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Shielding dilemmas

(39 Posts)
Jourdain11 Thu 21-May-20 13:32:57

I know everyone is probably sick of reading these threads but I am having a dilemma! My husband and I (sounds a bit like the Queen...) have finally decided on our plan for how we are going to deal with shielding, kids, corona in the immediate future. But two of my friends today have told me that it is "insane" and I'm now worrying a lot... confused

I have just finished Induction chemo for AML, having been diagnosed shortly after the lockdown. Hopefully (fingers, toes and everything else crossed) it is going to show to have been successful and I can move onto the next, less intense, consolidation stage.

My DC (8, 6 and 4) went to stay with my husband's parents down in Cornwall, because it was all so difficult at the beginning, I couldn't really shield with everyone in the house and we thought that it would be upsetting for them to see me going through chemo, not really having any escape into the normality of school, activities, playdates, etc. We were also worried on a practical level about who would care for them if, for example, my husband got sick with the virus.

They've now been away for over a month and while they've really enjoyed their "evacuation", they all three are wanting to come home. My husband is a teacher and has just had confirmation that he can wfh for the rest of this term to deliver online provision for the kids who aren't going to be back in school.

My children's school (different one) is happy to have all 3 of them in full-time from 1 June.

So our plan is, DC are coming back on Monday and have a week at home, then in school after that (they are all very keen to be back and DS's year group are due back anyway).

We're going to really put in place our "new normal" in terms of changing clothes after being out and hand hygiene next week. And I'm going to shield as much as possible in the house, but not 100% because it just isn't realistic.

I know this is not really in the spirit of the guidance, but it just seems like there is no right thing to do. The infection rates in the SW and London seem low, and I don't want the children to be away "for the foreseeable". It's also a lot to ask of my PIL, they have been amazing, but they can't take it on indefinitely.

I know that I will be still feeling unwell from chemo and DH is working from home, so it seems better for the DC to be in school - both practically and in terms of their wellbeing.

And a little part of me is worried that, what if I don't get better and I have to regret that I sent my children away instead of spending time with them? This is incredibly morbid and unlikely and I don't think like that a lot... but the thoughts are there.

Are we being insane? I'd be very interested to hear what others are doing in a similar situation.

Thanks for reading and sorry for the long spiel...

OP’s posts: |
porktangle Thu 21-May-20 13:35:53

I think you absolutely need to bring them home. But I don't think you can send them to school - they need to shield with you and your husband.

Twickerhun Thu 21-May-20 13:41:15

My mum had cancer when I was your kids age. Looking back I would have hated to be away from her for too long when she was sick. I needed to see her go through that so I could help care for her and understand - that’s important now to Me to know that we were together. What you do about corona and schools I don’t know, you have to choose what’s best.

Hazelnutlatteplease Thu 21-May-20 13:44:40

I think your plan sounds perfect from everyone's perspective.

Drivingdownthe101 Thu 21-May-20 13:44:48

I would do the same.

Jourdain11 Thu 21-May-20 14:01:49

Thank you for taking the time to reply - and for the positivity!

The school bit is what I'm unsure about. But we live in a flat without a garden and it just seems like the best option for them. If I'm feeling unwell or in hospital it is all on DH to keep them entertained, distracted, on task or whatever. And it seems incredibly cruel to keep three children indoors all the time during the day! That's why we thought it would be better to impress on then the importance of SD at school, handwashing, changing clothes when they come in... and I shield as much as possible, i.e. we try to avoid prolonged contact and so on confused

OP’s posts: |
Wetcappuccino Thu 21-May-20 14:03:52

I would do the same. I also have to shield and my daughter will transition from nursery to P1 after the summer. We have 100% abided by shielding guidelines until now and my employer will allow me to wfh as long as necessary. But I cannot shield 100% from my husband and daughter at home. Equally, I would not stop her from starting school after summer. The sort of measures we have considered for then are as you say above but also separate towels/ cutlery/ toiletries etc for me. No shoes/ outdoor clothes in the house, increased cleaning. We only have one toilet so I have got a travel case for my toothbrush etc. Your friends are rightly protective but in my opinion you are making the right decision. Best wishes for your recovery.

Lumene Thu 21-May-20 14:09:41

I would bring them back but not send them in to school. For me the risks to them of losing a parent when advised to shield would outweigh the benefits of school.

But you have to do what you feel is right for you, on balance of risks. It’s difficult.

trappedsincesundaymorn Thu 21-May-20 14:09:43

It sounds like a well thought out plan. I would do it also.

Jourdain11 Thu 21-May-20 14:10:35

We already instituted the separate cutlery and so on before they went away, but good point about toiletries and so on. DD1 has a penchant for nicking my stuff in the bathroom! wink Luckily we have an area on the landing which we use for the outdoor shoes, coats, scooters etc. So that makes life easier!

OP’s posts: |
Mayhemmumma Thu 21-May-20 14:11:15

I think you are absolutely right.
I would love to send my two back in june but my mum has moved in with us during chemo and we've been told by her doctor not to.
You have to do what feels right for you and your family. Good luck

brainstories568 Thu 21-May-20 14:14:59

We are doing similar to the poster above - we have a 14 month old and I'm his main carer. I went straight on sick leave (also for chemo) from mat leave so I'm not working right now. We've obeyed the shielding thing until now (or at least, the extent that we can) but after the 12 weeks are up we are going to go more for a common sense approach as I don't think it's fair to keep my child completely away from life indefinitely. He will be starting at the childminders in Sept, which was when we'd made arrangements for him to start pre virus. To be honest all of the people I've discussed my plans with have said it sounds sensible, but I've also had a lot of people just not really understand why I'm shielding yet not at deaths door, so I think it's just a lot for people to take in if they've never had to "think about the what ifs" before so it isn't part of their daily (well not daily, but you know) mind space.

