Current Covid

I know – everyone is sick of hearing about Covid and all it’s variants but please take care. This is an x ray of my lungs during my recent bout of Covid in mid July, before I tested positive (two previous tests were negative). The doctor said it looks like emphysema which is perplexing because I am not a smoker. All that hazy white stuff should not be there.

This image is courtesy of CBS news in Dallas and here is the link to the article. You can see why the doctor thought I had emphysema but I suspect it is mild Covid lung. My symptoms are improving and I have tested negative but I am still coughing and breathless at times. I see a pulmonologist at the end of August and I hope my lungs will look better.

When I looked at the x-ray, I wondered what would have happened if I had not been fully boosted and vaccinated. My husband’s bout of Covid triggered his AFIB. Our elderly neighbor was hospitalized last month for the same reason. It is a very new disease so we don’t have all the answers especially about long term problems.

Please take sensible precautions and don’t assume if a test is negative that it is just a cold. A throat swab may have been more effective in my case.

60 years of Vaccinations

LITTLE KERRY’S FIRST VACCINATION PASSPORT

The first prototype vaccinations for smallpox are believed to have occurred in the 16th century but the first vaccine is attributed to Edward Jenner, an English physician in 1796.  The 60 years in the title refers to my own history of vaccination.  They eradicated smallpox in 1972 but I still have the mark from my inoculation.  Can you imagine how brave the first people to accept the smallpox vaccination were or was the sight of death enough for acceptance?  I was provoked to write the post on finding out that people have not been showing up to their vaccination appointments in Texas.  It’s the only free healthcare I have ever received in the USA!  I was so relieved to receive the 2nd vaccination last week – just two weeks until full inoculation.

As a baby boomer, vaccinations have readily accepted by me because most of us saw what happened when you didn’t get inoculated.  Childhood deaths from illnesses that most of us have forgotten were common.  The ravages of Polio were there for all to see in the survivors – limps and calipers or an iron lung.  Teddy had Scarlet Fever twice; his adoptive mum feared for his much longed for life.  She and my mum had their own battle with Tuberculosis or consumption.  My mum was sent to relatives in the country and my mum in law spent months in hospital.  Newly adopted Teddy’s Granny had to look after him while she was in the sanitarium.  It was a strange blessing as they bonded in a special way.  I think he was always her favorite. My mum and I were unable to return back to the USA in 1967 because my mum was diagnosed with TB for the third time.  This time they had an antibiotic treatment – streptomycin – and she fully recovered but mentally collapsed with the end of her American dream.

Vaccination has become a taboo subject in recent times with the much-refuted claim that a particular vaccine can cause autism in children.  Perhaps seeing death and illness in your every day life made it easier for our parents to allow vaccination in previous decades.  I can’t claim to know much about autism but I am certain that it was underdiagnosed in previous years.  Every area in Scotland had a special school where children with mental and physical disabilities were lumped together for what was often a sub-standard education.  It was a necessity when I was a child because at our little Catholic Primary School, we had two full classes of Primary 1 and there were 40 kids in each class.  No teacher would be able to cope with special needs children in addition.  I can still remember a little boy, called Andrew, who undoubtedly had ADD or something similar – that diagnosis was not used then.  We could tell that he couldn’t help himself but it was so upsetting when he disturbed our learning cycle.  The teacher had the patience of a saint.

WHOO-HOO – SECOND COVID INOCULATION!

Vaccinations were staggered as they are today and the last, I recall at school, was for TB when we were about 13 years old.  Both Teddy and I tested positive that indicated that we had TB or the antibodies – both of us had been vaccinated earlier than usual because our mum’s had TB.  Years passed, Teddy and Bunny married and had our honeymoon in Peterhead to meet my new relatives…  A couple of years later we booked a caravan holiday to south of France.  Unbelievably, there was a typhoid outbreak in La Sud and we had to get new vaccinations just before our trip.  We were vaccinated on our bums but then had a 24-hour bus trip to our destination – oh how we ached!

As our vacations got more exotic, so did the vaccinations.  Teddy had to get the Yellow Fever vaccine for a work trip to Africa.  In between all that you kept up with your tetanus vaccinations, especially if you lived in an agricultural area like we did.  Then we moved to Egypt in 2002 and I felt like a pin cushion.  Most of the childhood vaccines had to be repeated as illness such as polio are still endemic in third world countries.  We also had rabies vaccines which I am not sure were entirely necessary but it gave me free rein to work with street animals so another blessing, perhaps.  A tiny kitten nearly killed me with septicemia from a bite, so I guess death is always lurking around the corner in one form or another.  The only thing we didn’t have to worry about in Egypt was terrorist attacks!  You had to be careful on boats in the Nile in case you got Nile water splashed in your mouth.  Bilharzia is a very common disease; my Egyptian friend’s Dad was dying of liver failure caused by Bilharzia, a parasite you can ingest when drink untreated Nile water.

