All EOS blogs All Spain blogs  Start your own blog Start your own blog 

My Covid-19 Diary - March 2020 to date

The Coronavirus pandemic has hit the world hard, with over 120 million global victims. I am British, married to a German and we live in Andalucía in the Serranía de Ronda.
This blog contains articles I've written over the last 14 months which are about a weird life of curfews, lockdowns, masks, hand gel, rules and regulations and, for those of us who have been affected directly, the vicious after-effects of the virus, long-Covid, bereavement and financial ruin.

Covid-19 Pluses
14 August 2021

There is absolutely no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has been a catastrophe of massive proportions.

People have lost lives (4.3 million worldwide), livelihoods, relatives, friends. It has been a complete disaster.

Nevertheless out of bad can come good. Pablo de Ronda feels very strongly about this.

The Covid-19 virus has hit us very badly at a personal level. My wife, Rita, nearly died of it in January, although she is now recovering well after a horrendous four months suffering at the hands of “el bicho”, as the Spanish call this bug.

As for me I have developed long-Covid, which has left my lungs in a very poor state, leaving me breathless after the most minor exertion, eg walking 50 metres. My balance has been affected also and I have constant pins and needles in the fingers and toes of my left side. But, hey, I’m alive!

My pneumologist is doing his best, for which I am extremely grateful.

Pluses

However, as the title of this article implies, there are pluses to Covid-19 for some people, not just manufacturers of face masks and disinfectant gels and online retailers like Amazon.

The main plus for us that we have lurched out of a period of torpor, during which we were doing very little.

Apart from getting back to writing, gardening and DIY, my main loves, I have done a number of things for the first time in my life since the pandemic began in March 2020.

I have built an Arab-style brick column, which my albañil, bricklayer, assumed I got some other professional in to do!

I did an interview in Spanish for local TV and I’ve just had my first ever article in Spanish published in the print media.

I swam in the Mediterranean Sea in December!

I built a car port with friends Kevin and Michael in summer 2020, after lockdown ended.

A few weeks ago I built a child’s swing with José Antonio and Stewart, for my grandchildren to play on when they manage to get over from the UK.

I got my first-ever dog, Berti, in 2020, but he was sadly killed by a hit-and-run driver a few weeks ago.

I successfully grew some “exotic” vegetables for the first time this year, including aubergines, leeks and squashes.

I got a new “job”, at age 71, as an affiliate of estate agency Andalucía Country Houses, which has just opened a new branch in Montejaque, the village near Ronda where I now live.

I bottled olives from my own tree for the first time – about 10 kilos. They taste lovely.

Finally, in April 2021 I bought a VW Camper van. Let’ see if I can persuade the missus to go away in it!

That would be a real plus.

I’ll keep you posted.



Like 0        Published at 04:53   Comments (0)


Maskerade
10 August 2021

Some people collect stamps, others beer mats.  A friend of mine collects vintage cars and I had a phase some years ago of collecting elephants. Now there is a new trend in town – collecting COVID-19 face masks.

Since Coronavirus turned all our worlds upside down and the wearing of face masks has become compulsory in some countries, like Spain, the manufacturers of mascarillas have been inspired. Shops of all kinds have impressive displays of imaginative masks to suit all tastes and pockets, anything from 2.50€ to 6.99€. One high class ladies’ dress shop in Ronda has masks made of the same material as some of their expensive outfits.

My wife, the Meter Maid (she’s called Rita!), has put together quite a large collection, about twenty. She certainly has a mask for each part of her current wardrobe. And I’ve got together quite a few too, approaching ten. One of my favourites is a grinning clown mask, which invariably gets a laugh when I wear it. I also came across a FC Barcelona mask which I bought straightaway just to annoy my Spanish friends who all support Real Madrid. However, in the interests of fairness I got a Madrid mask too por si acaso. And , to be fair, they did win the Spanish Liga last season.

