A calculated risk

Several areas in Wales are now in local lockdown, the nearest being Llanelli (pronounced chlanechli with a soft ch like in loch) which is about 35 miles away and in the same county. It is the first time a local lockdown has not been across a whole local authority area and it would be no surprise if it was extended even though this very rural area has very few cases. Most of the restrictions are in the more urban areas so about two thirds of the population are affected even though they cover much less of the land area.

The latest moves to halt the spread of the virus coincided with a management meeting at Dyfed Permacultire Farm Trust where we discussed requests to hold some events in our partly built roundhouse. Being unfinished it has a roof to keep the rain off but no walls so counts as an outdoor space! Today I went to the dentist to have a broken filling replaced – a treatment scheduled for the first week of full lockdown at the end of March. All these things coming together made me realise that throughout this pandemic I have been making my own risk assessments of potential activities.

Some time ago I listened to a radio podcast which mentioned that ALAMA (the Association of Local Authority Medical Advisors) had produced a way of assessing an individuals risk of being severely affected by Covid 19. The idea seems to be that a local authority can work out which employees are high risk and should be asked to work from home and who is low risk so can reasonably be expected to get the bus to work and sit in the office. Out of interest I looked at the website (https://alama.org.uk/covid-19-medical-risk-assessment/). It seems I am at moderate risk despite being 70, because I am female, white anglo saxon and in good health. So it seems I don’t need to be ultra cautious.

However moderate is not low! Then another podcast mentioned the work of a scientist who believes that the improvement in survival rates is not wholly explained by improved expertise in treating those who fall ill. He noticed a close correlation with the rising temperatures in spring and summer. He works mainly on some obscure chemical in the mucus which our lungs produce all the time to catch bugs and pollutants and which is swept up to the throat and down into the stomach where the acids kill all the nasties. This system works best in damp air. So in winter when we all huddle in centrally heated homes and offices where the air is usually very dry it is less effective. Come the warmer weather we open windows, go outside more and the mucus works better. Unusually the Covid-19 virus is not killed by stomach acid (which had me wondering how effective all these alcohol gels are but that is another issue) and that , he thinks, is why some people have a sort of gastric flu not the classic cough. Luckily that version is much less likely to kill you. Not being able to breathe is the really dangerous effect. He suggested drying washing in the bedroom, opening windows and going outside as often as possible. Since none of those can be monetised he is not expecting any funding for clinical trials to test his ideas any time soon! On the other hand they are all things I do anyway so it seems that if I do get infected I may stand a slightly improved chance of surviving.

The new unfinished roundhouse at Dyfed Permaculture Farm Trust. We are now finding its unfinished state very useful!

Ideally of course I should try not to get infected in the first place. Which means limiting my contact with other people and especially with other people who have, themselves, contact with a lot of people. Most of the time I am here on my own. The friends and neighbours I meet are just as isolated as I am so unlikely to infect me but we meet outside whenever possible. The meetings I need to go to are held out of doors in the unfinished roundhouse pictured above. The hairdresser I go to is scrupulously careful and the dentist this morning was in full PPE. The library quarantines books between each loan and I have to request my selection online then get an appointment to drop off my returns and collect my new books through an open door. I have, though, decided that I will not shop in the supermarkets. At the cost of losing some choice of products I can get everything I need in local shops which are generally quieter and where so far social distancing has been carefully maintained. I am also using Amazon for household items which might involve me going to several shops before finding what I am looking for.

Probably my greatest regular risk is working with Laura who lives in the cabin in the garden rent free in return for helping me in the garden. When we work together we are outside or in a very large and well ventilated shed and mostly more than 2 metres apart. Since Laura works in a care setting she is in contact with quite a few people but part of her role is to educate the students in her care about the need to observe the pandemic rules. Overall she seems a relatively small risk and the benefit of her help is considerable.

Next weekend I will go to visit my daughter. The first visit since she left her husband and moved into her own home. She lives in a large town in England and works in a school. It will be the biggest risk I have taken in 6 months! Well worth it to see her and her new place. I will just have to balance it by being extra careful when I get back – not just for my sake but so that if I have picked up Covid-19 I keep it to myself and don’t spread it around.

How are you managing the risks at present? I would love to hear how you are making your assessments and anything you have found useful. It seems we are nowhere near the end of this pandemic so all help gratefully received!

11 thoughts on “A calculated risk

  1. Laurie Graves September 28, 2020 / 2:12 pm

    Good post! We all have to decide how much risk we are willing to tolerate. But when it comes to our children, I suspect most of us will take greater risk with them than we would with most people. Because, you know, they are our children. That unfinished round house looks like a perfect place to gather during this time of Covid-19.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Going Batty in Wales September 29, 2020 / 10:06 am

      Spot on Laurie! However old our kids are they are still our kids!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. tialys September 28, 2020 / 4:30 pm

    I did the quiz and came out as ‘moderate’ like you. I suppose my biggest risk is when my husband comes over from the U.K. but, as he will have been in quarantine for two weeks whilst there and is careful when travelling to wear a mask and keep a distance and I would like to see him occasionally, I consider it a risk worth taking. The only thing I’ve changed really is I don’t go to my pilates and Zumba classes any more. I miss it but I have so much to do to prepare for moving that I resent the time it takes to travel there and, anyway, I can do similar stuff using Youtube in the safety of my own home, That’s not to say I’ve had the self discipline to actually do it but, you know, I could. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Going Batty in Wales September 29, 2020 / 10:08 am

      I am glad to know you let your husband come home! I share the self-discipline problem when it comes to yoga. It keeps getting squeezed out by things that are urgent.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. anne54 September 29, 2020 / 9:40 pm

    We have to work out what is our acceptable level of risk. You have obviously gone through that process and have arrived at a level for you. Assessing risk is quite a complicated thing. Not only do we have to assess what is right for us as individuals, but what is right for others we care about and indeed society as a whole. A young person who wants to spend an evening at the pub may weigh up the risk to herself, even if she gets the virus, as fairly low. But there are other considerations for her ~ family members and friends who may be more vulnerable, and then maybe passing it on to other unknown members of the community. Just when we hoped that life would become a little easier we have to make these tough decisions!
    Have a lovely time with your daughter. What a special treat it will be for both of you.


    • Going Batty in Wales September 30, 2020 / 9:17 am

      Thank you Anne, I will. And when I get back I will be extra careful of those I meet because as you say I have a duty to not be a risk to them.


  4. quietwatercraft September 30, 2020 / 2:49 pm

    Oh I wish I hadn’t looked at that calculator. I am low risk, but the boyfriend is Very High. He’d be Very VERY High if it went that far.
    I’ve never been that bothered about having Covid myself, but I lose sleep over the possibility that I could bring it back to him and cause irreparable damage, so I behave as though I’m high risk as well.


    • Going Batty in Wales October 1, 2020 / 9:35 am

      I am so sorry that my post led you to worry more. I don’t know what your work is or why your boyfriend is at such a high risk but having cared for my late husband through lots of chemotherapy I do understand the anxiety. Behaving as if you are high risk is all you can do to protect him. Good luck and virtual hugs to you both.


    • Going Batty in Wales October 3, 2020 / 10:46 am

      Sadly I have stayed at home. I will explain in my next post.


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