Omicron Ba.4 and Ba.5

Since December 2019 I have been hyper-vigilant in following every single viral protocol and government mandate regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and its nonstop variants and subvariants. I’ve been glad to do so not just for my own health and safety, but also as a team-player in the ongoing war of national public health and safety for all Americans. Having played team sports all my life, I completely understand why it must be done; been doing it for over two years. I promote the basic ideals of being a TEAM player in this war against an invisible enemy.

For me it was a no brainer, right? January 21, 2020 that (invisible) enemy known as COVID-19 from Wuhan, China, was quickly spreading. There was no doubt whatsoever it was going to hit our U.S. ports of entry. Like a scourge never before seen in human history it was going to hit our shores, invade the lungs and bodies of millions upon millions of Americans and kill them—1,064,207 dead and counting. And as predicted, that’s exactly what happened. It still continues killing today and for the foreseeable future.

On August 8th, 2022, over two years later in my fight against COVID, I lost my undefeated battle-record following a trip to Dallas, TX for my best friend’s Celebration of Life ceremonial funeral. With triple-digit temperatures in DFW and across most of the state of Texas during the entire month of July and into August, everybody was staying inside with A/C for any event or gathering between 10am and 10pm. This included my good friend’s ceremony. No one, not a single person there was wearing any mask or social-distancing despite the COVID Omicron subvariants Ba.4 and Ba.5 spreading like wildfire throughout the entire state.

This general apathy was true again Sunday night, August 7th, at one of my all-time favorite Goth Industrial Steampunk EBM dance clubs, The Church. No masks anywhere, no social-distancing in the least. By Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 9th–10th, I had every single Omicron Ba.4 or 5 symptom listed and I tested positive Wednesday morning. I was deathly ill by then. That night I had hallucinations in my terribly uncomfortable, broken sleep. By that point in time I had already exposed my Mom and sister to the virus over 2 1⁄2 days.

Three days later while I was in my 7-10 day isolation, Mom tested positive. Only by the slimmest, luckiest margins my sister never tested positive the four days she was with us indoors helping with meals and basic daily tasks. Remarkable actually.

This past Tuesday, the 16th, I finally tested negative and came out of my quarantine. I really had no choice because the last four days my sister could no longer come inside with us. The house was a mess, especially the kitchen due to Mom’s fatigue and severe dementia. I had to hit the ground running. Many daily tasks and chores had gone undone for over a week. Mom ends her quarantine this Saturday, Aug. 20th, if she tests negative tomorrow.

Unfortunately, I still have a runny nose presently, mucus-phlegm congestion in my throat and chest, persistent coughing, along with fatigue after extended periods of physical exertion. Our family PPO practitioner has informed me that I cannot get reinfected by the same subvariant I gave to Mom. However, I can indeed get reinfected by any other variants and subvariants of COVID. Each reinfection raises my risks of long-term or permanent health problems with other bodily organs and systems. He also informed me that symptoms can persist for weeks or months after quarantine, possibly (but rarely) for the rest of my life. 😔 I can say this with utter conviction, breathing is more difficult now 3-4 days after testing negative.

I do not wish this virus on anyone. It is terrible and possibly damages your health systems long-term. And myself, Mom, and my sister, we are all fully vaccinated (2 doses) and fully boostered (2 more doses) and absolutely plan to get boostered next month for the Omicron subvariants. I can’t imagine what HELL we would’ve experienced had Mom and I not been maximally protected by those four Pfizer and Moderna shots.

Recently, most all U.S. states have dropped their entire COVID mandates and protocols despite the skyrocketing cases of Omicron infections across the nation. This is a massive mistake! Furthermore, I tried diligently to report my COVID infection as well as my Mom’s, but could not do so. Why? State governments now require that only clinically approved testing sites can report new cases to the county and state agencies, like the CDC. There are likely hundreds or thousands of new cases/infections not being reported because like us, we tested with At Home Antigen Test Kits. These positive results are not accepted by county and state databases. Hence, if your county health center reports for example only 10 new cases in a day or 23 new cases in a week, it is very wise to add maybe 15-20 more cases on top of that… give or take 50 more infected people. 🙄🤦‍♂️ That’s just a random guess on my part given our small populated area/county here in Kerrville. If you reside in a large metropolitan area, it’s wise to add a lot more cases to what public agencies report. Believe me, their numbers are far too low!