The best face mask I have had I gave away to my friend Álvaro who owns a hotel, bar and restaurant in Montejaque. I thought I’d be able to get a replacement, but by the following day the shop had sold out and hasn’t had any more of this particular mask since. Doh!

If you want to know what the mask says, visit the bar of the Restaurante Entre Ascuas in the main square in Montejaque, where it adorns the beer tap on the bar.



Like 0        Published at 04:54   Comments (0)


Getting the Covid-19 Jab
10 August 2021

While the UK struts its stuff boasting about how many people they have vaccinated (is this the only thing Bojo and his bunch of fellow clowns has got right when it comes to the Coronavirus?), the rest of Europe, including Spain, has been less successful with their vaccination programmes. This has come about because of a mixture of poor organisation, bad procurement and lack of supply. The fiasco of the Astra Zeneca boycott by some countries hasn’t helped either.

How has it been for EyeOnSpain contributor Pablo de Ronda?

 

Thursday am

My mobile rings

¿Rita Whitelock?

No, soy su marido. Rita es nombre de mujer y yo soy un hombre. Se nota por mi voz.

(Embarrassed cough.)

It was a call to offer my wife Rita a vaccination date.

¿Cuándo?

Mañana a las 12 horas.

Lo siento. Está fuera de España. Vuelve el lunes que viene.

Vale. Llamamos otra vez la semana que viene.

 

Friday pm

My mobile rings

¿Rita Whitelock?

No, soy su marido. Rita es nombre de mujer y yo soy un hombre. Se nota por mi voz.

(Embarrassed cough.)

It was a call to offer my wife Rita a vaccination date.

¿Cuándo?

Esta tarde a las cuatro.

Lo siento. Está fuera de España. Vuelve el lunes que viene.

I explained that my wife was out of the country until Monday. I also explained to the nice lady about having a similar call yesterday and that I was told they would ring again – next week, not the next day!

She apologised for the confusion and suggested we ring the Centro de Salud ourselves to make an appointment.

OK. We can do that.

 

Saturday am

Rita is 69, so she is in the cohort being given the Johnson and Johnson version.

I’m 70 and am in a different cohort which is due to be jabbed also in April (it’s already 24th April, by the way, and I haven’t heard a dickie-bird.)

I read in SUR in English that 70 to 79-year-olds are to get the newly approved Janssen drug, which only requires one injection to be fully effective. Suits me.

Then, as soon as possible, I want to get el pasaporte verde to verify my Covid-19 status and let me travel without hassle. Can’t wait – no £100 a night quarantine in a UK hotel necessary then!

Hey, Amy, Carlo, Felix and Jude! And Jeryl! I’m on my way to Bow in the East End of London!

Tom, Su and Wilbur. See you by the sea in St. Leonard’s on Sea!

Simon and Marilyn. Get that double bed in your guest bedroom in South Gloucestershire made up!



Like 0        Published at 04:40   Comments (0)


Love in the time of Coronavirus
08 August 2021

Pablo de Ronda has fallen in love nine times in the year since March 2020 when the Coronavirus pandemic hit the world with a bang. Here’s what happened to him.

My wife Rita, a German, is fond of saying: “Alle gute Dinge sind drei”, which means “All good things come in threes”.

I can fully endorse this sentiment, as I’ve fallen in love all over again during the time of Coronavirus – literally three times in the last year. With “people”, places and “things”. And each of these, also three times!

Three places

Let’s start with the three places: Spain, Ronda and Montejaque. Although it was love at first site in each case - Spain in 1971, and Ronda and Montejaque in 2000 - I’d sort of fallen out of love with all three during the second decade of the 21st century. Our relationship had become jaded. Spain was too corrupt, too noisy, too bureaucratic, parking was a nightmare, there was litter everywhere and the beer was c**p.

As for Ronda, in addition to the above gripes, the town was too full of tourists from 11.00 am to 4.00 pm, the andaluz accent was getting on my nerves and prices seemed to keep on climbing.

