Making it Through COVID19? To Mask or Not to Mask

As our priest at the Church said at the beginning of this whole COVID19 pandemic, “this is the start of COVIDic times.” He was not wrong. This pandemic has changed lives and taken more. The entire “to mask or not to mask” debate continues to rage on while making it through COVID19 in one piece becomes more difficult. The arrival of the new vaccine may help, but, it will be too late for some.

Many may feel that they are immune to the virus. Having gone from the start of the whole thing till November. It certainly seemed that becoming infected was a long shot. However, waking up on the third day of a four day shift on 2 November. This turned out to not be the case.

A body that felt like a Raggedy Ann doll that had been beaten with an aluminum baseball bat and a temperature. This was not the start to a good day. After having a tasteless breakfast, the temperature was checked again.

It had gone up.

Work verified that a test would need to be done and the long trek to the “office” was undertaken. After being tested for Flu (It was also the start of the influenza season.) and the new virus,  only the COVID19 came back positive. Being sent home and placed on quarantine for 10 days seemed, at the time, a short annoying diversion while this stuff worked its way through the system.

This was not a 10 day stint, however, and the symptoms were bad. Crushed glass in every single joint, muscles that felt smashed and bruised. A temperature that never really eased off. Sleeping 12 to 14 hours every single day until the ever increasing cough made that impossible.

So it was off to the VA ER (Veterans’s Administration Emergency Room) after a phone consultation. They were friendly, helpful and patient. They also shoved that stick up an already irritated nostril and held it there for 10 seconds.

Fists clenching and unclenching to keep from punching the young lady administering the thing, it was excruciating. Feeling like blood was going to come down in freshets out of an outraged nose, it took far too long to get a reading. The result?

Positive.

(As was each subsequent reading taken at the VA ER.)

This was the first of three visits to the ER, all after phone consults. The diagnosis was an outset of Sars pneumonia that would need to be watched. Cough syrup and antibiotics were issued amid a discharge with the staff explaining that this would need to be watched.

It was watched carefully and it did not clear up as hoped. So back to the ER the next Friday. More drugs were given out and another release was signed. Then Thanksgiving and no real response from a phone check until the week after. Once again it was back up to the ER, this time for edema that was so severe shoes could not be worn.

All through the quarantine, getting up out of bed proved to be a battle in and of itself. Walking was a precarious challenge and legs, ankles and feet did not want to cooperate. Feeling and looking like a drunken soul attempting to come home from the pub, it took ages to stagger the short distance to the kitchen and get a small bite to eat. It was then back to bed filled with exhaustion and a brain that refused to do anything other than the bare minimum.

A total lack of energy combined with that cough along with a case of the “trots” that made trips to the toilet as frequent as 10 to 12 times a day, made for a miserable time. Each and every time a trip was made outside the quarantine area, a 10 X 12 bedroom, a mask was worn. Thus far, the only other occupant in the house has not been infected. So it seems that these annoying mask things do work. (For clarification, the bathroom and the kitchen were no further than 10/15 feet from the quarantine room.)

Since being diagnosed on the second day of November 2020, a total of one and a half months has passed. Three trips were taken to the Veteran’s Hospital Emergency Room and only on 11 December did the symptoms begin to ease up. The, seemingly, eternal weakness started to abate just a few days before that.

Before the 11th the total lack of energy and concentration meant that an extremely short person of advanced age and suffering from severe arthritis could have run circles around this COVID19 sufferer.

Easily.

Without breaking a sweat.

The lack of brain cognizance, in itself, would have been alarming, if it had registered. It did not. Driving to the ER put not only the mentally impaired driver at risk but everyone else sharing the road. Thankfully, no one died and the last trip did not feel like driving through a thick metaphorical fog.

Thanking God for keeping this from being a more serious affair, i.e; hospitalization, intubation and/or death, is done daily. There are, however, long term “issues” for those who took longer than the 10 to 21 day quarantine while waiting for the virus to “run its course.”