I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT SOME OF THESE VACCINES FOR EGYPT WERE???

So, we reach 2021 and by some miracle scientists were able to create a vaccine at Warp Speed.  There hasn’t been much time for trial but it is a global pandemic of unimaginable scale.  Almost 3 million people worldwide have died of Covid-19 but the true number is probably much higher.  Herd immunity is a long way off, so turn up for your vaccine appointment!  My eyes have gone square from looking at the TV and Internet too much during this weird time but I loved this funny video that I found some months ago.  Yes, cat fur and hot dog water sounds just fine to me…

How are you?

“How are you?” is such an innocuous question that we hear all over the world.  Right now, I bet we all tell a white lie.  I went to the supermarket today, met the checkout staff who I have known for more than a decade.  “How are you?” she asked, smiling behind a mask.  “I am good, thank you, how are you?” “Good, good…” she responded.  It certainly wasn’t entirely true on my part and knowing how awful her job has been recently, I doubt that my favorite lady at the shop was good either.  2021 hasn’t worked out so great for Texans, or anyone, so far.  Our bushes and trees are a visible sign of the death after our big freeze.  They droop sadly, just hanging onto life or perhaps not.

Just like everyone else my mental health has taken a beating.  There was a little red letter day last week when we were contacted by the Houston Health Department to schedule our appointments for Covid-19 vaccines.  The only problem was that it was one of the mega vaccination sites in downtown Houston which is about 40 miles south of us.  Teddy and I decided to book a hotel the night before so we wouldn’t panic about getting there.  In Houston it is not the time or distance that is a problem but sheer volume of traffic.  You can’t tell if a journey is going to take one or two hours, especially with any breakdowns or accidents on a packed interstate.

The furthest I have driven in the past year is to our own town center, about 20 minutes away.  I last did that journey about 6 months ago and since then my journeys have been no more than 10 minutes.  Driving was a skill that I came to me late in life because of anxiety.  Medication finally allowed me to tamp down the fear to pass my test when I was 45, here in Texas.  We decided that Teddy would drive my car down to the hotel and I was so afraid that I lay horizontally in the passenger side so I couldn’t see the traffic.  Horse blinkers would have been more comfortable.

The hotel was in the most awful location but close to the gigantic stadium used for the mass vaccination.  It had seen much better days but it was clean.  There was no food or drink available.  Was the water even safe after the boil order following the big freeze?  The air conditioning sounded like a WWII bomber.  I was so cold that I went into bed fully clothed, including my fleece jacket.  Things improved slightly when we found a nice Italian restaurant that delivered a gluten free pizza and a bottle of wine.  Medication kicked in and I fell into a disturbed sleep.  My husband had to conduct a zoom meeting with colleagues in the far east at 8 pm – just one more thing to add to our disquiet.

The next day we set off for our vaccinations.  We could see the stadium across the road from our hotel but we had to go in the opposite direction, making a U-turn under the Beltway to approach.  We followed the signs for VACCINATIONS and entered an arena that was truly a military operation.  There were thousands of National Guard, Houston City workers, Sheriffs and cars full of people getting vaccinated.  Health is a great leveler – bashed up little Honda Civics alongside fancy Bentleys and myriad trucks.  We had received texts confirming our appointment times – Teddy got a barcode but apparently my phone is too old to get them…

I am full of awe for all the people working at that vaccination site.  Somehow, they kept us all moving, made sure we were who we said we were and told us we were getting the Pfizer vaccine today.  You could see everyone was a bit shell-shocked at the scale of the operation and we all said, “Yes, sir or ma’am”.  I had brought all our medications but no one asked for anything, other than ID.  We finally reached the vaccinations area and it was given by a very young medic from the National Guard.  As I lifted up my sleeve, I noticed how much muscle mass I have lost in my arms.  Ah well, at least I lived long enough to get the vaccine.

The journey home was less frenetic but I still stayed horizontal.  When we were about 4 miles from home, I finally sat up with some of the stress of the whole experience abating.  I went straight into the shower and all the clothes went in the wash.  Then I went to bed and stayed there for a couple of days.  Most people don’t feel too bad after the first jab but everything hurt – my eye sockets, every muscle ached and I was cold.  They say that a strong reaction is a good thing but mine might have been equally due to anxiety.

