Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

A Difficult Choice

This is a time that many have been waiting for.  There are those who have no intention of participating.  There are many who are unsure as what to do.

Full disclosure (what else is new with my posts?), if I contract Covid19, the complications from the virus would “kill” me.  That is not per MSM (main stream media) or any other propaganda.  That is per my cardiologist who is all too aware of the current condition of my heart, and the two surgeries that have been done to it, and now add my carotid surgery.  Include the fact that I have no spleen (asplenia), along with cardiac issues I have pulmonary issues from my treatments for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  I do have high blood pressure, and am diabetic.  I check off every box of vulnerabilities when it comes to Covid19.  Of all the viruses I have faced over the decades with my immunity issues, this one is the first one that I have received such strong advice to avoid at all costs.

I have taken this virus very seriously.  I had faith that the right things were going to be done with this horrific unknown, until the voices in charge were silenced.  And then, we just had to wait for a plan, for a treatment, for mitigation, for a vaccine.  The problem was, there was no plan.  We know this.  And if you dared challenge this strategy (or lack of), then another problem was created, you were perceived as being against the president.  With a virus that would eventually kill more people than three of our major wars combined, and we knew the potential for it, how could we let this happen?

The biggest war cry in trying to find something to treat Covid19 with was, “we just don’t know”.  But anything that showed hope, was to immediately be pushed as the “cure all”, without any studies.  And for the record, the ideas being suggested at that time, not an option for me, as the one drug caused cardiac issues (which I already had), and taking a steroid is not advisable for someone with cardiac issues.

We were given advice on how to be out and about, but even that had turned into a divide falsely on the grounds that again, it was a perceived attack on the president who did everything opposite of what experts advised to do.  Do you remember what it was like in school, to be expected to do the right thing, but looking around at other kids who were not going to do the right thing, so you did not also?  It is called peer pressure.

So, let me put it into terms that you can understand.  Covid19 was an unknown from day one.  Science is about trial and error.  There were bound to be mistakes and errors, but at no time, was that grounds to take the virus less serious.  The mitigation efforts we had were not perfect, and to this day still are not, but they are all we have, and there at least has been benefit to them, in spite of those who oppose them.

Masks do not hurt you.  If you get sick from one, chances are you are likely to not have had clean hands when you handled it, or perhaps that one time, you let your guard down.  But the truth is, the heroes in medicine wear them all damn day, many times in twelve hour shifts.  You can certainly wear one when you are around someone, but some won’t.  Peer pressure.  Has nothing to do with freedom.  A year into this, I am still free.  A person who opposes a mask is just worried they look foolish wearing one.

Social distance.  I for one am all too glad to no longer shake hands, hug, or greet with a smooch on the cheek.  I will not miss that.  But I would like to go to a movie or dine out, and I will some day, hopefully in the next few months.  And I do want my kids back in school physically.  The harm that has been done by their physical absence in class is not because of the virus, but because of the valuable time that was wasted right from the beginning in facing Covid19.  Again, if my childrens’ school district is any example, they will be back in school full time, and safely, with all the mitigations recommended by the CDC.

So that brings me to the final part of this nightmare, the vaccines.  We finally have three of them.  To be clear, I am not an anti-vaxxer.  But I do not believe in getting every one, but clearly, there have been vaccines that have been necessary to eradicate the illness and make sure we never dealt with those tragedies again.  Chances are, most of anyone reading this, does not know of anyone who had and died from polio.  There is a reason for that, the vaccine.  But if you have an older parent, they are likely able to tell you what it was like to see someone with, or die from polio.  And the comment will be, “I don’t ever want to see that again.”

You do not have to be one of the more than 500,000 families touched by death from Covid19 to say, “I don’t ever want to see a crisis like this again.”  That is what was said in 1918, and we learned nothing from that time period.  But now we have a choice, something we did not have a year ago.  Yes, we do not know if we can eradicate this virus, but the maximum needs to be done to try.

I am one of the vulnerable.  I am supposed to be one that will get the vaccine before the average healthy non-senior.  And in spite of everything I wrote, my decision is not an easy one.  But I know, that I have put an enormous amount of time and thought into it.

I am encouraged by the mRNA vaccines because these do not contain any form of the virus.  That is a big deal for me as I have written previously about my concerns with “live” or “deactivated” vaccines.  And I have strong reason to have faith in at least one of those vaccines, because I personally know someone, who was involved in the process of discovering the vaccine.  Their advice, “you need this vaccine.”

But, being a long term cancer survivor, I have been a guinea pig before.  My treatments were discovered, and could treat my cancer.  What was not studied were the late side effects that could develop if I lived long enough.  And for the last year and a half, I have been fighting for my life, literally, because science just did not know.

The same situation exists now, an extreme lack of data.  Speaking of only my situation, there is zero data on people with a compromised immune system.  There is zero data available for long term side effects of the vaccine.  And then there is one more concern which I will get into in a minute.  But first, two of my most trusted advocates.

I have more than a half dozen doctors that take care of all of my needs.  Two of those, my primary care (I have had for over 30 years), and the doctor who has been there for me since the discovery of my late term issues from day one (almost thirteen years ago).  These two doctors are the ones I trust completely, and that is not an easy thing for me to do.  And oddly, they are not on the same page for this issue, each for their own reason.  Which means my decision will fall squarely on me.

So, here is how I have come to the decision that I have.  There is a factor with my health, and my immunity that my doctors and I am aware of, my body does not make antibodies easily, in other words, unless my body is challenged with multiple boosters, I may not develop immunity, the vaccines would be a waste.

At one time, in the beginning of my cancer journey when my spleen was removed, I was given a pneumovax shot for pneumonia.  This was to be for life.  It ended up not being so.  Then they said it was good for ten years.  As part of my surveillance, my blood was checked for titers (antibody development), and after one shot, I had none.  In fact, it would take two more boosters that one year alone, and then a couple years later, three more boosters.  And I had this same issue when it came to the menningitis vaccine.

While I believe the vaccine is remarkably effective, actually efficacy rates that were unimaginable at one time, the data is only on healthy people, and only for three months.  There is no data for someone with my health history.  There is no protocol to check for antibodies after getting the vaccine.  There is no protocol for getting any needed booster of the vaccine, as historically my body has proven could be likely.

So, here is my situation.  I have friends saying, “but Paul, what do you have to lose, at least give it a shot (no pun intended)?”  And it is true, it could work.  I just do not know, there is no data or protocol to prove it.  But me getting the shot would do nothing for me, to change the way I have gone about life for the last year, the same way I have done with all the other times viruses have popped up.  Getting the shot would not allow me to hang out in crowded restaurants or movie theaters again.  The vaccine would give me potentially a false sense of security.

But worse for me, because I have no problem with the mitigation efforts, I have gone much longer with restrictions as a cancer patient, the vaccine would be a waste on me from someone who could benefit from it.  That is not to say I will never get it.  I am likely to.  As I said, I do believe in it.  But I want the data to support my situation.  And I want the vaccine to benefit someone definitely.  I have put  a lot of thought into this.  No politics.  No MSM.  Even amongst my two top medical advocates cannot agree, but are both factual in their arguments.  So, for me, it comes to a moral issue.

I will get the vaccine, but will wait for the data, I will wait for the protocols.

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