So yea, I caught covid again. A vaccinated human being. Only this time it was a completely different experience, both before, during, and … well, I’m still recovering but … I also assume after. I recently made a video about it, but honestly I don’t remember making it. Which is also part of the story. (Video is below, by the way).

Part of this tale is for posterity, to put the entire past 22 months into perspective. Part of it is to educate from experience. And maybe a small part is just to opine. Let’s start with where I almost died.

In January of 2020, before the word ‘covid’ was even coined, we flew back from the west coast to the east. It was already obvious that something was going on. During a visit to a drug store in San Francisco in late December, the shelves were completely devoid of anything cold and flu related. Absolutely cleaned out. On the flight home there was an individual two rows behind me, wearing a mask, who couldn’t stop coughing. As in, inhale-cough, inhale-cough, inhale-cough, repeat. She literally couldn’t exhale without a deep and scary cough. I’m assuming she was my index case.

Skip ahead a week and I’m down for the count. The absolute worst ‘sick’ I’ve ever experienced was upon me. Aches weren’t. They were pains. Real pains. A depth of exhaustion I have never felt before. My own deep, racking, and scary cough. And so many more symptoms. All of them, in fact. And I stayed in that condition for weeks. When I finally had enough and visited urgent care, it was filled with folks just like me … and the staff didn’t know what it was. They just prescribed the kitchen sink and sent us home.

That was how my … (pardon the pun) … exposure to covid went. That was the entirety of my January and February of 2020. We all know what happened next. Discovering what it was. The lockdowns, social distancing, masks, and politicization of the whole thing. The eventual discovery of a vaccine. The thought that we had turned a corner and life would again be back to normal.

For 20 of those 22 long months, I followed every rule. I stayed home, which was hell for an extroverted “I hate to sit at home” kind of guy. I masked everywhere, kept myself six feet away from others, and even developed an unhealthy case of fear. When the vaccines came out, I got mine (even though it was initially NOT recommended for me due to a preexisting condition, more on that in a minute). And I prepared for the coming of life renewed.

It didn’t happen.

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I underestimated the levels of selfishness, ignorance, and tribalization that humans can muster. How an educated being could look at a piece of cloth, worn by medical staff for centuries, and suddenly decide they don’t work and are an intrusion to freedom and privacy is well beyond me. How those same people can’t do simple math, saying 97% survival rates mean that 97 folks out of a hundred are fine, and those are great odds. But never realizing that there are more than 100 people on the planet.

But this isn’t a discussion of tribalism and stupidity. Not really. It’s about how I got my mindset to where it was just a week ago. And yes you read that right, it’s changed since then. But not how you imagine.

Let’s go back to my own vaccine. In the early days, none less that Dr. Anthony Fauci issued a warning that anyone who had ever contracted Guillain-Barré Syndrome should NOT take the shot. I have had GBS. Twice. Seemed like a no-brainer to me. Why risk another year of full-body paralysis for a new and mostly-untested injection? Then Dr. Fauci received more information and walked back his earlier proclamation. It was safe to take! … which put me in a real quandary. Because fear of the stab was firmly in place by now.

I ultimately decided that I would take it. I knew what it felt like to have full-blown covid. Something I never wanted to experience again, especially if the next time put me into that potential 3% category. A year of learning to walk again was the lesser evil. And of course (spoiler alert) I turned out fine. My point being was that I had real data and information pointing me to a real decision. Not based on some radio show discussing stem cells, mice DNA, and chemtrails. But a decision based on science. Yes, I did it for the cause. The human cause. But I also did it for me, because my time in lockdown captivity was eating away at my soul.

Skip to late summer of 2021. The antivax nonsense was still raging. The CDC was telling vaccinated people they could remove their masks in public outdoors. And for brief time, even indoors. And that’s when my mindset changed. Here was parole. Freedom from the lockdown. I had the shot and I could be free! But nope … the CDC again said that masks should be worn, even by those who had taken the vaccine. Too many people were still dying.

Which got me to thinking … who is dying now? And it turned out it was … ready for the big reveal? … the unvaccinated! I had done everything I could for the cause, and now I had to stay in prison because of this bunch of yahoos? Here’s how my mind went … we were all told to not play in traffic. Most of us did, but many did not … citing Freedom with a capital F and the Great American Way. So guidelines and laws were passed saying no one should drive on the roadways. Because there were people playing on them. We had to keep them safe from themselves after all. So we all parked our cars and allowed those who couldn’t understand how playing hopscotch on a busy freeway could be dangerous to … well, we had to protect them.

And that’s when I snapped.

I will always do what I can to help people, but they have to want to help themselves. Even if just a little bit. When they take advantage of situations and expect others to allow them their privileged existence, I draw the line. Highways are for driving, not a self-righteous round of kick the can. I have a car and I’m going to drive it on the highway as intended. And to put that into this context … I will continue to mask up and stay vaccinated but … if someone wants to take personal risks and chance death from covid, that’s on them. I cannot save ignorant people from themselves.

That was my mindset when the end of October rolled around. So we went to Key West to celebrate our anniversary during an event called Fantasyfest on Halloween. A raucous packing of people, dressed in the minimum of attire, and all in a state of drunkenness. It’s mostly outdoors, sure … so I felt it worth the risk. But somewhere in the middle of it all, my mind went back to six years prior when germ theory wasn’t in the headlines every day. And I also went back to full-blown unprotected life … and caught covid again.

Now that was a week ago. This time I had what was between a bad head cold and a light case of the flu. It wasn’t debilitating, twas more of an annoyance. Although covid does have this weird side effect of altering time and memory, hence my lack of clarity of the video I produced. LOL! But this episode did give me the opportunity to rethink the current world.

I always knew reinfection was a possibility, even a probability, with the vaccine. I also believed … it turns out correctly … that the next bout would be non-life-threatening. The vaccine worked exactly like it was supposed to. It was I who had made the error.

So where does that leave me now? Back in isolation and fear? Nope, not even close. I still shake my head ruefully at the ignorants who refuse to think for themselves. They have every right to lead their lives as they want, but I cannot make up for that. Freedom comes at the price of personal responsibility. I am going to continue with my year-plus of sabbatical and travel around the world as planned. But that misguided belief that the universe was back on track for people like me? That was an important moment of thinking that needed to be revisited.

Going back to basics … wearing masks indoors, avoiding crowds, simple cleanliness procedures … none of that is going to adversely affect me. I can re-enter life again with those in place and still have a grand ole time. Safely. Doing my part to lessen the exposure to both the ignorant and the “unfortunately unable to take the vaccine for real” folks. I forgot that, or I somehow decided to ignore it. My mantra as of late has been that I won’t live in fear, and that hasn’t changed. I cannot, and will not. But taking some basic precautions doesn’t equal fear.

So, bottom line … the adventure of my lifetime is going ahead full steam. My mind is clear and this second bout of covid has awakened me to the reality that the world has been permanently altered. And that my only option is to learn how to live in it.

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