It’s Over, We’re Free!

I’d rather be posting about the joint SpaceX-NASA launch today at 4:33pm EST. It will be the United States first launch of two astronauts into space since 2011 atop the new Falcon 9 rocket. It will be big news for many reasons. I do hope everything goes well, goes perfectly and hopefully the weather is going to cooperate. Unfortunately, we are still in the middle of a much bigger, unprecedented pandemic story dealing with just as much risk of life and death as space exploration ever has, actually more so for the mere fact that COVID-19 has taken hundreds of thousands of American lives and 350,000+ around the world. Controlling then stopping this pandemic is more important than the distraction and excitement of a SpaceX launch.

∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼

This past Memorial Day weekend saw record crowds outside at beaches, parks, resorts, and Memorial-Veteran celebration events not seen since mid-March or before. As all 50 states began lifting and easing coronavirus restrictions this past week under pressure from pro-business, pro-economy, pro-danger-n-risk GOP groups, many Americans blatantly disregarded social-distancing and wearing protective masks. From Al Jazeera news:

In the Tampa area, along Florida’s Gulf Coast, the crowds were so big that authorities took the extraordinary step of closing parking lots. The county’s sheriff, Bob Gualtieri, said about 300 deputies were patrolling the beaches to ensure people did not get too close.

In the state of Missouri, people packed bars and restaurants at the Lake of the Ozarks, a vacation hot spot popular with Chicagoans, over the weekend.

One video showed a crammed pool where vacationers lounged close together without masks, St Louis station KMOV-TV reported.

In West Virginia, ATV riders jammed the vast, 700-mile Hatfield-McCoy network of all-terrain vehicle trails on the first weekend it was allowed to reopen since the outbreak took hold. Campgrounds and cabins were opened, as well.

Patrick T. Fallon-Reuters

Florida beach front Memorial weekend – Patrick Fallon/Reuters

Many authorities and law-enforcement have been confronted with disdain and hostility by Americans when trying to enforce or promote safety measures during the entire pandemic restrictions. This is perhaps the saddest testimony of a Dis-United States of America during this crisis. Park authorities, municipalities, and law-enforcement all agree that they cannot possibly monitor and make all Americans stay at least 6-feet apart. They do not have the staff to accomplish such a ridiculous order. However, they do remind all Americans that it is 90% self-governance and kind regard for neighbors, friends, and strangers alike. It is safety and health for everyone first as well as yourself. Common sense, right?

Port Aransas, Texas [Eric Gay-The Associated Press]

Gulf beach at Port Aransas, TX, Memorial weekend – Eric Gay/Associated Press

In a May 2020 study by the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Department of Mathematics, Imperial College London, the W.H.O. Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Modelling, the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analytics, the Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics, Imperial College London, and the Department of Statistics, University of Oxford, there are 24 states in the U.S. that still have not contained their COVID-19 outbreaks. Here are the 10 worst, most at risk states for a June 2020 resurgence of the deadly virus, from worst to less worse:

  1. Texas
  2. Arizona
  3. Illinois
  4. Colorado
  5. Ohio
  6. Minnesota
  7. Indiana
  8. Iowa
  9. Alabama
  10. Wisconsin

I am not the least bit surprised that Texas leads the pack in being #1 in NOT controlling our coronavirus outbreaks and most likely to suffer the worst with another June outbreak. For well over two weeks here in Dallas there are noticeably less and less people applying social-distancing or wearing masks. That most likely means they are not washing their hands regularly either. Texans see our nation’s leader never wearing a mask and taking doses of hydroxychloroquine, a drug that has no clinical tests proving it works against COVID-19. This is a remarkably sad testimony for how Americans and Texans do not care for each other—unless of course it is their own family or a dear financially beneficial friend or Good Ole Boy—and care less about medical-scientific facts on pandemics and what the true experts warn and recommend. It’s a new era of illiteracy and unenlightenment.