My dream village of Montejaque had lost its erstwhile charm, the steep climb up to Casa Rita, our house there, seemed to get ever more challenging and the guiris had become clique-y. In addition, until fairly recently, there was nowhere decent to eat in the village.

That all changed during the course of 2020, the year the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world with a hell of a bang.

I learned to deal with the issues I had with Spain. The pluses far outweigh the handful of negatives, which will probably never change, so I found ways to not let them bother me too much.

Ronda is of course one of the most stunning towns in the whole of Andalucía, and I began to appreciate once again what it had to offer: scenery, architecture, heritage, cuisine, culture, ambience and friendship. A very comfortable place to be.

Rita and I started spending more time in Montejaque in 2020. We decided to use the lockdown period, when our bookings were cancelled and there were no foreign tourists, to carry out some major renovations to Casa Rita.

We started living in the village again and we re-kindled our erstwhile friendships and made new ones. I got into the habit of going for an early morning coffee in Bar Peruco with the local working men and pensioners, which was immensely enjoyable and hugely informative! [Note: Andrés, the owner of Bar Peruco, sadly died of Covid-19 in early 2021. RIP. A nice man – he is sorely missed. The bar is alas no more as it is being converted into two apartments.]

Using some of the funds from the sale of Piso Blanco, my apartment in Ronda, I bought an old house in Montejaque to renovate and put on the holiday rental market as a vivienda rural. I needed a project to get my teeth into and this was it!

The house will be called Casa Real, in honour of the previous owners who had owned the house for three generations - their surname was/is Real. Although work was paused for three months because of the Covid-19 lockdown rules, work has recommenced. I hope to get it finished, registered and on the rental market this summer.

 

Three things

The three things I have fallen in love with all over again are, to describe them more accurately, activities. They are gardening, DIY and writing.

I began to garden again during the first lockdown, a year ago. What else was I to do? I couldn’t go anywhere and all you could get on TV was Covid-19 and repeats of old programmes. I enjoyed being out in the fresh air, getting some exercise and seeing the fruits of my labours.

I created some raised beds and planted some vegetables; I pruned the shrubs, bushes and small trees and I’ve had several larger trees severely lopped, which has given parts of the garden light for the first time in a decade or longer. I’ve acquired a lot of plant pots from Facebook Marketplace on the Internet and planted them up with flowers, plants and climbers. In my field next door I’ve planted a dozen or so fruit trees, although yesterday I noticed that the severe frosts we get here in the valley have done a few of them in! That’s a real shame.

Between my gardener, Rafael, my odd-job man, Jorge, and me, we’ve transformed the garden into a place to enjoy.

As for the DIY, as soon we could go shopping again last Spring for paint, tools, materials, etc, I renovated all the garden furniture, both metal and wooden, made a table and sun lounger out of old bits, built a carport with the help of two friends, and created three new patios/terraces with dividing screens for privacy.

Not to mention the work we’ve been doing on Casa Real in Montejaque. Oh, and on Rita’s house, Casa Rita, also in Montejaque.

I’ve found a few things at various rubbish dumps, which I’ve “upcycled”. These include a couple of coffee tables, a set of dining chairs, a beaded curtain, a child’s cot and a large rug – the latter just needed cleaning (with ozonised water, of course).

Partly through all this activity I found I wanted to write again. I approached Karl Smallman of Secret Serranía and offered to turn out some blogs for the website. He was delighted and so was I. Now I can’t stop. There are four blogs in English, namely A View from the Mountains, Living in Spain and Spanish Matters, plus I also contribute to the Recipes blog. In Spanish there are two, Una vista desde la montaña and Recetas. You can check them out by clicking www.secretserrania.com

I’ve also got a couple of books in preparation, on Ronda and on Montejaque. Karl is providing the photographs for both. There will hopefully be versions in English and in Spanish. I’m just looking for a publisher and a sponsor. Any suggestions?

