The Unexpected Present

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Save a Life, Wear a Mask, Give Blood

NY Blood Ctr Lab2

Amid the news of the SARS-2 virus, call it Covid19, Delta variant, the Omicron scourge, I am writing the book about our journey, The Unexpected Present– A One In A Million Miracle, connecting the dots of seemingly disparate sources, keeping the scientific reporting and data the central focus. Despite bringing back many memories of fear and uncertainty, it kindles a therapeutic catharsis. Yuri says every time we have these discussions, often triggered by a visual, word, or phrase, he learns more about what happened, how precarious the situation had been, recalling the persons (a supporting cast of thousands) involved in some way during this time. It makes him introspective about where he’s been and where he is now. Safe so far, as safe as we can be surrounded by a population where many still refuse to wear a mask, currently the best option for protection other than the two vaccines and a booster shot.

Yuri is also quite pleased with the clarity of his eyesight since the cataract surgery for his right eye a couple of days ago. We got up early, it was a dark and bitterly cold morning, taking care not to fall on the slick sheet of ice covering the steps and walkway before warming up the car for the 40-minute drive to Middletown, New York. Neither one of us wants to be there. His recall takes him back to the days of frustrating immobility, helpless without dignity, unsure of the outcome, and me in the waiting area. Waiting can be the hardest part. It can take a lot out of me. Arrival at 7:30 a.m. the admin/check-in went quickly as the nurse watches the concerned look in my eyes. Don’t worry. She assures me. We will take good care of him.

I want to believe that especially now when we have appointments to see a doctor, a scheduled follow-up, or another surgery at a medical center. Right now, we’re being told it’s a battle zone out there. The healthcare professionals on the front lines are in the trenches. I stay in touch with Kathy at the New York Blood Center. So many on her team, the group I compare to Power Rangers, are getting sick. She’s keeping the lab operational with a skeleton crew and there’s a national shortage of blood crisis. I’m scheduled to give blood this Saturday, January 15 at 10:15 a.m. St. Kateri Parish Blood Drive in Sparta, NJ. It’s the least I can do. The blood was there for Yuri’s transfusions.

Thinking back to the critical care moments, hours, days, weeks, how fortunate we are having had the care Yuri so desperately needed during a short lull in the pandemic. A summer hiatus. Play the reruns before the new fall schedule comes out in TV guide. It was after a year of Covid patients in the ICU, on ventilators, doctors trying different treatments, no answers, only more questions. The rush to get back to “normal” turned into a precipitous turn of events allowing complacency to substitute for cautious and continuous vigilance.

Travel, holidays, large gatherings combined contributed to the spread of this variant and Omicron is not a virus to fool around with according to Dr. Paul Offit, Director of Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital in Philly, “It’s not influenza, parainfluenza, or a typical respiratory virus. This virus can cause you to make an immune response to your own blood vessels, meaning you can have heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, lung disease as well as brain disease.” It’s the wrong time to ease measures like mandatory masks.

We are being told by a former FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, now on the Pfizer Board of Directors and presented as a vaccine/virus authority (MSNBC Morning Joe) says that while Omicron is not like the flu, it is a virus we’re learning to live with. Cases are being assessed, doctors are releasing still sick patients making for the higher turnover at hospitals. That this will become a seasonal pattern, there will be more access to vaccines and therapeutics, etc. KA-ching! Watch the docudrama DOPESICK. Learn the pattern of pharmaceutical advertising and watch their profits grow.

Finally, the CDC website, gutted by the previous administration, now warns that certain people should not get the mRNA vaccine. One of its chemical compounds polyethylene glycol, derived from petroleum, is reportedly associated with an increased risk of acute kidney injury. While they say that allergic reactions are rare, even one in a million is one too many. Sometimes the benefits don’t outweigh the known and potential risks. Vaccines are not a magic bullet. It’s the wrong time to ease measures like mandatory masks. Save a Life. Wear a Mask. Give Blood.

Listen to “I Can Fly” music and lyrics by Yuri Turchyn

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