For Keith’s latest instalment of “Keith’s Corner” he discusses the challenges he has faced during this uncertain time, the lovely positive things he has seen come out of it, and how he is using his social media to brighten up our days. Do you have any tips on being in quarantine/isolation with an ostomy? Please let us know in the comments!

Hi all, so the country is now in lockdown. It’s Friday night when I’m typing this (March 27th 2020) – another day, week, month that will go into the history books. Those of you that know me will appreciate that no matter what, I will always try to find a positive spin on any situation to make my days, and hopefully yours, a little brighter. So what positive things have I seen coming out of this rather worrying and unsettling time?

I have to comment on a growth of community spirit. I grew up on a council estate in Swansea and in those days community was everything. While Mam and Dad would join their neighbours over a cuppa sitting on the garden wall, the children would get together and make their own fun. We would play until perhaps 10 o’lock at night, then someone would say, “Right – school tomorrow”, and that was that. But we all got on, and had a great time. Friendships were forged during these times that have lasted a lifetime. What we are seeing today is a community spirit arising in a time of need. Many people are volunteering to help those in need; getting valuable supplies to the elderly and needy, helping neighbours, setting up online groups to provide mutual help, support and keeping spirits up.

One of my neighbours has started a WhatsApp group for our little street in North Dock. Now known as North Dock Connectors, we communicate on this platform regularly, brightening each other’s days with conversation, humour, conundrums and most importantly, continuous support.  We are looking out for each other and particularly for those struggling emotionally or mentally as well as physically. We’re a pretty strong bunch but draw strength from our daily conversations. Prior to lockdown we used our exercise time to do some beach cleaning so whilst putting social distancing into practice, collectively we managed to do something worthwhile for our wider community.

Until yesterday I have been working full time driving buses between two main hospitals in Swansea. This has been hard for my family and loved ones as I have been effectively on the front line, driving potentially infected people around Swansea. This has been challenging for me as an ostomate because the accessibility to public toilets has been vastly reduced. Gradually the bus services have been reduced and a Sunday service implemented; I have now been given a furlough for 12 weeks as I have an ‘underlying health issue’ which has given me peace of mind. I am happy to stay away from work for as long as it takes to be safe again.

Once more I have to give a huge shout out to Respond Healthcare for for continuing to arrange delivery of my ostomy products directly to my door. I have often said that this choice was a wise move on my part; the current situation regarding collecting essential medicines and products from pharmacies is very stressful – limited access and long queues – but I have the reassurance that there will be no running out of supplies for me and my order is delivered bang on time every month. That is total peace of mind.

So, I am at home for the next few weeks- and I have already managed to use my social media to try to cheer people up. You may have seen my ‘Dad Dancing’ videos (I use the term dancing loosely…), my children have actual disowned me! But do you know what? Anything that brightens your day is worth doing. Social media is a powerful thing; it has a lot of negative press but it can be uplifting and I seem to have found the right formula to show this. Communicating with family and friends has never been so crucial and again this is such a brilliant way of staying in touch.

So please look after each other, stay safe, be sensible when it comes to staying indoors, social distancing and self-isolating. This will be over – and when it is lets keep hold of the lessons learned in this time of need. Love your neighbour- and be kind.

You can check out Keith’s great dancing videos over on his Twitter or his Instagram accounts. Keep dancing, Keith!!


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