I haven’t given a pandemic update in a while, and that’s felt like an oversight. It’s helpful to capture how we’re feeling at the time. Unfortunately, it’s been a bit of a time lately.
Since late February when Russia invaded Ukraine, it’s all felt like a little much. I noticed my reading dropped incredibly after the invasion, and it’s only gotten worse.
Here we are, supposedly at the end of the pandemic, with health and safety requirements dropping like flies, and that’s when I get COVID-19. I got sick two weeks ago, after a weekend of family coming to town for a visit. Because hey, we’re all vaccinated and things are better so it’s about time, right? I guess not. I don’t actually know how we got exposed, but something like 8 of the 11 family members got sick. Fun.
I’ve reflected on the ongoingpandemic a coupletimes, and now that we’ve passed the one-year mark, it seems an update is due. Cautiously optimistic is about how things feel.
We made it through the second wave and the rising death toll in the fall and winter. Now the vaccines are rolling out—truly a miracle how quickly that happened—but it’s a race between vaccine rollout and deadlier, more contagious variants. We’re seeing surges in places, lock downs in Europe again, and worrisome numbers that creep upward.
So there’s real reason for hope, but there’s also that continued anxiety that hasn’t left us for the past year.
I haven’t given a coronavirus update in a while, mainly because it’s frustrating and foolish and hard to write about. But I think it’s important to document.
I last left off in the middle of summer. Late summer continued in relative safety, as many things opened up again and restrictions relaxed as we headed into school. Many of us were cautiously optimistic. While normal summer things like vacation and the state fair were cancelled, being able to get outside and eat in restaurants felt like a return to normal.
I’ve been too busy to blog. We’re in a weird time here in 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic and probably the most important presidential election in my lifetime. That pandemic has caused an economic scare (never mind, you know, death), and things are just weird.
I wrote about it a bit this spring to capture my feelings, and those days feel so long ago. So maybe it’s time to do it again. (This is going to be a bit scattered, so I apologize in advance for that.)
About three weeks ago I wrote a coronavirus checkin post, trying to capture where things were at “mid-stream, as I called it. Of course that was March 16, and hardly seems “mid-stream” now. That was just the beginning.
This is a weird time. Coronavirus has spread across the world and infections are exploding in the U.S., prompting changes in day-to-day life like I’ve never seen before. I wanted to document a bit of what this is like mid-stream.
Which means it’s probably a little pessimistic. I’m an idealist by nature, but this whole thing has me feeling kind of bleak. Darkness aside, seems important to document the moment, so here goes.
I’m not going to be one of those people who blogs or tweets about his incredible athletic achievements. I’m not going to tell you how I’m running a marathon or crushing my 5K time or trying a fancy new workout program. Whatever.
I am getting more exercise lately. But nobody cares about that. Frankly, I’m slow, sad and pokey and no one wants to read updates about my abysmal mile times.
But I have learned one thing from exercising: You have to be consistent.
I started exercising again because it makes me feel good. It’s good stress relief, it feels amazing when I’m done and it’s good for me. But if I slack off for a week and try to get back into it, it sucks. If I don’t run for a week, then go for a run it isn’t fun anymore. Then it sucks. My joints revolt and my legs want to cramp up and my knees hurt. When I finally get home I don’t feel like a million bucks, I feel like I want to die.
Same thing on the bike. If I haven’t been biking then every little rise is a mountain and I have no energy or stamina to make it up. But even a little bit of consistency and I’m cruising up the incline.
It’s about consistency. You have to keep at it. It’s true in exercising, it’s true in writing, it’s true in anything creative, it’s true in much of life.
Keep going. And if you do slack off and get behind, get back up again. That first time will suck. But the second time will feel better. Remember that when you’re tempted to skip a day. Don’t. Save yourself that sucky run and stay consistent.
All the best laid plans blow up. Especially when you get sick. For a week. Or two.
