Monthly Archives: January 2021

If Not You, Then Who?

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There’s a huge difference between identifying a problem and solving it. Sometimes, it’s lack of confidence or fear that keeps people from doing what they know they should. It’s easier to walk away and see it as someone else’s responsibility.

We admire–we need–people who do the right thing when it is seemingly impossible. We call them heroes. That’s why we enjoy hearing about Captain Sullenburger landing the airliner in the Hudson River with no passengers lost. That’s why we cheer for Luke Skywalker or Frodo Baggins.

On the other hand, those who enrich themselves at the expense of others are called villains. The most despised villains are those who, when confronted with their actions, deny or excuse themselves and tell us it wasn’t their fault.

Today we need heroes, but unfortunately, they are apparently an endangered species. More’s the pity.

I read a news item today, entitled, “Senate Republicans say Trump should be held accountable for riot — but not by them.”

Who do they think should hold people accountable?

COVID and Common Sense

In these days when members of Congress want to carry weapons into the House chamber and we still have the National Guard patrolling Washington, DC, it’s reassuring to read about people who still have—AND USE–common sense.

Oregon public health workers, who were returning from a COVID vaccination clinic, knew their vaccine serum would expire while they were stuck on the road, stranded in a snowstorm. Their solution? Check the cars around them and offer to vaccinate whoever wanted it.

It was only six doses, but with the shortage of vaccines, it was an excellent idea.

Now if only . . . never mind.

Historic Lessons

Oldest Human Blood Cells Found in Prehistoric Caveman

Throughout history, mankind has advanced in knowledge and capabilities, which, when viewed in retrospect is seen a good thing. Overall, people view progress as better than stagnation.

People once relied on hunting and gathering to feed themselves, but this gave way to agriculture. With people staying in one place to farm, towns developed to provide a market and other services. Bartering was clumsy and inefficient, so money became the means of exchange.

Clubs were replaced by swords and spears made of bronze and then iron. Archers were no match for firearms. Trains were more efficient than horses for long distance travel; aircraft replaced trains. The telegraph replaced messengers and was, in turn replaced by radio and eventually the Internet.

While we say that the only constant is change, there is a second constant–resistance to change. At every major change, there were those who were so invested in the old ways that they unsuccessfully fought progress. The buggy whip makers, no doubt, were not huge fans of automobiles.

Today’s buggy whip makers include the fossil fuels industry. Coal was once the main fuel for generating electricity. Its smoke and soot were tolerated because there were no real alternatives. Already, some electrical power producers have found that switching to solar and wind power make economic sense and are reaping its benefits. Others are desperate to keep mining and using coal.

Progress is inevitable. We should have learned that year, if not centuries ago. We would do better to accept where the future is headed and adapt. We can choose to do so today or be forced to in the not-too-distant future.

Add Some Excitement to Your Life

Now that no one’s invading the Capitol or such, it’s gotten a bit boring. Here are a few ideas on how to spice things back up:

Telephone
  1. Walk through a crowded place with your cellphone to your ear saying things like, “No, you need to make the hole at least 6 feet deep so animals don’t drag his bones all over the place. Right. Don’t worry about the blood once he’s in there.” Subtly watch people to see their reaction. If they act like they heard you, smile at them, nod, and keep walking.
  2. Walk up to a business building with a l-o-n-g tape measure and a clipboard at lunchtime. Roll out the tape on the sidewalk in front of the building and jot random numbers on the clipboard. If anybody (especially someone eh either comes out of the building or is headed into it) asks what you’re doing, reply, “Nothing. Just checking.” (Businesses are less likely to have someone run out with a firearm than private homes.)
  3. When you get a robocall, wait until the person on the other end starts to make their pitch. As soon as you can interrupt, act like you didn’t hear what they said and tell them you’ve been waiting for their call so that you could coordinate the bank robbery with them. Keep them on the line as long as possible. Deny that you’re a plant from the FBI.
  4. Another fun interaction with telemarketers is to interrupt before they can get to the third syllable of their pitch and start a sales pitch of your own. My father used to say something like this, “In sales, you need to impress the customer with your knowledge. That’s why YOU need the Encyclopedia Britannica. A lifetime subscription is a modest investment for your future success, and I can help you right now. First, I need your name and credit card information . . .”
  5. Don’t call me.

Inauguration Day

I’m not going to go too political. We’ve had enough of that.