This biological war is by no means over, it’s not even in decline. As long as all of us refuse to declare war on COVID by abiding by protocols and mandates, wear masks, social-distance, stay away from large indoor crowds, and test, test, test… this deadly virus will just keep morphing into smarter, stronger new variants and subvariants. That’s simple cytology and biology folks.

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Dementia Update

As some of you know or have noticed over the years, I am unable to post on a consistent regular basis as I once did my first decade on WordPress. My commenting and participation on other blogs I enjoy following, sadly has become very limited as well. If you are fairly new to my blog, visiting, or browsing WP, the reason there are much fewer posts is due to my Mom’s Stage 5 Dementia, which is really now well into early symptoms of Stage 6 with fewer mixes now or crossover with Stage 5.

In my December 2021 post about her cognitive decline I listed and briefly explained all the various stages. As of 2022, it seems the general consensus of all the seven stages are known and what the adult children of parents with dementia, or early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, can expect. Here is Stage 6 according to Dementia.org:

Stage 6: Moderately Severe to Severe Dementia

When the patient begins to forget the names of their children, spouse, or primary caregivers, they are most likely entering stage 6 of dementia and will need full time care. In the sixth stage, patients are generally unaware of their surroundings, cannot recall recent events, and have skewed memories of their personal past. Caregivers and loved ones should watch for:

  • Delusional behavior
  • Obsessive behavior and symptoms
  • Anxiety, aggression, and agitation
  • Loss of willpower

Patients may begin to wander, have difficulty sleeping, and in some cases will experience hallucinations.

Mom shows all of those four bullet-points now, although three of the four on some days and then perhaps two of the four other days. But there is always at least two of four every single day. She definitely needs supervision at minimum 12-16 hours per day with some of that time (1-hr at most) a check-in or Q&A time sporadically with her throughout the day to gauge how she’s getting along.

Friends and neighbors sometimes ask me how I am doing, how I’m managing my own health and social needs. Apparently, Caretakers of elderly parents with dementia or Alzheimer’s are often overwhelmed in a period time if they receive no relief, no break for themselves and don’t become well-informed of the two diseases. Another thing I’ve heard from the support-group I attend once a month is that the role of caretaker is usually a thankless job/role. Since late-stage dementia is basically early Alzheimer’s Disease, Alz.org lists Ten Symptoms of Caregiver Stress. I currently tick 9 out of 10 symptoms. The biggest reason why? I’ve been going non-stop, no break, every single day and night as her full-time, live-in caretaker since mid-August 2021, or over 47-weeks straight with no respite.

Back in late April of this year I was supposed to get a much needed 6-day, 5-night vacation up in Dallas, my hometown where all my good friends still live. We had several plans made and fun, exciting things to do, dancing, umm… and maybe some drinking included! 😉 But here’s what happened that week/weekend that changed everything: In Memoriam to My Brother. Hence, no real vacation for me at all. I spent the vast majority of my time at the hospital sitting with James, followed by waiting (alone) in my hotel room some 4-5 days and nights for decisions and details about his funeral. I had no motivation to go out alone or with friends; I wasn’t great company then anyway.

So yeah, over 47-weeks now and still counting.

Meanwhile, Mom and I march on, day-in and night-out, fighting a cognitive disease that takes a little more brain-space from her than we can actually replace or take back. But we do have our victories here and there. That’s when Mom wants to celebrate big with either glasses of her Pinot Grigio or I make a pitcher of my world famous El Presidente margaritas, which have a good patada de toro to the ass or head, whichever it reaches first. Hah! 🍸🥳 These are our cherished good times and there will come a day when they aren’t possible. And so we enjoy them thoroughly, when we can, and at length for sure. Do you know what I mean? 😍

Live Well – Love Much – Laugh Often – Learn Always

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Human Relations

For many multiple unknown months now I have been having to think, rethink, assess, reassess, refine, modify, embrace, and discard many aspects of my personal life. A very large part of this time-energy redirection was caused by the onset of COVID-19 in late 2019 and early 2020. No surprise, the ripple-effects of the pandemic are still a lingering impact. That necessary and expanded “redirection” was further caused by my 82-yr old mother’s Stage 5 & 6 Dementia. That second, newly expanded “redirection” by dementia was further exacerbated by my sister’s drug-relapse this past May 16th and 17th and as a result her consequential homelessness then ultimate move-in with Mom and I.