Despite the increase of rebels and protesters throughout late April and all of May here in Texas and an uptick in the number of deaths, in Dallas County the number of ICU patients and emergency room visits for COVID-19 has flattened out. This is encouraging, yes. But the real indicator of whether this reopening happened too soon and many blowing off safety measures in public will be the final numbers around June 10th through the 14th when the incubation period expires for Memorial weekend infections and hospitalizations trend upward again. Whatever happens, the fact remains that in February and early March all of this should have been seriously addressed nationwide by our federal leadership. It wasn’t. American death-toll:  100,000+ and counting.

Three cheers for COVID-19. The winner! It is going to be around and a menace for a long, LONG time with this kind of unity and lack of virtues for others. I hope a tested, FDA-approved, effective vaccine is found and distributed very soon.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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It’s Definitely Broke!

It has been a hard, long road of COVID-19 social-distancing, or as I sometimes call it: healthy anti-socializing. Leave public health and safety up to the masses, the general public and things WILL breakdown. It will crumble. Many things breakdown when a free democratic society is forced to behave, conform, and be smart for the greater good.

#1 — Complicated phone conversations — Try having a conversation with your significant other on your phone about 4-5 specific items on your shopping list, in a noisy supermarket, through your N95 mask. Broke.

#2 — Have said broken phone convo while in the middle of the 5-ft wide Female Bodycare aisle trapped by a couple on one end waiting on you to move… and a store clerk unpacking boxes at the other end! Mexican standoff. Headed to broke.

#3 — When I finally got out the door of the very busy supermarket I was super primed for solo alone time! Not good! That’s broke. We are meant to be with others. We are a gregarious primate creature! Needed prescription?

#4 — Go on a thrilling, circular, looping (loopy?) ride like NASCAR does jamming to your best aggressive, break-something, get-it-all-out, squirm-n-bounce dancing Playlist with all eight speakers bangin’ serious decibel levels so that no one will notice you! Que some of my kick-ass, COVID-apropos, sing-along tunes. Click Play then sing and jam with me…

After about 1-hour of driving around outer Dallas, singing my vocal-chords out, unable to hear with my broken eardrums the broken world outside, I did feel much better, almost euphoric. It was invigorating! Why? Because this/me could be a lot worse. I mean, I still have rhythm, I can snap my fingers, beat the steering-wheel, I can feel my toes, my fingers, and some of the 2-3 silver hairs I have left on my head and neck, and my ticker and ticker-manager organs still function fairly normal.

At least I don’t have a broken cup and crazy disobedient balls that won’t stay put in this pandemic! STOP IT! Get your minds out of the gutter already! How many balls do you have in your cup? Lost any? How many marbles do you have left in your brain?

Sometimes you just gotta say eff it - Imgur

See, things aren’t so bad. To the best of my knowledge at least I haven’t started losing all my balls/marbles… poor kid.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always — Lose Some Balls

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My Upcoming Appointment

I have put this doctor’s appointment off twice now. The COVID-19 effect has delayed it some. My Mom has recently and strongly urged me not to postpone it again. She has told me a few different times “Dwain, you need to go so that preparations can be made for a more considered lifestyle as you approach your sixties.” You see, Mom is right. Mothers usually are aren’t they? She should know. Mom has medically diagnosed Dementia. One of her sisters had Dementia. She is now deceased. The other has Stage 2 or Middle Alzheimer’s. Mom reminds me frequently, because she forgets 😄, that Alzheimer’s can be hereditary. However, if it were not for my long, active career in football/soccer as a goalkeeper, I likely would not be taking Mom too serious.

But I really do need to go because of the whole soccer thing for 27-years. Throughout that career I suffered from at least four (probably more) concussions from game collisions, one or two traumatic, and some at practices/training. One of the game collisions broke my jaw in three places and knocked me completely unconscious; unconscious long enough for EMT’s to arrive with smelling-sauce to awaken me.

Though I am still a little worried. It is just that what the doctor may inform me after these second battery of tests that I am indeed in the early stages of CTE, or what is medically and neurologically termed as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

The Mayo Clinic explains CTE this way:

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is the term used to describe brain degeneration likely caused by repeated head traumas. CTE is a diagnosis made only at autopsy by studying sections of the brain.

