Ash & Ryan

  • Countries Visited: 7
  • Travel Wishlist: All over Europe, USA again, Greek Islands, Japan, Pacific Islands, Thailand and Singapore again, Sri Lanka
  • Locked down in: Gold Coast, QLD

We were both so naive, there was NO WAY they would cancel Coachella. I mean its COACHELLA RIGHT!!!!”

We both have struggled to sit down and actually write this as I guess we both feel incredibly lucky to be in the position we are, and also feel incredibly guilty because we see what our family and friends are going through. 

We are both from Melbourne originally, which is where our family and friends are and where one of the world’s strictest lockdowns was enforced. We moved from Melbourne to the Gold Coast 4 years ago and have loved every minute of it.

We feel SO lucky to have gone through this pandemic living here and not being in Melbourne but our hearts break seeing what our loved ones have gone through. We miss our family so much and are yet to meet our new nephew who was born in Melbourne during lockdown.

We were both fortunate enough to have been able to continue working through the lockdown although our jobs were somewhat impacted.

Ryan’s working hours were reduced and the dental practice that I manage was temporarily closed due to the stage 3 restrictions placed on dental treatment.

I remember the day that I was notified that we would be closing and majority of the staff were being stood down. Initially I thought I was stood down and went through a rollercoaster of emotion that day. I cried so much and my mind was racing, all I could think about was how we would get through this financially. The CEO addressed us via Zoom and notified us that 77 out of our 94 practices across the country would be closing the very next day. That was when it really hit me that this was really happening and a lot more serious than I thought.

I later received a call from my regional manager informing me that I was being transferred to the only practice in our region that was going to remain open.

This brought on another HUGE mix of emotions. I was incredibly grateful, yet the guilt I felt that I had been given this opportunity made me physically sick. My work colleges were all feeling the impact of what had been announced and I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to continue working. I felt sick to my stomach. I felt guilty, I felt anxious, I felt like my team and friends would resent me. I struggled with this feeling of guilt for a really really long time and it was all I could think about.

When I was transferred to the other practice, I was so grateful to be there but I must admit it was not a pleasant experience. I am so used to being able to help people and show compassion and comfort them. This is why I love my job and why I find it so rewarding. However due to the incredibly strict restrictions that were placed on my industry, I was now unable to show that warmth for my patients and instead it was an entirely different experience.

We were only allowed to see people who were deemed an emergency, presenting with facial swelling or trauma.

I turned away hundreds of patients during the 6 weeks I was working. I had to explain to patients that their problems just weren’t important during that time and it broke my heart. I had patients crying in front of me and over the phone and there was nothing I could do. I was constantly abused by people as they were angry and upset that we were unable to help them. It started to take a toll on me, I could also see this within the other staff members and dentists. It was emotionally draining and really really hard.

It was also a really scary time as we are classed as one of the highest risk environments. As the virus is airborne, we were unable to use any equipment that produced aerosols. We had to implement additional infection control measures including wearing N95 masks. These were so incredibly painful and I ended up with bruising on my nose and cheeks from the wire in the mask.

In terms of us being in lockdown, I think we actually handled this really well. We had been overseas the year prior and on big trip around America and had put ourselves in a forced lockdown for the 12months prior in order to save money. When we returned in March 2019, we went ahead and booked a return trip to USA for April 2020. We then spent the remainder of 2019, through to early 2020 in our own “lockdown” to save for the second trip. So I guess in a way this was kind of “normal” for us.

I would say the hardest part for me was when the gym closed. That’s my outlet and I know it helps me so much with my mental health. I can feel a change in myself when I am not training and that was something I struggled with, I needed that outlet.

The other thing that was really disheartening for us is that we spent so long saying no to social events, outings and activities as we were saving for our 2020 trip which obviously was not able to go ahead. So we feel like we wasted pretty much all of 2019 for nothing. That was really hard.

We had our April 2020 trip planned to go to Coachella and Vegas, which is where we got married the year before. We were only 6 weeks out before our trip when this all started taking off. We were both so naive, there was NO WAY they would cancel Coachella. I mean its COACHELLA RIGHT!!!! Well we were wrong and it was really really shit!!!

We spent the next few months fighting with the tour company and airline to try and recover our money. To sacrifice a year of your life and miss out of some much in order to save money, then have that money gone for nothing was really hard. We were fortunate enough to recover most of it, finally!

The lockdown here lasted about 6 weeks so we are SO grateful we were here and so lucky we didn’t have to endure too much. I think we were able to get through that period as we were both working. I couldn’t imagine being stuck at home 24/7 in a small 1-bedroom apartment with no backyard. We know we are very very fortunate.

Out of all that’s happened we did end up in a good financial position as we got our money back and were also still working and there wasn’t much to spend our money on during lockdown. We ended up saving a lot of money and were looking at the possibility of buying our first house. We thought about it and it just didn’t feel like “us”

Anyone who knows us knows that we don’t do things by the book. We get an idea and run with it and don’t care what anyone else thinks.

So instead of buying a house, we started a business.

We brought a campervan and have fitted out to what we wanted, listed it for hire and launched Gold Coast Glampervans. It was a random idea but just felt right for us. This gave us a positive thing to look forward to, something to help us get creative, something we are passionate about and also involves an element of travel. We did our first trip to the Whitsundays recently and now have bookings through to February. We are really excited for his venture and have plans to bring on more vans down the track if it’s successful.

We are so excited for this, so grateful but still carry a huge amount of guilt given what others have gone through.