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.

HARD TIMES ARE TEMPORARY, YOU CAN GET THROUGH IT (FINAL PART)

Here’s a timely blog from Lady P. Good advice for the times in which we live.

Being alone often can make suicidal thoughts worse.

Reach out to friends, family, and people who care about you. Attempt to be social; even if you don’t feel like. Avoid doing things that make you feel sad, such as

visiting a loved one’s grave,

re-reading old mails

or letters that remind you of a sad past. All these can increase suicidal thoughts and negative feelings. 

Find a distraction; cuddle a pet, meet up with friends to play soccer or your favourite outdoor games, count 0-100, read positive quotes online to lift your spirit, sing aloud, say affirmations aloud or sing with it, and watchfunny videos on social media, find new hobbies or develop new interests.

Try volunteer activities.

Volunteering helps people feel more socially connected and provides a sense of purpose, pride, accomplishment and fulfilment. Volunteer duties expose you to people with common interests and broaden your support network. 

Being helpful to others delivers…

View original post 302 more words

Christian Quotes: J. I. Packer

This is certainly appropriate for reblogging this time of year. Thank you.

Worship Walk Ministries

This is the season to grab a firm hold again onto the hope that is ours! Let’s choose to focus on the most amazing gift that was given to us by our loving God. That will calm our hearts and brighten our spirits!

Photo by Nadine Wuchenauer on Pexels.com

The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity–hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory–because at the Father’s will Jesus became poor, and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross.

J. I. Packer

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.”

Galatians 4:4-5

View original post

The small things

Many of us have bemoaned the year 2020. And there’s still some year left to feel disappointed and dejected about. I’m writing this piece without much thought. It’s Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving Day. I was just in the kitchen preparing to bake a couple of sweet potato pies for tomorrow and it occurred to me how much complaining I’ve heard about this “year of the pandemic.” I, too, have made a sizeable contribution to painting the image of this being the year from hell. I can certainly understand how we’ve been disappointed by so much this year: family reunions have been cancelled, vacation to that spot you’ve been longing to visit for years has been postponed, little league baseball games didn’t occur. The list of events that didn’t take place this year is longer than you care to think about. Thinking about what didn’t happen only makes you feel more disappointed.

As I was chopping, dicing, and mixing various ingredients to cook the usual Thanksgiving edibles, it occurred to me that there is a ton of small things that are always there to enjoy. Thinking on these things can make this year’s holiday season an enjoyable one despite the dark cloud that seems to follow all of us.  It’s autumn. This is a great time of year. I can still sit on our back deck and enjoy the seasonal changes in foliage. I can sit and watch birds of all kinds playfully fly and soar in the winds. I can throw my dog’s ball from one end of the back yard to the next and watch her gleefully chase after it.  I can take a walk through my neighborhood and enjoy the brisk air that causes me to wear a light jacket. Tomorrow, although our gathering for Thanksgiving dinner will be small, our son and one of our daughters, it will be a blessed event. The technology that’s available will allow us to connect with whomever we wish, letting them know that we’re thankful that they are yet in our lives.

Ari, our Shih-Tzu, on guard. She probably sees the UPS man.

I’m sure you have many small things that have worked well to get you to this point during 2020. Take a break from the coronavirus update your mayor, governor or other government officials give and meditate on them. Let the spirit of thankfulness overpower you and help you realize that the small things are important always, but especially during times like these. Thank God for the small things; they are pieces to the big picture.

Although not from my back yard, we’ve had deer in our back yard

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

American drama at its best: I wish it weren’t so

This past Saturday was one of those unusually warm, late November days in Little Rock. I felt a strong urge to get out of the house. I would imagine you can identify, since you’ve probably been trying your best to stay away from the Coronavirus, too. I just needed some time out to breath fresh air. So, I decided to let the top down on my toy that I keep in the garage and take a ride down to the 7th Street murals to look at the artwork that has taken over the place. The murals are on the walls of 7th street under the train-track overpass.

Bumblebee out of the garage @ Hallelujah Fest 10/2019

The area has had smidgens of graffiti on the walls for a few years that have probably meant more to the graffiti artists responsible for putting them there than anyone else. Since the recent incidents of police killings of young Black folk, protests in the streets for justice and peace, and the crazed political environment we currently find ourselves there has been a rapid growth of socially conscience artwork applied to the walls. Progressive minded people have felt a need to express themselves, using this public venue. The overpass is a few blocks west of the state capitol grounds, making an interesting juxtaposition for the artwork to occupy.

While viewing the artwork and snapping a few pictures, I noticed a couple of artists there applying their skills to the walls. With mask on and social distancing operational, I stopped to engage in a brief conversation with each. Both artists seemed to be folk of good character, troubled by all the social, political, and cultural conflicts that have troubled our society over that last four years. Of course, they both realize that what we’ve seen during this time hasn’t been a recent development, but a burgeoning of symptoms manifested from a disease that has lied dormant for decades.