Media is reporting that patients who have suffered from the virus for a longer time period could have problems. Heart, lung, kidney issues, along with a few others, will, reportedly, erupt long after the virus is gone.  In other words, this virus is a gift that keeps on giving.

Treatment of the virus throughout this entire ordeal was practically non-existent. No COVID19 drugs were given out. A lady friend did supply some capsules similar to the drugs given to the POTUS. Handfuls of vitamins and supplements were taken daily as well and still are.

The hospital did prescribe steroids, along with antibiotics, for the pneumonia. Nothing was given for the virus itself. Granted, this is the VA and they do have a very stringent process for what can and cannot be given to this country’s veterans. So it is not too surprising that while the medical jury was weighing up the benefits of these new experimental drugs, the VA did not hand out any of these “cures.”

As hospitals continue to fill with new cases; body bags, along with food freezers for storage of same, are being ordered to cope with the massive influx of deaths. This information alone has the effect of making it through COVID19 to be a bit of an accomplishment. The ongoing argument of mask wearing may be slowing down. Although there are a few folks who feel that their freedom has been infringed and continue to ignore the new laws.

Not to mention the members of a nation filled with conspiracy theorists who believe firmly that the virus has been blown out of all proportion. There are those who, with teeth clenched and jaw muscles bulging, claim that this is a media influenced hoax. It has all been aimed to help the government take away our freedom.

Time will tell whether this is true or not. However, as one who got the virus and suffered through isolation along with all the lovely symptoms, it certainly seems, and feels, real enough.

Whether anyone in your circle has COVID19 or not, take a moment to thank a first responder and any member of the healthcare community. These overworked and beleaguered heroes have been working this issue since the start of the year. May God Bless them.

 

Trump Inauguration Signals Death of America (Op/Ed)

Donald Trump

 

 

As the day of Donald Trump’s swearing-in looms ever closer, constituents across the country are still firmly divided in their support, or hatred, of the president elect. January 20, 2017 is a date that will go down in infamy as the day that the only snake oil salesman in recorded history was elected to fill the highest office in America.

Electing Trump has managed to roll back the country’s founding fathers’ dreams and aspirations with one blow from an Electoral College vote based on a political party’s rabid quest to get “one of their own” back in the White House.

Republican politicians were so desperate to have the GOP back in charge that they ignored Russian interference with what many consider an almost sacred event; the American election process.

The GOP has always been about the elite, the rich and that small class of American’s who inherited their wealth, quite different from the rich. (Trump, who started with a massive fortune falls somewhere between the rich and the wealthy, he has maintained his lifestyle by refusing to pay for service’s rendered.)

The spoon-fed potential oligarch owes billions and refuses to release his tax returns. All the while telling the gullible what they want to hear, while simultaneously setting the country’s lower and middle classes against one another. He attempts to control the media and lies on camera. This will continue until he and his cronies can rape and plunder their victims like ham-fisted marauders.

America wrenched itself away from Britain because of taxes and, truth be told, a social class system that saw more misery and starving people than ones who were “well off.” The new country was built on the idea that everyone could get a fair slice of the pie.

If there was ever any doubt that the Republican Party was behind the “common” man, this election has removed any question of what and whom the politicians, and their supporters, are looking out for. There is an old saying: The rich get rich while the poor get children. It could have been coined for the GOP.

The political system and ideals have been corrupted. Elected officials, regardless of party affiliations, have all become more concerned with personal wealth than the people who voted them in office. Officials now spend more time on party issues than looking out for the constituents they represent.

The American system has become sour, not for the people, who still respond fervently to a message of hope, but for its politicians. It is time for the two-party system to be dissolved or, at the very least, dismantled and rebuilt.

A system that enables a reality television “star” to take the reins of control over one of the most powerful countries in the world is clearly broken. A man who has illusions of grandeur and who clearly believes that the presidency is an autocratic position, will soon be in charge and sanity, like Elvis, will have left the building.

In England, there was an advert for Orange (a mobile phone company along the lines of Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, et al) the company’s tagline was “The future is bright, the future is Orange.” It is beyond tragic to look at the 2016 election results and realize that the future is not bright, but it is certainly orange and full of stubborn belligerence.