Nevertheless, it is nice to hear relatively polite discourse. Very nice.

COVID-19 Progress

I’m slowly but surely recuperating (I hope). It is very difficult to do anything for long since I still have very little stamina or energy. Sleep at night is still 60 – 90 minutes filled with bad dreams, after which I wake up and struggle to go back to sleep.

I hate wearing a mask in my own home and keeping social distance from my wife.

My oxygen levels are slowly improving. We all tend to think that if we’re breathing, we must be doing fine in the oxygen department. With COVID-19, this is not necessarily true.

I can neither concentrate to write very much or to write very often, so my apologies. As my health improves, I should do better.

Repeating myself repeating myself–take every precaution possible. My experience with COVID has been totally, completely, and entirely nasty. I hope you never have to deal with it.

COVID-19 Sucks

No, I don’t normally have a beard or wear hospital gowns.

It would have been nice if the pandemic deniers were right, as it would have saved me a lot of pain and frustration. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is very, very real. I got it and I still haven’t recovered. There is no guarantee that I will ever be back to normal.

Since March 2020, I have teleworked and almost never left the house except for medical appointments. I did everything I could to avoid getting sick–handwashing, masks, social distancing, hand sanitizer, etc. Unfortunately, the virus must have hitched a ride on a a grocery delivery or something, after which it kicked me to the curb.

On Friday, December 18, I began to experience a cough, sore throat, chills, and an overall mental fog, which was enough to concern me but not enough to convince me that I had COVID-19. I certainly didn’t think it was bad enough to go to the hospital, so I waited over the weekend and on Monday the 21st, I called my doctor. I had a video appointment that same day, during which she made a clinical diagnosis of COVID. I was sent for a nasal swab COVID test, which came back positive, indicating that I was infected with the virus. The doctor had already prescribed steroids, which seemed to help a bit.

I isolated from the rest of the family to the best of my ability, primarily staying in my home office, in which I set up an old-fashioned cot. I slept a lot, coughed a lot and just felt terrible. Christmas was a bust and after Christmas, things did not get better. I didn’t exhibit a significant fever, but my oxygen saturation levels fell well below normal. My wife urged me to go to the hospital, but I had seen all the reports about hospitals being overwhelmed and wasn’t convinced that that was the best choice. I was worried they were full and couldn’t accommodate me.

Finally, on the afternoon of December 30, my wife put her foot down. Since everyone in the family had at least minor symptoms, she called 911 and I was taken to the hospital by ambulance. The hospital was as busy as I feared, so I spent about 18 hours in the Emergency Department before they had a bed available for me on the floor. If I remember correctly, they had converted three hospital wings to COVID wards.

My continuing mental fogginess may interfere with my ability to report an accurate chain of events, so I apologize. I do remember being on oxygen for most of my hospital stay. I remember, receiving plasma with antibodies, although that memory is kind of jumbled. I know they gave me a five-day course of Remdesivir, as well as steroids, etc.

The absolute worst was early in my stay when I was not able to breathe. The respiratory therapists were pumping as much oxygen into me as they could, but I still couldn’t breathe. One side of my brain said to keep the oxygen mask on, while the other was trying to rip the mask off so I could catch my breath. This was scarier than anything else I’ve ever encountered.

They transferred me to ICU where they monitored my vital signs and continued the Remdesivir, steroids, and whatever else. Even while receiving oxygen around the clock, my oxygen saturation levels were below normal. Lab results indicated that blood clots were forming in at least one leg, so anticoagulants were added to the medical potpourri. A Doppler ultrasound demonstrated no clots; they followed this up with a CT scan of the lungs–COVID creates a “broken glass” appearance in the lungs. I was like Harry Potter under the Sorting Hat–“Not broken glass! Not broken glass!”

As you may have heard from others, nights are the worst. Mine have been filled with nightmares and flashbacks to my time in Afghanistan and Iraq. Of course, sleeping on a cot such as I used while deployed probably didn’t help. Even now, I still wake up every hour, so sleep is anything but restful. In the hospital I could pretend it was due to the staff taking vital signs, drawing blood, etc., but it’s just part of the syndrome.

My wife set up the master bedroom for me after I got out of the hospital so I had a place to sleep, a bathroom, and a door to separate me from everybody else. It works better than the office, but I still spend the majority of my time sleeping. Sleep, as they say, is the great healer.

That pretty much describes my experience. Please take this disease seriously and take every precaution.