Loving A Paramedic During A Pandemic

Stock image of surgical face masks with a title overlaid on it which reads "Loving A Paramedic During A Pandemic"

Note: This post refers to the hypothetical death of a loved one, bulimia and suicidal ideation, as well as of course the Covid pandemic – I’ve got something a lot sexier coming soon, so if any of those topics are hard for you, please give this one a miss! You look after you 💙

I wrote this post mostly across Spring 2021 when I was very angry, and it shows. Enjoy!


March 2020

We’re on our way to Tesco for whatever bread and toilet paper they might have left. My fiancée doesn’t want to use her NHS ID to jump the queue; she feels it would be cheeky when she won’t be working in the coming 24 hours, and there’s nothing we’ll starve without.

The car is stopped at the crest of the hill before Tesco, waiting for the lights to change, and we’re talking about what happens if she dies.

At this point, we don’t know what Covid can and cannot do, nor what the NHS can and cannot do. The news is saturated with death and illness, and I fiddle with the shopping list as we discuss what happens if she becomes another tragedy. What happens with the house? The car? The PS4? She’s a registered organ donor. She doesn’t want a big, miserable funeral. I drag items from the shopping list around so that all the veg is together and so are all the soft drinks and snacks. 

What happens to me?

I try not to be selfish, but in the process I have to swallow my fear. It makes me think of my bulimia days, when everything I swallowed was fear, and I just had to hope I got somewhere private before I needed to puke it all back up. If not, I spent the day feeling tainted, terror casting unflattering shadows over my face.

I finally look her in the eye because I have to, because I have to tell her I love her. I have to tell her I’m proud of her, and that I bear no resentment towards her for running onto the front line, the house and the car and the me be damned. I would do the same thing, I tell her, and I knew she was a run-onto-the-front-line person when I proposed. Whatever happens over the next few months, with Covid or with anything else, we’re in it together.

The traffic moves and we inch towards Tesco with my now-immaculate shopping list.

 

Summer 2020

I couldn’t tell you what month it is. I’m being passed around the Midlands like a suicidal hot potato depending on who might be able to keep me alive this week. My fiancée is miles away, working long shifts and having wobbles in between them. It’s nearly the anniversary of the night I proposed, under the stars with a titanium ring (the most indestructible metal I could afford), promising her the rest of my life, or the rest of hers – whichever ends first.

I didn’t expect it to be a race, but Covid combined with the poverty of the NHS and the unremitting greed of the cunts in charge seem to have pushed us over the starting line. I do what little I can to slow her down – phone calls, gifts in Animal Crossing, every funny Internet picture I can find – but I’m busy tripping over my own feet, and the finish line keeps inching closer.

The graphs are curving upwards and I check them every 4p.m., then consult the news. My thumb hurts from switching between data and news and the social networks where my friends live and die. I click it back into place so I can send my fiancée another meme.

 

January 2021

To say I’m not a morning person is an understatement; it might be more accurate to say I’m barely a person in the mornings at all. Still, when my fiancée’s alarm goes off at 4 a.m., I stagger downstairs ahead of her. I get us both cans of Monster from the fridge and I pound mine like I’m a fresher again, only this time the fuzziness is exhaustion, not booze. I help her assemble her lunch, remind her to take her meds and tell her I love her at least a few times before she kisses me goodbye and heads off for another shift, all before the birds have started with their dawn chorus.

She tells me every time that I don’t have to get up with her, but truthfully I don’t know how many more of these bleary-eyed breakfasts we might have, and at least I get to nap during the day. Besides, I have to be the one to make her sandwiches, because I have to put love into them so they taste better.

 

When she brought Covid home, I wasn’t surprised. I knew it was only a matter of time, which is why I stopped visiting my mum (asthmatic, with a boyfriend in heart failure) when I started living with my fiancée. (I stopped visiting anyone, obviously, but I miss my mum the most, and she’s the person it would be the most dangerous for me to infect. Life is cruel like that.) I didn’t feel any fear that I hadn’t already faced and compartmentalised, even when it became evident I was Covid-positive too. I was irked by the facts of the situation, that this would mean two weeks of maddening self-isolation for us both and that I felt run down as all hell, but what I felt most was a hot, indignant anger – not at my fiancée, or even at whichever patient it might have been who gave her Covid, but at the people who didn’t care. 

I want to believe I’m a patient, compassionate person, but I was already infuriated by the people – on the news, on social media, that I see in town – who just didn’t care. I have some degree of sympathy for the people who believe that the coronavirus is a hoax or some kind of government/5G/Bill Gates plot, because I too am deeply untrusting, scared and confused. But the people who just didn’t give a shit, who are going to parties or baby showers or raves or their mate’s house just for a cheeky visit, were already pissing me off long before my fiancée tested positive. I’ve been spending long days alone with my thoughts while she worked, missing my mum and concerts and nights out with so much intensity that it sometimes physically hurt, and seeing story after story about people who flouted the rules simply because they wanted to, more than they wanted to keep other humans safe.

