It likelyÂ comes as no surprise that I am not a patient patient.
However, as I noted before, my doctor is Dr. Anthony Fauci and when he said to get the vaccine against the novel coronavirus, I went for it. Me and June got the shot driving a course through the Portland International Airport vaccination site. Twice.
I declared then that I was bullet proof. And then on July 25, all packed and ready to go camping at the beach, I began to feel crummy. No 1. Kid, whose co-worker, though vaccinated,Â suffered a break-through case of COVID-19, insisted I get tested. The clinic told me I was positive and to go home and quarantine.Â
COVIDâ€“wise, I had hit the jackpot. Friend Pam told me I should have bought a lottery ticket. Five days out, I caved and called my friend Julie to take me to the emergency room. (How many times has Julie done that, always with me and some nasty contagion? She has to boil her car every time.)
A big tall guy whisked me away in a wheel chair. No lingering in the lobby for COVID patients. Someone deprived me of my clothing and put on one of those incredibly ugly hospital gowns. They connected wires, and I beeped in a dozen places. After that, I only remember pieces.
Deciding withÂ No. 1 Kid and her friend, a respiratory therapist, that I would try intubation if need be.Â
Meals. They don't want you to miss meals in the hospital, no matter what. Red Jello. And behind me a big bubbly machine pushing whatÂ I perceived to be blue air into my lungs.
Two kinds of pneumonia, the doc said. A veritable jackpot.
I began to understand that I was Typhoid Mary, locked in a room with my virus. Those who took care of me had to suit up outside my door, connect breathing apparatus,Â don blue hair nets, and then yellow suits with visors, looking very much like beekeepers.
Washing, sanitizing, leaving the room and reversing the process and washing again.
Anything that came into that room with me could only leave as toxic waste. And if you want something, I told myself, you had to be damned sure you needed it because of the effort it took to bring it in. They don't call it isolation for nothing. Twelve days later,Â I came home with aÂ big oxygen machine and a 50-foot air hose. The night beforeÂ I left, a technician came in the wee hours (there really are no wee hours in a hospital) and got the blue bubbly water to take to someone else.
I learned I was the first COVID-19 breakthrough case in the hospital, which would indicate that other COVID patients were people who, for various reasons, had not been vaccinated.
And there is the great crime.
Nurses are exhausting themselves caring for patients who had not troubled to protect themselves. Or who had bought into some right-wing malarkey about vaccination.Â Â
Here's the kicker: Regardless of how dumb it was, regardless of vaccine denial and in my view, flat stupidity,Â they get the same care or more, because they are sicker. You don't earn compassion, you are given it by people way better than you.
They are not kidding when they say heroes are working there. But they are getting tired. Jettison your crack pot theories and get vaccinated. If only to help the people who might have to help you.
To find a vaccination location near you, visit get https://vaccinated.oregon.org, or call 800-232-0233 (TTY — 888-720-7489, disability information and access line — 888-677-1199).
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