I am going to try and explain what it’s like for someone who is immunocompromised to navigate through a society filled with politicians, health officials and fellow citizens who couldn’t care less about them, and, furthermore, don’t mind letting them know how they feel just by their inaction.
There are hundreds of thousands of people walking around today who are immunocompromised. Solid organ transplant recipients, cancer patients, people on various kinds of medication . . . the list goes on.
And you wouldn’t know it just by walking past one of them. There is no scarlet “I” on their foreheads. For the most part, they look just like ‘normal’ people.
If you think that number is an exaggeration, consider that the National Kidney Foundation, an American organization, tweeted on Monday that “24,670 people received a kidney transplant in 2021.”
If you do the math it works out to 68 such procedures carried out every single day in the U.S.
I don’t know what the number was for Canada, but I can tell you that, according to BC Transplant, there were 529 organ transplants carried out in this province in 2021, including 340 kidneys, 97 livers, 66 lungs and 22 hearts.
Through Oct. 31, the numbers for 2022 were 242 kidneys, 90 livers, 45 lungs and 20 hearts.
All of the recipients take anti-rejection drugs that prevent their systems from rejecting the foreign body that has been surgically implanted into their bodies. In order to do that, some of those medications work to suppress the immune system.
This is a round-about way to tell you that Dorothy, my wife of 50 years, tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday morning. It’s been more than nine years since she underwent a kidney transplant, so we knew to be careful from the moment COVID hit the fan. We had avoided the bullet for almost three years. She has had five vaccinations; I am to get my fifth this week. We have had our flu shots. We have had our first Shingrix vaccinations. We have been avoiding large crowds. We have been masking up when going for groceries or being anywhere with other people, most of whom, of course, now are unmasked.
For the first couple of years of this pandemic, we ordered our groceries online. We didn’t go into restaurants, choosing drive-thru or pickup instead. We didn’t have guests into our home. We didn’t travel.
Last spring, we loosened up a bit. We decided that we had to live at least a bit. So, on rare occasion, we went inside a couple of our favourite eateries, masking up to go in and unmasking to eat/drink. We brought the Kamloops Kidney Support Group back together for monthly gatherings. We went back to in-person grocery shopping, always wearing masks, of course. Dorothy went back to one of the loves of her life — playing the piano once a week for the residents of a care home.
But, still, it got her, and we haven’t any idea how or when.
Thankfully the scientific and medical communities are there for us. After an exchange of phone calls with staff at Royal Inland Hospital on Tuesday, Dorothy underwent her first infusion of anti-bodies via IV on Wednesday morning. She will be back for a second one on Thursday and a final one on Friday.
By Wednesday afternoon, she was feeling somewhat better. The pounding headache that was there on Tuesday was receding. But the coughing, sneezing and stuffiness still was hanging around.
After she is up and about, hopefully at some point after Friday, we’ll see how things go. We will have to decide whether we want to wade back into the great unmasked community. What about going back into restaurants? What about the much-discussed long COVID, something that is as real as the nose on your face?
As for the anti-vaxxers and the anti-maskers, here’s hoping that your immune systems never go away on you. Here’s hoping that you never need a solid organ transplant. Because if you do you are in for a horrible feeling of loneliness when it hits you that you are expendable to a whole of people out there.
You will find out what it feels like to hear politicians and medical officials “recommend’ the wearing of facemasks rather than mandating it. It will dawn on you that the almighty dollar is more important than the lives of a bunch of people with wonky immune systems or a whole lot of senior citizens.
Yes, you really will find out, and it will sting.
And all of this was/is so avoidable. Mask up. Get vaccinated. Wash your hands.
TUESDAY IN THE WHL:
It would appear that F Connor Bedard’s I Can Sell Out the B.C. Division Arenas Tour experienced its first non-sellout in Kelowna. The Pats beat the Rockets, 6-5 in OT, before an announced crowd of 6,407. There were plenty of references on social media to it being a sellout crowd; however, Prospera Place, on its website, lists its capacity for hockey at 6,886. . . . The fans who were in attendance saw F Alexander Suzdalev win it for the Pats with a PP goal at 3:07 of OT. . . . The Pats (12-11-2) have won three in a row, all in the B.C. Division. . . . The Rockets (9-10-2) have lost two straight (0-1-1). . . Suzdalev, who has 14 goals, scored twice and added two assists. . . . Bedard kept his point streak alive with the primary assist on the winning goal. That ran his streak to 24 games. . . . Regina D Stanislav Svozil helped out with four assists. . . . The Rockets got two goals and two assists from F Andrew Cristall (18), who is riding a 12-game point streak. D Caden Price (3) had a goal and two assists, and F Gabriel Szturc had three assists. . . . D Tanner Brown, who is from Kelowna, gave Regina a 5-4 lead with his first goal of the season at 17:32 of the third period. . . . Cristall tied it on a 5-on-3 PP with the goaltender pulled for an extra attacker at 19:08. . . . The Rockets were without F Adam Kydd, 20, who is expected to miss up to six weeks with a fractured foot. He has 11 goals and 12 assists in 20 games this season. . . . The Pats are to face the Blazers in Kamloops tonight and then conclude their B.C. swing against the Prince George Cougars on Friday. . . .
D Denton Mateychuk enjoyed a five-point night as the Moose Jaw Warriors beat the Royals, 8-3, in Victoria. . . . The Warriors (16-9-0) have won three in a row. They are 3-1-0 on a B.C. Division swing that wraps up tonight with a game against the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . The Royals (3-18-3) have lost nine straight (0-8-1). . . . F Brayden Schuurman (4) gave the Royals a 1-0 lead just 49 seconds into the first period. The Warriors scored the next seven goals. . . . Mateychuk scored his sixth goal and added four assists, leaving him with 25 points in 21 games. . . . F Atley Calvert (12) scored twice and D Max Wanner had three assists for Moose Jaw. . . . Warriors F Jagger Firkus scored his 15th goal as he ran his point streak to 18 games. . . . Victoria F Marcus Almquist has left to join Denmark’s team that is preparing for the IIHF Division I World Junior tournament in Asker, Norway, Dec. 11-17. . . . The Royals also are without veteran G Tyler Palmer, who is on personal leave with his family.
Ryan Kuwabara is the new head coach of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs. . . . Jeff Angelidis had been serving as interim head coach since the firing of Daniel Fitzgerald on Nov. 14. Angelidis will stay on as an assistant coach under Kuwabara. . . . There is a news release right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Living Kidney Donor Program
St. Paul’s Hospital
6A Providence Building
1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre
Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9
604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182
Or, for more information, visit right here.