Back 0.2

So…following up on my last post, cause you’re all just dying to know my up to the minute medical condition, right? They discovered I will need a full amputation from the waist up. j/k of course. giggle​ Almost had ya there…

The doc thinks it’s mostly a muscular issue. There may be some ligament damage involved but they wouldn’t know without an MRI. They did not recommend an MRI as it doesn’t seem severe enough. I do have mild to moderate arthritis, which is probably aggravating it a bit as well. [1]Why do I always seem to be in the middle? …mild to moderate Monkeypox, mild to moderate arthritis, medium to large penis [2]the first footnote was to see if people actually read the footnotes. heehee Overall, he definitely does not think I have a bulging disc. X-rays looked fine, no fractures or protrusions of bone anywhere. Ironic, as I had a mild spasm during x-rays because the tech was having me bend at weird angles. So, good news I guess. I mean it could be better but could have been a lot worse. I’m grateful to know the bones are all up to scratch. I expected worse news.

He gave me a referral to Physical Therapy and a prescription for muscle relaxers. I’ve never taken muscle relaxers and I’m hesitant to take them. (See afore mentioned posts about my stepmother who was a pill addict for many years, including the use of muscle relaxers) However, after my last round of pain I won’t avoid them if I have another episode. Lawd, that was rough. It’s been over two weeks, and while most of my movement has returned, I’m still having discomfort and soreness. I’m having to alter workouts at the gym to avoid taxing the area.

I’m eager to see how PT turns out. I’d very much like it to be something I can work thru and get past vs "just living with it". With GHHD #3 (Folsom weekend) fast approaching, Daddy needs his bending muscles to be in tact.

References

References
1 Why do I always seem to be in the middle? …mild to moderate Monkeypox, mild to moderate arthritis, medium to large penis
2 the first footnote was to see if people actually read the footnotes. heehee

Back Issues

About a year or so ago, I took a tumble on a foot scooter and injured myself a bit. Nothing critical at the time, but I’m beginning to think I may have injured my back more than I thought. Ever since, I’ve had increasing bouts of random back strain or spasms. Sometimes it comes on from just sitting in a different position for more than a few minutes.

Fast forward to a week ago, and the first day of my vacation, I tweaked it from sitting weird. I was leaned over on a foot stool cleaning Ms Daisy’s foot pads and after I attempted to get up, everything went haywire. This last episode was the worst it has ever been. Time to see a doctor. Even a week later, I’m still not 100% yet.

I see a chiro doc pretty regularly and it does help; however, it doesn’t seem to be going away. From my limited medical training and work experience, I’m leaning towards a bulging disc. The severity will determine the level of care I need to proceed. It’s incredibly frustrating realizing my body is wearing down and not as resilient as it used to be. One can say it comes w/age, but f**k that. lol It could be a combo of back issues and a weak core, or at least I’m hoping it is. I’ve always babied my back since I had a car accident ages ago in the mid 90’s. That may be working against me now. I’ve been working on strengthening my core, but it only seems to aggravate the issue.

On the flip side I guess I should be grateful this is the only issue. I mean I’ve put this body thru the ringer in my 51 years! I got metal, plastic, and even polyurethane inserts to prove it. Air boat crashes, throwing hay and feed, three-wheeler flips, roller-blade stunts, motorcycle slides, etc have all contributed to the latter. When I do finally slide into the grave, they are going to know “I lived![1]In my best hung over Gooch voice LOL And yet, it still drives me nuts. I’ve been really hitting a good rhythm at the gym and it seems like every 2-3 weeks there is a new delay knocking me out again.

I’m booking an appointment for next week to see a specialist. I’m assuming a lot of poking and prodding and x-rays later I’ll have some answers.

As always, hope springs eternal…

References

References
1 In my best hung over Gooch voice

Can’t Help Themselves

Ya know, some people just can’t help themselves. After my last post about my experience with monkeypox, most of my feedback was very positive. Of course it was, decent human beings being decent human beings, but there are always those few folks who just can’t help themselves. I write this post to support others vs any defense of my own actions.

