Coronavirus

Surviving the coronavirus in Spain

Kilkenny’s Cathy Hogan writes about living in lockdown in Spain

Cathy Hogan

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Cathy Hogan

Surviving the coronavirus in Spain

Cathy Hogan

I never thought I would say this, but I hope I have Covid-19.
Soon after I began my daily blog: ‘Surviving Coronavirus Spainʼ I regretted the choice of title in case people thought that I actually had the virus, instead of the intended meaning: about surviving the lockdown here in Spain during the pandemic. Now I suspect it was correctly named in the first place, because maybe I have contracted Covid-19.
I have been feeling ʻoffʼ for nearly a week now I hope that I have the virus because my symptoms are still mild and I would therefore be developing antibodies. Hopefully this would also mean that I canʼt catch a worse strain in the future. With the added bonus that, once the worst of the spread across Spain is over, people who can prove that they have recovered from the virus may be the first allowed to leave lockdown.
One complication is that I am isolating with my boyfriend, Alan. Since I am not insured to drive his van the responsibility lies with him to go to town every couple of weeks for food, medical supplies and water (which has to be bought or filled from the town font). I havenʼt been away from our farm-sit in over three weeks so if I have the virus, the presumption is that Alan brought it home within his system, or on a shopping item. Since he hasn’t shown any symptoms, he is either an asymptomatic carrier, or didnʼt catch it from the item that I did.
I’m occasionally feverish but unfortunately we donʼt have a thermometer and the pharmacies Alan visited last month were out of stock. Today we tried out the milk thermometer (usually used when making frothy cappuccinos). I was surprised that it even gave each of us different, if inexact, readings, with mine showing to be above normal.
On a positive note, tomorrow Alan will collect six hens that we ordered from the pet shop beside our supermarket and weʼre very excited about the prospect of getting our own ʻEaster Eggsʼ! While on his ʻchicken runʼ Alan will again try the pharmacy for a thermometer. We live so remotely that we canʼt have mail delivered here and our post office box is in another town. These are the challenges of remote off-grid living with travel restrictions. And here in Catalonia they are strict, and for very good reason - we live in one of the most infected regions in one of the most infected countries in the world. Last weekend the authorities blocked off most entrances into towns so that everyone must drive through a police checkpoint and present documentation to justify every stage of your journey.
I ended up in northern Spain by a ʻlucky accidentʼ. As soon as I finished paying the mortgage on my apartment I planned to ʻopt outʼ of my usual life of prioritising work and using what time that was left over to enjoy the people and things that I loved. Last September I decided to move form Kilkenny to somewhere warmer and cheaper so that I could do a lot more writing and reading. My scooter and I took a one-way ferry to Spain, but the bike died at the end of the first day, four hundred kilometres into a one thousand kilometre journey. I reached out to the motorbiking community for advice on buying a replacement (which isnʼt allowed for non-residents here) and through this, I met Alan virtually. We met in person last December and have been together since.
If you want to know me, come live with me, they say. So, in January I did just that. What could possibly go wrong? Two months later, weʼre in lockdown together. And now, possibly contracting the Covid-19 together.
Feelings over the past 22 days
Week One - 98 people with Covid-19 died on day one of lockdown, March 15th
Confusion: No one seems to know whatʼs going on.
Inspiration: Letʼs plan for the worst and hope for the best.
Motivation: Thereʼs so much I can do to make this work.
Determination: Iʼm going to come out of this stronger in every way.
Week Two - On 21st March, death toll for the day: 391
Confusion: Iʼm checking all of the official resources but thereʼs a lot of conflicting information.
Exploration: What can I do to improve my health and wellbeing?
Inspiration: There are a lot of great ideas and support networks out there.
Anger: Why isnʼt everyone following the official advice?
Fear: The circle of people with the virus is closing in.
Cancelled: our work and family trips home in April. And my goddaughterʼs partner may not be allowed into the delivery room for the birth of their first child in June. In August
they probably have to cancel their August wedding and our international family reunion.
Week Three - On 29th March, death toll for the day: 821
Resignation: A family member may get seriously ill or die from Covid-19.
Anger: There are people out there who believe that lockdown is for everyone else, and some still believe the whole thing is a hoax.
Fatigue: Iʼm working hard physically and emotionally to keep fit and improve our lives on the farm.
Inspiration: Thankfully many people are doing their best for themselves and others.
The start of Week Four - death toll for 4th April: 809
Hope: Maybe the fatigue and fever are symptoms that I have contracted Covid-19 and my body is creating antibodies.