Three people

Firstly I fell in love with Pablo de Ronda, me, again. The Covid-19 lockdown kicked me out of the slough of despond I’d descended into for some years. A period of time when I didn’t really like myself at all.

However, with millions of people dying randomly of this deadly Coronavirus, including local people we know; with my nephew-in-law, the husband of my niece, perishing in a plane crash in Australia; and me and the missus heading for our 70s, I realised how mortal we all are and that we could pass away at any moment.

I decided I needed to make the most of the time I have left on this earth. I needed to be more active, more positive about people and life in general, and more constructive.

I got new specs and some much needed dental work, and I took steps regarding my health (prostate, high blood pressure, a possible melanoma, thickened ankles and, since having Covid-19, breathing difficulties and lack of energy - long-Covid as they call it in the UK.)

I threw myself into various projects, such as upgrading the house and its contents, improving my “wardrobe”, restoring the garden furniture and building a car port with pals Michael and Kevin.

I got a rescue dog, Berti, bought a house to do up in Montejaque, as I mentioned above, and started to write again. I’ve worked hard on the garden and created some new spaces outside. I’ve even started growing things again, planting several fruit trees and sowing vegetables.

I bought a nearly-new Peugeot 2008, sold a pretty old and battered SEAT León and purchased a VW Transporter camper van.

Also, in the course of the last year, I’ve done a number of things I’ve never done before. And there are a few more things I plan to do – a sort of bucket-list.

And in doing all this I’ve begun to enjoy life again and started to like (no, love) myself once more.

The second object of my affection is Berti. It was love at first sight. When we went to see him at his foster home, I fell for him straightaway. He’s not, of course, a person, although he is definitely part of the family.

What a beautiful and good-natured dog. A pedigree, a German pointer, no less. How could his previous owner just dump him at the rubbish tip? Anyway we agreed to take him.

Berti settled in with us straightaway. He has issues, of course, as many rescue dogs have; he suffers from leishmaniosis and he has separation anxiety. We treat his leishmaniosis, a potentially fatal disease rife in Andalucía, with a human gout drug, Alupurinol, and we’re working on his fear of being abandoned - not very successfully, according to our friends.

Sadly, Berti was killed by a hit-and-run driver a month ago. He is sorely missed. RIP Berti.

Finally, I fell in love again with my wife Rita. In January, when the ambulance brought her home after a hellish 10-day stay in hospital with a really bad dose of Covid-19, I thought she was going to die on me. She was really poorly, she’d lost 10 kilos (that’s a kilo a day, by the way!) She had no strength, she was hallucinating, she couldn’t sleep and she had pains throughout her body.

I became her full-time carer. She was so dependent on me for everything. The poor thing couldn’t think straight and she became almost childlike. Actually, I don’t think I fell in love with her again. I simply realised how much I really did love this woman that I bumped into by chance at a fairground in Ronda in September 2008 and married in 2010 at the age of 60.

Rita has been in hospital in Ludwigsburg, Germany, following an operation. She went to the country of her birth to get some decent Covid after-care, not available here in Ronda, and they discovered something else that needed dealing with quickly. We are “grateful” to Covid-19 for bringing about the discovery of this other, potentially deadlier, health issue.

After a further 10 days in hospital recovering from this operation, she is now staying at her daughter’s while she waits for a place on a residential re-habilitation programme. After that a period of convalescence, when I hope to fly over and join her. [Stop press: Rita’s rehabilitation programme has been denied for some inexplicable reason, so plans have been changed. She has gone to her niece in north Germany, who is a physiotherapist, for treatment for a week or so, followed by a bit more convalescence to build up her strength before flying back home to Spain. She is now back. High time; she was in Germany for two and a half months.]

So, Coronavirus has undoubtedly rocked the entire world and has been a terrible thing, causing sadness and grief to many millions of people all over the globe, not to mention suicides, mental health problems, financial ruin and the “lost generation” of students and schoolchildren.

