Cocooned in a Caravan during Coronavirus, When…

I feel bruised.
Bruised from being buffeted by world events.
Events that have stripped away all sense of liberty and freedom.
This global pandemic – Coronavirus (COVID-19) – has stopped the world as we knew it and the lives we were living –

It’s pulled me back from a year of mapped out travel plans.
It’s pushed me into a life of staying put.
A life akin to being institutionalised where I am told what, when and how I should work, play and exercise.

Fungi in a decomposed state

My mind’s eye perception of Coronavirus

I feel concerned –
Has this now become my new norm?
Will I ever be able to think for myself again after weeks (or is that months) of following instructions?
Doing what I am told – #stayathome #lockdown #selfisolation
Days of feeling there’s no point to ever coming up with another plan again, when the powers that be can (rightly in this scenario) impose draconian restrictions to my every move and put a hold on what was my freewill.

Where all Plans get Stymied

In January 2020 we gave up our home of 10 years on an island in the Bay off Brisbane, Queensland.
Put the culled remnants from this previous life into storage and ventured forth.

February was spent house-sitting in Tasmania, which flowed on into a road trip exploring the high-roads and by-roads of Australia’s southern Apple Isle.

House sitting in Hobart Tasmania

February was spent house-sitting in Hobart, Tasmania

 

We had planned on heading over to Europe in May for the northern hemisphere summer to stay with my 94 year old mother in Scotland and visit family in France.

But ahead of that, in late March, we were to fly back to Queensland for 6 weeks to house-sit for Megan.
Megan, has worked with me at Journey Jottings for 8 years.
She had spent months dreaming, researching and planning a 6 week round-the-world trip of a lifetime and we had agreed that during her absence I would care for her puss-cats and pooch and of course – the Journey Jottings business –
But on March 13th she called me –
Heartbroken, she’d had to cancel her longed for adventure due to start the following week as attractions worldwide closed, airlines became grounded and within the week (20th March) the Australian borders were closed to non-residents and non-citizens.

So we cancelled our flights from Hobart to Brisbane.
And did what we normally did when Murphy threw a spanner in the works, we started working on an alternative plan –
How about we still go up, and she take a ‘consolation’ holiday closer to home?

So Megan booked an apartment just over the border in northern NSW and I booked two fresh flights for the following week.

But within days, the individual Australian States and Territories proclaimed they too were going to close their borders to each other – meaning unless you were an ‘essential’ service, upon crossing a border, you’d need to do 14 days self isolation.
With us coming interstate from Tasmania and they going interstate to NSW –
We both cancelled… again –

Now Where?

In a matter of weeks, our clear cut Plan A to go house sitting in Queensland, had been thwarted and converted into Plan B.
Plan B got hit on the head when some States started to announce border closures.
Plan C – our long-term plan to spend the summer on the European continent with family was quashed as International planes were grounded –

Everyone was told to “Go Home” and #StayHome

But where do you go if you don’t have a home?

Hunkering Down when you’re Homeless

The Premier of Tasmania talked of ‘Fortress Tasmania’ and the necessity to pull up the drawbridge to keep Coronavirus at bay.
All tourists and travellers were told to go back to where they’d come from –

Not only did we not have a ‘home’ to go back to, but having come to Tasmania with the plan (dare I use that word again?) to tour for a few summer months we’d only come with a tent!
It was evident we weren’t going to be going anywhere any time soon…
And with the southern hemisphere winter approaching –
Plan D was called for!

We bought a caravan.

Caravan set in a grassy caravan park

Our home away from home, hunkering down in NW Tasmania during COVID-19

 

As inter-state visitors sailed back across Bass Strait to the mainland, Caravan Parks across Tasmania’s island State emptied and a new COVID-19 law was implemented that stated no new bookings could be accepted –
Other than at Police Registered Parks where those of no fixed abode could be rounded up, accounted for and enforced to stay put.

There was an official on-line list where we located Wings Wildlife Park situated in a stunning green valley in NW Tasmania –
Here, apart from one RV and one camper-van, we were the only caravan on site during the lockdown –

These were our neighbours 😉

A mob of kangaroos in Australia grazing on grass

Our neighbours during #lockdown in NW Tasmania

 

Can My World Get any Smaller?

Then just as I felt my world couldn’t get much smaller –
My husband had a stroke.