The end of America as a superpower has been, as Russia once promised, brought about without one shot being fired.

The election of a man who clearly does not hold his own country’s well being over his narcissistic need for fame and control has killed a once great nation.

The Golden Globes, Hugh Laurie and Meryl Streep Two Heroes (OpEd)

Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes

Last night, purely by accident, I watched the vast majority of The Golden Globes. I rarely watch awards ceremonies anymore. They invariably annoy, what with enforced time schedules that force recipients to rush acceptance thank you speeches and hosts that are not all that funny.

(There are exceptions, however, Chris Rock is and always will be “rolling in the floor” funny. And yes, I am referring to Mr. Fallon and his flat impression of Chris…)

Nothing really stood out, until Hugh Laurie made his oh so dry joke about being on the last ever broadcast of The Golden Globes. He too, like Meryl Streep, mentioned the foreign press, referred to the president-elect and the strained relationship between Hollywood and the orange man who will be sworn in on January 20th.

Laurie’s remarks were on point.  Sadly his dry English wit was lost on a few folks. Laurie is a very funny chap who made his point about Donald Trump via humor.

Meryl Streep, however, did not ape Jimmy Fallon or Hugh Laurie she got straight to the point.  Zeroing in on the most detestable thing about this country’s soon-to-be new leader, she let Trump have it with both barrels and did not even need to mention his name.

The reaction, which everyone knew was coming,  was swift and childish.  Trump’s followers reacted by saying that “overpaid celebrities” should stay out of politics.

All this would be fine and good if they practiced what they preach.  Ms. Streep is a very talented performer, hardly anyone in the trade can master accents like Meryl or completely inhabit a part like she can. Her celebrity status is from years of hard graft, learning her trade and art while fine tuning her performance continuously.

Trump’s only real talent seems to be the ability to disappear when his employees need paying. Although it could be said that his other talents include going bankrupt, lying and tweeting out his nether region…

Granted, Trump is himself something of a  celebrity or “star.” Reality television made the man a household name and reality TV, and the networks who continue to produce this tripe, can also be held accountable for grooming the American public into believing that these odious people actually have some sort of validity.

Regardless of the responses from Trump and his deluded, and disturbing, supporters, both Meryl Streep and Hugh Laurie were two of the heroes who took last night’s opportunity to take a closer look at the new president elect without the racist, misogynistic, and avaricious glasses that his proponents wear.

The disturbing news that Trump is aping Adopt Hitler’s first moves is not the first sign that this individual cares nothing for the country he is about to lead. As Meryl Streep pointed out, the man is a bully who is  surrounding himself with likeminded people.

While Ms. Streep pointed out the vileness  of what Trump did to a reporter during his march to the white house, she neglected to mention the fate of bullies in general. They may well bluster and use their power to run roughshod over those less fortunate, in this case the constituents of the United States, but most of these disgusting power mad animals do, eventually, get their comeuppance.

Dictators, something that Trump clearly aspires to be, do not fare well in the long run.

Hitler, supposedly, committed suicide, Mussolini was hung by his own people in a petrol station, Gaddafi hid in a culvert until he was found and killed, Saddam Hussein was led up a ladder and hung. Others, like Pol Pot died of “mysterious” circumstances.

Certainly there are those dictators who manage to rule for long periods of time, with little to no recriminations,  but these occur in countries where the average educational level is less than that of America.  Although, disturbingly, the US has opted to elect the snake oil salesman rather than run him out of town on a rail…

Getting back to the Golden Globes and the award’s ceremony; La La Land was the big winner of the evening. A modern musical set in Hollywood. It seems ironic that a fantasy was the real winner on the last “proper” awards program before the inauguration. (The People’s Choice Awards is a bit of a “Johnny come lately” having started in 1974, while the “Globes” have been around since 1944.)

Hollywood stars have always been the voice of conscience in this country. Somewhat ironically, however, this time the stars are warning of an evil that is not just in America’s backyard but one that will be running the country all too soon.