As I left the overpass, I decided to drive by the capitol grounds. The overpass is at the bottom of a hill that rises to several acres of more level land where the state capital building, the state justice building, the state revenue office, and other stately looking buildings are located. As I approached the top of the hill, I quickly noticed a four-wheel-drive pickup truck coming towards me, with American flags and Confederate flags flapping in the wind. A glance to my left revealed several vehicles arrayed in similar fashion parked on one of the large parking lots. There were also signs which clearly indicated why these folks were there. These Trump supporters were making it known that they don’t agree with the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election. They obviously believed all the unfounded conspiracy theories that have been put forth by the Trump administration of how the election has been manipulated in favor of the Biden gang. I thought for a second about parking across the street to take a few pictures. My good sense quickly told me that that was a bad idea. My electronic version of the Sunday morning edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, our state’s daily newspaper, confirmed what I saw on this fine, autumnal day.

With all the bad stuff 2020 has visited upon our country, wouldn’t working together to bring about healing be a better kind of drama?

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

Back to the Future: Diversity for Today from the 1960s

Here’s a blog I posted in February 2016. It was taken from a piece I wrote earlier for a news letter. I think it’s appropriate to reblog it at this particular time. I hope you find it interesting.

oldblessedwordpresscom

A few years before I retired ( January 2013) from my position as associate vice chancellor for Human Resources at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, I  wrote a piece for the campus’ diversity and inclusion newsletter. I’ve had a strong interest in diversity and inclusion work since the late 1980s. I just ran across that piece from years ago in my archives…thought I would share it:

A few years ago, the Chancellor’s Diversity Committee invited Judge Wendell Griffith to campus to be our annual Diversity Week speaker. Being a Trekkie (or is it Trekker?) from the early days of the 1960s television show “Star Trek,” which aired with Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and crew, I remember being transfixed when Judge Griffith began his talk by describing the bridge occupants of the Star Ship Enterprise.
Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the “Star Trek” series, had a vision of what…

View original post 613 more words

We’re all just human: each just as imperfect as the other

Art put me on trajectory fifty-five years ago that has contributed to landing me at this point of being sick and tired of the world being hung up on the false construct of race. It was in 1965 when this TV show, called Star Trek, came out. I don’t need to tell you what it is. It’s become part and parcel of the very fabric of society. What started to change thinking about race was watching the image of the star ship Enterprise’s bridge. Each week I was carried 300 hundred years into the future when humankind had finally realized that life and all its imagined sentient representations was inherently valuable, each no more or less than the other. You might be saying right about now: That was a fictional representation of a world, a universe that will never be. If you are saying that I beg to differ. The older I get, the more I realize that anything conceived can be achieved. Doesn’t the mind create images from its inventory of experiences? I believe the expanse of thought is limited, except when seemingly unlimited parameters are brought to bear by innovative thinkers. Some of us can rearrange human experiences in our mental incubators to such a degree that the visual product looks like something that was delivered from some far-flung corner of the universe never visited. If you think of Star Trek as a metaphor for how we humans will get along with each other in the future, you might have less difficulty dealing with the concept of alien differences working together on the bridge of the Enterprise.

Recently, Chris and I were out and about on a beautiful fall day. It was one of those days when you just had to escape the self-imposed confines many of us live within due to the pandemic. I don’t remember the full scope of the conversation we were having; however, I do remember Chris referring to some celebrity as being bi-racial. Of course, that has become a commonly used term these days to assign a box for people of mixed-race to reside. For some reason, when I heard the term, I was bothered. My internal voice posed the question to me: Aren’t people in this box humans too? I tried to explain to Chris what I was feeling. I’m not so sure I did a good job. The point I was trying to get across is that I’ll be glad when we look at each other as one individual representation of all. Collectively, we run the gamut of colors, styles, models, as if we were automobiles. But when was the last time you saw people voicing sheer unadulterated hate against any automobile, except for the potentially explosive Ford Pinto?

This mess we’re experiencing now called 2020 has put many of us in the deepest of funks. The corners many have been backed into seem so deep and so expansive, that the idea of escape is a mere flicker in the dark. With all the challenges the world is facing now, why is race a major factor in the general elections in America. As I write this piece, it’s been three days since election day, and we are still waiting on a winner to be decided for our President of the United States for the next four years. News programs are saying this was an historic election, prompting rarely seen numbers to the polls to cast ballots for their favorite candidate, favorite doesn’t necessarily mean most qualified. Having been around for over seventy years and being familiar with human nature to a certain degree, I’m sure race, gender, age and a number of insignificant factors played a factor when each of us marked our ballot.

Being human has its limitations. God help us all.

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