OPINION: Coming to terms with self-isolating

Self-isolating or social distancing are terms that we’ve all come accustomed to hearing. Living with a disability, self-isolating is essential, and our Australian based columnist Tim Rushby-Smith shares his experiences.

There are times when I miss living in London and being a part of life in one of the world’s great cities.

This is not one of those times.

Living in a small town, miles away from city life, for once I can feel the eyes of jealous urbanites upon me. Those who’d love to swap places now the galleries, bars and restaurants are all closed and a reliance on public transport means a greater risk of infection.


As I write this, we are adjusting to day one of home schooling, made all the more surreal by our living next to the primary school, so that our day is punctuated with bells and the noises of the playground.

It now seems inevitable that all schools will be closed for the foreseeable future, but we chose to self-isolate as a family, in part because of my disability.

As a low-level paraplegic, my respiratory function is not compromised, nor do I have any underlying health conditions that compromise my immune system.

But I am 52, and I do have issues with bladder and bowel function and a risk of pressure sores that all make debilitating illness more than just feeling a bit crummy for a few days, and I certainly want to avoid any trips to hospital if I can.


Sadly, I am not in control of all the variables in this regard. Like many of us, I am at the mercy of the ‘invincibility’ mindset that necessarily occupies the young.

This fuels ambition, risk taking, the search for a partner and various admittedly enjoyable forms of over-indulgence.

On this occasion, the consequences of not taking social distancing seriously will not be borne by the young and invincible, but will instead affect those of us who depend on social responsibility to keep us safe. 

When we finally come out the other side of the COVID-19 crisis, it is unlikely that most things will return to ‘normal’. Our financial and public healthcare systems have been tested and exposed as woefully short of emergency capacity, and the general public’s cynicism and refusal to engage seriously with the political process needs to change if we are to build a better future.

But the other profound impact will be in the consequences of this litmus test of just how seriously people take their responsibility to the vulnerable in our society.

It’s easy to talk a good game, but now the deeds need to match the words. This is not a drill.

How are you coping with self-isolating and social distancing? Let the #EnableCommunity know on Twitter or Instagram, so we can come together with our experiences.

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