Supporters of Trump may be celebrating but unless they are members of the monied and privileged classes they will soon learn that there is little to celebrate.

It also bears mentioning that, via the auspices of supporting a free press, Ms. Streep took the journalistic community to task as well. Reminding the news crowd that their job is to present the truth, not to “normalize” misbehavior or to ignore the wrongs and injustices committed by those in power.

May God grant that they listen and then tell the truth.

 

Trump Wins: Stephen King’s ‘The Dead Zone’ for Real (Editorial)

The Dead Zone Martin Sheen as Greg Stillson

After living in England for over three decades, I returned to a country that was beyond recognition.  January 2014 saw me landing in Las Vegas and starting a new job that would fizzle out in a years time.  I had not been privy to a stateside election in years and already the country was rumbling about 2016.

Leaving Vegas, and winding up in the last resting place of an immigrant camel drover, I found myself surrounded by snowbirds who all seemed to be republican. This did not bother me to any great extent as I had lived in country where the two main parties were mirror images of the Donkey and the Elephant: Labour and Tories.

I favor neither party but instead have always looked to the “runner.” In the UK it was more important to vote for the party. The Prime Minister was sort of an addition to the whole thing.

Donald Trump, this country’s president elect, was, in essence, a television reality star. The orange male equivalent of Kim Kardashian without the sex tape. A loud mouthed goon who was rude, crude and a man who obviously appealed to a large amount of people.

The moment I realized that this man with the ridiculous hair and bullying attitude was being taken serious, I thought of Greg Stillson from Stephen King’s 1979 b00k, The Dead Zone.

Stillson was a buffoon, a joke to the people of the country and yet when the book’s protagonist, poor doomed everyman John Smith,  touched the candidate he saw him starting World War III; with nuclear missiles.

The picture was perfectly formed in my head as I watched small clips of Trump’s rallies. Surely, I thought,  this man will not last long in the final stages, there must be someone more  qualified. Alas the republican party chose this lunatic to be their presidential candidate and once again I thought of King’s madman Stillson.

For those who have not read King’s book, Greg Stillson was mad, not “angry” mad but nutty as a box of frogs mad. He had an anger management problem and some severe wiring problems under his bonnet.

I cannot for the life of me remember what colour his hair was but it is not important. What is important  is that in my mind, from the first televised appearance of Trump, he was, and is, Greg Stillson.

There was no hard hat, or throwing hot dogs to the crowd, but Trump fit the bill of the madman who would bring an apocalyptic end to America like a tailored glove.

This is not the first time that someone has made the connection. Google “The Dead Zone” and Trump’s name comes up. (Sorry, but I cannot for the life of me refer to this man as president.) This entire election has been  surreal and this has been a nightmarish end to a vicious election. One where both sides played the internet like an instrument.

Perhaps this has been on the cards for a long time. I truly do not know. I had taken on another country as my home and never envisioned coming back.  The return home was not planned.

It was odd coming back to the country that spawned me. The whole place was different and PC mentality was making everyone touchy and overly protective.  The racist card was being thrown down everywhere and an entire political party was backing a homophobic, misogynistic reality television star with multiple bankruptcies to his name to run the country.

Now it is over.

Stillson  Trump is in. The man who cannot, apparently afford the good tanning gel, the kind that does not turn your skin orange, is the 45th president of the United States.  He has chosen a vice president who echoes his sentiments exactly in regards to the LGBT community, minorities and immigrants.

History has been made here. The electoral college, not the people they chose Hilary by popular vote, God help them,  have put Trump in charge of the country.

Young people are taking to the streets to protest Trump as president on the same day he was announced the winner of the race. This has not, to the best of my knowledge, ever happened before. (Of course it might have but living in the UK I might have missed it.)

Despite all the Pollyanna’s out there who now say we have to grin and bear it and that we must stick together, I hope you remember that when this once mighty nation has crumbled under one man’s lunacy.

The electing of Trump has been called a “white lash” by Van Jones. With all due respect sir, I disagree. I think this was a “Black lash.” Caused by far too many people who were upset over an eight year time period that the president of the US was a black man.

