The story so far...

This morning JoDee tested positive for COVID. This is more of a relief than anything because she's been having the same symptoms as me without having that bright purple line to say that, indeed, she has COVID. Our long house-wide nightmare is over.

Us getting COVID was inevitable. Masks have now become something you wear on Halloween, and every safety protocol has been lost to time like the forgotten rituals of yore. Only the hospital requires masks, but even that is just policed by a little kiosk asking you to put on a surgical mask. Part of this is chalked up to the "if I get it I'll be fine" cowboy mentality that pervades the USA. What isn't taken into account are the folks who have immune systems that aren't as clued-in to fighting disease as most folks. Folks who are immunocompromised are just left to twist in the wind. Folks like cancer patients. Folks like me.

I'm actually doing better than most. I've been taking Zarxio after each chemo treatment so my white blood cell count is through the freakin' roof. The biggest downside (outside of having mild COVID symptoms, which aren't great) is that my tenuous schedule of appointments for next actions for my treatment has been blown completely asunder. I had to miss chemo this week (had I not had COVID I'd be working on getting ready for chemo and not writing this post). There's the potential for some serious knock-on effects as a result. I was already navigating a thin line between having surgery to remove the more egregious "nodes" on my liver, but with this delay I might no longer be eligible. That could seriously reduce the quality of my life (dead is considered a steep quality-of-life drop-off). It may not be that dire but the potential is there.

What pisses me off the most is that our race to pre-2020 levels of normal have removed the safety measures for folks like myself. I'm relatively well-vaccinated (my last booster was in May, before the new variant vaccines were available) so I should be OK health-wise, but the knock-on effects of getting COVID at all could be life-changing. And JoDee was due to get her booster this Friday (which she's going to have to cancel). Had we left the masking provisions in place we might have avoided it (it's hard to say for certain, but I believe that our chances would have been reduced). And I get it - wearing something over my face for long periods of time isn't terribly comfortable. But even though JoDee and I have been wearing KN-95 masks wherever we go we still managed to catch the COVID-cooties. That's because masks aren't to help protect you, they're also to help limit the spread of the disease. Naturally that little tidbit gets lost in the retelling, so I'm here to remind you that it still matters.

(And of course this is assuming that folks were amenable to wearing masks in the first place, but it seems the USA is capable of taking the simplest request for public safety and turn it into a complete shit show. I'd rather keep the shit shows in this post to the ones that I have an immediate say, not systemic issues that would require a PhD in Sociology and 15 volumes of texts to fully explain. Let's just leave it at that.)

I've lamented how I feel our return to the workplace and the removal of mask mandates were ill-conceived notions of normalcy. But I'm but a small voice in the wilderness compared to the grinding wheels of capitalism. All I can do is share my experience about how COVID could affect my treatment schedule and my overall quality of life. But it shouldn't be left to the ones who are affected to have to pipe up each time to tell folks they're being affected. Folks with worse immune systems than mine have been screaming that they're being shut out because of the lowering of safety standards. We need to rethink re-adding mask mandates and safety protocols if we're ever going to move past COVID. I hope by sharing my story that folks pay attention to the ones that will be most affected by our reckless abandonment of COVID protocols.

If not for me, your old pal on the Internet, then maybe for someone else you care about. Because we're all in this together.

Wear your mask. Practice safe distancing. Don't feed after midnight.