Claps for Carers: the great fling of 2020?

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I never thought there would be time when people clapped their hands, banged their pots and flooded my phone with messages of concern and appreciation just for doing my job yet here we are.

The strange has become the new normal. I’m slowly adjusting. I’m better at dodging passers by when I go outside to exercise and our outdoor to indoor “Covid possible” clothing station has full embedded itself into our home as if it had always been there. I have already forgotten what it is like to just come home and plonk myself on the sofa.

The other day I went to a supermarket after work and as is normal I walked to the end of the queue. I was on the phone chatting to my mum and within a few minutes a man approached me and said that he had discussed it with everyone else and they had all decided that I had to go to the front of the queue. He must have spotted by lanyard under my coat. He then (sticking to social distancing) marched me to the front where I was shown in and given a “thank you for all you are doing” nod by the security guard.

I was still on the phone and when inside I told my Mum what had happened. She stayed on the phone in silence with me whilst I had a silent cry next to some potatoes. It was all quite overwhelming really. The kindness. The public consensus that somehow I was more deserving of a place at the front of the queue than everyone else. The swiftness of action.

“I’m just not worthy of all of this thanks” is a sentence and sentiment I have heard and felt a lot. I’m not “on the front line” in the same way as my ITU or A&E colleagues. I’m a Radiology Registrar. I have not yet been redeployed and my patient contact is variable daily. Equally I don’t have the option of working from home. I have to go to hospital. If I’m told I need to be redeployed, I will go. I don’t think this makes me a hero. In my opinion this makes me someone who is doing their job.

When the claps for carers started a few weeks ago I was out there with everyone else. Every week it coincided with the end a walk my husband and I take before breaking our fast in Ramadan. We stood with strangers on the road and clapped like everyone else. These days I am slightly less enthusiastic. Not because I think it doesn’t matter, perhaps I’m just weary.

I don’t have a major grips with the clapping but the truth is we don’t need it to be appreciated. This is a unique time for eveything including the NHS. If this is the catalyst to make the British public more appreciative of the NHS on a whole then this can only be a good thing.  However, my hope is that like the solid boyfriend who still remembers to compliment you 2 years into the relationship, the British public end up having more than an affection filled fling with the NHS because claps or no claps we will and always be here and a bit of appreciation every now and then goes a long way.

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