When local and not-so-local friends—two or three very dear friends—recently asked about my well-being, how I was doing and how my Mom was doing, I was candidly honest with them. Some listened empathetically, some consoled me and helped me laugh, and others lectured me.

I’ve never been a fan of sugar-coating factual reality. Furthermore, being unabashedly candid with others, especially “closer friends,” is a True-to-Myself and thus true to others life-principle I live by. I will never sacrifice or betray that principle, ESPECIALLY if it only makes them feel good or myself feel good. I am not ashamed in the LEAST of this personality principle to which I hold to airtight. It’s healthy existence (protection?) for myself, is not designed for anyone else. After all, no one on this planet will ever be confused or slightly unsure of what Dwain feels, thinks, and does. And I firmly believe there is a ton of value with this principle and condition. Some/many do not or never fully recognize that value. Nevertheless, I give it out for the sake of integrity and dignity… for myself and for them; they deserve that from me. And yes, I expect it, or hope to get it, in (equal?) return. I think this is completely fair.

Therefore, I sense I need another brutally honest, introspective checkup. I want to further examine myself and the various components and subcomponents of this principle within human relations. You might call this blog-post a Principle Checkup, for me and perhaps anyone else who wishes to join. As a result, I’ve come up with these nine questions.

1 — What is the number one need in every human’s life, or the mental-emotional-physical needs?

Is it feeling and knowing you are loved, valued, irreplaceable? Personally, I would rank this need and its three subcomponents pretty high up the checklist, if not all the way at the top. PsychologyToday.com and Dr. Glenn Geher, Ph.D. has this to say, or rather what the antithesis of being and knowing you are loved, valued, and irreplaceable are:

While love often gets a bad rap as some nebulous experience that is really only for dreamers, all kinds of evidence suggests that, in fact, love is a real feature of our evolved psychology3. Love, which seems to encourage people to form deep connections and bonds with others, plays a powerful role in not only cultivating happiness, but in helping people to develop healthy alliances and communities that have the capacity to lead to all kinds of benefits. Further, love actually is represented in various neurological and hormonal processes4. In short: Love is a real thing.

In the human evolutionary story, forming close, trusting, and loving connections with others is a core feature of how we thrive at all levels. Love is, in short, a foundational element of thriving. And this fact is true for people across the globe5.

Dr. Glenn geher, ph.d. – state university new york; founding director of the campus’ Evolutionary studies program (evos)

But there are many forms of love, yes? Are some love forms better than others? Should we strive to obtain all of its forms during our lifetimes? Are some of us incapable of these forms, or certain love forms? Would that be a cop-out? More on this later.

2 — Is our need for three-component love clearly, proactively, and accurately expressed to others? Do others correctly interpret that/those expression(s)? Why or why not?

I will now reserve my own comments about these nine questions unless I feel they’d direct and/or pique and invoke some closer introspection.

3 — How many forms of love truly exist?

Since ancient Greece many modern anthropologists suggest a minimum of six basic forms of love existing in human relations. In their Greek form they are:

  • Eros
  • Philia
  • Ludus
  • Agape
  • Pragma
  • Philautia

For a detailed explanation of these six forms of love go to my February 2016 blog-post: Untapped Worlds – Maior Liberatio. Scroll down to the Love and Compersion section. On the subject of not striving and obtaining at least some degree of all six love-forms, I personally feel all six are absolutely reachable. In addition, all six most definitely contribute to a more fulfilling, more whole, more happy life and human relations. Period. I speak from first-hand experience.

4 — What type of relations with other humans do we have in our lives? What types have we had in our past? Which ones worked best and which ones collapsed? Why and why not?

