15 May 2020

Furyal Mahmood: Life in lockdown

Join optometrist, Furyal Mahmood MCOptom, as she reflects on her new 'normal’ after being furloughed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “It has now been a little over seven weeks since the country went into lockdown. If I could round up my journey transitioning from full-time work and social freedom to a life in isolation, I would describe it as nothing short of bewildering.

“Rewinding to a time of normality, full-time work kept me busy. It typically involved covering clinics around the West Midlands, which ranged from busy high street stores to single testing only clinics. Working across several stores has always kept me on my toes with constant work, until now.

“Since the pandemic started, there has been a decline in business. Increasing health risks to both clinicians and the public meant most practices were forced to close. Now only a few practices remain open for ocular emergencies and serving key workers. 

“As you can imagine the first few weeks of being furloughed were beyond depressing! Seeing death figures rising daily, to hearing the loss of loved ones in the community, I, along with everyone else, had no choice but to come to terms with this new reality.

“Current life is now predominantly based in the home, with the exception of an occasional walk around the local park. From video-calling family and friends to daily workouts, and a newfound love of cooking, it is fair to say that I have definitely used this opportunity to do things that I would have otherwise neglected. And while I may not have time for ‘TikToks’ post-pandemic, I will certainly be taking away a new set of skills and appreciation for a simpler way of life.

“In the midst of this madness, I have been trying my best to keep in touch with my work team. We have been conscious of keeping a close eye on one another to ensure we are all safe and well. Myself, and my optometrist friends have been keeping updated through online webinars to make sure we are obtaining our CET points throughout this uncertain time.

“The month of Ramadan has arrived upon us. There has never been a Ramadan quite like this and may never be one like this again! Not being able to visit one another or take part in congregational gatherings during this special month has affected many of us. Although, we have been blessed with much needed time to self-reflect and self-evolve. The festival of Eid will be a strange time this year, but we intend on having a great time regardless and have already scheduled many virtual family games and catch ups!

“All in all, what has been truly remarkable to see is that despite the challenges we have faced as a country, we have managed to remain positive and make the best of the situation. We have learnt the beauty of appreciating things we typically take for granted, and have stuck together when we needed to most. I remain optimistic that life will return back to how it was, slowly but surely. For now, we must remain positive and stay safe. The countdown to a new ‘normal’ begins...” 

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