I got the typical "are you ok" as an opener on several messages before the bombardment of code words implying some sort of shame or guilt. Ironically, two of them were twisting themselves into knots implying they weren’t referring to me specifically. Being a big boy, I flat out told them I got it at the tubs. And the person who exposed me reached out to let me know. Why? Because he was a responsible adult being a good human being. Duh! I was just unable to get the vaccine in time. The follow up level of backtracking was cute, albeit completely unnecessary. I’m a grown man, I won’t be shamed for my actions when I don’t feel I did anything wrong. Your opinion of my life and/or relationship is just that…yours.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never understood the fascination with shaming folks for communicable diseases. It stems from our institutionalized puritanical nonsense way of thinking, I know, but I’m just so shocked to see so many gay men still embrace it. You’d think after surviving AIDs we’d be better than that. But let you mention the rampant drug use in the gay community and/or the cottage industries built around it, and you’ve done gone too far! (Not that I believe drugs should be criminalized.)

I realize there are levels of compartmentalization and cognitive dissonance going on, but it gets old really fast. We are human beings. We like human touch and **gasp​** sex. We’ve dealt with communicable diseases practically since the beginning our existence and will likely continue to do so until the end of our existence. This puritanical idea of shame is nothing but a waste of time. It serves no purpose other than to establish "those people" in an attempt at disassociation. What has proven to work time and time again is timely intervention thru testing and available treatment. Removing this pathetic idea of stigma increases the likelihood of testing and preventing transmission.

Pox Upon Your House

I couldn’t catch COVID if I tried, but I managed to get Monkeypox right out of the gate. Go figure!

I’ve been exposed to COVID countless times in the last 2 1/2 years and either had it with no symptoms or just didn’t get it. Granted, I’ve had both shots and two boosters. The old roommate had it, the hubby had it, multiple work exposures, and nothing. One exposure to monkeypox and BAM! My case was apparently mild to moderate, depending on who you ask. I will tell you, it didn’t feel so moderate. In a word, it was shit. Not the worst I’ve ever felt, but definitely in the top 10.

I originally noticed a small rash in my armpit. I’m not prone to rashes so it set off alarm bells. There weren’t many places even available for testing so I ended up at the City Clinic. While there, they noticed a couple bumps in my groin area I hadn’t even noticed yet. They were mostly painless and small, but uniquely different than your average pimple. I now know why they call it a pox. The clinic tested me but testing was delayed due to a major influx of requests and the outbreak being relatively new. While they felt I had it, symptoms were mild so they didn’t offer treatment. The treatment drug, commonly referred to as TPOX, is from the national stockpile and in short supply. While they are using the COVID infrastructure to ramp up production, that doesn’t help those sick now.

I left feeling good and looking forward to a week off work. [1]Even though you primarily catch it through sustained skin contact, it is “possible” to catch it from surfaces. They did advise me to isolate.  Fast forward a few days later, the fevers, aches, & chills set in. They were quite unpleasant. The sores started out rather painless and mild w/no signs of spreading. By day four, they had become larger (about the size of a nickel) and little satellite sores were springing up. All of the lymph nodes in my groin area were swollen and very sensitive. Even pressure from laying on my side hurt. Apparently, the pox tends to attack/irritate the nerves and it played havoc with my back. [2]I have a minor bulging disc I manage w/chiropractic care  On day four, the aches/chills/back pain were so intense I’d had enough. I went back to the clinic to get treatment. Thankfully, they agreed my case warranted treatment, but only because I had a mild impetigo (staff) co-infection. This could potentially make me infectious longer and it was decided I was worth treating.

I get that the drug was scarce but in that moment I was irritated at the idea of having to plead my case or with the thought of being denied treatment. The drug is actually used to treat smallpox and has been conditionally approved to treat MP. [3]The viruses are similar enough it works on MP as well.  My pox were spreading as there were multiple new spots coming up in various places on my body. I won’t lie, in that moment I was just grateful to qualify. I know other folks who weren’t so lucky and they had symptoms worse than mine and were initially denied treatment. Within 24 hours, the fevers/chills were all but gone and the back pain disappeared completely.