PsychologyToday.com and Robert Taibbi, LCSW share the five most common types of relations: four bad, one good. Those five types, their climate, dynamics, and long-term effect are as follows, however, for the sake of time and space I will only post each with their long-term effect; maybe that will interest viewers to go read the entire article. It is well worth it, after all, recognition and accurate identification of problem-issues is the first step…

  1. Competitive/Controlling — There’s a jockeying for power about whose way is better, who wins the argument, whose expectations and standards do we follow, whose career is more important. There are a lot of arguments that quickly turn into power struggles, battles over getting the last word.
    Long-term impact: These couples [or friends] get tired of battling and divorce [detach], or one finally concedes, or they both finally define their own turfs that they are in charge of.
  2. Active/Passive — One partner [or friend] is essentially in charge and does most of the heavy lifting in the relationship while the other goes along. While some of these start out as competitive relationships with one conceding, more often this imbalance has been there from the start. There are few arguments, though occasionally the active person will become resentful for carrying the load or not getting enough appreciation. They explode or act out, but then feel bad and go back to the same role [routine trap].
    Long-term impact: The risk for the active partner [or friend] is that she/he will get burned out or resentful and leave. The partner left behind either needs to become more independent or find someone else to take over.
  3. Aggressive/Accommodating — Here the power difference is not based on caretaking, but on raw power. One partner [or friend] is clearly in charge, and the other accommodates less out of passivity and more out of fear. While the intimidating partner [or friend] will easily blow up, there is little real conflict. There is emotional abuse and sometimes physical abuse.
    Long-term impact: Either the relationship continues, or the accommodating partner/friend finally gets the courage to leave/detach. The aggressive partner/friend will do what is necessary to try to pull the other back into the relationship. If that doesn’t work, the abusive partner/friend will likely find someone else to replace the other.
  4. Disconnected/Parallel Lives — There is little arguing, but also little connection. They go on autopilot, with both having their own routines. The relationship seems stale, they have little in common; they are more roommates [distant acquaintances] than lovers [or close friends].
    Long-term impact: Midlife or older-age crises may cause one or both to feel that time is running out. This may precipitate arguing and efforts to either finally revitalize the relationship or leave. Or, they continue saying to themselves that this is good enough, or that they’re too old to change [then gradually wither away].
  5. Accepting/Balanced — The couple [or friends] are able to work together as a team, complementing each other. They each recognize and actively accept the other’s strengths. They’ve got each other’s back, both are interested in helping the other be who he or she wants to be. They are able to revitalize the relationship when it begins to grow stale; they are able to solve problems rather than sweeping them under the rug.
    Long-term impact: Midlife and older-age crises may arise, but they are able to work through them.

5 — Were some of your past relationships or current ones similar/identical or a sub-form of a Black Hole in outer space?

6 — Were the expectations for the best or failed relationships reasonable or unreasonable expectations? Why and why not?

7 — Where do our blueprints-of-relations originate? Do they flex and/or adapt over time to everchanging conditions, both environmentally and amongst our human daily/weekly engagements? Why or why not?

“Adapt or perish, now as ever, is Nature’s inexorable imperative.”

h.g. wells

8 — Are certain man-made social-systems, ideologies, belief/faith systems flexible, adaptable, and sustainable from subatomic micro-levels to organic-human levels up to macro-levels of our Universe and the Cosmos? Why or why not?

9 — Given the above (honest!) answers, am I at a healthy juncture? Am I thriving, becoming a more whole human-being? Or am I in need of (serious?) change, redirection, and/or bigger better refinements?

∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼

In my near 6-decades of living, these are questions I have sometimes asked myself when my circumstances and those immediately around me take a noticeable, significant, or life-changing shift. Some are like trimmers, others like an earthquake. To me this 9-point litmus test on say the pitch, roll, and yaw of my airplane’s performance, has to be a regular, maybe even frequent introspection and raw honest maintenance routine. Seriously, what’s the consequences of not doing it? How obtuse of me, right? 😉

No surprise, I’ve been going through these checks—a few of them new—these last 3-5 years. But inescapably these last 9-months. The process damn sure has its annoyances, its frustrations. It’s painfully exhausting sometimes. Yet, one predictable, consistent outcome after doing it is…

I eventually find my balance and my buoyancy returns in order to handle my ship’s rudder or airplane’s stick. And so I know the next inevitable shift or storm I will have gained more treasured experience to cope, survive, and hopefully find calmer, pristine Seas of Living Tranquility.

