Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

How Ya Been?

I stopped into a convenience store the other day. As I was entering the door, a customer was walking out. He had just bought himself some PowerBall tickets (he lost I am sure). Just as we passed each other, we realized suddenly, we knew each other. But it had actually been awhile, nearly three years in fact, yes, since the Covid pandemic broke out. Prior to that, we might have seen each other pretty much weekly. He had also aged some. My hair had grown quite a bit longer as well. So we both had changed over time. I was also wearing a mask, something I have done indoors most of the time, and occasionally outdoors depending on how dense the crowd may be.

We actually stood there and caught up with each other. Of course, Covid was part of the conversation. He had his experience with it at one time, I to this day, as of this post, have still avoided the virus (knock on wood). My friend was glad to hear that I had gotten to spend time with my daughters, and happy to hear of their future education plans. And finally, we both mentioned that hopefully, some day, better mitigation and control would be in place to prevent the continued infection of Covid. For me, my life is going to depend on it.

I am one of only three people that I am in personal contact with, who have not had Covid. The three of us, all realize the vulnerabilities that I have, which make me more susceptible to not only infection of, but complications from Covid. I am fully vaccinated, up to my fifth dose, the new bivalent booster which covers many strains of the Omicron variant. And with the current strain, called “Deltacron,” named after the strains of Omicron and Delta being combined, now having the serious effects on the lungs that the highly fatal Delta strain was known for, with the easy spreading capacity of Omicron, it is beginning to look like another rough year dealing with Covid.

The good news for most, is the newer booster, covers most of the Omicron strains along with Delta. Unfortunately for me, as I have written in the past, my body does not hold immunity very well, especially when it comes to the Covid vaccine. That has been proven. I received my 5th dose, of the bivalent booster back in October. As blood tests showed with the other doses that I got, my immunity levels last roughly four months. And currently there is not any protocol for any future boosters, which means come January, all I can do is prevent getting Covid on my own. But as I said, decisions I have made have worked so far.

Besides wearing the mask, avoiding crowds, and the obvious, washing my hands, I have made smart choices. I have given up nothing. I do what I want, but I have made sure, that if there was an increased risk of Covid, I dealt with two criteria, how important was the situation that I was going to be in, and how comfortable did I feel that my efforts to protect myself would work.

Throughout the pandemic, there were three things that mattered to me; seeing my daughters, my older daughter’s high school graduation, and my health. If I wanted to be able to deal with all three, I needed to avoid Covid. It was not hard to do. But those three things, would also put me at my greatest risk of exposure. I would have to fly for my daughter’s graduation, so there was the over crowded airports. I say over crowded because for the life of me, I do not remember airports being that packed prior to the pandemic. Maybe one percent of the people besides myself wore masks. And at the graduation itself? See for yourself.

A couple thousand people, shoulder to shoulder, indoors, with as rising case number of new infections. As the picture shows, besides the camera person, there were two people a couple rows in front of me, that were wearing masks besides myself. Needless to say, my anxiety was high, but this was one of those moments I was not going to miss. And then of course there were the flights back and forth, and dealing with crowded airports, again, most other passengers not wearing masks. Fortunately, and again, because I followed the prevention recommendations, I did not get Covid.

But there was another opportunity, that put me at a high risk, and I had no choice in the matter. Through the course of the pandemic, I needed three surgeries, two for my heart, and one for my carotid artery. Of course, where were you more likely than not to run into Covid, than in a hospital. But fortunately, hospitals were following the protocols to protect patients as well as themselves. Again, I managed to get through all three surgeries, without getting infected by Covid.

If I received any ridicule, it was from a minority of friends, who I feel had other agendas with their position on Covid, in spite of knowing what an infection could do to me. With those friends, I simply ignored the false “pity” of having given up my “freedom.” To be honest, I am not sure what I gave up, but rather that I had either lost interest, or could not really afford any longer. I do my own grocery shopping, pump my own gas. I even took my daughters on vacations. Clearly I travel. I very rarely eat in at restaurants, depending on the crowded conditions and if booth seating is available. I do not really consider this a “loss” as I will take the food to go. My server still gets a tip. I do not get Covid. There are really only two things that I can say are 100% not happening currently, and though a small part of it is Covid risk, cost is definitely a final factor. I can wait for movies to come out on Netflix, Redbox, or any other streaming service. I do not need to pay the value of a quarter tank of gas to see a movie, and that is without snacks. And of course, concerts. While I have seen most acts that I have ever wanted to see, some multiple times, and some that I at one time, had hoped to see again, with the rising costs of tickets, it is not Covid that made me give up concerts.

While the circle of people I know of, who have not had Covid yet is getting smaller, I do not think I have suffered at all by choosing to take precautions. My personal doctors have given me sound advice, and over all the years in their care, they have always been honest with me, and I know have always cared. The holidays are coming up again, and that means spending time with my daughters again. And then soon, it is going to be another high school graduation I will have to look forward to.

No, I have not given up or sacrificed anything for Covid. I have simply recognized and prioritized what is important to me. And that is the only time I want to be positive when it comes to Covid.

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