We hadn’t even been officially locked- down when my partner, Ben, started showing symptoms of coronavirus. ‘Let’s hope it’s man-Covid’, I prayed, ‘as opposed to the real thing.’ Over the next few days, though, things got worse. Ben’s temperature ricochetted wildly from normal to through-the-roof and back again. Things hit a real low when our five year old son, Milo, got ill too. Stuck at home, trying to look after the pair of them, I felt extremely lucky to have an infectious- disease professor just a phone call away, all thanks to our latest podcast..
Peter Drobac is the presenter of our shiny new series, Reimagine, created for the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and produced by Eve Streeter. Peter is the director of the Skoll Centre and a global health physician. His extraordinary professional credits include, playing a key role in the transformation of Rwanda’s health system and, luckily for me, teaching clinical infectious disease at Harvard Medical School.
When I described Ben and Milo’s symptoms to Peter (dry coughs, fevers, achey joints), Peter told me what I was expecting to hear: it’s probably Covid-19. What I wasn’t expecting was the enormous amount of essential support and advice he gave us as we battled this horrible illness, and it is horrible. Without his help, caring for a sick partner, running a business and keeping a sick 5-year-old happy and entertained, educated, fed and clean would have been near-impossible without becoming ill with worry myself. It’s something I will always be grateful for.
While things were feeling a bit medieval at home, our new podcast Reimagine continued to take shape, with a few necessary tweaks. Originally, the idea of the podcast was to shine a light on the visionaries, the disruptors, the world’s problem solvers, taking up the challenge of fixing the bits of our world that are broken – the people who see things differently. The podcast had been a while in development, and the episodes were plotted, the guests booked, the topics debated… then, in walked Covid-19. Well I say walked, it was more of an avalanche than a gentle stroll wasn’t it?
Reimagine has given us at Stabl, the opportunity to really test ourselves as an outfit. Practically – how do these interviews scheduled actually take place now that we’re all confined to our homes? Editorially – how do we address this global pandemic within our series? How do we even continue to tell other stories with this enormous global issue knocking loudly on all our doors?
We put our heads together and came up with a plan. We got recording equipment to our host – now holed up with his family at home. We researched the best, simple set ups our contributors could use to record themselves at home. Most drastically, we shifted the series structure around and created a new first episode that addressed the Coronavirus pandemic head on. It’s a great credit to our producer, Eve, who has been central in all this new thinking and remained calm as her brief shifted and evolved under the strain of Coronavirus.
Ben is slowly improving, my son Milo is completely recovered now and I, touch wood, have managed to avoid any notable symptoms. My experience over the last few weeks has shown me how important experts are when we’re in real need. I wonder how our next podcast series will benefit me. My washing machine’s been playing up recently… anyone up for a series about unclogging fabric softener spouts?
In the first episode of Reimagine, Peter Drobac talks about the long term effects of Covid-19 with health expert Dr Paul Farmer. Listen here.