A-Z

Doreen

Age at interview: 70
Brief Outline:

Gender: Female
Ethnicity: Black Caribbean
Background: Doreen is 70 years old and is Black Caribbean. She is retired from working as a senior support worker for people with learning disabilities, and lives with her daughter. Doreen learnt about the pandemic much later than anybody else. She was in hospital at the beginning of the pandemic, after a car accident, and when she came out the UK was in lockdown.
 

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Doreen heard about the pandemic much later than everybody else. She was spending time in the hospital after a car accident. When she came out, she suddenly learned that the UK was in lockdown. Doreen immediately followed all the government guidance, stayed at home, and wore facemasks in public.
 
Doreen’s daughter was still going to drama school at the start of the pandemic. The school had strict rules about wearing masks and not socialising outside of the school. Doreen suspects that one student was not following the rules, as a few of the students came down with Covid, including her daughter. Shortly after, Doreen also came down with Covid. When Doreen had Covid, she had a high fever, a severe cough, exhaustion, and a loss of smell and taste. As she puts it, “I was coughing I was wheezing I was crawling up the stairs.” 
 
Doreen called her GP when she had Covid. They put her on antibiotics in case she had picked up a chest infection and encouraged her to rest. Doreen tried other remedies like inhaling saltwater. She joked that: “you name it I was doing it”. After about four weeks, Doreen started to feel better. She continued to have issues with breathing and her voice and feels that her mental health has suffered. She thinks that Coronavirus gave her a “bad feeling”, which “is very hard sometimes to shake”. Nonetheless, Doreen feels that “I know in my heart that I am going to get better” and is making sure that she does things she enjoys.

 

 

Doreen says that she felt trapped and wanted to return to her pre-pandemic life.

Doreen says that she felt trapped and wanted to return to her pre-pandemic life.

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I’m used to going on holiday every year, I’m used to going to London, I’m used to this time we’d normally, we’d have gone to London and do the theatres and the show. I’ve been really happy walking around Oxford Circus and all those places and you know but, I’m not doing any of that you know. I’m just not doing any of that. It felt like I’ve, I felt like I’ve sat in my house for 18 months.

 

Doreen got Covid in October 2020. When she had a fever she felt like she was ‘burning up’.

Doreen got Covid in October 2020. When she had a fever she felt like she was ‘burning up’.

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Yeah so sometimes I was just hot. I felt like I was, we would use, it felt like I was burning up. Really hot, really hot so you could, everything off windows open, really really hot like my whole body would say like, your whole body feel like it on fire, that’s what we would say. Really, really hot.

 

Doreen tried every medicine and remedy that friends and family recommended.

Doreen tried every medicine and remedy that friends and family recommended.

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My sister brought SATs machine, I had blood pressure machine, I got a temperature machine, I had cough mixtures, paracetamol, I had the West Indian ointments, the Himalayan salt, my relative in Atlanta phoned me and told me what to do to drink, to boil mint with ginger, orange juice and garlic and drink that. You name it, I had it.

 

Doreen’s aunt recommended an alcohol rub to help with her fever as well as paracetamol.

Doreen’s aunt recommended an alcohol rub to help with her fever as well as paracetamol.

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And that was when my aunt used to, when my aunt phoned she said “Get somebody to get you some bay rum, it’s a bottle thing West Indian thing and use it,” she said, “and wet yourself rub yourself all over to cool yourself down.” And that didn’t, she said “if you haven’t got any bay rum, get some West Indian rum, put it in your hands, and wash your whole body with it to cool yourself down. Those were the stuff I was told to use.

 

Doreen was concerned that people from ethnic minorities with Covid were being badly treated in hospitals.

Doreen was concerned that people from ethnic minorities with Covid were being badly treated in hospitals.

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Because originally when it came out and they say that it was black and minority people, the first answer was my first thought was black and minority people go in hospital, are they deciding oh, pathway. Why treat them let them die? And a lot of people think like that. And I know there’s lots of people wouldn’t want to go in hospital either, because once you, once that came out they were thinking, they were going in hospital, they weren’t really treating them, they were leaving them to die. Literally. And I had a friend who mum died, and she went in hospital and she had the vaccine, she went in hospital, she had Covid, she died and you know, you talk to the kids they’ll say they didn’t treat her, why she died. You know, lots of people still believe that black people and Asian people died because they weren’t treated, okay some did, because there were lots of black people who they reckon died through Covid. And they’re thinking, they’re just left to die, because if you’re a certain age you were black, they probably look and think, why give you all this oxygen and stuff, you ain’t going to live anyhow?

 

Doreen feared that there would be nobody to ‘talk for her’ if she was alone in hospital.

Doreen feared that there would be nobody to ‘talk for her’ if she was alone in hospital.

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And another thing is, because you couldn’t have any visitors, who the hell was going to talk for you? You know, if they’re not treating you right, who was going to say “what are you doing? What are you giving that person? What are you giving my daughter or my husband?” Who’s going to talk for you? You had no visitors, who cares? I know what it’s like in hospital, I’ve been, I was in hospital. You hear somebody calling “Nurse, nurse, nurse.” Nobody comes. You’ve got Covid, you won’t be calling anybody because you can’t talk as such, so who’s going to come? You know and, lots of black people think like that. We’re not going in hospital because you know you’re not going to treat you. Probably leave you to die, and then they say “it’s Covid.” On your death certificate it’s Covid.

 

Doreen decided ‘I’ll just take the vaccine’ after reading up about it and learning from her sister’s vaccine experience.

Doreen decided ‘I’ll just take the vaccine’ after reading up about it and learning from her sister’s vaccine experience.

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After I debated it a long time, watched everything went on the internet, read as much as I can about it and stuff. I thought you know what, my sister had the vaccine and then she was alright. She had a few, didn’t feel very well the first, feel fine the first one the second one she didn’t feel as good but that passed, and I thought you know, I’ll just take the vaccine.

 

Doreen was racially abused when she went to a shop wearing a mask with an African print.

Doreen was racially abused when she went to a shop wearing a mask with an African print.

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They are a lot of people, and if I’m being honest, became very hateful. I left the house in my mask which was an African print mask, just to go about five minutes from my house to my local Tesco. And people in the car shouted nasty name at me because my daughter got on the bus and walking, and people are shouting names, and that was because of the colour of the mask. The pattern of the mask is an African mask, and we’re shouted names at. “Go back to where you come from with your mask.” What has that got to do with the virus what has that got to do with, why have people suddenly became so nasty?

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