Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Out of the Tunnel and into the Woods

Out of the Tunnel and into the Woods. April 13, 2121

I have had both shots of the vaccine (Phizer) and I am beyond the two weeks recommended before any adventures.

I went to the senior exercise class at the Bettendorf Fitness Center this morning. More people were present, several are back who attended before the shut down of the facility because of the high number of virus cases back in March of last year. I am sure without asking that almost all in the group have now received their shots. We are an older group. Older group was showing up In another way today. Usually the majority used the large balloons to sit on during a segment of the hour for various exercises, especially bar bells. Today people were bringing in chairs to sit on. People have fallen off the balloons. A few months back when one man fell off the balloon and hit his head on the window. He had a gash that required some attention.Even our instructor today had a chair. She had fallen some place and is recovering. She was using bar bells of two different weights. Her right arm must still bother her. Another man who always exercises near me was going for the balloon. He would have been the only one with a balloon. He changed his mind and found a chair. I uttered so he could hear, "conformity." Another change, for the first time in my memory, there were more men, six, and five women. I had no explanation for that. I have been part of the group for at least five years. I have always used the chair since the herniated discs in my back would not like a soft balloon to bounce on.

I have missed as few sessions since a couple of Wednesdays back, tomorrow will be Wednesday again. I went to the hospital with a stroke. I suppose you could add that to the woods. At age 90 one lives with the unpredictable. If a stroke can be fortunate I can say I had a fortunate stroke. I missed the virus so far but not a stroke. The stroke I had was a loss of words. I couldn't talk. I tried but I could not make sense to myself or my wife and a friend who was visiting. It happened all of a sudden. No preparation. Sudden onset they could say. The Emergency Room doctor first wanted to know if I was hemorrhaging in the brain so they did a CT scan. No bleeding. That saved me from a risky medication that can stop the bleeding. After some waiting I was transferred to a room in fourth floor in the new part of the hospital.  I found out later that I was kept in a isolation area if the hospital until the virus test showed neggaive. Late the next day they moved me to another room, out of the woods. 

This hospital has undergone a major renovation. It is more like a hotel.  And all the testing equipment is super modern. For 28 years, from 1965 to June 1 of 1992 I was the lead chaplain here. I haven't visited very often since but I now have experienced the new hospital and the nursing team and completely new is the  doctors called hospital. I had two on two different days. Very knowledgeable and ready to keep you up to date on what is happening. With a stroke I can see that is very important. I should say in case you are wonder, my words and thoughts were back to normal at the end of the first day. By noon I was doing better but best by that night before my wife left for home. She being a nurse was most relieved.

I was given every test on the page under stroke. All turned out negative. On the last day the neurologist had taken over. She wanted to know what caused my stroke. She order two  tests  on Friday including a brain wave test. All were negative. I Wass to be discharged then with one more test the next week. I wore a heart monitor for a week. A new technology. It was taped to my chest, the size of a half pen. No leads. If I had encountered any stress I was to touch the button on the top. In case you wonder what caused the stroke. They gave me a fancy name. Trans Ischemic Activity, cause unknown. They can be the forerunner of a larger stroke. Although in my case I am a very healthy 90 year old with a good normal blood pressure and blood work that Is all in the normal range. I am working with a urologist to see if my bladder stays clear of cancer. Good so far. Frequent trips to the bathroom are not unusually for my age.

A separate comment from my professional bias. The staff and the team of doctors were all very professional and relational. I look for that relational characteristic. From the English medical journal Lancet, I don't remember the year, but I have the quote. "The relationship the doctor has with the patient is as important as the treatment." 

Today then was my first day back at the exercise group. I had gone to the Fitness Center to ride the stationary bike and use the weight machines one day last week. Otherwise there were too many complications in both of our schedules to make the sessions.

Since the virus count in rising in our Quad Cities among the younger folks, under 30, and hospitalizations are going up, I continue to wear to mask and keep social distance when I do go out. I have a new mask from my seminary that says on the front. Virginia Theological Seminary. Seminary is in big letters  No one has asked my about the mask up to this point. I have started to do some grocery shopping again. I also can go into the lobby of my IH credit union .I am going to a different branch since I am getting better service. The clerks are much more helpful. It is a smaller branch and it may not be as busy. That may make the difference. It is also a newer branch.

This Friday evening will be our first big outing. We did go to Church on Easter. My wife has a couple Aunts, one lives in Dubuque. they are hosting a family gathering. We will be there. I will take my mask but I may not wear the mask. They have all received the vaccination. They are both retired from the medical field.

Enough from the woods at this point in time,

Marlin Whitmer, a retired but active hospital chaplain.

The Virus Tunnel Continues: Monday, February 8, 2021

The vaccinations brought new expressions like a "light at the end of the tunnel" and "hope." One person after being vaccinated even did a dance. For myself at age 90 and living in Iowa and in Scott County the tunnel continues. Rightly so, health care workers and nursing home patients and staff have taken precedence with the first shot and enough needs to be saved for the second. My wife as a clinical nursing instructor has received the first shot with the second next week.

A number of issues extend the dark. The department of health is in charge in Scott County. They are only taking 500 persons a week, the number of vaccines available. That is for a population of 25,000 age 65 and older, along with police, fireman, teachers. I tried to get on the list. I did register but to get on the list you have to log in for the appointment. So far our attempts have reaped the message that all appointments have been filled. And then because of lack of vaccines last week they didn't give shots to the appointed list, postponed for a week. For me that means a two week wait. 

Part of the issue with the department of health is they are understaffed after being under funded for several years. The decline in slippery slopes are eventually rewarded in some way including disaster. The lack of vaccines is an additional issue.

Help is on the way. The President and his advisors are making pharmacies available as places to be vaccinated. We often receive the flu shot at our nearby Walgreens. I have inquired and they have given me the procedure to register. The procedure is to much for this 90 year old. My wife is more adept. She has registered me with Walgreens. Again they are not taking appointments since they do not have the vaccines yet. I am sad for other elder and the poor without computers or the tech skills.

Another possibility from the President is to have a 100 sites with Federal Emergency Management Agency with military assistance deliver vaccinations. The County Supervisors approved a letter last Thursday to apply. Time is of the essence. 

Now we have a new strain of the virus, a variant of three kinds that is spreading. Nine cases in Iowa already, The variants are said to spread faster. The race is on as the tunnel darkens and continues. Stay tuned. Updates coming. I am hopeful,  in between and not yet realized hopes. 

Tuesday, February 9

The dark of the tunnel is fed in more than one way. The lack of vaccines is one way. The decision by the Governor of Iowa is another. On the day of the Super Bowl she opened bars, restaurants, no mask, large gatherings. She did not consult the Department of Health in making the decision. She made it on the slight decline in the number of cases reported. She even went against the guidelines of the Center for Disease Control.  The director said as much when asked. Opening up on the day of Super Bowl to allow for super spread extends some darkness. We shall see. 

A point of light was shown on the editorial page of the Quad City Times. Ed Tibbet commended the people of the state for doing masks, social distancing, and not attending places that spread the virus. The remarks of the Governor did not distort the good sense of the everyday folk. We knew better when she did not.  Hopefully that will continue. I am definitely in the group, mask and limiting my going out. The Fitness Center in the afternoon has few people there and that is when I go three afternoons a week.. I had the machine weights and the stationary bike in separate areas almost to myself the whole time. They are busier in the morning and evening. Where leadership is lacking each person can lead responsibly. 

To be continued,

Marlin Whitmer


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