My Quarantine Routine: Bobbie, 25, who has rheumatoid arthritis and is shielding

Around 1.5 million people have been classed as extremely vulnerable and they have been told to stay home and avoid all contact with anyone outside their household.

These people are in the ‘shielded’ group and the idea is that as there is a much higher risk of them catching the virus and having complications, they should not go out at all for 12 weeks.

One of those in the shielded group is Bobbie Nickless, who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) when she was 20.

She’s on immunosuppressant medication, so is more vulnerable to the coronavirus and hasn’t been outside (other than to her garden) for over six weeks.

Bobbie usually lives in London, but she went back home to Staffordshire to shield with her family just before lockdown was announced. She’s living with her mum, dad and older sister who are also self-isolating at home to protect her.

She works for a theatre company in London, where she directs and choreographs. Whilst at home, she’s teaching online ballet and dance classes for all ages and abilities and volunteering with the charity Versus Arthritis.

For My Quarantine Routine, she explains how she spent Tuesday April 22.

8:30 am

I normally wake up naturally around 8/8:30am. But if I’m tired or have taken my medication the evening before, I listen to my body and have a lie in. 

I generally don’t suffer too badly with stiff joints in the morning anymore thanks to my medication. But today the sun is shining and I feel good – ready to start the day! 

9 am

I wander downstairs and have a catch up with my mum over a cup of tea (with oat milk – my fave). It’s nice to spend time together as I don’t get to see her that often while I’m in London.

We try not to discuss the news too much as it can feel overwhelming, so just chat about what we want to achieve for the day.

My family have been so supportive since my arthritis diagnosis and it’s really reassuring to be together as a family through this unpredictable time we’ve found ourselves in.

I’m getting hungry by the time my sister joins us in the kitchen for breakfast. We’re making egg McMuffins as McDonald’s shared the recipe on twitter. We love them and making them together throughout lockdown has definitely made it more bearable.

We eat and then I go off to get dressed and ready to start recording for the day. I definitely miss my job and friends in London but I’m so grateful to be able to teach online.

10 am 

I regularly meditate to help me focus on what I have to achieve for the day, and find it a really useful technique to help me stay relaxed, so I do a quick 10-minute meditation on the Headspace app.

10:30 am

My mum has a home yoga business so I’m lucky enough to have a fantastic space to record in.

Today I’m recording a stretch class for Versus Arthritis, the charity I volunteer for. They’re an amazing charity super close to my heart.

They regularly share stories from people of all ages diagnosed with chronic illnesses, which always helps me to feel an amazing sense of community.

For the stretch class, I’m keeping the exercises gentle and including something for everyone, even if you’re having a flare-up. 

I know what it’s like to be in a lot of pain, there was a point where I didn’t think I’d ever be able to walk again properly, let alone dance. But here we are! With the right support and treatment, I’m at a place where I feel in control of my condition.

12 pm

After many attempts at my opening words for the video (major blooper reel has formed), I’m happy with the recording and send it off for approval. Then I have some lunch – today I’m having some veggie lasagne I made yesterday. 

1:30 pm 

Now I have a bit of time to relax before I start prepping for a ballet class, which I’ll be teaching on Facebook live. 

The weather is amazing, so I sit out in the garden and FaceTime my friends.

I haven’t left the house since March 16, as my immunosuppressive arthritis medication means I’m identified as high risk. It does get quite difficult not being able to go out, but facetime is helping a lot.

4 pm 

Time to come back inside and get ready for my class. Quick change back into activewear and back downstairs to prepare.

I teach a variety of ages – including my mum and her friends. 

My sister goes out to the supermarket to do the food shopping. She’s the only person in our family who goes out, so we can try and keep me shielded. She wears a mask and showers as soon as she gets home, and she tries to keep two metres distance from me. 

7 pm 

Time to go live!! Today I’m teaching a ballet class for The British Theatre Academy. On a normal working week (pre-lockdown) I work as part of their Resident Creative team in London. They’re handling lockdown amazingly, putting on a whole timetable of classes and activities every week for their members.

8 pm

Time to grab some dinner, tonight I’m having butternut squash and sweet potato curry. Trying to get some healthy vitamins in before I do my immunosuppressant biologic self-injection. 

9 pm

Normally, I have monthly infusions at the hospital to treat my RA in London, but because of lockdown I’ve changed over to self-injections.

I’m finding them less tolerable than infusions as they’re more frequent, but by having the medication this way it means I don’t have to go into the hospital. I do my injection at night so I can just go straight to bed and sleep it off. I know I’ll be feeling groggy tomorrow.

10 pm 

Early night for me. Normally I watch some Netflix or chat to friends, but tonight I’m asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.

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