Day 541 – Beach walk

It seemed almost too easy to do 800m along the beach this morning. And that’s because – as I found out shortly afterwards – the 800m in question was very much wind-assisted.

We found that out when we came to turn around and head back to the village, directly into the teeth of a Force 8 gale. It was harder work that we’d imagined it would be.

I’d taken the camera down to see all of the wildlifes what would be there, (cos yesterday was good) but it was simply too windy for everything except a single Caspian Tern.

Anyway, I went and did it and I do feel better for the fresh air and what passes for exercise at the moment.

Tired, but happy.

Day 540 – Away

A day of firsts after you-know-what. We’re down in Agulhas at last. And we had a braai.

Hashtag nature is healing.

Packing the car and driving down didn’t seem like such a big deal, but I soon hit my wall (not literally) and so I enjoyed a couple of hours of deep sleep this afternoon.

That did give me a little more energy for the evening though, so it was a welcome return to chucking some meat onto the coals and a leisurely meal before bedtime.

Which is now.

More tomorrow, when I plan to get to the beach (it’s only 150m away).

Day 539 – Vaccine boosters? Yes, please!

There’s lots of chatter at the moment about Covid vaccines, waning antibody counts, natural immunity and the need (or not) for booster jabs.

I’m fully vaccinated, but when the time comes, if I need a booster jab, I will get a booster jab.
And if I need two booster jabs, I will get two booster jabs.
And so on.

Here’s why.

Despite being very, very careful, I got Covid. And by very, very careful, I mean that I was applying my laboratory safety training and standards to everything I could. I got Covid simply because I couldn’t control some environments that I ended up in.
Like Checkers in Constantia. Well, specifically Checkers in Constantia, to be honest.

But let’s not get bogged down in the details: the fact is that I did everything I could to avoid getting infected, but I still got infected.

I had a mild case of Covid. Thankfully, I avoided a severe case. I avoided supplementary oxygen, hospital, ICU, a ventilator and death. And sadly, we all know how that awful chain of attempted medical intervention proceeds, because we all know people who have ended up at every point along that pathway.

Our Covid-19 vaccines aren’t perfect yet. This is a new, rapidly evolving pathogen and until things settle down and find their natural balance, we’re always going to be playing a bit of catch up. But the vaccines are an incredible weapon against the disease. They’re out best chance. They’re your best chance.
There are plenty of data which tell us that vaccines limit your chances of ending up with a severe case of Covid-19. And to be honest, that should be enough for anyone to get vaccinated, because surely reducing the likelihood of ending up in hospital and all that comes with it is just common sense.

There is also plenty of evidence that being vaccinated means that you are less likely to get Covid at all, less likely to be sick with it and less likely to pass it on.
But perhaps you think that you’re not going to get a severe case of Covid-19 anyway. And sure, looking at the stats, even if you do get Covid, you’re more likely to have a mild case than a severe one.

So let me tell you about my mild case of Covid-19.

I was unable to get out of bed for over a week. I couldn’t even move.
I lost more than 10% of my body weight.
I have myalgia, arthralgia and headaches every morning until my medication kicks in.
I have had to have two chest x-rays.
I still can’t smell or taste anything, 9 weeks on.
I have had to have tests on my heart to check for cardiac damage.
I’m constantly tired all day; I can’t stay awake after 9pm.
I have had 67 separate blood tests.
I can’t remember people’s names. I can’t think of words. I can’t do simple quizzes anymore.
I used to run 20km a week. For six weeks, I couldn’t even walk up the stairs in my house without taking a break.
I’ve spent thousands and thousands of Rands on tests and drugs.
I’m still taking 12 different tablets every morning.
I’ve had malaria, influenza, Salmonella and meningitis in the last 20 years. This was far worse than any of them.
I can just about manage to walk a kilometre now, but running is a pipe dream.
I have other ongoing symptoms I don’t want to tell you about. (It’s better for both of us.)

It’s completely changed my life. And not in a good way.

You might not get it as badly as I did.
Or you might.

This isn’t a pity post. I’m not looking for sympathy. And I’m not for one moment suggesting that many, many people haven’t had it much worse. Of course they have.
This is just me telling you that “mild” is a massively subjective term, and completely belittles the experience that many of us have had (and are still having) with this disease.
But if you think that you don’t need a vaccination or a booster jab because a mild case of Covid-19 is something you just brush off and get on with your life, well maybe think again.