Eh, or I won’t. Hah!

What about you? Might this litmus test help or has it, in your own version? Share it if you like, or as much or as little that works and doesn’t work for you. 🙂 Also, I’d enjoy reading your answers to some or all of my above questions.

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Clockwork Closing

About three weeks ago in Clockwork, I asked my blog Followers and any visitors to select one of four statements that best represents yourself, life around you, and within our Universe. Those four choices again were:

  1. I am a cog in a Clock.
  2. I am a Clock among Clocks.
  3. I am my clock Winder & Minder.
  4. I am the Time Guardian.

I also asked that you explain why you chose the statement, and then explain why not the other three statements as your choice. There were several good answers and elaborations, a few were comical and lighthearted, and others very intriguing and that I would not have expected.

It is probably wise for me to say “there isn’t a correct or wrong selection.” That might disappoint one or two of you, and others not at all. Think of it this way: Do we witness any of the four statements and their implied meanings in other humans we know? I know I do, regularly. In fact, I’m bewildered to the point of chuckling when I hear or read (essentially) #4 by someone!

I don’t care how wealthy or famous—or evil, or megalomaniacal(?)—or intelligent they might be or they think they are, but “no man is an island, entire of itself” as John Donne famously coined. And furthermore, we did not enter this life from the womb completely independent of anyone or anything, did we? And at some point late in our life—hopefully a very fulfilling, whole life at that—we will return to an existence of dependence. Perhaps complete dependence on family and/or friends. In this, none of us has a choice; embrace it we must! Therefore, I personally think #3 is quite audacious to claim and not entirely true, at least not at birth nor in our final weeks alive. And with that said, I personally might even say #2 is pretty bold to assert, but not as much as #3 or near as omnipotent and omniscient as #4.

As I mentioned in one or two of my replies to comments, this came about when a dear friend of mine told me, pompous and quite full of herself, that “You create your own happy successful world, life, and experiences.” We had known each other intimately for over five years. During that time both of our lives were effected in large ways by not only each other, but also by several others in our spheres including immediate and extended family members. Some of those events and family were effects on us in massive ways which changed the course of life/lives, personally and in extended external ways! However, none of these events I allude to include severe weather phenomena that wreaked havoc on us, some of it permanent, nor do they include how COVID-19 effected our lives, obviously. None of us can choose our biological parents or the zip code(s) they’re born into; maybe all throughout their life. Many humans, through various forces, are propelled into painful, unbearable situations in life, impossible to avoid.

These many varying life conditions I mention still must abide in every way by Laws of biology, physics and Quantum Mechanics within our entire Universe, which certainly effect this “tiny Pale blue-dot of a planet,” to borrow Carl Sagan’s iconic prose, that we much tinier beings must coexist with, but not as commander or Time Lord, and maybe only as a clock Winder & Minder, temporarily as it will be.

From COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey

Hence, for me personally, I’m not completely comfortable asserting number two. I have some reservations with it. If I’m perfectly honest, today March 2, 2022, I am much more comfortable simply with #1, and I am very fine with that. In Somewhere I Have Never Travelled,Gladly Beyond, the fourth stanza, E.E. Cummings speaks of a lady or lover, but what about life, our individual lives (clocks, cogs?) as the Lady or ourselves?

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing.
-- e.e. cummings

For those of you who participated previously in Clockwork, any final thoughts? Any final questions? I won’t promise I have the answers, but I promise to wonder, contemplate, and be a travel companion with you. 😊

Live Well – Love Much – Laugh Often – Listen Close – Learn Always

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Clockwork

I am curious and would be grateful for you indulging my curiosity.

Choose one of the four statements below that best represents yourself, life, and the Universe. In your comment at the bottom explain why you chose it, and then please explain why not the other three statements as your choice.

  1. I am a cog in a Clock.
  2. I am a Clock among Clocks.
  3. I am my clock Winder & Minder.
  4. I am the Time Guardian.
Brain activity on an EEG monitor before physiological & muscular action.

Live Well – Love Much – Laugh Often – Listen Close – Learn Always

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