Is Covid-19 an eventuality for most of us?

I haven’t posted anything in a while. For those of you who follow me, you might find that interesting since I just returned from Ghana, West Africa the first part of this month. The trip was fantastic! Chris, my oldest child (Felicia), my cousin Hansel and his wife (Martha); we all had a great time. It was indeed the journey of a lifetime. I did one post, dated January 9 and you haven’t seen anything from me since. The reason covid-19.

There were twenty of us on this ten-day tour of Ghana, excluding several tour-company staff who worked hard to make this a wonderful experience. We returned home on January 5. It was great to be back home. Except for the free covid-19 tests Chris and I had at our local health department to board the plane on our way to Ghana, we spent a significant amount of money for testing: $300 upon arrival at the Kotoka International airport in Accra, and $240 at a private lab to board the plane for our return trip to the U.S. All these tests were negative, giving us a false sense of security, as we spent hours flying and waiting in airports.

A few days after our return to the U.S., Chris and I started to have cold-like symptoms. It was our plan to have another covid-19 test a week after our return home. And so, we had tests done on January 12 at a local drive-in testing site provided by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). The technician who performed our nasal swabs, informed me that there would be a rush on my tests because I have multiple myeloma. I’ve written about this before. Multiple Myeloma is cancer of the blood plasma cells. I know, it sounds horrible; however, I’ll be a twenty-one-year survivor as of March 12. There are tens of thousands of myeloma patients who haven’t been able to make that statement.

As I wrestled with persistent fever of around 99 to 101 degrees, I got a call the day after the swabs were performed from my primary care physician, who is on the faculty of UAMS, as well the director of the UAMS Family Medicine Clinic. Of course, I knew why she was calling before she explained. My covid-19 test was positive. Chris received news of her positive test later during the same day. Both our primary care physicians (UAMS docs.) recommended we have an infusion of Bamlanivimb. This is an investigational drug, being used within the first ten days of the appearance of covid-19 symptoms for patients who aren’t hospitalized. It works to lessen symptoms and prevent hospitalization.

As of today, January 26, both Chris and I are doing much better. Her experience has been far worse than mine, however. She has spent a lot of time sleeping, not eating, and drinking sufficiently, and just not feeling worth a darn overall. I’m happy to say though that as of today we haven’t had fever in the last tree to four days. Chris is still coughing. I, on the other hand, took a short ride on my bicycle this morning. The light is glimmering strongly at the other end of the tunnel.

In case you’re wondering about others in our tour group. We’ve been in touch with all of them, and none has been infected with this horrible disease. I’m not convinced we contracted it in Ghana, instead somewhere during our travel time. We won’t be taking anymore trips until this pandemic has faded from the planet for the most part. I’m still glad we took this trip, though.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

We made it to Africa!

On July 2, 2019, I posted a blog titled Africa is Calling. I followed that up with one titled We’re going to Africa.  And on January 13, 2020, I posted another blog titled I’m visiting my ancestral home. With several unforeseen circumstances, the most prominent of them being Covid-19, my trip to Africa was disappointingly delayed. However, good fortune smiled on Chris, my daughter Felicia and my cousin Hansel and his wife Martha; we made the trip Ghana, West Africa over the holiday season. We left the U. S. on December 24th and returned on January 5th.  We spent 10 activity-packed days in Ghana, which included four days in Accra the nation’s capital, and the surrounding area; three days in Kumasi (The Ashanti Region); and three days in Elmina and the Cape Coast Central Region.

Our tour guide told us that the population of Accra and Kumasi probably far exceed the Wikipedia numbers of 2,557,000 and 3,490,000, respectively. The population of the country is well over 31,000,000. I share these numbers with you, because I want to make the case for why we went to Ghana during the pandemic. Consider this: my home state Arkansas, has a population of 3 million. As of January 8, Arkansas has 249,239 confirmed cases of covid-19, 3,926 deaths and 218,386 recovered. Compare those alarming statistics with the entire nation of Ghana, with a population of 31,000,000, 55,461 confirmed cases, 337 deaths and 54,164 recovered.

Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park

My primary care physician expressed more than a little concern about this trip. She told me about malaria, yellow fever and a host of other communicable diseases generally associated with Africa. Of course, much of her concerned was because I have Multiple Myeloma, a serious underlying heath condition that could cause significant problems for me should I contract covid-19. I can’t take the yellow fever vaccine. The only medicine I could take was malaria pills. My response to my primary care physician was that I had more concern about getting to Ghana than being there for a 10-day tour. When we got there, my concerns for areas in the West were amplified with the emergence of the new strain on Covid-19 and the surge of the virus in the U.S. Ghana was quite uneventful Covid-19 wise. We dined in restaurants, attended public areas, and had little fear of Covid-19. There were no unreasonable protests on the part of members of the public to wearing masks when required and, to be honest, there was no huge display of people wearing masks anywhere. We had to have a Covid-19 PCR test to get on the plane to Ghana, and another test upon arrival. On the return, a Covid-19 test was also required to board the plane coming back to the U.S.

Now that I’ve mentioned a few challenges we faced getting to Ghana, I’ll be sharing stories and images of our glorious journey. Please stay tuned. Oh, by the way, we all made it back okay, and we’re cocooned, as before to keep ourselves from the monster called Covid-19.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.