Isolation Diaries by Emma Martin

Diary of a clinical donor centre manager; Emma Martin describes her life under lockdown.

I’m currently self-isolating from my family due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I need to stay away from home to enable me to remain at work as a clinical donor centre manager.

Today is day three. My amazing partner is looking after our girls who aren't feeling well right now. One of my good friends is on nights so I'm camping out (not literally) at hers.

I haven't seen my partner or kids in person since Tuesday, and it’s now Friday 27th March. Thank goodness for video calls. My partner and my eldest daughter have underlying health issues and are on 12 weeks isolation. My eldest who is 12 has a chest infection and my youngest, who is five, has had a temperature and a sore throat since yesterday.

It’s comforting knowing that my girls were clapping out of the window for the NHS and Jess, the youngest, shouted goodnight to the neighbourhood before going to bed.

Tomorrow I shall continue to contribute to the NHS saving and improving lives. I miss my family, but I know they are safe.

Jess, 5 (left) and Louise, 12 (right)

It's the fourth day away from my family.

My team at Luton donor centre have pulled together and done me proud. They have been professional and reassuring to donors despite having their own worries. A few discreet tears from some but we are supporting each other.

The kids are still not 100 per cent but my partner is doing a sterling job being their mum, cook, cleaner, nurse, housekeeper and teacher. We had a long video call earlier, which was awesome. Also, a long natter with my mum and dad who are 75 miles away and I don't know when we will see each other in person.

The Luton donor centre team

It’s now day six and oh my what an emotional day it has been.

I needed some clothes from home and my family needed some supplies, so I headed to Asda and Home Bargains to get a sticker book and toys for my girls. As I wandered around doing my best to stay two metres away from everyone else, I could feel myself welling up and it hit me how much I miss my partner and my girls. I wasn’t sure if I should let them see me as I didn't want them to be upset.

I picked up the essentials, chocolates, biscuits, sweets and headed home for the first time in what seemed like forever.

I arrived and messaged my partner Maggie to say I was outside. Sorted bags into what shopping was being dropped there and what was coming back to my temporary home. As I stepped out of the car, I saw Jess’s fingers out of the letterbox and heard her joyfully shout, “Mummy Emma!”

I approached the house and posted two sticker books through the letterbox. I stepped back as Maggie opened the door and took the shopping in and handed me some clean clothes and toiletries. 

Then, Louise, 12, came to the kitchen with Jess and we had a chat through the window. Louise was so pleased to see me and it broke my heart that I couldn’t go and give them a big squeeze. Louise has Downs’s syndrome and autism and struggles with her speech but when she saw me, she said 'mummy' so clearly. I signed 'I love you' through the window and she signed and said it back.

Virtual hug from Jess
Another virtual hug from Louise

Tonight will be my ninth night away from the family.

Video called the munchkins earlier for a chat and they were on good form. I'm feeling okay right now, other than the nerve pain in my neck and shoulder. The pain has prevented me from getting a decent sleep for about three weeks! I'll survive, plenty worse off than me. Hoping the chiropractor can reopen soon!

I truly believe we will get through this and come out stronger and better people. I mean everyone, not just us in the NHS. I hope the world will learn from this and will become a better place for my beautiful girls to grow up in.

Good night all and stay well x

As of 8th June 2020, Emma has spent 73 days away from her family and has yet to reunite with them.

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