Fast forward again to today and I’m headed back to work tomorrow. All the smaller pox spots that sprang up are gone and have new skin over the 5 original spots in my groin that were the largest and most sensitive. You are considered ‘contagious’, even on medicine until the scab falls off and there is new skin. If you shower daily, that can lead to fresh scabs daily. Basically, you’ll notice the ‘pox’ look is gone. You can have red, irritated, and even bumpy skin, but as long as the pox itself is gone, you are good to go. I’ve missed roughly 2 1/2 weeks of work. Lawd, baby jeebus I am bored as hell! Video games and tv only go so far. Most people take 3-4 weeks to heal so I’m slightly ahead of the curve. I think only because I sought treatment.

Of course, the usual crew of judgmental queens are trashing people online for being “slutty”. Except it is not spread only thru sex like traditional STI’s. Many of the folks I know that were exposed and/or contracted it did not get it thru sexual contact. You can get it from any environment where you touch skin with someone. You can be in a bar, a party, a fair, etc. The incubation period is 2-3 weeks so you can have it, have minor bumps or pimples, and not even know you are contagious. For the pissy folks, all I can offer is a sound, “bless your heart.” As for me, what you think of me is really none of my business.

If you aren’t vaccinated, make an effort to do so. If you are in an area w/no outbreaks, it may take you awhile as the vaccine is in short supply. They will most likely prioritize high-risk folks first. However, supply is ramping up. It is recommended to get the vaccine, even if you start showing mild symptoms. Once you develop full symptoms, the vaccine is no longer necessary. You also do not need vaccination once you get over an MP infection.

The government has been a bit slow to ramp up response as it isn’t like COVID. The spread right now is mostly contained to the LGBTI community. And while it may seem like they are doing nothing, that is not the case. The system isn’t designed to mobilize until a certain threshold is reached for diseases like MP. While part of me knows that, it doesn’t help that the other part of me that suffered needlessly isn’t still angry. I do hope they realize due to globalization, the old slow method should be update.

The good news, is vaccine and treatment are both being ramped up. Don’t let the shortage now put you off from getting vaccinated. I can assure you, it is worth the effort. You do not want to go thru the symptoms. Keep checking w/your local sources, usually your health dept, City government website/phone line, and/or insurance provider.

As for me, I’m healed up now and grateful to be over it. I even missed work a little. The one additional downside, I missed a trip to see my two besties for one of their birthdays, which was a deep disappointment. I was borderline by the day of the flight, but I didn’t want to chance it. No on wants to be the one that brings the gift that keeps on giving… lol

Be well!

 

References

References
1 Even though you primarily catch it through sustained skin contact, it is “possible” to catch it from surfaces. They did advise me to isolate.
2 I have a minor bulging disc I manage w/chiropractic care
3 The viruses are similar enough it works on MP as well.

Nose Knows

I’ve needed a medical procedure for my nose for years now. I’ve been putting it off, but the necessity finally came due and I went thru with it. It didn’t help I had a deviated septum and naturally very narrow passageways combined.

I first noticed the problem after developing an unconscious habit of sniffing to breathe. I guess my body was compensating for the reduced airflow. [1]Shawn was convinced it was more habit than reaction  I also snored more. Throw in the additional effect of allergies, it would get so bad at times I’d lay down for a nap and my nasal passages would completely close up. (My allergies were more constriction than congestion.)

After a while I started using Afrin to help open up my airways at night so I could sleep better. It worked great but wasn’t really a permanent solution. And then…the pandemic hit. Between lockdowns and procrastination, I kept putting off the surgery. That didn’t work out so well. Apparently, Afrin enlarges the prostate. (Who knew?) So, the time came to bite the bullet and “get’ter done.”

Part of the reason I kept putting it off is the docs’ always said it’s an “uncomfortable” procedure, which is code for painful…and it was. However, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. It’s outpatient so I wasn’t expecting a huge ordeal. You pass 50 and suddenly everyone thinks you’re made of glass. During my pre-op with my regular doctor, they were concerned about a small defect in my heart. I’ve had a slightly irregular heartbeat for over a decade and it causes me no problems. However, now that I’m over 50 you’d think my heart was about to give out. And this is a week prior to the surgery. Of course, this also requires a negative covid test, which has to also be scheduled separately and I can’t use a home test.