Before signing off and leaving politics behind for another four years, I would like to point something out. This election was massively influenced by social media. Each side promoted enough vitriol to damage the most secure of egos.

On Facebook alone there has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth and a common misconception. Younger members of the American public seem to believe that a president serves eight years. Not so, my dear Millennials. A presidential term is still and always will be, four years.

With two American presidents serving two terms in office, it is easy to see where the confusion started. It is also the sort of ignorance that enabled someone less qualified than your cousin Murray, the city dog catcher, to be elected president.

 

American Horror Story: SDCC News Jessica Lange Tease

Kathy Bates at SDCC AHS Panel
San Diego Comic Con, aka SDCC annually mades headlines when the creators, cast and other various members of the entertainment industry give out early information about iconic games, TV shows and movies. American Horror Story gave fans a bit of news about the next season and Ryan Murphy decided to tease fans of the series about past star Jessica Lange. While Lady Gaga fans are overly excited about the face that their Mommy Monster will be in the show, acting only – sorry kids – the news that award winning actress Lange will not be in this newest ensemble was more than disappointing to say the least.

Granted fans of the show have known for sometime now that Lange would not be in Hotel, but the tease that she could return in a later season was a bittersweet treat for fans. It does feel a little like a bad joke, replacing Lange with Gaga? Really?

In a joint panel, stars from both AHS and the new horror comedy series Scream Queens, starring American Horror Story alumnus Emma Roberts and horror icon Jamie Lee Curtis, revealed certain noteworthy items from both shows. Curtis teased fans of her Laurie Strode character from Halloween that there would be a “wordless” nod to the role that helped to make her one of the original scream queens. Roberts is reportedly going to show up at the end of the latest version of Murphy’s brilliantly macabre creation, at least that is what the show’s creator told the panel audience at the SDCC.

The 24 year-old actress will apparently reunite with her one-time real life boyfriend and costar Evan Peters. It is interesting to note that the Scream 4 star had been arrested in 2012 for allegedly beating Peters up, he refused to press charges and the relationship limped along till June 2015 when they called the whole thing off.

Roberts will not be the only other AHS alumni member to reappear in the hotel setting of season five of the series. Ryan Murphy, the same man who brought the world Glee and “gleeks,” stated that other characters would be appearing in this newest season. Murphy has always insisted that the each season’s characters are interconnected, he proved that in season four by showing how Pepper, who was first spotted in Season three; Asylum, was placed into Briarcliff.

While this is welcome news to fans of the long running series, it is still a major disappointment that the one constant in all of the previous four seasons, Jessica Lange, will be missing. The two time Oscar winner stated after Freakshow had finished that she would not be in the next one. Her reason was that she needed a rest from the verse. Considering the different types of characters she played along with the intensity of her performances, it is no wonder that the 66 year-old performer took a break.

This absence may just be the missing ingredient from Murphy’s crowd pleasing cult favorite that spells disaster for its long running success. Lange was not necessarily the glue that bound each episode of every season together, but she was the steely spine of each and every story. The thread that held together through each twist and turn and bloody gruesome event.

Lange’s Elsa Mars, Sister Jude Martin, Fiona Good and Constance Langdon were all disparate creatures, and as much as Elsa was heart rending yet despicable, her Sister Jude will be the epitome of character arcs for the entire season; a journey that started with the viewer hating her overbearing nun and then crying real tears for her and that fall from grace.

SDCC saw fans of American Horror Story getting the latest news about the latest verse in Ryan Murphy’s creation and his teasing that perhaps other performers who will not show up might do so in another season, “aka Jessica Lange,” is a little exciting, if not bittersweet. Sadly Lange will not be back this time around and maybe that is the way it should be.

After all, how can she top Elsa Mars’ rendition of Bowie’s “Life on Mars.” Not to mention her sad success at the end of the season. Have a look at the video below of Elsa belting out this show stopper and think of the Comic Con and just what the latest season of AHS will be like without Lange.

Do not be afraid to shed a little tear…