As Ever, I Prevaricate Before Taking On My Focus: Long COVID-19
A columnist fears for his carers, and for himself
Ah, after living the majority of the last three years of my life indoors, I do tend to spark conversation with my carers. But if I keep quiet, they’re more than happy to do so, too, as they repetitively deal with the rigmarole of getting me ready every morning.
It’s my individual rigmarole they have to remember, along with multiple dozens for other clients. For that’s what we officially are. Yes, I’ll always be a client to them.
Concentration is for carers so very necessary.
Even I get it. I happily join in their monastic silence, especially for the fiddly bits. Many years ago, in my 20s (I’m 64, you know, and turning 65 on the very Saturday after the publication of this column. Am I looking for gratuitous birthday greetings in the comments section below? You betcha!), I did highly necessary talking therapy to deal with clinical depression. My psychiatrist opined a very cutting yet highly astute idea, saying, “Have you ever thought that you didn’t need to fill in silences?”
Now, he didn’t like to make suggestions — his therapy relied on the patients discovering their own problems. Yup, I’d worn him down. So I went silent for a bit. Even if it was my own time I was wasting.
Sidebar: My lifestyle at the time very much included recreational drugs. It made me acutely aware that the sort of antidepressants the psychiatric profession administered 40 years ago were useless. I tried them. I already felt like an automaton. I didn’t want to go full robot. Antidepressants then masked your symptoms; they didn’t cure them.
Now they’re beginning to use the psychedelics that I then dabbled in — to positive effects. Well, I didn’t dabble in ketamine — hadn’t heard of that one back then. It hadn’t made the drugs lexicon of Mr. Hunter S. Thompson, who must have hated puppies like me considering him some sort of experimental life guru. And one damned fine writer.
In my punctuated carer chats recently, the subject arose of having what in Britain is the fourth COVID-19 vaccination. Admittedly, this was undoubtably posed by me. And equally admittedly, I’m finally getting around to the core of this column. I do bang on a bit — soz.
I’d already had my fourth in the summer because of my continuing immune-suppressive state. A tad boastfully, the British National Health Service declares on its website, “The NHS will become the first healthcare system in the world to use the next generation, bivalent COVID vaccine when it kickstarts the autumn booster rollout in early September.” So there.
However, my two most regular carers — and thus the most proficient — are not going to have the fourth vaccination. Up to now, they’ve had to have the needle or lose their job. This is no longer a requirement.
Selfishly, I tried to persuade them otherwise. Not so much for my own protection, as they still have to wear masks, and this makes them relatively safe. No, it’s because of the chance that they might contract long COVID-19. And thus, they’d have to stop being carers.
As The Guardian reported last week, “More than 1 million people in the UK have long Covid at least one year after they were first infected, new figures reveal.” Additionally, 3.5% of the population “had long Covid, equivalent to one in every 28 people.” Of those, “342,000 people with long Covid have had their ability to undertake their day-to-day activities limited a lot.” By contrast, 130,000 of us have MS in the U.K., according to the MS Society. (In the U.S., the recent Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey suggests, “Around 16 million working-age Americans (those aged 18 to 65) have long Covid today.”)
Whoa, sorry for all the facts and figures, peeps. But you can see why my perfectly valid and statistics-backed argument still failed completely. My first, and indeed only, philosophy tutor told us that having the most rational and logical argument still won’t win you a discussion. Except if it’s truly logical with another philosopher. You just have to get used to it.
I’d never make a politician. I can’t even persuade my youngest son to have more vaccinations, and he recently graduated with a first-class degree in math!
And this just in from The Guardian and the World Health Organization (WHO), as I write on my deadline day: “WHO chief urges immediate action to tackle ‘devastating’ long Covid.” How on trend is that, folks? I thank you.
My low immune system means I’m still stuck indoors because of COVID-19, the realization of which I think I first wrote about in a column a year ago this month.
Now, many in our population have begun to think COVID-19 is over, even as infections are continuing. And as it transpires, we disabled are more likely to develop long COVID anyway. Eeek.
That’s what someone with multiple sclerosis (MS) really wants — fatigue squared.
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