Yet in our case, bizarrely, it has brought a number of positives. No doubt it has to others too.

Apologies to the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014) for corrupting the title of his best-known work “Love in the Time of Cholera”, published in 1985, for the title of this article. It just seemed so appropriate to the situation.



Like 0        Published at 06:34   Comments (0)


Covid-19 is a bastard! Don’t mess with it! A cautionary tale of our times
08 August 2021

This Coronavirus is no joke. Those who deny its existence belong in a looney bin. To date this bug, in just over one year, has killed over 3 million people world-wide, 127,000 in the UK, nearly 77,400 in Spain. Millions have had their health and way of life ruined. Families have been bereaved far too early as formerly strong and healthy young men and women have just crumpled and died. They couldn’t even attend the funerals to say goodbye to their loved ones.

We’ve all been affected in some way whether we live in Hong Kong, New York, London or Madrid or in Ronda, Montejaque, Jimera de Líbar or Serrato.

Many who caught Covid-19 seemed to get off relatively lightly, only to find later that they have developed what the English-speaking world is calling “Long Covid”, in Spanish, “pos-Covid síndrome”.

Pablo de Ronda has seen much of this suffering and death close-up in Montejaque and Ronda (both Málaga province), the area where he has lived for the last dozen years.

He tells the story of one lady’s 2021 so far.

A lady I know in Ronda, a German, who has been resident in the area for 15 years, has had just three healthy days this year and it’s nearly May already. Those three days were 1st, 2nd and 3rd January. On 4th January she began to display symptoms of Covid-19 contagion: bad cough, fever, tiredness, pains throughout her body.

Despite a call on 5th January to the emergency number, 061, the doctor didn’t think she warranted a home visit, nor did she need to attend Urgencias. She also didn’t need to be tested. What?

After repeated calls to 061 and her surgery, Centro Norte de Salud in Ronda, she finally got an appointment for an antigen test and a PCR test on 9th January.  She had to struggle to the surgery under her own steam for this, despite being quite poorly by this time.

Not surprisingly she tested positive, but it wasn’t until the evening of the following day that she was admitted to hospital, at the relatively new Hospital de La Serranía on the south side of Ronda.

Admission to hospital proved to be a long and tiring process; long gaps between various tests and hours waiting in a wheelchair on an oxygen drip until a room became available.

The whole thing was compounded by my friend’s poor Spanish (her fault, she freely admits, but nevertheless traumatic in the circumstances).

This lady, from Montejaque’s German twin town Knittlingen, disappeared from view for 10 days. To start with she could communicate with family and friends via WhatsApp or normal mobile phone calls, but she became so unwell and confused that she stopped answering for several days, which concerned everybody.

No information was available about her condition or her reaction to treatment. Her husband rang the hospital umpteen times and nobody could tell him anything, not the nurses, not the admin staff. Only doctors were in a position to give out information about the health of their patients, he was told. There were never any available to come to the phone. After “losing it” a couple of times the husband did eventually get some feedback for the family.

We then began to learn that our patient was being left to her own devices for hours on end. The staff did not respond to the alarm button if she was desperate for a painkiller or needed to visit the bathroom. On two occasions the nurses found her collapsed on the floor of her room, lying in her own excrement.

Later when asked whether she was embarrassed about that, this feisty lady said no – it served them right to have to clean her up, for not responding to her literal calls for help when the alarm button produced no results. Well, I think she certainly has a point!

In the end the family were so distraught at the treatment their loved one wasn’t getting that her husband demanded she be sent home from hospital. He was told that no ambulance was available for patients that self-discharge. You’ll have to book a taxi, they said.

I understand that her husband, also suffering from Covid-19 by the way and quarantined at home, threatened to get in his car, drive to the hospital and collect his wife personally, despite this being a “crime” or “breach of regulations” and subject to a heavy fine.

Guess what? She was transported home to her husband by ambulance the following day. Well done, that man!