That’s my story. I’m going on week number two of being sick. This has to be the third or fourth time I’ve gotten sick this winter. Bleh. I’ll spare you the details (nothing worse than reading about people’s medical symptoms online—unless of course you’re looking for an online diagnosis by strangers, which can be loads of fun), except to say that I think the sinus pressure has blocked the hearing in my left ear. Feels like I went swimming and can’t get the water out. Otherwise I’m actually feeling better. And losing your hearing can have its benefits. Milo has an ear infection and has been pretty crabby—but his tantrums are that much quieter now.
On the plus side, Foursquare.org published an article I wrote yesterday. “Advocate for the Invisible” tells the story of homeless advocate and InvisiblePeople.tv founder Mark Horvath. I talk about him a lot, so it was fun to tell his story. It was also a challenge to do it in under 800 words. That article easily could have been twice as long. When I interviewed Mark for the story we talked for over three hours, so you can imagine the material I have and couldn’t possibly use. Good stuff.
Mark is a constant inspiration. The way he continues doing what he does despite all odds is incredible. As he says, he’s not called, he’s forced. He has no choice but to do this. He has a choice all right, but I’m not sure he could live with himself if he walked away from the homeless people he serves. I could use that kind of heart.
I heard a very fascinating report on NPR last week about a new organ donor law in Israel. In response to an extreme shortage of organ donors, Israel decided to take drastic action and enacted a law that seeks to encourage organ donation by penalizing those who refuse to donate. It’s nicknamed ‘Don’t give, Don’t get.’ If an organ is available and two people of similar medical conditions are eligible for the donated organ, priority goes to the one who was a registered organ donor.
If you’re not willing to donate your own organs, you get lower priority when you need an organ.
It’s an interesting bit of medical ethics. While I think in general we should be willing to help people regardless of how much they’re willing to help others, this is a unique situation. A extreme situation calls for extreme action?
What’s funny about the story is that they talk with a rabbi who refuses to donate organs for religious reasons. Yet he’s willing to accept a donated organ if he needed one. They summarize his position so I’m not sure how accurate it is, but he basically reasons that in one instance it’s murder and in another instance they were dead anyway. I think it’s complete hypocritical garbage.
This is what happens when the shoe is on the other foot. If you’re not willing to be a part of the system, why should you benefit from the system? In other instances I’m not sure how well this logic works. What if we denied assistance benefits like unemployment or food stamps to people who refused to fund such assistance programs (not that anyone has such a choice)? What if we denied freedom to those who refused military service (interestingly enough, it’s Israel where serving in the armed forces is mandatory)? What if the Red Cross gave priority to disaster victims who had donated?
And at that point it becomes ridiculous. Admittedly I kind of like the idea of sticking it to people who won’t play along. But I think society has to be more benevolent than that. It’s not love if you only love those who love you back.
Today is the last day of November, which means it’s the end of the Movember charity drive, an event where men agreed to go clean-shaven and then grow mustaches for the month of November in order to raise money for men’s health. Movember specifically fights prostate and testicular cancer and donations go to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Since its inception in 2003, Movember has raised more than $47 million for men’s health. That’s a lot of money for mustaches.
I first heard about this event when I saw my old friend Kyle and my brother Rick participating this year. I really wanted to join them, but my wife said I wouldn’t get kissed for a month if I grew a mustache. That’s a long time to go without getting kissed by your wife, so instead of participating I’ll have to make do with supporting them. Cancer is one of those things that inevitably impacts everyone. My grandpa is a prostate cancer survivor—and it’s through efforts like these that hopefully there can be more survivors.
Despite my wife’s distaste for the mustache fashion statement, I have to say that I love these kinds of charity events. As a culture I think we place entirely too much importance on personal appearance, and anything we can do to thumb our nose at the status quo while supporting a charity is just awesome. (This coming from the guy whose only haircut in the past two years has been shaving his head for a cause.) Maybe next year I’ll forsake getting kissed for a good cause (but don’t bet on it).
So even though I couldn’t join my mustachioed brethren, I salute your Movember efforts and the mighty hair spreading across your upper lip. Every mustache makes a difference. You can support Kyle or Rick by making a donation on their respective pages.
And what’s a post about mustaches without an homage to them in song from none other than the Tick? We could all use a little mustache feelin’:
A work-at-home dad wrestles with faith, social justice & story.