I saw a heartwarming piece on CNN about a grandmother who was so frozen with fear, even after being fully inoculated, that her doctor gave her a prescription for a hug from her granddaughter, who was masked.  That’s how I feel.  A tiny amount of my fear has gone but I feel no desire to leave our hibernation at home.  Future vacations fill me with panic.  For a moment, I wondered if I should ask for an increase in medication but I think time will be enough.  Step by step we will emerge from this year of dread.  We won’t feel fabulous as soon as we are inoculated; each time we hear about a variant we may tremble. 

On the other hand, I will enjoy my first coffee with a friend, wearing make-up and sitting in a restaurant in time.  Now we have to vaccinate the world.  I am beyond grateful to have received just one shot.  Thank you to all the scientists and other staff who worked on the Vaccine program in a global effort.  I think it is okay to say a little white lie and keep smiling.  Know many of us feel the same and you can share your feelings with someone you trust. Perhaps me?

Pretending to be Lori Loughlin

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

We Americans assume that the rest of the world knows our current social gossip and every other stupid thing that we do. As an aside, did you know that a thing is an old English/Frisian word which means a gathering?  The title of this post refers to an actress with less dramatic skills than me who has made a fortune making Hallmark movies.  How to explain Hallmark movies? Shmaltzy movies where there is always a happy ending and they use the same actors again and again.  It so confusing when you think, “wasn’t she in Alaska last week with creepily handsome veterinarian?”  Now she is in a Cajun Christmas where they all eat turducken. It’s not just Icelanders who eat gross food…

Lori Loughlin was recently jailed for a ludicrously short period of time for committing fraud to get her underachieving kids into a good college.  LOTS of money was involved and there were other famous perps such as Felicity Huffman who shamefully decided to admit her guilt and take the punishment.  Is it just me or did anyone else admire Martha Stewart’s chutzpah when she just admitted her guilt to insider trading and went straight to prison?  When released, she walked out, head held high, with a handknitted poncho.  Who knew she would be Snoop Dogg’s Bubala? If you are wondering about the Yiddish words, one of my DNA sites revealed, at Christmas, that I am now 1% Ashkenazi Jew.  I am embracing all parts of my heritage and I really love Yiddish words – they have that onomatopoeic quality to them.

Why am I pretending to be Lori Loughlin?  Having looked through the provisional list of who gets vaccinated in Texas: I am right at the bottom in Group D.  That means I will probably have to stay in personal lockdown until April or May.  Batshit crazy does not count for anything nor do dodgy cysts in lungs.  Teddy might be included in one group of essential workers because he works in Energy. 

Just like Lori Loughlin I am also going to prison, figuratively, for the next four months or so, and will I do any of the life affirming challenges I set myself? No and **** No.  I really tried in 2020.  I wrote funny blogs, I was positive, friendly, checked on elderly family and friends.  At first, I lost weight and exercised.  One of my neighbors said, ‘there was not a pick on me’ – a chicken reference.  I could not bring myself to mix socially so gave ALL of my attention to Teddy.  Sometimes I played BOO, other times I walked towards him like a penguin and tried every conceivable way to make him laugh in a difficult time.

Meanwhile I was not processing that I had lost all my contract work with no hope of any more for some years (and how that would affect my self-esteem).  I had no inclination to work with the public although I bow down to those that did.  My OCD made it impossible for me to be rational about the pandemic.  Still wiping down all the packages with disinfectant wipes, even the squirrels’ food.  After the summer my mental health faltered in increments, not helped by forgetting to eat but not forgetting to drink…

What I really want to know is, will you still write to me?  Physical visits are out but I need some contact with the world.  I might create some more Vlogs since Sit Down Comedy was well received.  It was exhilarating putting on some makeup and washing my hair – Woo Hoo!  I met one of my neighbors in the street and she seemed concerned that I would continue (post vaccination) to be social or even host parties.  I said yes but I don’t think it was the truth.  Just like everyone else, I have changed profoundly during 2020.  I hope I am not less kind but perhaps a little less compliant.  Do I really need more societal contact or do I need to live a solitary life better? 

I hate to be the one that says it but I really think life will get worse before it gets better and we will be wearing masks for much longer than we think (if we care about other’s safety).  Those vaccinated soon will not be fully immune until the second injection and if you don’t get it, will that invite Corona virus mutations?   If you are able to, just go to prison with me, and maybe next Christmas will be worth celebrating.  If not wear a mask, long after vaccination.

Sending off to Amazon for an orange jumpsuit – only method acting for me, darlings! 

Wish for a HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2021 and keep your expectations low without giving up hope.