For what it's worth, we are also SW London.

brainstories568 Thu 21-May-20 14:17:22

I think you might have to not tell the school about your chemo though (unless they already know?) as the DfE have said/advised that they can't have kids back who live with someone who is shielding. Which sucks, as it sounds entirely the right thing for them to be doing given your lack of outside space etc.

Jourdain11 Thu 21-May-20 14:21:48

@brainstories568 It sounds like you have had it tough, chemo straight after mat leave - I'm sorry! I hope you are doing well.

I'm thinking similar - it doesn't seem fair to keep DC away from life indefinitely. If we decide no school, should it also be no outings, playdates etc. all summer? What about September? It's hard to know where to draw the line.

And my DD1, at least, is old enough to have a pretty clear idea what's going on. She sussed out for herself that I had cancer before we told her (God knows how!) and I think she understands how unwell I've been more than the other two. I just worry about the emotional impact on them of being inside with the reality of it, all the time...

OP’s posts: |
MRex Thu 21-May-20 14:23:13

What treatment are you still having? And how big is PIL house, might it be practical for you all to move there for a while? Or is there any other place you could all move to with outside space? Having them back with you is incredibly important, but school does open some risk that you could do without if you resolved the accommodation issue.

Jourdain11 Thu 21-May-20 14:24:24

P.S. interesting about the DfE thing! Because actually the school do know, but I had a long conversation with the Head and she said she was happy to have all 3 of them in specifically because of the circs. Maybe because it is Catholic the school has a bit more autonomy? Not sure!

OP’s posts: |
brainstories568 Thu 21-May-20 14:37:50

@jourdain11 I've just spoken to a family member who is also SLT y6 teacher and she said that even though it's in the guidance, her school has no way of knowing who lives with a person that is shielding unless they're told and even then it'd be upto the parent whether they send them in. I work in education but not in a school, hence reading the guidance out of interest. Sounds like your headteacher is on your side, so all's well with your plan!

I had radiotherapy during mat leave grin this was plan A though and I've known about the tumour (and the need to have radio/chemo) for 5 years. Already had surgery. But it's preventative more than anything else so they told us to plan it into our lives and the most sensible thing to do was to have a baby (it's our first) then tag sick leave onto the end of that as then I'm not at work for 18 months in one block, and I can get most of it on full pay. Anyway...!

Jourdain11 Thu 21-May-20 14:45:08

Still sounds stressful though, but it sounds like you made very good decisions!

I think part of the issue is that I'm the only one of my close friends who has 3 children all Primary School age. (I'm 33 and because DH and I were a bit disorganised and useless relaxed when it came to contraception, we started our family earlier than intended!) So they haven't experienced having 3 children rampaging around a top floor flat in a ramshackle Victorian conversion!

OP’s posts: |
Willow2017 Thu 21-May-20 15:25:24

Sounds like a good plan well thought out. Tell your friends you will do what works for you not them. Glad school is being supportive.
Fingers and toes crossed its all worked well for you.

Jourdain11 Thu 21-May-20 15:26:27

@MRex it is a good thought, but my PIL don't have enough space to accommodate all of us and I will still be having chemo (although hopefully the less intense version if the induction chemo has done its job) so I need to be here for the hospital. Also, DH is Y6 teacher ordinarily and has responsibility for transitions, so it is possible that he'll have to go into school physically over the next few weeks for the odd day or two, but we'll see.

OP’s posts: |
MRex Thu 21-May-20 15:57:39

That's a shame. Is there any other option with outside space? Especially in summer it's so hard to keep kids inside.

hopsalong Thu 21-May-20 16:56:44

Ugh, poor you. It sounds as if you've worked out really sensible plans for how to deal with this shitty situation, both during the initial phase and then now. I would do the same as you. You and they need to be back together, they really need to be in school asap anyway (for education, and also because the structure and ritual will be helpful), and it sounds too difficult to be cooped up in the flat all the time, especially if you're not feeling well and will feel pressured to do more than you're able to.

Remember too that no matter how hard hospitals try to test and protect and stay covid free, anyone receiving medical treatment is more likely to get infected there than anywhere else. So the additional risk of sending children back to school when you're going through active treatment for cancer is less than it would be if you had, say, a long-running disease that put you on immunosuppressive medication but was otherwise well controlled (and you had stayed home for the past few months).

Wishing you all the best. You sound very brave.

brainstories568 Thu 21-May-20 16:59:40

Tbh if your friends aren't from London they will likely have little experience of kids and flats period grin we fortunately have a house with secluded garden so for us it hadn't been toooo bad, I couldn't have imagined shielding with a baby/toddler and no garden... let alone 3 primary school age kids, they'd go nuts!!

Oxyiz Thu 21-May-20 17:01:25

I've been trying and failing to think about a sensitive way of saying this, so I'll just go for and hope you know what I mean?

Given that you're vulnerable, and thinking about it from their perspectives - what if one of the children got sick and infected you - would you want them to potentially live with that guilt for the rest of their lives?

There seems to be some strong confidence in potential treatments or vaccines coming up within the year. Personally I'd be thinking about keeping them home as much as possible.

ToothFairyNemesis Thu 21-May-20 17:06:33

@Jourdain11i I am shielding and have dc in infant school , juniors and I year 10. My dh is taking unpaid leave from work so money is tight. We aren’t planning on sending our dc back to school as they can’t social distance due to their ages.
The school haven’t given us a choice anyway as the guidance says that children from shielding families can only attend school if the can strictly social distance and are not unable to do so due to age or capacity. Have you spoke to the school?

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