Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

“That’s The Fact, Jack!”

In one of the funniest Ivan Reitman movies, “Stripes,” a commander in the army, addressing recruits who had just finished basic training, spoke directly to a band of misfit recruits who, shall we say, struggled with the concept of basic training, and in spite of that, completed the training, “am I to understand that you completed your training on your own?” To which Bill Murray’s character barks back “that’s the fact, Jack!”

Over the last two years, we have been inundated with facts for any number of current affairs. One that personally affects me is the Covid19 pandemic. I have made it clear, that I do not rely on social media or main stream media for my decisions when it came to this crisis. Information that I relay, comes directly from the medical personnel that I deal with. Although I did have someone actually tell me I needed to find all new doctors because of the warnings I got from my doctors. These doctors had to be wrong or in with the “hoax.”

But it turns out, my doctors were correct. Their advice was accurate. The decisions that we, my doctors and I made as a team, were right.

The warning was stern for the new highly contagious and lethal virus spreading across the world, “if you get it, with the condition of your heart, it will kill you.” That was the caution urged by my cardiologist as well as all of my doctors who were in agreement. I did not need the news or Facebook to confirm anything. I had the best and most reliable resources. With no vaccine, no treatment, hell, not even any testing at the beginning, if I came down with Covid19, I was going to die.

Two things in my favor in getting through this, at least until testing and vaccines came along, I knew from prior working experience, how to deal with biological hazards. The other, the experience of having gone through so many other contagions, on two occasions, travelling right into “hot” areas (SARS and bird flu when adopting my daughters). Like all the other viruses, I knew that I had the intelligence and common sense to deal with, accept, and prevent me getting sick to the best of my abilities. The important thing was for me to get to the most important part, vaccines.

I lost my spleen back in 1989 while being diagnosed for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Long story short, over time I discovered that contrary to being told, being asplenic was no big deal, turned out it was. In the case of many vaccines, my body will not make antibodies as easily as it should, if at all. This had been confirmed previously with two other vaccines in my past.

While the development of the Covid19 vaccine was quite an amazing process, and while seemingly rapid, it was already previously being developed over prior years, there would still be red tape slowing the process down that needed to be overcome. Part of that process, is protocol, how many, how much, when, etc.

Once the vaccine was approved for emergency use authorization, it became a matter of who would be vaccinated first. Of course, the most vulnerable, the elderly and medical workers were first. Then came my category, the immune compromised and immune suppressed. My immune system is compromised by not having a spleen. So, “go get the shot.” Not so fast.

Remember, I know that my body reacts, or rather does not react as others who are otherwise healthy. The “protocol” for the vaccine, was one shot, followed by another several weeks later. That was it. What would happen if I got the two doses, and did not get the reaction needed? There was no protocol for additional doses. There was no protocol for a “do over.”

Having been involved in medical research and the medical community for as long as I have been, I know to expect more to come. And I had heard chatter that a 3rd dose was being researched. This was the news I was hoping to hear. But at that point, it was only chatter. I made the conscious decision, to continue my prevention behaviors while I wait for approval of that third dose. Again, long story short, that approval would come, but as a booster, administered six to eight months later. This was not exactly what I needed to hear to make my decision. I needed to hear “third scheduled dose,” in other words, weeks after the second dose. Eventually, that would happen.

Now as the title of my post states, “that’s the fact Jack!”, I admittedly took a big risk with not getting the vaccine as soon as I was approved based on my conditions being immune compromised. But knowing my medical history, it was a worthwhile and potentially life-saving guess.

The Leukemia Lymphoma Society had been studying the effects of Covid19 and the vaccines on blood cancer patients, of which Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a blood cancer. Taking on the task, and relaying the results to the government (the CDC, the FDA, etc.), results were collected of the successes of the vaccines for those of us challenged by various circumstances.

The scientists at the LLS would have patients register, and submit to blood work, weeks after each dose to measure for antibodies from the vaccine, as well as to see if there was previous exposure. An additional blood test would follow at the six month mark, obviously to see if the coverage was still holding. And just like the vaccines were provided by the government, this blood test was covered by the LLS.

Now it was my turn to get the vaccine, and here are the facts.

Three weeks after receiving the first dose, I had zero antibodies from the vaccine. The good news it was also confirmed that I had not Covid19 antibodies either. In other words, I had never been exposed to it. So, it was bad news, good news. If my guess was right, and from what I saw with other immune compromised survivors, I should expect at least a little bump of a reaction.

And three weeks after that second dose, I did indeed get a small bump in the discovery of some antibodies. More good news, continued lack of exposure to Covid19 (pretty good considering where I live, in a pro-Covid state). The third dose was going to be a huge game changer for me. If I got the reaction that others had gotten, my antibodies would be 10 times higher than after the second dose. If not, it would not be catastrophic by any means, but not good news for sure, as I would have to rely on future vaccine developments.

The third dose was given a month after the second dose. The blood test was done three weeks later. It was confirmed, I had the anticipated reaction and the needed level of antibodies. As a bonus, still no exposure to Covid19.

So now I wait. As the healthy of you are told to get a booster due to waning coverage, you will get a third dose. If my coverage wanes, I have already had my third dose. I am hopeful though, as I am aware of studies of a fourth dose, and that would apply to me.

This is how science is supposed to work. Research, discover, apply, and believe in. It is heartbreaking the number of people not just believing the false information that is out there, or the conspiracy theories, but aggravating of the number of monsters out there promoting the erroneous information, and nothing is being done to stop it.

I know the current vaccines do not prevent infection. I know the current vaccines do not prevent spreading. And for that, we have to rely on all the things we were recommended to do from the beginning. It is frustrating, because had we all been on the same page back in the beginning, I do not believe we would have had over 800,000 dead Americans. The war cries of patriotism and tyranny all in effort to protect the health of our citizens was a false argument.

I have never lost any freedom by wearing a mask. I still support local businesses. And the only thing preventing me from going to a movie theater or concert ever again, has nothing to do with regulations, but rather the fact that we have so many pigs in our country that need to be told to wash their hands and cover their mouths/noses when they cough/sneeze.

Science says, we will continue to have variants because we did not shut Covid19 down when we had the chance, while there was still hope. And now, while we have vaccinated and unvaccinated, it is the unvaccinated we will continue to see roll the dice, with repeated infections, longer lasting effects, and more deaths.

I lost my younger sibling to Covid19 back in September. She made a foolish choice, and it cost her, her life. And if you had the chance to ask her before she came down with Covid19, I am sure she would have said, it was worth the risk as opposed to a side effect from the vaccine that could be dealt with. She got her answer.

As someone who never thought he would get cancer, never thought he would need heart surgery (let alone three of them), and countless other surgeries, do you really believe that something can’t happen to you, just because some nut job on a right wing network or social media says so?

Like I said, I have had to deal with my health, and viruses a long time. I know how to protect myself, through science. At this point, it will probably be another three years before we have Corona virus where it is manageable to where deaths will be the same as the flu, as opposed to the argument that Covid19 is no worse than the flu. Yes, yes Covid19 is worse than the flu, 16 times worse at least in deaths. And that is the fact, Jack.

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