Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Did You Just Call Me “Weak”?

One of my favorite movies, is “An Officer And A Gentleman,” starring Richard Gere and Louis Gossett, Jr.  A scene early in the movie has a recruit (Gere) in line with other recruits.  The drill sergeant (yes, I spelled that correctly), played by Gossett, Jr., proceeds down the line of the recruits, stops at Gere and asks where he is from.  Gere responds, “Texas.”  Gossett, Jr. returns, “only two things come out of Texas, steers and queers.  I don’t see no horns on you, so you must be queer.”

So, this is a weird way for me to start a post.  But I do so as an analogy.  The other day, I responded to another’s post about the current Corona virus pandemic.  The individual wrote, “80% of the people won’t even be affected by this, only the old and the weak.”  You can see why I began the way that I did.  Clearly Gere did not have horns on him, but that also did not give the drill instructor the right to insinuate and insult Gere’s character with a homophobic slur.  Later in the movie, Gere would most certainly prove Gossett, Jr. wrong.

I am 54 years of age.  By any definition, that in no way makes me old.  So, as many times as I have had to defend myself during this virus crisis, I am definitely considered high risk.  But that is not what the ignoramus wrote.  He said, “old or weak.”  And if I am not old, then I must be “weak.”  I pride myself in not letting comments made about me, bother me.  And as I mentioned in previous posts, I have issues, survivor guilt, in accepting my longevity.

But this snarky comment, “old or weak” lit a fire under my ass that I have never felt before.  I know what I have gone through over the past 30 years was no easy task.  I have never looked for an “attaboy” or a pat on the back for what I have been through.  I most certainly do not brag or complain.  This moment was different, my tongue, or in this case, my fingers, would not hold back.

My reply:

“Weak?  Seriously?  You are calling me weak?  Because I’m certainly not old.  I know you are clearly inconvenienced along with the 80% you made reference to.  But you do not get to call me weak.  I have dealt with cancer.  I was exposed to several toxic chemicals as part of my chemotherapy.  I was exposed to four times the lifetime maximum of ionized radiation.  I have had operations on the two main arteries to my heart because of my treatments.  I have permanent damage to my left lung from my treatments.  I was rolled out of my house at 4am on a gurney into an ambulance, dying from septic pneumonia.  Nine months later, I had another episode of that pneumonia.  I have no spleen (thanks to my cancer) which makes me more susceptible to illnesses.  There is more, but you get the gist.  I have a much higher risk of contracting Corona virus, or perhaps another term that might be used, more vulnerable.  But “weak?”  This is not the animal kingdom and survival of the fittest.  If I succumbed to the virus, to you, I would be no different than the 20% of the weakest part of the herd.  FUCK YOU!”

Okay.  He definitely struck a nerve with me.  Perhaps I was being a bit sensitive, or was I?  Clearly he was not a writer, or he would have thought more carefully about the words he was using.  Or perhaps his thinking was that simple as “survival of the fittest.”

For being as high risk as I am, and honestly, I can only claim that for twelve years of my thirty, because it was not until my first heart surgery in 2008, that I learned that I had all these factors determining my risks.

After the berating I gave, I decided on a second reply, not simply “editing” my previous reply.

“I have gone through annual virus outbreaks such as SARS, bird flu, swine flu, Zika, MERS, and of course, the annual flu outbreaks.  I worked with biological hazards as part of my employment, much to the displeasure of my doctors who felt I should not expose myself to those risks.  And yet, after all this, to this date, I have not developed anything, in spite of my being high risk, vulnerable.  Why is that?  Because I know my risks.  I know the procedures and the things I must do to minimize any chance of exposure.  And guess what?  That does not involve anyone else, other than myself.  That’s right, I don’t put that responsibility on anyone else, other than myself.  Dealing with this Corona virus, my attitude is no different.  But even my daughters understand this simple concept.  It is those around me that I have no control over, that can affect my risk.  I am talking about vectors.  You probably have no idea what I am referring to, so I will simplify it for you.  A vector is a carrier.  And that, is what 80% of you have the potential of being to the 20%.  You will either have slight flu symptoms, or just carry the virus, and interact with someone whose body cannot fight off the virus.”

That’s right.  No matter the many precautions that I take, my main threat is going to be the “strong” people, who carry the virus.  I have made my most difficult decisions to reduce my exposure to healthier people.  The most painful was to cancel travel plans to see my daughters.  I was to visit them for a birthday, but they live in an area that is being dealt with very strictly to control and contain the outbreak in their area.  For me to travel there would be like walking into a hail of gunfire and expecting not to get hit by even one bullet.  But I have also had to cancel their trip to visit me in a few weeks, for fear of carrying the virus.

You do not get to refer to me as “weak.”

I am using my head during this crisis.  I am not panicking and running out buying out all kinds of supplies.  I am not sharing any false information such as conspiracy theories of origin or cure.  I am educated and informed.  And I am hoping the end result for me personally, is that my experience will end just as all of the other viruses I have gone through.

I am a high risk for the Corona virus because I have cardiac issues, pulmonary issues, diabetic, and have no spleen.  I am vulnerable if you must insist on separating who should be concerned about Covid19, and who is just being flat out inconvenienced, do not call us “weak.”  Thinning out a “herd” is not an acceptable concept for humans just because you are being inconvenienced.


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