Keep the Bubble-wrap On

I don’t watch the news very often these days. For the last four to five months its been the same recycling of COVID numbers and overdone political posturing by both the Democrats and the Republicans, leading up to the election. However, I caught this morning’s (Sunday) news about the possibility of COVID-19 vaccines coming to fruition, and I felt like a ray of sunshine had appeared through the rainy clouds outside. For me, an individual with pre-existing conditions, hearing that working vaccines are on the near horizon is an answer to an entire Spring, Summer and Fall of prayers and hopes. The mere thought that there could be something that may provide some relief from all of this is something I had not dared to dream of.

All of this time with COVID has brought me to some perceptions that I would not have come to otherwise. That there is a substantial group of people out there that will adhere to a cult of personality over what science tells us. That these same people will put their willful ignorance over the protection of the more vulnerable members of their families, just because some political figure makes the statement that wearing masks “makes you weak.” But I was also shown the other side of that coin as well. People immediately around me did their utmost best to be mindful and protective of me. People not immediately around me were also willing to do the same. Cancelling plans (or even discussing the cancelling of plans) that involved travel and potential risk to make sure that risk was not translated directly to me. Its a humbling perspective, particularly when they are discussing these potential cancellations and are doing actual cancellations – for me.

2020 has about eighteen days left (as I write this). We all have made statements about how terrible this year has been. And it has. Many of us have lost loved ones to complications from COVID. Some have contracted it and survived – telling us how horrible things were with this disease ravaging their systems. And we haven’t even started discussing the long-term complications that the survivors are going to go through. But 2020 has also shown us what kind of people we are. We have learned lessons in how to be selfless for others. And those of us who have been set at a point of being protected by those who chose to be selfless, have learned our own lessons in humility.

Life can be hard. And sometimes, we are too close to the trees to realize the forest. I’ve been there. I’m still there. Yes, we still live in a time of COVID. I am fortunate enough to have people who give a shit about me, even when I am too wrapped up in my own mind to realize what they do for me until much later. I know that they will continue to do their best to keep me protected. Not because I ask them to, but because I am a part of their lives. A part that they care about greatly. It’s quite humbling to realize that. It’s also bringing about a greater responsibility for me as well. I have to be more cognizant of the choices that I make in my own daily life. So that my actions don’t put me into the very risk that they are trying to protect me from. I have to think smarter. I have to do better. We all do.

Yes, the vaccine is on the horizon. But that means that we have to be even more vigilant over the threat that COVID sets in front of us. We are in the last mile. We need to be more aware now than ever before. Not just for us. For those who protect us daily with their own actions, thoughts, and self-imposed limitations. For those who continue to not wear masks, those who continue to deny the science, those who choose not to be protective of others….we need to be careful around them. We are all responsible for our own actions, for our own thought processes, for our own feelings. I can’t force others to behave the way that I do, or to be as protective of others as the ones that do so for me. I can; however, avoid those folks as much as possible.

When all of this COVID stuff started to happen, the news media noted that individuals with pre-existing conditions were most vulnerable. Diabetics were among those listed in that category. Shadow commented that she wanted to “just wrap me in bubble-wrap and keep me home.” In that amusing way, she was announcing that it was important to be protective of me. I am quite sure that others have felt the same way about those in their families who have similar conditions. The vaccine is almost here. But its not time to take off the bubble-wrap.

During the pandemic, I have made a few choices that put me at risk in a way I should never have done. All I can do is apologize to Shadow and others for doing so. I got lucky and nothing happened. Lucky. Others, who have done far less risky things, were not. For me, I was careless. I was stupid. Please don’t take unnecessary risks. Now is not that time. Remember all the people who are protecting you are also counting on you to do the right thing as well.

–T /|\

Doing the COVID19 Ramble

So what to write about? Its another weekend and the keyboard and I are staring at one another. I honestly thought that this was the keyboard’s weekend to figure out a topic, but I guess not. So, I will spend the majority of the day, cheering on the blinking cursor on the screen. Sooner or later, that damn thing has got to win. What exactly, I’m not sure. Sort of like the pod-races, I’m at a loss to totally understand the rules. but I’ll watch….because its shelter-in-place and I am looking for some excitement.

How about we ramble on for a bit? It worked for Led Zeppelin…

So, while I was sitting here, the movie “The Martian” was playing on the television. Its a movie I enjoy quite a bit because its about improvising. Astronaut Mark Watney improvises to stay alive on the planet Mars with very little foodstuffs available to him. At the end of the movie, the character makes the following observation to a class of Astronaut candidates in a classroom.

At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem and you solve the next one, and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.

