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Being kind in a post-lockdown society

Martin Baum

Being the cockeyed optimist that I am has helped me to not only live life positively with MS but also (hopefully) survive the coronavirus lockdown.  

Nobody said it was going to be easy, but when is it ever? But after the tragic passing of Caroline Flack earlier this year, they did say the world was going to be a kinder place.

However, in consideration of coronavirus panic buying, it seemed that idyll lasted for about as long as a twin pack of Andrex on a supermarket shelf at the start of lockdown.  

Yet despite the harbingers of doom we all struggled on to see a gradual relaxation of our confinement lifted.

The post-lockdown haircut

Fast forward three months, I got a haircut appointment. My first in fourteen weeks. Although it was in a different salon, I was grateful for what I could get.  

It had five-star reviews but unfortunately it also had three steep steps up to the front door. I use a stick not a wheelchair, and as my wife and carer Lizzy was with me, there was no need to panic.

A warning on the website about those steps would have been welcome. But who was I to split hairs: I was getting a cut and blow dry!

Separated from my carer

Sadly, though, no sooner had I settled in my chair in front of the mirror than Lizzy was being hustled out of the salon for contravening the numbers allowed rule. Not with a ‘please’ or ‘sorry’, but in the most unpleasant way possible.

I tried to explain that she was my carer, but the owner was clearly suffering from lockdown meltdown.

The moment she was being shooed away with the words “You need to go – NOW!” left me wondering what on earth was happening. I need my carer as much as I need my stick and yet, in a moment of madness, we were being separated.  

Instead, hurt and annoyed, we walked out of the salon. Afterwards, over a coffee, we were left to reflect how lucky we were to have lived my MS together for nearly thirty years. That, under the circumstances, held us in good stead.  

In that time, we have learned to cope with my illness by not panicking even in the most extreme of confrontational circumstances. 

The world I want to live in

The salon experience was nasty and personal. But no more so than being challenged for using a disabled parking space or using a disabled toilet because I looked ‘normal’. It happens – sadly we’re used to it – but we move on, which is how we have been coping with the Covid-19 madness.

But more than that we believe in Caroline Flack’s final Instagram wish that "In a world where you can be anything, be kind". As an MSer, kindness is a powerful placebo to a better existence. And given what we are emerging from post coronavirus, that is the world I want to live in.

Martin is an MS blogger and influencer. You can read more of his blogs at martinbaum.co.uk.