I got vaccinated, but the vaccinations for my age group arrived in SA too late for me to avoid getting sick. And given my experience, now that I am vaccinated, I will do everything I can to ensure that I am always as well-protected against Covid as I possible can be. If I can give myself a bit more chance of avoiding death, hospitalisation or even just a mild case of Covid by getting a free injection that takes 20 minutes to administer once every six months, well, why the hell wouldn’t I do that?
And then if I have to do it again in another 6 months, I’ll be right there.

If you are hesitant about getting a vaccination, because you are worried that it’s not safe; that might make you feel unwell; if you think that you don’t need one because you won’t get Covid or if you do it won’t be that bad; if you are scared of needles, please just talk to your GP. The benefits far outweigh any possible risks or unpleasantness.

If you just need a sign: this is it.

Give yourself a better chance of avoiding all this shit. Really.

Day 535 – Surprising screenshots

Yesterday turned out to be a pretty good day. I pushed myself (on doctor’s orders) to see what I could get done, and I got quite a lot done. Yes, I am suffering a little bit today, but nowhere near as much as I would have expected.

I’m almost – almost – daring to hope that I’ve turned a corner.

I put my watch on for the first time in weeks, mainly just to keep an eye on my heart rate (doctor’s orders again), and well, wow, look at this:

A whole dog walk round the block, sure, but the steps! The steps!
That’s the first time I’ve even come close to that figure since I got this damn thing. I really wasn’t aiming for anything, so it was a huge surprise when I spotted it.

Other points: 72 resting HR is still too high, but that’s why I had the watch on. 150bpm is also still too high, considering I didn’t actually do anything strenuous (yes, you guessed it, doctor’s orders). And the stress level, well that’s always a bit of an outlier on the days that I watch United play.

Although…

Wow. Amazing.

We’ve been waiting to spank someone for about 18 months now, so this was long overdue. And yes, it was “only” Peterborough, but we’ve been drawing to “only” Luton and losing to “only Huddersfield” recently, so this was really great to watch (if a little stressful for at least the first 51 minutes) (see above).

But aside from the result – even better than the result perhaps – this was a cohesive, skillful, positive, enthusiastic, even occasionally awe-inspiring Blades’ performance. Just look at the quality of those goals. JUST LOOK AT THEM!

I’m almost – almost – daring to hope that we’ve turned a corner.

Day 532 – Positives

After being diagnosed with “Post-acute Covid-19 Syndrome” or “Long Covid“…

Early reports suggest residual effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection, such as fatigue, dyspnea, chest pain, cognitive disturbances, arthralgia and decline in quality of life.

Yep, all of that, and more.

…earlier this week, I was also given a battery of blood tests and another chest x-ray. I got my results back today and (aside from the actual symptoms mentioned above), I am the picture of perfect health. Every single result bang in its appropriate reference range bell curve. If you’d seen these results from a science experiment, you’d think that it was made up like all those Ivermectin trials.

And the CXR, while not being quite so perfect, did show a marked improvement from my last chest x-ray a month or so ago. So, with new drugs and a new plan moving forward, I’m feeling much more hopeful that I was last week. And even yesterday.

And – in another positive moment, I had my best meal in 2 months last night. I still can’t smell or taste anything, so any chef hoping to impress me has a pretty difficult job on their hands. But some bacon-wrapped chili poppers with BBQ sauce from the Village Bicycle had a surprising effect. While not being able to taste chili (at all), I can still get the burning effects of it (this also goes for the cooling effect of mint/menthol). And while that’s not perfect, it’s better than nothing. Because believe me, by this time, pretty much anything is better than nothing. Add in the combination of different textures within the poppers and I was having a good evening and then suddenly…

…did I just taste that BBQ sauce?

Well, no. Not really. But nearly. I did get a weird burnt orange taste, briefly. And that’s more than I’ve had in several (or more) weeks.

Add that in to the fact that I’m sitting outside editing photos* (and blogging) in the sunshine, and… well.. things finally seem to be improving and I’m totally here for it.

* yes, I’m going to have to do them all again this evening.