It was Easter morning.
10 days into our hunkering down.
I looked up to see him tapping his forehead with his right hand, while mumbling incoherently, as his left arm and left leg lay limp.

I called 000 –
An ambulance came to take him not to the nearest Hospital, which was experiencing a Corona-cluster outbreak (and would be shortly closed for a deep clean) – but to Launceston, two hours away.

Ambulance trolley arriving at the caravan door

Not quite the Easter Bunny I was expecting – An Ambulance trolley with masked paramedic.

I followed in our car, with his ‘overnight bag’ and when I got to Emergency was told –
“You’ve made it just in time to see him before we admit him to the Ward – He’s had a MRI scan, X-Rays and blood tests but due to COVID-19 restrictions you are not permitted to go up there with him – Not now, nor for the duration of his stay in the Hospital”.

It was a strange few days –
Me telephoning for updates (like the other 31 patients’ partners in the 32 bed ward, not permitted to visit?) and getting
“Oh yes, he’s progressing well” – but ‘well’ compared to what when you haven’t seen the previous day’s progress?

So it went from being told he’d failed the ‘swallow test’ and was to be fed intravenously on the Easter Sunday –
To him telling me in his slurred muffled voice on Tuesday how he’d toppled over and sent a trolley in the ward flying –
To on the Thursday (just as I was beginning to wonder whether it could be weeks before I saw him again if he was kept in for rehab):
“He’s going to be discharged tonight”.
“But, because of Coronavirus and him having been in Hospital – a potential source of contamination – he will need to self-isolate for 14 days, and he’ll need a primary carer – so as his wife, that will be you, OK?”.

I was instructed to arrive at the Hospital with 14 days worth of food on board and enough fuel in the tank to get ‘home’ as once I had picked him up we were to be in total isolation so were to stop for nothing nor interact with anyone.

14 days in Self-Isolation

My world had slowly caved in.

In just 5 weeks, it had been reduced to –
No overseas travel – then
No inter-state travel – then
Only essential travel to buy food –
And now not even that would be part of my liberty –
The 4 walls of our 20 foot long caravan in the middle of an empty Park, would be our world for the next 14 days –

Me and a man who had experienced a catastrophic hemorrhagic stroke.

A lone caravan in a caravan park during covid-19

Self-isolating for 14 days in a Caravan Park during COVID-19

 

I was given no guidance or ‘run-down’ as to his care, as due to COVID-19 I was not allowed to go into the Hospital to speak to any medical practitioner –
And any discharge papers that may have existed were lost among the new protocols of keeping me at bay.

I was simply told to ring the outside Hospital door bell upon arrival so he could be brought down in a wheel chair, where he was turfed out into my arms and the cold night air.

Together we jumped into the unknown –
Like taking the plunge off a high diving board into a deep dark swimming pool.
Together we held our breaths and leapt.
Leapt alone into a world cut off from any form of reality.
We submerged ourselves into our new, unfamiliar space where even the familiarity of voice was slurred and muffled as though communicating through watery depths.
And movement was in a slow underwater like motion.

Brave New World

‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on,
and our little life is rounded with a sleep.
Sir, I am vex’d;
Bear with my weakness; my old brain is troubled:
Be not disturb’d with my infirmity:
If you be pleased, retire into my cell and there repose:
a turn or two I’ll walk, to still my beating mind.’

Prospero ‘The Tempest’ W.Shakespeare

We floated through and survived the 14 days of total self-isolation as well as the task of total self-sufficiency – where amazingly my on the spot supermarket selections on the way to the Hospital got us through without starvation or hardship.

Of course turfing him out as quickly as he was able to vaguely walk was absolutely the correct move – under the circumstances –
Being away from the chance of potential life threatening infection, and home alone with my individually crafted Dr Google rehabilitation programme was I’m sure the best form of care!

Man walking down a leafy lane in a grassy green valley

A perfect spot for a stroke survivor to recuperate

 

Stroke survivors need rest to recuperate so neuro-plasticity can do its magic.
Lots of conversation to reconnect language pathways and walks to regain balance and mobility –
As we approach 6 weeks, I am reminded that it is a marathon we have entered, not a sprint, but every step gets us closer to the future.

A man walking up a path with a rainbow over the valley behind him

Walking his way to recovery and the future

Shedding the Cocoon to Step Out into the Future

So as restrictions begin to lift – while I thought we’d be ‘there’…
We find ourselves ‘here’.