So I was already pissed off with people’s selfishness and recklessness, the government’s prioritisation of money over human lives and a thousand other things, when I found out that my missus now had an illness that we still know very little about (and what we do know isn’t reassuring), as a direct result of saving other people’s lives at work. Again, I want to believe that I’m patient and compassionate, but two weeks of monitoring our temperatures and oxygen sats in between aches and pains and a lot of coughing made me want to punch some people in the face. I want so badly to let go of this anger, which is white-hot enough to burn me, but I check the clock again, wondering if she’s been for her meal break yet (probably not), and I feel it sear my insides – but all I can do is wait, so I wait.

 

She arrives home safe and brings the cold in with her, the bite of January blowing through the hall and into the living room. I ask her about her shift and she tells what I already know: that it was exhausting, and miserable, and she missed me. We manage to scrape something or other together for dinner, we watch a YouTube video or five, and then she goes to bed. She apologises for being so tired, for not being talkative, for going so long without fucking me, and I wave all of it away. I don’t tell her how relieved I am, every time, that she got home in one piece. I don’t tell her that I can think of countless reasons she might not have – combative patients, cars that don’t stop for blue lights, a terror attack – but I do tell her that she doesn’t owe me an apology for anything.

The people who owe me a fucking apology are probably at a rave right now. 

Should We, Like, Even Have Pride 2020?

Content note: This post discusses the coronavirus pandemic as well as the cancellation of Pride 2020 and other events, and, more importantly, racism and the protests currently unfolding in the US following the death of yet another Black man at the hands of a police officer. Obviously, that’s kinda heavy, so please take care of yourselves first – you can’t pour from an empty (or debilitatingly traumatised) cup.


I’ve been lucky enough to go to a number of brilliant pride events. Even when they’ve been overwhelming, and a little lacking in the accessibility department, and thoroughly rained upon, I’ve been warmed through by a sense of community and safety that I rarely find outside of kink spaces and small pockets of the internet. Like a lot of people, I was really looking forward to Pride 2020.

Except, well, it’s 2020.

There’s a pandemic going on, just in case you had somehow not heard (and I’m so fucking jealous of you if you hadn’t). That, obviously, means that physical pride events are going to be difficult to organise in a safe and responsible way. I’ve been grieving the loss of a lot of opportunities and things I was excited about and any sense of normality, so pride events being cancelled is something I’m kinda already emotionally prepared for. Besides, it’s not physical events that I’m the most invested in (again, overwhelming and inaccessible) – it’s pride month.

Pride month is usually a lot of fun. It’s the month before my birthday, and everything in the shops is dipped in rainbows and other pride flags. The memes are usually impeccable. There are fruitful discussions about the LGBT+ rights movement, and less fruitful “discussions” with trolls (I can’t help it! They’re so easy to wind up!). Most pride months, there’s a hum in the air, like every LGBT+ person is vibrating with excitement at the prospect of painting flags onto their faces and getting wasted. Generally, the vibe is a positive, uplifting one.

I don’t know how or if we could achieve that vibe this year without the coronavirus involved, though, because there’s another reason that I’m writing this blog post: the protests in the United States.

I’m not equipped to talk about what’s going on. I’m not well-informed enough, in my own opinion, but more importantly than that: I’m white. As far as I’m concerned, that means my job is to boost the voices of Black people and other people of colour, but not to come to any grand conclusions on my own and then spout them from my white-person soapbox. I want to be helpful, but in this case, I’m pretty sure the most helpful thing to do would be to listen to Black people, spread the protest bail funds and other helpful information, and tell other white people to bloody well behave themselves.

A while ago, I wrote a blog post called Chicken Wings: A Clumsy Metaphor About Race. That post paradoxically discouraged white fragility and catered to it, by reminding white people that the people who call them out for racist behaviours are trying to help them be less racist. Even at the time, I didn’t love framing it in a way that fed the white egos reading it, but I was trying to be patient and gentle with y’all because I have enough privilege to take a softly-softly approach to anti-racism discussions.

I do not, however, have enough patience for said approach. I’m sick of watching my fellow white people defending cops, criticising the actions of protesters, sharing shit without double-checking its legitimacy or helpfulness… the list goes on. I’m sick of watching white people just… not… care about other human beings. I cannot begin to imagine how much more sick of it most POC are.

So, even though we could do a virtual Pride 2020 – should we? Should we be celebrating while other people are fighting for their rights and getting teargassed in response? Should we all have rainbow-y icons and hang out in group chats and listen to absolutely banging tunes while drinking on Zoom with some mates?

