Mum and son still living in Covid lockdown ‘nightmare’ wash shopping and social distance

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Four years after the first national lockdown was announced, mother and son Mandy and Mason Milne still wash their food shopping, social distance and do regular Covid tests

Most people were relieved when the UK’s national lockdown restrictions were lifted – but it didn’t mark the end of the global pandemic for one mother and son.

Mandy and Mason Milne are still living every single day like the rest of the country was four years ago. On March 23, 2020, the Government introduced the first coronavirus lockdown, ordering people to stay home and only leave for essentials.

Washing hands vigorously, keeping a two-metre distance, avoiding socialising outside support bubbles, and wearing medical masks in busy places became the norm. All of those rules, Mandy, 59, and Mason, 22, still follow now.

Along with her husband Gordon, 59, mum-of-three Mandy avoids supermarkets, orders her weekly food shop online and disinfects everything that enters their Essex house. She does it all for her youngest son Mason, who is severely immunocompromised.

Mason was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2017, after suffering from ‘stabbing pains’ in his stomach. He now takes chemotherapy tablets daily and biologic injections fortnightly. Living with Crohn’s means Mason is at higher risk of serious illness if he becomes infected with Covid.

“Life is very difficult for our whole family. Doing anything during the pandemic was a nightmare – but it still is now,” Mandy told the Mirror. “We wipe our food deliveries down, avoid supermarkets, wash our hands after touching anything outside and take Covid tests regularly. I carry a mask in my pocket at all times, but I don’t go near people so I don’t feel the need to wear it.”

She continued: “The pandemic is over for the majority of people and they are getting on with their lives, but for us, it’s even harder now. It’s worse than when the restrictions were in place.” Mason, who has autism, has lost friends since Covid and rarely socialises with anyone outside of his family. He said: “I don’t get invited out as much now because they know I can’t go anyway.”

Mandy became Mason’s full-time carer after he was diagnosed with Crohn’s and sometimes works as a cleaner to earn some extra money. “I’ll only go and work if I know the person isn’t going to be in,” she said.

She also has two older children. “My eldest son has just had a baby and we get worried about them visiting,” she said. “My daughter is a school teacher and although she is very careful, we worry about seeing her too. Covid is still frightening for Mason and our family.”

Mandy added: “We were told by the Government at the start of lockdown that there was a high chance people like Mason would die if they caught Covid. Being a parent, I would feel so guilty if I was the person that made my son ill.”

The mum said Covid has “one billion percent” put Mason’s life on hold. “I want Mason to be able to live a normal life as a boy in his twenties. Crohn’s restricted him but Covid has stopped him from living life to the fullest.” Before 2020, Mason would go out with friends, have driving lessons, and go to college.

Now, if he needs fresh air, he goes for walks around the block alone. “I cross the road if I see anybody and I take anti-bacterial wipes out with me, in case I need to press the button at a crossing,” Mason said. “I won’t touch the button with my hands, I use a wipe. Then I wash my hands when I’m indoors and we have little hand sanitisers everywhere.”

To interact with the outside world, Mason runs a podcast aimed at others who have Crohn’s and autism. He is also a huge Doctor Who fan. While the family would love to go on holiday abroad, they have only ventured as far as Cardiff, so Mason could go and visit Doctor Who filming locations.

He loves football too and has a season ticket for Ipswich – but watching a match is very different now. To stay as safe as possible, they enter an hour before the game starts, sit on the end of the aisle, and only go to the toilet during the match. “We leave 20 minutes early to avoid crowds, so we miss any goals scored at the end,” Mason said.

Mandy added: “There would be no point in living if we didn’t try to go out and do things we loved, but we do them as safely as we can. We don’t sit in restaurants but we do have takeaways. We have a note for our delivery driver to not come close to the door. They tend to ignore that now which can be frustrating.”

Being infected with Covid is a Catch-22 situation for Mandy and Mason. “Recent data has shown that quite a few people on similar medication to Mason have had Covid and been OK, but of course, we don’t know how he would cope so I don’t want to risk that,” she explained. “What if he got Covid and ended up hospitalised and poorly?”

While Mason is on Universal Credit, he has not received any additional support from the Government, and was turned down from a workplace for having to work remotely. Mandy is frustrated at the lack of awareness about how some households still have to live post-lockdown and hopes to raise awareness for other people like Mason.

You can follow Mason on Facebook, Instagram and listen to his podcast Crohn’s & Autism Awareness Advocate.

Are you still living in lockdown? Get in touch. Email [email protected].

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