Two months ago I gave up on finding available vaccinations on the internet and instead began calling Ochsner’s Covid telephone number. I began rising around 7:00, getting caffeinated, then dialing and dialing. Success eluded me for days. Then on one fine Wednesday, it occurred to me that they likely only staff that telephone number for a few hours a day, and they would not ask operators to show up before 8:00 a.m. A few minutes after that magic hour I hit on a phone call, but she couldn’t hear me properly, or didn’t want to bother with working. The second call was another hit, this time with a hard-working, caring appointment maker.
We asked to get our shots on the North Shore of Pontchartrain, but those appointments were booked up until mid-April. She offered that other locations were available – “How about Morgan City?” That is 110 miles away, each way. So Kat asked (good ears) “Do you have anything in New Orleans or Metairie?” She did, and booked our appointments at big Ochsner on February 26, a mere 48 hours away! This led to the first guilty pleasure: giddy excitement at the prospect of far fewer Covid worries, if we could just avoid it for another six weeks!
Two weeks later we had lunch at Morton’s Seafood in Madisonville on a warm, sunny day. I enjoyed two dozen salty oysters on the half shell. Kat had a cup of crab and shrimp bisque with half a shrimp po-boy. The food was superb, the beer was cold and fresh, and there were people on the patio with us, appropriately socially distanced. But we still felt a bit weird despite having partial immunity from our first dose
One week later we took our second jab, which again, was totally painless. Crossing the 26 mile Causeway on our return ride we could hardly believe our good fortune: in two weeks we will be very unlikely to visit a hospital with Covid, let alone die from it. But so many others had not yet been offered the vaccine. Guilt pangs, yes, but one of my few possible original thoughts is “Mankind is the first species at the pinnacle of the food chain to feel guilt about that fact.” I got over the guilt in short order.
We made the two weeks without so much as a sniffle, and rolled into Bryan, TX to visit grandson Will and his parents. We exchanged hugs. There was another first, in a year. On Easter Sunday friends of Bret and Alli came over bearing leg of lamb with chimichurri sauce, and a beef tenderloin in a salt cast. I shook hands with the guys, my first grips in over a year. It was a tad scary, but if you believe in science, and I do, it was completely safe.
A few days later Kat and I both walked into a Great Clips in College Station and I asked them “Is it safe? Is it safe?” (That is an ancient reference to Marathon Man, a 70’s movie with a young Dustin Hoffman and a passing-for-60 Lawrence Olivier.) Kat has been trimming my locks, or what is left of them, now and then with barber scissors. She has not asked me to return the favor; apparently she values her ears. This was our first trip to a haircut joint in over a year. Feeling clean again, ah, is so worth it!
We as a nation are not yet out of the Covid woods. Wear your masks. Keep those six foot intervals. Get your vaccinations when you are eligible. Uncle Joe Biden says that date should be April 19 for every American over 16. Work the internet. Burn up the phone lines. You have no excuse anymore. Just do it. We need around 85% of us to receive vaccinations to tamp down these variants. If you doubt the vaccine’s efficacy, ask yourself “Do I have even a B.S. in Epidemiology?” If you don’t, be a good citizen and take the vaccination on faith in those who have earned PhD’s in Virology.
The life you save may be your own, or that of some irrational anti-vaxxer. Vaccines do not save lives; vaccinations do. If that weren’t enough, The Great Spirit told me it’s good for your soul.