Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

One Year Later

Although the warnings had been coming for a couple of months already, this is the time of year that changed for most of us, a health crisis that most of us had never witnessed before, perhaps not even read about in the history books.  Personally, I would rather just enjoy some meatballs or a nap.

Our country was facing a pandemic like never thought possible, for one reason.  We should have learned our lesson over a hundred years earlier.  But we did not.  Just as a hundred years ago, we faced a virus with no vaccine, no known treatment.  What we did have, was the experience of what we knew not to do as this virus would spread worse than wildfire.  And yet, instead of learning from history, we repeated it.

There was no plan to deal with the virus really.  Science was pitted against politics.  Soon, our country would be at its most divided point ever arguing feelings over facts.

Science is not exact.  It is trial an error.  The vaccine for polio did not happen on the first shot (pun intended).  A pill for insomnia was not discovered overnight.  I could go on.

But instead of recognizing the “trial and error” process of science, it was just easier for many to just say, “see, they don’t know what they are talking about.”  And then, enter the political rhetoric, because, those who took feeling over fact, saw any concern expressed by those side with facts over feeling, shouting concerns of the need to do more, prepare, prevent, protect, instead was an attack on their president.  And the only way to protect that president was to deny reality.  It is what it is.  And now, we have over 525,000 dead Americans, over 2 million world wide, from Covid19.  That is fact.

But a year ago, those of us who live by fact over feelings, made conscious decisions.  We heard the experts, scientists.  Sure, some politicians, and plenty of our neighbors and friends contradicted the scientists, but we knew that we had to have faith in those that knew what to do.  Sure, mistakes were going to be made.  But in the end, we expected to get through this.  Certainly, we did not expect it to reach a year, hoping for maybe one or two seasons.  Yet here were are, and though an end is in sight, we still have a ways to go, and still so many disagree with each other.

When it comes to having to sacrifice, I, and many others may have an advantage, being cancer survivors.  We have already gone through life, having to restrict our activities for our own good.  In fact, it is our own experience with science, that saved our lives.  This is why I trust science.

I made the difficult decisions last year, and continue them today, because they are what has been recommended.  Some of these changes have been good ones, long overdue.  Eating in.  My doctors are certainly pleased with weight loss resulting from not eating out, where I would dine on salt and fat loaded foods.  At home, I cook with no salt, and lean portions of meat.

Honestly, I do not miss “greetings” with hugs and kisses at all.  These things always gave me the willies because these gestures I felt were always meant for people that you felt strongly about.  Not as a general salutation.  Just seems so fake and awkward to me.  Even the handshake, while in general I do not have a problem with, I am okay with saying “goodbye” to it.  I will say over this year, I have seen way too many hands go up to mouth and nose, and then not get washed.

I have missed movies and concerts, but even now, many have learned how to stay relevant with streaming services.  The best thing?  Great concessions, free parking, and no traffic once it is over.  But I miss going to the local music scene as well.  Music is how I relax.  In fact, one of my favorite activities I like to do, and need to do, is karaoke.  I use this to exercise my lungs, damaged from my treatments for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Beats inhaling and exhaling with a spirometer.  And, given the nature of Covid19, it is important I keep my lungs as good as they can be.

But the hardest thing for me to deal with over the past year, was my children.  Being divorced, we live a great distance from each other, far enough to require flying.  In the beginning, as we dealt with nothing but unknowns, I had decided that it would not be safe for me to travel to see them, because of my obvious vulnerabilities, nor, to have them travel to me.  I would miss each of their birthdays, Father’s Day, and a couple of other visits.  Being older, my daughters understood the risks and agreed, that until more was known about how to deal with the situation, we would just have to settle for video calls like Facetime and Houseparty.

During the Summer, as more became known, and more precautions being taken, it was time to see what could be done about getting to see my daughters again.  After serious considerations, and all things considered with risks and precautions, both with human mitigation and engineering, we felt it would be okay, following the precautions, to fly.  Wearing masks and washing hands is one thing, but the one concern, being inside the aircraft, that went against guidelines for being “indoors” in close proximity more than 15 minutes was the only thing to be addressed.  And it was addressed through engineering with an air exchange system, circulating the air rapidly enough, not to allow transmission.  It made it possible to see my daughters again in person.

So here we are, a year later.  And just like many other outbreaks I have lived through, and lived with over the years with my vulnerabilities, I am learning to live with this.  I know we are finally heading in a direction that will get this under control finally.  I do feel that we will likely have at least one more hiccup as people “touch the trophy before playing the championship game”, celebrating too soon.

When I saw this image, which occurred in Boise, Idaho over the weekend at a “burn the mask” rally, this is what confirms the likelihood of another hiccup.  And what is worse, besides the fact that it makes a mockery of all the first responders who have cared for patients who had Covid19 or died from it, but is completely disrespectful to the millions who have lost their lives.  And this is what these children have been taught by this act.  I get it.  Some people don’t want to wear a mask, but it is not because they don’t believe it has some protective qualities at the minimum.  It is more of a statement against, and that is a foolish stance to take, and why we are still dealing with this a year later.

 

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