[…]

CTE has been found in the brains of people who played football and other contact sports, including boxing. It may also occur in military personnel who were exposed to explosive blasts. Some signs and symptoms of CTE are thought to include difficulties with thinking (cognition), physical problems, emotions and other behaviors. It’s thought that these develop years to decades after head trauma occurs.

Have you seen the 2015 film Concussion starring Will Smith? If not, here is its official trailer:

Even though soccer/football concussions occur nowhere near as often as they do in the NFL, it is nonetheless a serious matter. This film hit me hard and hit deep, so deep at the end it made me sit in the living room recliner seemingly paralyzed and with abnormal breathing. Why? Why such a reaction? Two reasons:

  1. Mom and two of her four sisters had/has Dementia/Alzheimer’s. One of them died too soon to conclude with certainty that she had Alzheimer’s—we’ll never know. Plus, two of that aunt’s four children are very religious (Pentecostal, Church of Christ?), another passed away early before my aunt died, and her youngest boy, my cousin I grew up with and was closer to was not confrontational nor religious at all. He was a hilarious peacemaker. I say all of this because there was no way in Hades that the two oldest, very religious cousins of mine were going to allow a medical examination of their mother’s brain. Therefore, it has only been confirmed that two, my Mom and her sister have dementia with the latter definitely suffering from Alzheimer’s.
  2. As I mentioned earlier, I have suffered at least 4 or more concussions, likely more, and one of them knocked me unconscious for quite some time. During my playing days there was no Petr Cech padded helmets in existence (see image below). In addition to these multiple soccer/football concussions, I suffered another off-the-field of play. One early morning while—in high school freshman or sophomore year—delivering my papers for my Dallas Morning News paper route. Mom was driving me through the neighborhoods in our Plymouth four-door sedan while I was outside on top of the trunk with two-bags of those Sunday morning papers. On one particular street turn Mom accelerated a bit too fast. I imagine the sedan had also been washed and waxed one or two days earlier? I’m unsure. I think Mom was approaching 30 mph after turning onto this street and unfortunately for me she was not looking at me through the rear-view mirror. I slowly slid down the trunk feet first, desperately trying to find something on the car to grab, but there was nothing. I hit the street pavement that had small grey-white gravel embedded and the back of my head SLAMMED into the concrete. Our family doctor later that day said I had a bad concussion judging from the swelling on the back of my noggin and he made it very clear that my parents were not to allow me any sleep for the next 24-hours.

The Mayo Clinic lists these symptoms of CTE:

“There are no specific symptoms that have been clearly linked to CTE. Some of the possible signs and symptoms of CTE can occur in many other conditions, but in the few people with proven CTE, symptoms have included:

  • Difficulty thinking (cognitive impairment)
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Depression or apathy
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Difficulty planning and carrying out tasks (executive function)
  • Emotional instability
  • Substance misuse
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior”
Cech helmet_1

Petr Cech of Chelsea FC, Arsenal, and the Czech Republic national team wearing his padded helmet following his major head concussion, trauma, and depressed skull fracture from a collision with Stephen Hunt of Reading FC.

I have six of these first eight symptoms, to varying degrees, for at least the last 15-years or so, one or two of them surfacing within the last 5-6 years. This is why my neurologist wants to see me again, and my Mom and I both agreed two years ago that I do need to go see a neurologist to get ahead of this. Either early in 2019 or late in 2018 I did go. The doctor concluded after testing that I was inconclusive at that date and time, BUT the fact that I had almost all of the currently known symptoms, made him want to see me again in a year.

Damn it! It has now been a year and if anything, I know with a lot of certainty that two of these above eight symptoms have manifested further. There are other external variables at play with these two—one being this unprecedented pandemic, social-distancing, and Stay-at-Home orders—so we must take those variables into consideration. Does that make this upcoming appointment Wednesday, May 20, 2020, any less anxious? Not really, not for me.

I hope this coming Wednesday night, Thursday, and subsequent days after will not be ladened with as Mom put it… “a more considered lifestyle as I approach my sixties.” From what I’ve learned about dementia, Alzheimer’s, and CTE I hope I might be a lucky goalkeeper who by some incredible odds does not develop any of these three neurological disorders for playing a sport and position I truly loved. Fingers crossed.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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