For two months we and our world stopped and breathed and while taking in that breath we have all undergone change.
Maybe even more change, in a different way, than from our previous constant beavering to try and create it!

A collage of 4 images showing autumn trees toadstools and a rainbow across a valley

“Real change is best understood by staying in one place”


“Time and change are connected to place.
Real change is best understood by staying in one place.
When I travel, I see differences rather than change…”

Andy Goldsworthy

Over the last two months the Poplar trees have turned from green to golden yellow and fairy toadstools have popped up in abundance –
It has been a privilege to stop and stand and stare at our world changing before us.
I agree with Andy Goldsworthy that there are rewards from being present in a place for a period, but I also feel observing differences that other cultures can show us, and experiencing further afield unfamiliar geographic landscapes can inspire and instigate beneficial change upon returning ‘to place’.
Hopefully the manic, skimming the surface of 20 countries in 30 days kind of travel will be a thing of the past, and deeper, richer sorties communicating with the communities that we visit will ensue in its place.

Do you have plans for the future?
Maybe dreams to travel again?
Are you ready to reclaim your liberty and freedom*?

*Freedom – ‘The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants’.
[as defined by the Oxford dictionary]

Please join the conversation in the comments below 🙂

32 thoughts on “Cocooned in a Caravan during Coronavirus, When…

  1. At any other time I would have commented on a thoughtful and beautiful post about the world as it’s become, about slowing down, about new ways to approach the future and your wonderful, seemingly idyllic location. In fact I thought it was all pretty sylvan (apart from being stuck) from previous interaction on Facebook, which shows you just how little anyone really knows about individual situations. I’m so so sad to hear that your hubby had a stroke, and what an awful and terrifying time you’ve had without any support. I really hope he’s on the mend, and the long term prognosis is good. It must also have been awful not getting to England to see your Mum. As much as last year was terrible for me, I’m so glad that I’m not going through last year this year! I really really hope you’re holding up okay, because none of this is easy. Do give me a call anytime you need a chat – it would be lovely to speak with you. Take care my friend xxx

    • Thank you so much Jo for your heartwarming comment 🙂
      In its own way the effects of COVID-19 – meaning the counter-actions to prevent its spread – I feel have been exceedingly beneficial to the world and the global population – But certainly the untried systems that had to be introduced on the fly (for example how a patient gets safely discharged from a Hospital) left much to be desired 🙁
      Also follow up treatment, as everyone in those departments were all following orders to #stayathome – We had our first OT and Speech Pathologist telehealth appointment this last week – 5 weeks after the event – Good thing I was able to consult with Dr Google to devise my own post-stroke programmes!!!
      He is therefore making good progress 😉
      I have no idea when a trip to the UK will be back on the cards to see my Mum… xxx

    • Thank you Bola for your good wishes ~
      The cosy, confined space of the caravan was comforting and in a way quite nurturing –
      Funnily, the intimate diner area, sitting opposite each other for each meal was actually perfect for communicating and enhancing conversation skills again 🙂

    • Yes, I feel you are so right – NW Tasmania has been the most healing of places to get ‘stuck’ and have the opportunity to quietly work towards as you say – our new normal – doing it our way 🙂

  2. This is indeed a scary time and you’ve lived through so much in just a few months, hopeful that you’ll have a brighter 2nd half of the year.

    • Thanks Noel ~
      I don’t think any of us could have preempted how different the start of 2020 would turn out for all of us…
      Lets hope the second half of 2020 doesn’t get any weirder 😉

    • If it were going to happen anywhere, yes – this beautiful Tasmanian countryside is a tonic – perfect for its peace and quiet to heal and beautiful surrounds to walk 🙂

    • Its almost going to be strange when we’re given the free rein to do what we want again!!
      Restrictions on what Caravan Park you can stay in are being lifted here in Tasmania in two and a half weeks (15th June) – Where shall we go? What shall we do?!! 🙂

  3. Dear Linda. Hello again from Canada. We first connected when I commented on your bush tucker ride with Jerry Kelly near Tennant Creek years ago. You may remember that I’m originally from Tasmania and taught 11 year old Jerry at Banka Banka Station in 1971-72.

    My goodness you have been through the mill these past months!! I send my heart-felt commiserations for all your trials, plus my warmest congratulations for your resilience and courage in the face of so many adversities.

