I’ve read somewhere that COVID is eventually going to infect us all, but I had begun to doubt that it would catch me.
Until it did.
It’s been more than 2-1/2 years since our world was shook when the pandemic washed over us, beginning locally when the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City Thunder game was cancelled on March 11, 2020.
That was a jarring, scary night, with both my wife and my mother in-law at that game.
Anyway, we masked up and stayed home much of 2020. Then just after Christmas of that year my wife had a mild COVID infection. She tested positive two weeks in a row.
I tested at the same time and was negative each time.
Also, I received the Pfizer vaccine in early January 2021 and declared myself bullet proof, even at my advanced age of 69. I’ve added two booster shots since then.
Then a little over a week ago I woke in the middle of the night with an unexpected, out-of-the-blue sore throat. No big deal.
But I lost energy and appetite throughout the next day, while adding a cough and tons of drainage.
By the third day, it moved into my chest and I had no taste or smell.
So, I went to a walk-in clinic. I was tested for STREP, Flu and COVID. The COVID test came back positive, which I was NOT expecting.
The doctor gave me some pills to take for the next five days, as well as a nasal spray. He said I should no longer be contagious after five days.
Things didn’t improve over the next four days, so by Sunday I walked into the Mercy Health ER along I-35 to see if I could find some relief. The health care professionals there were awesome and empathetic while giving me a steroid shot and hydrating IV.
By Monday, there was incredible improvement in my condition. I’m still improving and hope to be completely symptom free by the end of this week.
Meanwhile, what of my wife, who sleeps and eats with me? She had laryngitis while all of this was going on, and has been tested twice for COVID over the past week.
Negative, both times. So, it’s role reversal this time.
I’ve learned my lesson. I’m not bullet proof. I am thankful for the vaccines and boosters. Because of my age and medical history, there’s no telling how far down COVID could have taken me.
Now I’m up for the Bivalent booster in a couple weeks. I’m all in.
As we’ve watched another rise in the number of COVID cases spurred by the highly contagious Omicrom variant, my wife and I have begun wearing our masks again in most public situations. Stores. Church. Thunder games.
I’ve been feeling pretty smug about myself in my new KN95 mask purchased on Amazon.
However, sometimes my good intentions have turned into a total failure. I wrote about one incident that happened on a road trip last year.
Let me tell you about a more recent instance.
Last week, I was invited to the launch event for a new Oklahoma City business publication. It was a great event in which about 100 or so people attended.
The event was held at a co-working space on Main Street downtown. I arrived shortly after 5 pm, parked on the street, put my mask in my back pocket and promptly forgot about it before I walked into the event.
I immediately ran into several people I knew and took a few minutes to network before the scheduled program began. None of my acquaintances wore masks, but I wasn’t thinking about that.
As I was chatting with someone, I saw a friend of mine who is in the public relations business walk in. She was fully masked.
Then it hit me, I had my mask with me, but had never put it on.
I was proud of my masked friend, but ashamed of my own lack of conviction, I guess you call it.
I wasn’t practicing what I’ve been preaching.
Was it absent-mindedness, bowing to peer pressure or misguided confidence that my vaccinations and booster shot have made me bulletproof?
I’m pretty sure it was peer pressure.
Because of the Omicrom variant, COVID is racing through our population, both here in OKC and nationwide. None of us are bulletproof.
Life as we knew it returned on Thursday, May 13. The Oklahoma City Dodgers opened the home portion of their 2021 season at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
My friend Casey Harness, a long-time season ticket holder, called me early in the afternoon and said he had an extra ticket with my name on it. I cleared it with the home office and agreed to join him at the park about 6:30 p.m.
Masks were optional, as it turned out.
Although the Dodgers lost the game (as they did all but one of their six season-opening road games), it was a special night. Seating was limited and spaced out, but the crowd of about 5,000 still brought enthusiasm and noise.
Here are the top 10 things that made it an awesome night for me:
FREEDOM: The Centers for Disease Control announced early Thursday that Americans like me who are fully vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus can shed their masks outdoors, as well as in most indoor situations. I was conflicted upon first arriving at the ballpark. I wore my mask as I entered – as did about say, 30 percent of the people I saw – then took it off after entering the club level food area where I met Casey. I put the mask back on briefly as I waited in line for food, but then took it off and never wore it again the rest of the night.
FRIENDSHIP: On my left sat Casey Harness, my host who invited me to sit in his seats with him. Casey and I worked together at i2E, Inc., beginning in 2009 and have remained friends for over a decade. On my right sat Ed Godfrey, a long time friend and colleague at The Oklahoman who was actually at the game to write an opening night fan experience story.