The answer is, of course, that I can’t answer that. Neither can people of colour, because (surprise surprise), they aren’t a monolith. They don’t have meetings about their official stances on various issues. Instead, they’re all individuals – but some of them are community organisers and activists, and I plan to find a few of those people to listen to as June unfolds. I honestly won’t mind if Pride 2020 sort of falls on its face, gets postponed or is entirely written off, because human rights are more important to me than getting to draw flags on my face. You know, obviously.

I don’t want to include just one masterpost of helpful resources in case I miss out something vital, so I implore you (especially if you’re white) to go and do some research about how best to help both the protesters currently operating in the US and the Black Lives Matter movement more broadly. Donate to things, physically turn up and help protesters where you safely can, and remember: wash your hands, don’t touch your face, get a burner phone and never, ever trust a cop.

Alright, Fine, I’ll Write About The Fucking Pandemic

Content note: This post is about the coronavirus pandemic, and also mentions suicidal ideation. If that’s not your jam, no worries! Read some older posts or come back soon, and keep up with me on Twitter if you want to know when I next post!


I haven’t wanted to write about the novel coronavirus pandemic. I haven’t wanted to cash in on that sweet, sweet SEO while people have been dying, separated from their families, scared and in pain. I haven’t wanted to remind y’all of how dire things have been, still are, might yet get. I haven’t wanted to speak out of turn, being a sex blogger and an English student and not a medic or epidemiologist or anything else relevant.

But I’ve reached the Fuck-It Point now, so I’m writing about the fucking pandemic.

It has knocked me for six. I am super privileged in that I haven’t had to shield (though my mum has) and I’m at a fancy-bitch university that was already prepared to take action. There are lots of ways in which coronavirus could have ruined my life, and it hasn’t. But it has ruined my life in two very big ways.

The first is that it has absolutely annihilated the limited sense of safety I had when navigating the world. There’s a one-way system in most shops now that makes me fear the telling-off I might get when I autistically wander off and accidentally violate the rules. Everyone looks to be on their guard and that unsettles me. The only thing that unsettles me more is the idea that the government was and is willing to send people out into education and the workforce in the name of “herd immunity”.

Knowing that the government would let me die for the sake of their bottom line is not news to me, as a trans, autistic, mentally-ill person. Seeing them be so brazen about it, though, and watching them send small children back to school now as tiny, adorable sacrificial lambs to see whether it’s a good idea to open things up or not, that’s terrifying. If they’re brave enough to send PR-friendly little people onto the firing line, what the fuck is next?

The other, more obvious way that this pandemic has ruined my life is: all my plans have been cancelled. Yes, yes, I know, like every other motherfucker on Earth, except – I’m autistic. I don’t like change. Plans changing suddenly makes me feel ill. I spent all of January and February getting my brain ready for Eroticon in March, and then found that the organisers had (rightly, responsibly) cancelled the event. I had outfits planned and a workshop timetable written up and the same hotel as last time booked for the same number of days. And then it was cancelled, and I sobbed.

Eroticon is an exceptional example because, in some ways, I put too many eggs in that basket. When booking my tickets last summer, before anyone could have possibly predicted a global pandemic, I told myself, “Well, now I’ve gotta stay alive ’til March!” and took it as a challenge. It would be rude to kill myself when I’ve already bought a ticket, after all. But its cancellation, amid increasing disruption to my uni life, kicked the wind out of me. It seemed like the universe was recommending I kill myself so strongly that it was also killing tens of thousands of other people, as collateral. I cried a lot about how I had caused the coronavirus pandemic, until I could be convinced to phone my psychiatrist.

I miss seminars. Sorely, sorely miss them. I miss seeing my mum. I miss dropping in on my girlfriend and her cats at a moment’s notice. I miss Pick’n’Mix and loitering in Primark with people who are also game to make fun of their products and by God I miss nights out. (I have already planned my outfit for my first night out after lockdown. It involves a very slutty dress, and Doc Martens, for dancing my absolute tits off. Y’all are gonna love it.) There are so many things I feel robbed of, and the autistic six-year-old who still lives in my brain has spent a lot of time reminding me that “It’s not fair!”

But of course it’s not fair. We live in a world where human lives are treated with less respect than the invisible numbers that make up the stock market. Avoidable deaths are happening everywhere. People are going bankrupt. This pandemic has been more unfair on other people than it has been on me.

And yet! Here I am, complaining! Because I want to remind you that “Other people have it worse” is not the same as “I have it great”. Because I want to tell other autistic people that they aren’t suffering with all this disruption alone. Because, God damn it, I deserve to vent, without explaining myself, just because my feelings are real and valid and eating me alive. I plan to vent more with angsty poetry and singing too loud in the shower, but this was my public vent. Because this pandemic fucking sucks for all of us.


The pandemic and subsequent lockdown that’s going on right now means that I’ve lost a lot of work opportunities (because every other fucker at my agency is snagging jobs before I can). If you want to help me out, please do consider buying me a coffee or commissioning transcripts or captions from me!