    I’m safely hunkered down with my extended family at the cottage we built here in the bush on Vancouver Island almost 40 years ago. If not here, there’s only one other place in the world that I’d want to be riding out Covid 19 – my beloved Tassie! I can tell from your post that you are adapting as well as possible in your beautiful new surroundings.

    Wishing you both steady progress, good health and continuing pleasure in the simple things!

    Warmest regards,
    Peter Brand

    • Wow!! Peter 🙂
      How lovely to hear from you again –
      Hunkering down in a cottage on Vancouver Island certainly sounds like an equal to Tassie!!
      Thank you for your good wishes – and the reminder to take pleasure in the simple things – which are always the most rewarding 🙂
      Linda

  4. Dear Linda ~ I’m so moved by your strength. I just want to reach out and hug you. How is your husband now? I can only imagine how frightening it was to not be able to be with your husband while he was in the hospital. I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason, sometimes the reasons are revealed, sometimes not. Although I’m guessing you would have been a bit more comfortable being in your home while under strict 14-day isolation, having the caravan (as you say) turned out to be the isolation you needed and in such a beautiful spot.

    We cancelled travel plans for a European train adventure, but in the end it didn’t matter. We are home in the US and continue to isolate. Life as we knew it will never again be the same, but we can all move forward and redefine our paths.

    Best wishes for continued recovery and take care. ~ Patti
    Patti recently posted..Mr. Rogers: Look for the HelpersMy Profile

    • Dear Patti ¬ Thank you so much for your sweet, encouraging words and virtual hug 🙂
      The recovery is quietly evolving with gentle improvement every day –
      Our path, like the paths of all after this episode in the history of the world, will be redefined – I look forward to checking in with you this time next year to see just where it has taken us all 😉

  5. Dear Linda your talents have shown up in this unfortunate episode in your lives – artist, storyteller, nurse etc etc. we do hope future episodes in your Journey will not be so intense.
    Sadly I enjoyed your expressive story but I sincerely wish you both the very best for a long future together.
    The drastic change to human lives has been difficult for all with terrible losses, and may well never be quite the same again. Of course we have to have faith and push forward.
    Please enjoy the clean air and sights of Tas.
    Best regards

    • Hello Lois ~
      It is a hard time indeed for the global population, so out of all the possibilities of where and when my husband should experience a stroke, being in Tasmania during lockdown was heaven sent!
      Thank you for your kind thoughts 🙂

  6. What a year it has been for you two. But, if anyone can overcome these unique times it is you and Phil. You have lived life as an adventure and I’m sure you will come through this year and look back with mixed feelings.
    So very sorry to hear Phil has had a stroke and I do wish him a speedy and full recovery. Tell him to think of Peter and his travel achievements and to think we were told he was unlikely to survive the night when he had his stroke (bleed on the brain). My love and best wishes to you both and hopefully we can meet when you eventually get to England.

    • Thanks Marian for reaching out – It has indeed been quite a year!
      Pete is an inspiration – We need to Skype him to swap notes!
      England at the moment feels soooo far away… but as and when we do get finally get closer, it would be great to catch up 😉
      Till then xxx

  7. Dear Linda—Oh dear. In my most recent blog post, I quoted Woody Allen who said, “The best way to make God laugh is to tell him about your plans.” In my case, it’s compression fractures in my back, but I’m at home and it turns out everyone else is at home too because of Covid 19 restrictions. Your situation is much more dramatic and, I’m sure, alarming. Just think, now you’ll be able to write a blog post about “tiny house” living. I’m sending you positive (and fierce) Philly vibes and hugs from half a world away. We live in interesting times. Xxoo

    • Oh Suzanne ¬ Thank you so much for your ‘fierce’ and positive vibes from Philly to Phil and I 😉
      These are ‘interesting’ times as you say without the intricacies of personal lives thrown into the mix!
      The caravan I feel has been quite healing in its little way – cocooned up while neurological connections are hopefully reconnecting so short term memory tasks will once again make sense :/
      It was more being in charge of someone and having no medical guidance, what with me being new to this game so not too au fait as to what I should be doing ~ As we were new to the area we had no GP to go to and Drs in the region would not take on new patients for fear of COVID-19 and you couldn’t have a telehealth appointment unless you had a Dr (Catch 22!!!)
      After 5 weeks we’ve just had a telehealth appointment with a speech pathologist from the Hospital and an Occupational Therapist has made contact so at last this rocky road is becoming merely pebbley 😉

