First, looking at this picture, do not be distracted by what I am listening to. I actually do like Nickelback. Don’t judge me. LOL.
Obviously, it was that time again for me to get bloodwork done. And for one of the few times, this was a blood test that I was looking forward to. For one, I keep getting the same phlebotomist who performs the draw flawlessly, painless, and quick. The other reason, the test would provide information in regard to my vaccine status and overall Covid exposure.
But before I go any further, I will save anyone time. If you do not believe in science, and/or allow that it can be flawed at times, skip this post. I am not going to get into anything political about this.
From the beginning of the pandemic, science, at least the CDC, NIH, and FDA, had been concentrating on the more susceptible with their studies. The Leukemia Lymphoma Society, recognizing that it was not likely, that studies would be done on those of us who are immuno-compromised, decided to organize their own study, using patients how have or had dealt with blood cancers, such as leukemia and my cancer, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
I am not going to get lost in the weeds with all kinds of details, but here is the summary. In my particular case, I made a conscious decision to hold off on being vaccinated, until I knew that a 3rd dose would be approved. I had more than a strong hunch, that two doses would not be enough to protect me based on prior vaccines. For me to have gotten the vaccines when they became available, would not have allowed me the full benefit I needed from a third dose. Here is my proof.
Following my first dose, my blood showed no traces of antibodies, either from the vaccine, or from a Covid exposure. This was done two weeks after my dose.
My second dose was given 28 days after the first dose, with bloodwork following two weeks again. This time, there was a slight appearance of antibodies from the vaccine, nowhere near what I needed for protection. But the good news was, I also was not exposed to Covid.
Because of the choice I made, unlike others who got their vaccines as they were originally available, and their 3rd vaccine, 5-6 months after their 2nd, I received my 3rd dose, just 28 days after my 2nd dose. As I expected, the 3rd dose was a homerun, producing a robust amount of antibodies, and confirmed, still no exposure.
All I had to do was wait. I knew that I would have more bloodwork, to see if I still had coverage, but I was already anticipating a 4th dose being necessary. The lead doctor of the study, had already hinted at the likelihood. But now, as the fourth dose had not been approved yet, I am now in the position, where I needed to wait five months, to get that fourth jab. But before that, yep, more bloodwork.
This bloodwork would confirm what my levels were like after five months from the 3rd dose. The 4th dose had already been expected in my mind. I anticipated a drop in my antibodies, but not as badly as they had, an 82% decline over the five months. I am as close to no longer being protected again as I was back in the beginning of this. The 4th dose is now scheduled. More bloodwork to come. But will there be a 5th dose or some other plan? Clearly, Covid will be a lifetime risk for me.
There was some good news with this latest blood test. To be clear, I have followed every recommendation from the CDC, regardless of the “keystone cop” approach with communications, the message did not change, “use the caution we recommend”. Masks. Wash hands (really cannot believe people needed to be told that). Avoid indoor crowds. For well over two years, I have done it willingly, without the false trope of “losing freedom” or any of the other false claims that these precautions actually did do. I have faced several exposure risks, from having to be in the hospital for three surgeries during Covid times, people around me discovered to have had Covid and remained silent instead of being concerned for my vulnerabilities, and as shown in the photo below, a crowded airport as I waited to check my daughters bag for their flight home (the mask mandate was still in place, yet 75% of the people were unmasked, and the wait was well over an hour and a half, packed together, indoors). The blood test confirmed, as with the others, “no infection.” Yes, I was still following all those recommendations from the CDC that so many complained about as flawed. The fact is, they work. Need proof?
Of my sibling and I, it is me that has all the vulnerabilities. My sibling was (spoiler alert, I did write “was”) younger, and given all of my complicated survivorship issues, expected to easily outlive me. But there was a problem. My sibling followed the chain of false information and reasoning, from “Covid is a hoax” to “Covid is an attack on Trump,” to “I don’t trust the vaccines,” to “I put my faith in God to protect me,” to “I put my faith in God to cure me.” As I said, “spoiler alert”. I am the one writing this post, not my sibling. My younger sibling died because of all of the anti this and anti that.
The mandates are gone and as expected, all those who were “forced” to protect themselves have now made their choices to throw all precautions to the wind. Many have been infected multiple times, emboldened that they have survived each time, and therefore, will not go to any lengths to protect themselves or anyone else. As one of my friends mistakenly offered his opinion, “herd immunity is what is needed. Which I have always said, herd immunity would come at such a high cost, millions of lives, to which this person responded, “all for the cause. It is the patriotic thing to do.” I was speechless at the thought that someone claimed to have strong religious faith, was okay with sacrificing lives for the cause of the country, as opposed to following simple recommendations. And this sentiment still continues over two years later.
My goal as a long term cancer survivor, as a parent, was to see my daughters grow, become adults, start their lives. As hard as it is, and the odds that are against me doing that, Covid was not something I needed thrown in front of me, making these wishes even more challenging. Yet here I am. I need to avoid Covid so that I can be there for my daughter’s graduation just next month, fortunately, will be an outside event.
So, I must continue to mask. I always wash my hands. I avoid crowds (in full transparency, have always hated crowds anyway). I do go places, but at “lighter” times of day when not as busy. I have just begun eating out, but only if outdoor seating available, or just do take out as I have during the whole pandemic. I have no interest in overpriced boring movies in theaters or concerts. I am pretty much doing all the things I want to do, with all the precautions. I am still free. I am still alive. That is science. Those are the facts.