I managed to get the appointments in time. I show up and they can’t get my heart rate over 140 for a while because…*drumroll*…. I workout 4-5 days a week and my heart is more than used to the stress! After 10 full minutes of speed & incline increases every minute, we finally get to a point where I’m in an all out sprint running uphill. And I’m expected to keep it up for a full two minutes. I won’t lie, the incline made a huge difference, but I made it. The techs were cooing over how awesome my blood pressure was the whole time. Needless to say, I passed the effin’ test. D

Due to timing of the first covid test, now I have to go for a second one prior to the actual surgery. Joygasm!

The surgery was roughly 2 hours and I’m out the whole time, of course. The staff and docs were all great. I have zero complaints about my care. Naturally, the anesthesiologist didn’t give two shits about my very minor heart defect and was bewildered as to why I even needed it. Shawn came to get me and after-care was relatively simple. [2]He was tickled by my apparent incoherence as I slowly shrugged off the haze of anesthesia. The pain was manageable with hydrocodone the first night and day after, and by the third day I was just using Advil. Luckily, they don’t do the bandage-stuffing anymore. (It’s often messy and adds to the discomfort.) Instead, they inject foam which dissolves on its own over time. Shawn totally dodged that bullet! Heehee

They tell you to expect random bleeding and they weren’t joking. The bleeding was minor if not incessant for the first couple days. Afterwards, it was just an annoyance. I had two stents put in and taking them out a week later was an experience on its own. One got stuck and he had to “work” that thing like a male escort at a Republican convention. Ironically, the other one hurt more. It came right out but I thought he was pulling my brain out through my nose for a second. As soon as they were out, no more pain, just a mild throbbing discomfort.

Fast forward a week and a couple days, the nose is still swollen inside and a bit gunky but I am noticing a difference. The doctor was very happy with the results. In my case, it may not be a 100% fix due to the aforementioned narrow passageways; however, any improvement is good at this point. I’m eager to see how it affects my breathing at night without the Afrin. Shawn says I’m already not snoring so it’s looking good so far.

Hope springs eternal…

References

References
1 Shawn was convinced it was more habit than reaction
2 He was tickled by my apparent incoherence as I slowly shrugged off the haze of anesthesia.

Smelly

WTF is wrong with these guys that go to the gym and bathe with cologne products? I’m not talking about the roughly 99% of scented products either. And for the f**ker that decided to bathe in Patchouli products today in a enclosed shower space, there is a special place in hell for you! Jesus H Christ Mary Joseph & David!

For the record, if I can smell you more than 3 feet away, you stink, period. I do not care if it’s BO or cologne, no one needs to smell you that far away. Frankly, I place these people into two categories: you stink and are trying to cover it up, or you are insecure and using cologne to try and cover that up. Either way, a little dab is all it takes….NOT a bath in it!

Now get off my lawn, you kids!

Mask-less

I ran a small experiment on FB the other day to prove an idea. I asked, “Why did you trust the CDC recommendation to wear a mask but don’t trust them now saying it’s ok not to wear one?[1]If you came here from the FB post, thanks for your response. And it worked in favor of the discussion that the CDC under trump was constantly being meddled with but is now being run based on the science with no interference from the Biden HHS appointee.

The answers were varied but pretty much what I expected. A common thread was many would continue “out of an abundance of caution.” And to be clear, I’m not trying to shame anyone or even be judgmental. My thoughts couldn’t be further from that. You should do what makes you feel safe. It did validate my theory though. Human beings have a hard time updating their moral/ethical standards. They do not adapt well to standards that changes too quickly. It cuts to the core of how we process our reality. When the idea of right and wrong changes too quickly many people develop of sense of disbelief. This disbelief can lead to fear, anger, shock, judgment, and/or even a larger disconnect from the world around them. When you add in a lack of knowledge (willful or otherwise), religion, or other biases it only serves to increase the disconnect.