  8. Dear Linda, I have loved your blog ever since I discovered it, and my heart went out to you as I read of your experiences these last few months. I am praying for you and your husband.
    Thank you for your wonderful, lovely, title containing the word cocooned. I have been self-quarantined for ten months now as a result of having a nearly-nonexistent immune system due to two years of cancer treatments.
    I found the word “cloistered,” and loved that because it suggests a time for spiritual growth, which is a hopeful thing.
    I love your word cocooned. Cocoons give birth to butterflies. I will cherish thinking of this as a time to be cocooned. God willing, I will someday emerge a butterfly with powerful wings and a joy in the beautiful world that has long been my comfort outside my family room windows.
    Thank you for “cocooned,” and may you and your husband emerge sooner than I have hopes of doing so.
    Debby
    Debby Zigenis-Lowery recently posted..My Favorite Reads from May 2020: Let Yourself ReadMy Profile

    • Dear Debby, Thank you for messaging us from your cloistered life, where you are cocooned while your wings take shape ready to unfurl and take flight again in the world you so love.
      At least during these times you are not alone with your self-isolation – Others are getting a small taste of what you must endure –
      I wish you all the best –
      And I love the header to your website 🙂

    • Hey Josie, Thanks so much for your good wishes and hugs 🙂
      The rocky road is turning into pebbles, so we must be on the right track!

  9. Beautifully articulated and such an emotional story. Oh my gosh Linda! Life sure is interesting. Know that you are never alone and you are truly amazing. Thank you for sharing your story and the incredible photos to go with it. Sending love and light and I’m always up for a chat or just to listen. xxx

    • Never could there be a time when the quote: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” be more true 😉
      Thank you for your love, light and the offer of that precious ear!! xxx

  10. This story of overcoming challenge is another twist in your book of life. As a former sister in law and long time friend, I know your strengths and Phil’s perseverance, will overcome this. I remember many previous amazing chapters, of your love story, unforeseen obstacles, professional growth, world travels, definitely challenging at times yet overcome. My heart goes out to you both, imagining the situation, having gone few similar big changes myself. It sounds like you were forced to do online research to become an active caretaker and therapist, to solve your immediate problems. Thank goodness you are a whiz on line and have some past experience in outback tiny living. It would be so much worse in a city closed down. I too at times have felt my best laid plans are a coin toss in the end, out of my control.

    I feel very fortunate to live in the country and watch deer in my back yard and pasture. I wish Phil well and success adjusting to his current disability as he continues therapy to norm. I force myself to take my dogs out back for walks with my all terrain walker, which I highly recommend for additional stability long distant walking and stamina building. I do not spend much time on Face Book so miss some of your news I am sure. I have been taking on line workshops and webinars.

    Feel my positive vibes from afar. Lets plan to catch up with a video chat on line if possible.

    With affection,

    Susan

    • Hello dear Susan 🙂
      What a beautiful comment ¬ Particularly from someone who has been through soooooooo much herself in recent years <3
      There is nothing more healing and enlivening than being outside surrounded by nature - So we are taking your lead by getting out everyday, no matter what the weather 😉
      Yes - we must chat soon
      Linda xxx

  11. Oh Linda, when I saw on Instagram that you were in Tasmania, this is not the tale I expected to read at all.

    You have almost lived a full year in just a small portion of it. And, it seems, you and your husband have emerged like the phoenix from the flames you’ve had to put out this year.
    I hope his recovery continues to be strong and that you continue to love your new slower travel (albeit forced) style and your caravan.

    We were in Tasmania in February, looking at houses, as my husband has fallen in love with the Huon Valley, and Cygnet in particular, so once the bans are lifted we’ll be down there again.

    I do hope our paths cross one day in the not too distant future.

    Best wishes to you both,
    Genevieve
    Genevieve recently posted..Before they closed Tasmania…My Profile

    • If this were going to happen anywhere to us – Tasmania was indeed the perfect place for us to get ‘stuck’ 😉
      It has been a bit of a journey, but there have been benefits to being forced to stop and stare and soak up one’s surrounding space – aka ‘place’.
      Not sure how the year will now pan out for us, but based on this year’s record – trying to make any form of future plans is merely setting myself up for failure…
      So I’ll wait to see how the cocoon unfurls 🙂

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