WEATHER: It was a spectacular night for baseball with clear skies and warm afternoon that cooled off after dark into a night that could still be enjoyed without any sort of jacket. The only thing missing was a giant full moon rise in the east.
CONVERSATION: One of the great things about watching a baseball game in person is that the pace is conversation friendly. Casey, Ed and I tackled all sorts of problems last night, including the OKC Thunder’s ongoing tanking dilemma. And the new largely unpopular baseball rules that put a man on second to start play in each extra inning. Oh, and the extreme defensive positioning that plagues all of baseball these days.
BALLPARK EATS: The tickets that Casey has come with unlimited food service, so our group sampled grilled burgers, chicken breast sandwiches, chicken strips, peanuts, M&Ms, beer, water and even a hot cup of coffee late in the game when there was a hint of a chill in the air.
FUN AT THE OL’ BALLYARD: The Dodgers have a fun bit between innings late in the game where fans dance (mostly) badly and cameras broadcast their (lack of) talent on the giant hi-def scoreboard screen. There were the usual kids dancing wildly, girls and then a couple of 20-something guys who suddenly ripped off their T-shirts like they were World Wide Wrestling contestants. Laughter erupted throughout the stands. Later, I spotted the shirtless guys sitting behind the first base dugout and giving the umpires the business. Must have been dollar beer night.
PREDICTIONS: The Sacramento River Cats – our foes for the night – had the bases full at one point with two outs. I offhandedly predicted a “weak ground ball to second” to end the inning. The batter ripped a hard ground shot just to the right of second, and the Dodgers’ second basemen made a great stop, got up and threw him out to end the inning. I took credit for calling it, of course.
HIGH-TECH: As far as I can tell, Dodgers tickets now are all digital and sent to your phone, which are then scanned when you enter the front gate. I put my ticket in my iPhone’s electronic wallet, then scanned the URL code at the entrance. It worked great. But have the folks still carrying flip phones been left behind?
FIREWORKS: The opening night game was followed by a spectacular opening night fireworks show that was incredibly loud. There are two hotels located just over the left field fence. The game ended about 10:30 p.m. Can you imagine the unexpected jolt that sleeping patrons received? Followed by angry calls to the front desk, I’m sure.
DO IT AGAIN: There’s not much time to wallow in self-pity after a baseball loss. Teams routinely play every night during a homestand, and this year teams are playing the same opponent six straight to cut down on travel during the pandemic. They do get Wednesdays off this season. Anyway, the Dodgers and River Cats are back at it again tonight. I’ll catch this one on the radio.
Let me tell you a COVID story that began four days after Christmas 2020. My wife woke up feeling extra tired and a little “off.” A day later she had a slight fever and lost all sense of taste and smell.
So, right before New Year’s, we decided to go have COVID tests for both of us at the OU Health Sciences Center. Paula’s test came back positive for COVID. Mine was negative.
Within a day or so, the only symptoms remaining for Paula were loss of taste and smell. I had no symptoms and felt great, even though we are together roughly 24 hours a day during the pandemic.
At the end of the next week, we went back for another COVID test. Paula was positive again. I was negative again.
So, we waited another week and went back for tests. This time both Paula and I were negative.
All of which leads me to the question of how did I remain COVID negative when I live with a COVID positive person? We eat together and sleep together.
My 87-year old mother had her own theory. She suggested that my blood type – O-negative – afforded me immunity to the COVID virus.
I laughed. She had nothing more than conjecture to base that on.
However, I Googled the topic and came up with a report from a 2020 study that showed people with O-negative blood DID show a certain immunity to COVID. Not immune, but less likely to get sick from it.
More confirmation was received this morning when my friend Debbie Cox sent me the link to an article that reported an even newer study. It showed O-Negative people and those with type B blood were less likely to get sick from COVID than their Type A counterparts.
Here’s a clip from the article:
“Published on March 3, 2021 in the scientific journal Blood Advances, the study indicates that the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV2, appears to have a blood type preference. In particular, COVID-19 seems to gravitate towards blood group A in respiratory cells. The study also shows that there’s no preference towards respiratory or red blood cells in type B and O blood groups. It’s worth pointing out that the study does not show that people with blood types B and O are immune to the virus, but it does suggest that blood type A individuals are more likely to get infected.”
If you were wondering what type of test we took, the IMMY website describe it as a “PCR” test, whatever that means. I understand that it’s more accurate than the tests that return results in 15 minutes.
The negative result was important to me because I’m technically a “senior citizen” with underlying medical conditions.
For Sarah, it was important, because the negative result allows her to get back to her job immediately.