18th May 2020
Writing: Miss Cronin
Here is the third edition of 'How our Alumni are Coping in Lockdown' series:
Mo Karim (Class of 2019)
From a number of different perspectives, the last few weeks have been incredibly novel for me. At the University of Warwick, our first year exams were all cancelled, instead being replaced by a series of essays and online learning courses. Being brutally honest, this was very much welcomed as it meant I would have my first exam free summer in a while. Subsequently to keep productive, I have been offering some public speaking courses to children and adults as part of a little enterprise I set up called MMK Public Speaking.MMK Public Speaking
Currently I’m celebrating the month of Ramadhan in lockdown. In previous years, the month had become synonymous with going to the Mosque daily, praying in congregation and breaking the fast (Iftaar) together with friends and the wider Muslim community. Therefore Ramadhan at home initially seemed very, very strange. Yet it has provided me with many new opportunities, as the time which would have been spent at the mosque is now spent by taking part in global family zoom calls, exercising in the last thirty minutes before breaking the fast and a lot more time for self reflection.
David Munro, Biomedical Scientist, (Class of 1994)
Life after DCGS took me, via Scotland and Surrey, to Sweden, where I have for the last 18 years worked in the Department of Clinical Chemistry and Pharmacology at Akademiska Hospital in Uppsala, around 40 miles north of Stockholm. Our department analyses samples to aid in diagnosis and treatment. We recieve thousands of samples each day. Recently many have borne a red dot - Coronavirus infection known or suspected.
Despite what you have heard, Sweden is mostly locked down, only here it is by recommendation and encouragement from the government, rather than by rule. The streets are emptier and I see a lot fewer people on my morning cycle to work. Luckily our healthcare system is holding up quite well, despite failings in geriatric care, and unfortunate circumstances that led to Stockholm becoming an infection hotspot, the location of the bulk of Swedish cases. Our daily work has changed surprisingly little, though small details have. There are tests that are now being run as many times daily as they would weekly - metabolic markers of the virus. Most of those from our ICU. Reagent supplies are a worry for us, much as the newly started wards for Covid care scrabble for the essential equipment they need. We're understaffed as people stay home sick, putting extra strain on everyone. We have robust systems in place to prevent infection from our regular work.
To put a positive spin on things, seasonal influenza and norovirus infections were drastically cut this year as everyone got more hygeine conscious. The greatest strain is mental, being in a highly pressurised environment every day. How the doctors and the nurses on the frontline cope is a mystery to me. We should be past the worst... for now, there may be a long way to go still. My hope is that the manner in which the pandemic has been handled in Sweden will leave us more resistant to potential future spikes in viral activity, as well as being more easy to maintain as long as needed. No headlines howling for freedom here. There is so much we don't know about this virus it is impossible to predict how the coming months will be.
Barbara Crane, Retired Teacher, (Class of 1962)
I retired from teaching at the end of October 2019, after some 51 years, so in one respect I had some practice before the restrictions hit. Some sort of routine is important, and my husband and I are out for a walk every morning. Keeping in touch with friends and family is crucial, positive news helps. I have enjoyed listening to Bruckner's Mass Number 2 in E Minor in the (possibly forlorn) hope that a December concert might be able to go ahead. I have been reading Peter May's book 'Lockdown'; an odd choice perhaps, but if nothing else it makes me appreciate the relatively civilised state of the current situation!
As a bioloigist I am very interested in the science of COVID 19, and the C-19 research app is something I look at regularly. I would add though, that it is possible to 'overdose' on the news. All our family live a considerable distance away, and like many of the older generation we particularly miss our young grandchildren. Cancelling our Golden Wedding celebrations has added to feeling of missing out. In the scheme of things, however, this is of no consequence when I think of families cooped up in flats and those on their own, with financial problems or ill. I think it's important to accept that many of us will have periods when we feel down and at a loss, I try to hold on to a long term perspective. My mood is certainly boosted when I feel useful and contribute to the local community.