A CARLISLE family which has spent the majority of the past 12 weeks confined to its home has been mentally, physically and emotionally pushed to its limits.

Dave and Stacey Louden and their children Alfie and Ayda went into isolation on March 23 as five-year-old Ayda suffers from Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a lung condition which makes her extremely vulnerable to the risks posed by Covid-19.

After adjusting to even stricter precautions, the first few weeks were manageable but eventually the novelty of home-schooling and speaking virtually to family and friends eventually wore off.

“Things started to become increasingly difficult, both mentally and physically as the weeks rolled on, especially for Alfie and Ayda,” said Dave, 36. “About nine weeks into lockdown the mental and physical health balance warning lights were coming on.”

Restricted by shielding guidelines, the family, which is used to swimming, park runs and football, struggled to keep up with Ayda’s fitness and physio, which is a vital part of her CF regime.

Dave and Stacey consulted their daughter’s CF team and it was decided an early morning or late evening walk would be acceptable and beneficial.

Armed with torches, face coverings and hand sanitiser, the family left its home in Sandsfield Park for the first time in weeks.

“Who’d have thought a simple walk would be such a relief only a few months ago?” said Dave. “We kept the number of walks to a minimum, but it was a huge relief to have the option and a huge morale booster.”

A new trampoline also helped boost Ayda’s physio and fitness routine but their lockdown difficulties were magnified when Aflie, eight, broke his arm, needing surgery and three pins.

“It was a very scary time, especially given our situation with Ayda, and particularly hard for Stacey and the family not being able to come to visit him. We didn’t know if myself and Alfie would have to isolate away from home for a further two weeks to make sure we were Covid-free,”said Dave. “It was literally our worst nightmare come true when it happened.”

Dave and Alfie both tested negative and returned home after two nights in hospital.

Throughout all this though, knowing Ayda has Orkambi, and her health is the best in can be, has put their minds at ease.

She became one of the leading faces of the campaign to get the 'wonder drug' drug licensed on the NHS. 

Orkambi will help keep her lungs healthier for longer, and reduce the amount infections, hospital stays and irreversible lung damage. 

Dave said it has given her more energy and a better chance of fighting off a number of viruses.

As shielding guidelines were eased on June 1 the family went on a trip to the Solway and was finally able to enjoy some freedom.