Thursday, June 29, 2023

Shifting Normal

Tomato plant in our garden;
fighting off a leaf disease

I want to write something profound. It doesn't come. 

So I think that maybe I will write something personal, close to home, about this change of "normal." It floods in words and feelings and it doesn't look like what I mean and I think, that sounds like a pity party.


I have so much to say about the shift of "normal" but it is large and others have already commented, are commenting. What do I have to add to the discussion?

Except my experiences. My own shifted normal to a place where I never thought I'd be; to a place which is the same but my perspective has been forced to a new view by conditions and situations which are - actually - outside of my control. They were not caused by me, were not sought for by me, were not wanted. If anyone would have asked me in January or February 2020, "Hey how about we try this?" I would have scoffed and turned away and known that wasn't my path to walk.

I haven't had COVID-19. I am still actively avoiding getting it because I have a genetic disorder which makes me at increased risk for negative outcomes if I were to catch it. I reconfirmed with my medical team six weeks ago when I had to go in for something unrelated. 

"No, YOU don't want to get COVID," the usually conservative provider said. The one who would happily prescribe more pills, is cautious with too many tests, and has told my partner and others that - since they're up to date on vaccinations - it should be okay. But not me. Not with the genetic condition for which there is no cure, only a medicine to offset what it causes (an increased tendency to make blood clots). 

One of the things COVID-19 causes is making blood clots. Also, recent studies have shown that, at least for some people, tiny blood clots are a factor in causing Long Covid. The primary drug for us regular people for treating COVID-19 is Paxlovid. Some medications are contraindicated for Paxlovid use, and among them are anti-coagulants, which is (one part of) what is used to treat exactly what I have. One type of anti-coagulant reacts so badly that Paxlovid is listed to be used only when they are out of all options. In this, I am lucky, because the anti-coagulant I am taking is the best one in terms of Paxlovid. If necessary, with the particular medication I take, I could take Paxlovid, but I would need to be monitored for blood clots, for DVT (deep vein thrombosis (blood clots)). Taking Paxlovid would increase my risk of another pulmonary embolism; something I would rather not repeat.

So, this "shifting normal" for me is, that I have a genetic condition which means that many places are not safe for me. Without masks, with no social distancing, with oftentimes questionable air circulation - my answer has to be, "no, thank you." Creative spaces, both inspirational for me and expressive, personal and professional, are not currently safe.

I am now on the "expendable humans" list. This is new. Because of a genetic condition I was born with, but had no idea I had until I ended up in the ER in 2011 with blood clots in both lungs, I am now pushed aside. I used to not be afraid of a cold and I didn't get the flu - I'm still not. But COVID-19? Different story. 

I'm not ready to die, but I am not afraid of dying from COVID-19. I am completely up to date on my vaccinations and boosters. I always mask in public, when around other people even at my home. We don't go to parties and crowded events. Because the internal damage from COVID-19 can be months or years-long. Some people are developing problems caused or triggered by COVID months or a year after recovering from the infection. I know people who are surviving and struggling with Long Covid. 

I would rather have a healthier life, with my brain cells intact, and my internal organs functioning.

So I will continue to avoid COVID-19. Which means I am missing out, yes. Which means I am still breathing, yes. Which means I can continue to work as an interpreter and do my writing. 

This is not normal.

This is not what I used to call normal.

This is my shifted "normal" as other people continue to get reinfected and think they are fine. Some are; especially those with the financial resources. Some aren't. Some people are dying or have brain fog or develop heart problems or diabetes or several other negative health issues because of that. Some people don't even know they've had COVID because they haven't and don't test, assume it's a cold, the flu, allergies, or they're just tired.

And don't even get me started on the climate situation. North America is already on fire and it's not even officially "wildfire season." 

If you have any of those nasty N95 or KN95/94 masks lying around, you might want to get them out. They also help to reduce harm from wildfire smoke.

The normal we knew no longer exists. Sometimes the attempts to replicate the past are like eating carob to replace chocolate. Just not the same.