Just as one example, look how many gay men fought the idea of PrEP. [2]Pre-Exposure Prophylactic PrEP has been around for years now and has consistently and repeatedly proven to be a better preventative measure to the spread of HIV than condoms. However, there are still contingents within the community who know better. The latter is often based more on biases and personal judgment than science, but that isn’t the point today. The triggers are deeper than than. After 3 decades of having the idea that “safe sex is sex with a condom” pounded into our heads, many men (and women) simply can’t process the idea of it suddenly not being applicable anymore. I see it more in older gay men, many of which witnessed the agony and suffering caused by AIDS and it’s devastation on our community. To wake up one day and be told, “condoms are fine but bareback is now perfectly fine IF you use this drug” simply does not compute. In our brains, we “know” what works. We understand the simple idea of placing a barrier between ourselves and others as a form of protection. The idea of removing that physical barrier we can see in favor of a drug treatment barrier [3]that many often do not understand completely just “seems wrong” to many.

Another common answer was people “couldn’t trust others to be honest about their vaccination status.” That is an admirable approach; however, why is it your responsibility to protect those who are willfully ignorant or refuse to get vaccinated, especially since we don’t do this for other vaccinations? Why is this one suddenly different? Is it really caution or the disbelief in a suddenly changing moral standard? Hmmm? And looking at the risk, it is no longer an equal equation. We collectively make a social contract to protect each other by each person respectively doing their part. When it was equal you saw me constantly encouraging folks to wear their masks and social distance. I’m all about harm reduction. As a vaccinated person I’m not really keeping anyone else safer now by wearing my mask. [4]Yes, there are exceptions but those are in the small minority.  As an unvaccinated person, you should continue to wear your mask and avoid overly crowded places. However, if you refuse to get vaccinated, it is no longer an equal equation and you are shifting the burden onto others. The social contract is broken.

If you are still worried for yourself due to other health issues that is certainly ok. Again, at no point is this discussion meant to dissuade anyone from doing what they feel is right for themselves.

Vaccinations are readily available almost everywhere in the US now and availability is increasing every day. Vaccinations are free and you can now get a free Uber/Lyft ride to your local vaccination sites. You have no excuse not to get vaccinated. We have so many doses of the vaccines now we are sending them to other countries still in dire need.

The last popular argument was a lack of trust in the CDC over pressure to reopen. I do think the CDC feels some pressure to ‘open up’ society, but not at the expense of a rising death toll. They know some will still become infected and potentially even die. However, our safe guards are about harm reduction. From a medical viewpoint, we will have to COVID in our lives for years to come. The degree of danger from it is lower every day now. We have reached an important threshold, even at just 50% immunity. Our emergency response systems, including hospitals, are unlikely to be overwhelmed by new patients. It is likely we will eventually reach over 60% of the country being vaccinated, 70% if we are lucky. And while still below the “herd immunity” threshold, that just means, as alluded above,  we will end up with yearly booster shots, much like the flu virus. It could be with us indefinitely due to variants or just a few years until we reach a real herd immunity. Eventually, those not vaccinated are likely to contract it. They could also suffer reinfection from variants, but again much like the flu, they are less likely to be hospitalized or die after surviving a first infection.

There are always other health variables for an individual to consider, so you should do what makes you feel safe. For myself, I trust the science and am comfortable with my decision to go mask-less where it is allowed. I think many of us aren’t really worried as much as we are conflicted on an evolving standard.

References

References
1 If you came here from the FB post, thanks for your response.
2 Pre-Exposure Prophylactic
3 that many often do not understand completely
4 Yes, there are exceptions but those are in the small minority.

8 Years

The hubby and I recently passed our 8-year anniversary. There wasn’t much fanfare or hullaballoo this year because….COVID. He doesn’t like a lot of fuss anyway. We’ve settled into a life together so the milestone seems almost unimportant.

This last year has been rough because…COVID. He hates working from home and I don’t blame him. I could not work from home. Or let me rephrase that, I could not work from home successfully. Home is sanctuary and there are simply too many distractions and no motivation to keep me working. I could not imagine being tortured into working from home full time. Maybe, and I stress the maybe, if we had a big enough space to have an office setup that we only did work in. It couldn’t be a multi purpose room as anything else would probably distract me. Then, maybe, I could be productive. Maybe…

Having had our vaccinations, we are both finally venturing out there again. In the beginning, I almost felt guilty for not having to worry. We had a friend visit from Florida that wanted to have lunch while he was here and we agreed. [1]I’ve had friends I’ve met up solo with for lunch but this was our first outing together since the beginning of the pandemic.  That seemed to be the impetus that pushed us back out there. We both were so pleased to have such a simple social interaction it was like a breath of fresh air. I think that lunch made us realize we had passed a milestone. Now we are both eager to get out there again. And now that the CDC has clarified vaccinated people cannot inadvertently spread the virus, we’ve planned trips for the end of this month!

