I’ve been waiting a while before writing about the current state of the world and its effect on me, my life and the chronic pain.

I’ve been feeling quite confident with a kind of ‘meh’ attitude about the daily routine. I’ve been sleeping like a baby and if I remove the financial stress from the situation, I’d have to say, I’m having a jolly time!

As the silence began to build outside a few weeks ago, I found myself listening to the news hourly – that was about the only thing that changed for me when COVID19 stopped the world.

It’ll be dawning on you… I’ve had a lot of experience with ‘isolation’! I’ve been living a scaled-down life for much of my last 13 years.

Living a life within a 1-3 km radius and not seeing family, friends or living as freely as I like has been my PhD study topic!

Profession: Isolation specialist and physical distancing Queen.

In fact, without the physical demands of working, seeing family, friends and socialising, my physical ability has increased and the pain levels have even dropped a little!

I walk twice a day! And I’m also sharing puppy training duties as well. Yes, we welcomed Olive to our home – a medium size Labradoodle (pictured with me being picked up).

This decision to welcome a new fur child is evidence of mine and Theo’s isolation experience. Did someone say, ‘plan to stay home’?

We’ve got this!

Theo’s and my conversation went like this;

‘Honey, given we won’t get to go away this year and it’s going to be financially impossible to afford a holiday, why don’t we move our plans forward to welcome a dog?’

‘It’s a great idea, we’ll be distracted and it’s the perfect time to train a puppy too’.

We know what it means to tuck in, stay tucked in and to have to occupy yourself for a very long time.

It’s not all a party

The second worst part of chronic illness is the effect it can have on your livelihood. The stigma associated with workers compensation (and unemployment benefits) has suddenly dropped with the experience somewhat shared.

Not fun having to stand in a queue and ask for money, is it? Oh but you can explain, it’s not your fault.

Will people finally accept that life can get so bad that you are unable to work?

For many years I came face to face (and also not face to face) with people who couldn’t imagine the awful reality of unemployment and this has not only been frustrating but also insulting.

‘I can’t stop working’, ‘I never had a sick day’, ‘I work through all kinds of pain, nothing will stop me’, on and on it went. But some situations can stop you from working. And they can stop life. And it is beyond your control.

But there’s light at the end of the tunnel for people avoiding COVID19. They will come out of this time with their health and physically able to work. The stuffed economy may be another story.

But for just a few seconds, for a few weeks, perhaps injured workers will finally be able to have their experiences realised like never before. I’ve welcomed the compassionate tweets of the Hon Jill Hennessy and WorkSafe Victoria through COVID19:

#Coronavirus has changed everything about the way we live & work. It’s made the everyday things hard, and sometimes made paying the rent impossible. When we all need to focus on our health, that’s the last thing you should have to worry about. – Jill Hennessy

And I have responded (how could I not?!)

Hope this #coronavirus time provides the reality both gov @WorkSafe_Vic have been missing from #workerscompensation. File your tweet & take it to #springst. I had to use my home as equity when I declared a p/t capacity & the claim was rejected. Horrific isn’t it?

How has the system escaped responsibility from decades of ignorance and unethical behaviour?

I’m not sure if it was a recent letter I emailed to Hon Jill Hennessy and WorkSafe Vic, or my tweets, or my personal experience being used as a case study in the 2019 Vic Ombudsman’s report, or the many years of endless complaints but… an email did come in and it was an offer of financial support!

Gobsmacking but true, I have support while the gallery doors are closed and I didn’t have to go to conciliation or call a lawyer to receive it.

Hard to believe the system may have grown some empathy and common sense but this is a welcome step forward.

In regard to the future of our young business… well, time will tell. The situation is truly terrifying and the arts – as essential as they are to our wellbeing have received a second huge blow (the first being the withdrawn representation in Parliament).

The fear of having to rebuild our work-life again (again!) is terrifying. We’re hopeful that won’t happen. Our experience has made us fierce when it comes to life management and creatives are damn resourceful people! So dear reader, you’ve been following me for a loooong time now, if you’re thinking of acquiring original (and amazing) Australian artwork, please head this way!

What else is COVID19 teaching the world?

No one can understand chronic pain and invisible illness precisely unless they experience it.

Preventing COVID19 isn’t exactly like living with chronic pain but there are similarities. ‘Reduce your life, shrink it, don’t see people, don’t go out and don’t work’ and commit to that for years, decades, possibly life – that’s definitely different.

No one can see all the effort and sacrifice it takes to avoid pain. The COVID19 measures that I now see the world being forced to embrace make me think people might just get my strange pain approach and thoughts:

Me: ‘Don’t do that, it will hurt later’

Me: ‘But I want to. I feel so great today’

Me: ‘But you won’t feel great tomorrow. In fact, you’ll feel very bad tomorrow’.

Me: ‘That’s hard. It’s just sitting in a chair.’

Me: ‘But that will cause pain… again.’

Me: Do something else, what else can you do?

Me: Walk, I’ll walk, I’ll walk faster, longer, harder…

Me: No, walk. Just walk, maybe walk a little further. But only a little further each month.

Weird right? That’s my day. That’s my approach with everything I do. So right now, the life scale back is just lovely! No work, not much play and I have one happier pelvis.

In the case of the globe protecting itself from COVID19, the difference can be life or death. With chronic pain, the difference is having some quality of life (if you are fortunate to even get to that point) and feeling like you’re treading water each second of the day.

Welcome to COVID19 – Life Limitation Paradiso everyone. This is my backward, upside down, small, light world.

I can only bid you all a speedy return to your original lives. May you never have to embrace limitations in your life post-COVID19 ever, ever again!