Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Hodgkin’s Survivors Vs Covid19

I want to be clear, this post is an anecdotal piece, in other words, it is based on personal stories of others, related or told to me. There is absolutely nothing scientific about this post, or is there?

From the first day that we were warned about Covid19, and the risks, especially to those with compromised immune systems, several things were being thrown around. First, we could not get the truth not just how serious the virus could be, that it even existed at all. Then there was the flipflopping of how to protect ourselves from what could not be agreed upon if it existed or not, was going to be serious or not. And then there was the fact, nothing could be done to prevent the virus, or treat for the virus.

For the immuno-compromised/suppressed population, most of us did not listen to the political banter, back and forth, who was trying to blame who, who was lying to who. Those of us in this situation have a much higher power to trust in our care, our doctors, you know, the ones committed to treating us for whatever ailment we face. We know that whatever advice our personal doctors would give us, is given from a trusted source, someone clearly looking out for our health. No politics.

Wear a mask. Socially distance ourselves. And hard to believe that we have to be told this one, wash your hands. This was the best advice that could be offered in the beginning, so that there could be a chance or putting a stranglehold on the worst pandemic in more than a century.

To follow these recommendations, those who chose to make this deadly virus political, spouted off, and continue to do so, anyone following these mitigation efforts “live life in fear”. And I suppose there is at least some truth to that statement. Given the mortality of Covid19 (733,000+ dead in the United States alone), and the increased susceptibility of infection, hospitalization, and risk of death, damn straight I am afraid of Covid19. Remember how I said that I listen to my doctors. To have my cardiologist tell me, “there is no doubt, if you get Covid19, with the health issues you deal with, especially with your heart, Covid19 will kill you,” yes, I do fear Covid19. But I definitely do not live in fear of it.

I live smart because of it. And there is a difference. With the exception of going to a movie, concert, or other large populated event, I am doing everything I was doing before Covid19. And though I know dozens of people who have been infected with Covid19, and more than a dozen who have died, including my younger sibling as recent as a month ago, by following the recommendations, I have gone grocery shopping, eaten food from certain restaurants (who also followed precautions), walked in parks, even facilitated visits with my children from state to state. This entire time, in spite of the risky behaviors of others in my area, I have remained uninfected. If I were living in the “fear” that others imply, I would not be living my life as I have from day one. Simply, I have lived smart.

Even with the promise of a safe and effective vaccine, some of us have issues that need further studies to make sure what amount of vaccine will work. And those studies are going on, and have been going on for some time. Results are coming in, the most major one, determining the need for a third dose. There are those, like me, that will not make antibodies without additional doses. And this in fact has been proven for me, as bloodwork shows, after my first dose, as anticipated, I had zero reaction to the vaccine, no antibodies from the vaccine, nor any exposure to Covid19 itself. So it will come down to at least a third dose, as long as the second one causes at least a small response. Otherwise, I have no idea what I will do, other than to keep doing things the way that I have. There is already a study on a potential 4th dose, and I am likely to fall into that category.

Living smart. Not, living in fear. I am getting my information from those I trust the most, my doctors. Not the media. Not even family or friends. Definitely not anyone I cannot confirm, especially through a grapevine.

So, how did my biggest fear, of a mass wipeout of other Hodgkin’s survivors like me from Covid19, turn out with minimal loss? Everyday, I would watch my feeds, to see who might have been infected, especially the many that I knew in New York, the original epicenter of the pandemic. The thing we all count on as fellow survivors, is that there will always be a fellow survivor, pushing someone to seek help, and not just if it is related to a late effect. A simple fever can prompt a sharp warning to go the emergency room as is common protocol.

But during the pandemic, we wasted no time, urging and convincing others to get help, right away. Those that did get infected, did not necessarily have mild experiences either, but their prompt decisions to get help, because they were urged by those who had their best interests at heart, was clearly a deciding factor in their survival.

Our survivors are not united 100% to be transparent either. There are a small number of those, who have made their choices based on politics and conspiracies, and even were fortunate to have “not so bad” experiences with a Covid19 infection to bolster their arguments. Though they will not acknowledge it, they were lucky. But the majority took this seriously, sought help when needed, and got through. I am unaware of anyone from my survivor circle passing away from Covid19, just our usual issues.

With the vaccines, again, the majority jumped at the opportunity to get vaccinated. And there are those who are hesitant for any number of reasons, some justified, some not.

Having been exposed to high doses of radiation to the chest, treated with toxic chemotherapy having a direct impact on the heart and lungs, and having no spleen leaving me susceptible to not just Covid19 but many other infectious diseases, I have no doubt, that it is the decision to live smart that has made the difference. And that does not equal living in fear.

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