I just hope we keep up the pace of vaccinations before a wild variant pops up fully resistant to the current crop of vaccines. Shawn seems to think it won’t happen, but I am not so sure. I guess my faith in people has been damaged because I am definitely worried about it. And yet, I’m so eager for some normalcy again. I honestly don’t think I could survive another year of isolation. And in a bit of good news, even with the isolation depression, we didn’t have any big fights! I guess that is a good sign we are well suite for each other. I mean 8 years! Who does that? [2]Of course I’m being sarcastic.

 

 

 

References

References
1 I’ve had friends I’ve met up solo with for lunch but this was our first outing together since the beginning of the pandemic.
2 Of course I’m being sarcastic.

Optimisitic

First, thank you to the folks who reached out to me after my last post. I wasn’t down or depressed. I find talking about it quite therapeutic. It was on my mind so I put pen to paper, so to speak. But, yes I’m doing well.

I’ve found myself feeling optimistic again lately. It helps that we are back in the gym again…again. I feel like we’ve crossed a major hurdle now and we are over the worst of this pandemic. The supply is now on track and a 3rd vaccine just got an EUA. [1]Emergency Use Authorization It is my prediction we won’t see anymore severe lockdowns, at least here in California. Hopefully, my words bear out to be true.

Speaking of the gym, after the first severe lockdown and they sorted out a tier system, I had the roughest time getting back into a solid gym routine. Ironically, right when I found my stride they got shut down again. We’ve been back at it for a couple weeks now and this time it wasn’t as hard. It was a shorter break but I was surprised I didn’t need the extra weeks to build back endurance. The weight I’m slinging is still much lower, but it feels good to be back.

Fun fact, the government will not mandate the vaccine. Vaccines released under EUA aren’t eligible for mandatory vaccination orders. While I trust the sciences, EUAs are designed to allow for immediate use while study continues. However, that does not mean you won’t see restrictions on day to day activities from private companies. You may end up having to show proof to go back to in-person work, fly, or return as an adult to college, etc.

Locally, we are moving into the Red Tier this week. Red is still restrictive but a lot of businesses, including restaurants, get to re-open at limited capacity.  New cases have been below 100 per day for almost two weeks now and available ICU beds are way up. It seems people in general are more optimistic and looking towards the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, as vaccinations rise, we will ease back to normal by year end. I’ve even seen some big events toward the end of the year start planning for in person gatherings.

For myself, I miss hugging. Such a small thing but I miss it. Sure, I miss traveling. I miss the ease of just “doing things”, but it’s the little things I miss the most. I miss the casual intimacy that comes from being close to people you know. I’m eagerly looking forward to it.

As always, hope springs eternal…

References

References
1 Emergency Use Authorization

Herd

So today, the official response from the Whitehouse (WH) is they now endorse herd immunity as a regimen to combat the spread of covid-19.

First, here is the definition of “herd immunity”:

the resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population that results if a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease, especially through vaccination.

“the level of vaccination needed to achieve herd immunity varies by disease but ranges from 83 to 94 percent”

Webster’s dictionary

Based on that, herd immunity is currently impossible. We cannot use herd immunity as a treatment regimen because we don’t have a vaccine!

The WH’s deliberate misinterpretation of the idea is to do nothing. Just let everyone be exposed and see who lives and dies. That is NOT herd immunity. This approach pushes the death toll into the millions, not the low hundreds of thousands like we have now. Just one percent of the US population, just one (1) percent, is over three (3) million people!  If we jump that up to five (5) percent, the death toll is just under 17 million people.

For perspective, one percent is more than the entire population of Phoenix, AZ. Five percent is more than the entire population of the New York City metro area. And this does not take into account the millions more who will struggle with lingering illness for weeks or months.

Even if you’re dumb and deaf, you can understand how insanely stupid and dangerous this is.

Voting has never been more important. It is heartening to see many cities are reporting record numbers of registered voters as well as early voting. Vote like your life depends on it because it just might this time.