The quote, for me, is an interesting to recognize in this particular time frame. Currently, we are fighting a global virus that has the capacity to kill its victims within five days. Our medical professions are struggling to keep people alive, while research professions are solving the problems to find a vaccine and/or cure. Let’s leave the politicians out of this for the moment. Let’s realize that the quote from the movie is actually an accurate depiction of where we are right now. We are trying to solve the problem of staying alive. To do that, we are solving smaller problems – medical supply issues, shelter-in-place orders, personal masks made of whatever materials we can find, staying away from each other – each one of those is a potential solution to slow the spread of COVID19. That’s right its not meant to stop the virus, only slow it down. The slower infection spread will keep our medical facilities from being completely overwhelmed – even as this has happened in various places. The point is that we, as a collective species, are trying to find the solutions. At least for the most part.

Now we can bring the politics into play. We’ve got a knucklehead President, here in the United States, who cannot fathom the problem – even when his own hand-picked advisors are telling it to his face in the middle of a press conference. He makes suggestions for people to inject themselves with disinfectants to “cure” themselves of COVID19 (don’t even think about doing this, people), as well as promoting drugs that are meant to manage other diseases are cures for this one (proven to be ineffective by several studies). Instead of being a helpful part of the solution, this President becomes part of the hurdles and obstacles that have to be overcome. And I haven’t even mentioned his idiotic statements concerning the delivery of supplies to some of the hardest hit areas in the United States. Add to that, people that are protesting the state governments to re-open now, so that they can go shopping again. Brazenly holding up protest signs that proclaim that the virus only targets the weak. It doesn’t; though, individuals with pre-existing conditions, the elderly, and those with weaker immune systems are at greatest risk of death from contracting the virus. But let’s consider this more of an obstacle to get around than part of the problem.

Now, I’m not a scientist. Nor am I part of the medical professions. I have friends that are part of both. I am a researcher, but not the right kind. All I can do is step back, and let these people solve those problems. I can take precautions for myself though. I am a diabetic (Type-II), I have an immune system that has been weakened recently (within the last two years) by a bout of pneumonia, as well as a diabetic seizure related to extremely high blood glucose levels. I stay in the house as much as I can. I only get out to get groceries, and even then I order through the app and do a pickup – rather than shopping in the store. Its become an issue of grocery lottery. I never get everything that I put on my list. There is always something that is out. I deal with it. I make due with what I have on hand. I improvise. For nearly a week, I wiped my ass with Kleenex because there was no toilet paper to be had anywhere nearby. And I sure as the Nine Hells was not going to go on a search-and-destroy mission to find some. The last grocery runs have yielded good old butt paper, so the world has started rotating on its axis in a proper manner. When I am out and about, I wear one of the three masks that Shadow made for me. I know its not 100% effective, but its better than going around without one. When I am out and about – I stay away from everyone. I keep my distance. Why? Because I know my immune system sucks. I don’t want to catch this. And I sure as the Nine Hells don’t want to be in a hospital or die. I have enough to live for in my life.

Yeah, its not really doing the math and solving the problems, right? Or is it? I know that my immune system can provide a path for this virus to enter my body and fuck me up good. I stay away from people. I calculated the odds of staying away from people versus interacting with every schmoe I met on the street. I choose the method with the safer odds. I stay in the house instead of running all over town. Why? Because I calculated the odds that it is safer for me to be in the house. I wear a mask? Why? Because Shadow made them specifically for me. She wants me to be safer than I am without them. And I wear them because it lessens the odds of me catching the virus when I do have to be out in public. I am doing the math. I am solving the problems. And hopefully when all of this final settles down and the virus can be held at bay for a huge majority of the planet’s populace – I get to live. Because I do want to live.

My meditations with my Gods have shown me that this is the Storm that I have feared. Not the unraveling of a capitalistic “empire”. I still have faith in what the United States will do going forward, and faith that the Constitution will provide the pathway for that to take place. I have faith that American voters will change that tide, by coming out in larger and larger numbers. No, the Storm is here and its COVID19. How we weather the Storm will be up to each and every one of us. We cannot come together in manners that we know and understand. Rather, we have to rally around one another from a distance, and help each other to be strong through these times. That’s what our larger Pagan community should be about, and what our smaller, local communities, and “tribal” groups should be doing now. Helping one another, being there, supporting each other. Your friend can’t get out for groceries? Email them and ask for a list. Go and get it for them. Have them order the items on an app, get a delivery time and place from them – and get it for them. We can be innovative in this time of need for others. Even if we can’t give them the hugs we all so richly deserve.

–T /|\