Her husband reports that it was like having a “corpse” delivered. This poor lady spent the next 10 days in bed, not sleeping, not eating, not drinking, not doing anything that she knew, as a former nurse, she should be doing to improve her health.

She was hallucinating frequently, probably as a result of the cocktail of drugs they’d been giving her in hospital to ease her pain, and , quite frankly to keep her tranquilised.

Her poor husband, not suited to caring at all, did his best. He was available 24/7, hardly sleeping, preparing healthy food from scratch, which went into the bin, hunting for non-existent duty chemists in the middle of the night and keeping the house running.

On one occasion he managed to persuade his wife to have a bath – she was getting a bit stinky. What a nightmare! They got her into the bath ok, but couldn’t get her out again. Despite having lost 10 kilos in hospital (1 kilo per day, by the way – seems like a lot to me!) she had insufficient strength in her legs to help in exiting the bathtub.

They eventually managed to extract her after two hours, by which time the poor thing was shivering with the cold – it was still January, winter!

So, no more baths. The next day her husband bought a shower stool from Ortopedia Carreño,  the orthopaedic shop in Ronda, and that worked much better. He also managed to “scrounge” a wheelchair from Santa Bárbara, the health centre in the south of Ronda – not even their surgery.

After organising several telephone conversations with medical specialists, eg two German doctors, family friends both, and a German-speaking psychologist through Sanitas, their private health insurer, things began to look a bit brighter. Our patient responded positively.

Then, out of the blue came the most amazing offer. My friend’s niece, a physiotherapist in Germany, offered to take unpaid leave to fly to Spain to treat her aunt for 10 days. She came, accompanied by our heroine’s younger son, to help the husband, who was exhausted after his own bout of Coronavirus and the home caring of his wife.

The transformation was unbelievable. Three treatments a day, including physical exercises, massages and short walks in the fresh air, started to do the trick. She went from being a “zombie” to a relatively normal, though still very weak and emaciated – yes emaciated – lady. She made the effort to sit at the table for every meal. She even insisted on preparing a meal on one occasion, but it was too much for her really.

The family turned its attention to aftercare. Sanitas would pay for 10 sessions of physiotherapy. Great, they thought. They were to be sessions ON THE PHONE! How does that work?

In fact, the new reality is that nearly all medical consultations are telephonic in this Covid-19 health world in which we live.

Behind the scenes our victim’s three children had been plotting and they decided that when the niece and son flew back to Germany after their 10-day mercy mission, our friend would go with them. They were convinced that the German Krankenkasse (Health Service) was better equipped to provide the aftercare she needed.

The only person against this plan was our patient, but they just told her to be quiet and do what she was told. On 15th February she flew to Germany and was admitted to hospital in Ludwigsburg, Baden-Wuerttemberg, the following day for tests.

Then another potential disaster struck. The doctors detected a 9cm long growth on her ovaries. Cancer? What next? They operated within days, removed the tumour, did a biopsy – benign. What a relief.

But our friend is still not well. She has had a very bad dose of Covid-19, which has left her weak and in constant pain, and she has had a major abdominal operation.

After several days of recovery in hospital she went to her daughter’s for a period of convalescence. The doctor’s request for a month-long residential rehabilitation programme was turned down on the grounds that she had caught the virus abroad, ie in Spain, so it wasn’t their problem. What on earth is the world coming to? I think the family are appealing the decision.

What happened next? When she was fit enough, she travelled north by car to her physiotherapist niece for a further 10 days of treatment. And what a difference that has made!

This has turned out to be so successful so quickly that this lovely lady is coming back home to Spain to her husband and her friends. She arrives next Monday, 26th April at Málaga airport at 9.30am.

She has been away for two and a half months.

Readers, this is a true story. I know, because that German lady from Ronda is my wife.

The lovely Rita.

 


 

Like 1


Like 0        Published at 06:13   Comments (0)


Spam post or Abuse? Please let us know




This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More information here. x