Dan and Hannah Get Their First Covid Vaccine Part 2 of 3

Eight days after getting our appointment for a Covid vaccine, we have a simple 40-minute drive from our home in York up the Maine Turnpike, then heading inland to Southern Maine Health Care in Sanford, Maine. 

Earlier in the week we had learned from a good friend of her vaccination experience.  After the first dose of the Moderna vaccine, I had a heavy arm and headache along with a metallic taste for about 30 hours. 

After the second dose, my experience was magnified with chills, fever, fatigue, and muscle aches.  After two days, I was feeling great!

Whoa!  This may not be a walk in the park I had hoped for, but bring it on.  

After a morning of light snow on the last Thursday in January, we arrive at the Goodall Medical Office Building in plenty of time for our early afternoon appointments.

Confirming that we are in good health, we complete the necessary paper work in a waiting room just off a larger room with curtained-off medical bays where the shots will be given.  A little before one, a scheduler asks if anyone is done with their paperwork.  I raise my hand as she says endearingly, Come with me honey.

Seated in a treatment room with the RN Anita, I strip off sweatshirt and long sleeve tee. Putting me at ease, she asks me which arm I would like to use.  Knowing there could be a reaction, I opt for the left since I need my right hand for the remote for Sports Center.  Though Hannah said she didn’t even know that the needle went in, I feel a slight sensation that wouldn’t even get to one on the 1 to 10 pain scale. 

And that is it.  She signs my card which notes the Pfizer vaccine and I am led to another waiting room for the fifteen minute observation period.

Without symptoms, as it is with Hannah, we shoot the breeze with the scheduling nurse who let’s us know that her mom is still behind 40,000 other Mainers for the vaccine.  The center schedules eight vaccinations every 15 minutes and does 240 vaccinations each and every day as one of the many locations providing this service.  Earlier, we had learned that there are 193,000 Mainers over 70 ready for vaccinations. I don’t hear of many people refusing the vaccinations now that they are here.

As we leave the clinic, I’m walking on air. It feels like Christmas. We just hit the daily double. With the Pfizer vaccine, we only wait three weeks for our second dose.

Han at Moody Beach with storm-thrown lobster traps

Driving to Moody Beach to celebrate, we walk the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean at 32F under threatening skies, We know this is the time to walk since tomorrow morning the wind chill on the coast of Maine will be -9F.

On Friday morning, my upper left arm is tender similar to what I felt with my Shingles shots but no big deal.  I found it mildly uncomfortable to roll over onto my left arm in the night. That said, I am able to do my morning stretches, lift my small weights, and later workout at the gym.

This Saturday morning (January 30, 2021) before I post this blog, I have no side effects but one.

Gratitude.

Dan and Hannah Seek a Covid Vaccine Part 1 of 3

I am workshopping a new mantra – Expect the Good.   Let me show you what that looks like.

While waiting for the run-off to the two Senate races in Georgia, I expected the good that during the nine weeks between the presidential election and the run-off the two Democrat candidates would win.  This time it was one for the good guys.  But if it hadn’t been, then I’d find the good in what happened.

At the last minute Hannah and I chose not to go to California this winter.  After inquiring about a refund for our two month rental, we waited for eleven days expecting the good.  If that didn’t happen, then we’d find the good in what did happen.

In both cases, I spent no time fretting and coming up with worst case scenarios.  Whatever the results, I enjoyed the time being upbeat by expecting the good.

Then on January 18, 2021 our valiant Governor Janet Mills decided that those over 70 would be placed in the 1b category for getting the Covid vaccine (1a was frontline health care workers and those in nursing homes). 

We live in York County. Portland is in Cumberland County

As septuagenarians, Hannah and I began calling MaineHealth Services for an appointment again and again.  We heard either, There are no more vaccines for today, try again tomorrow or the phone call was immediately disconnected on their end.  News reports of limited Covid vaccines and none in the US stockpile made it uncertain when we would get a vaccine. 

But…we expected the good, be that that good would come in January, February, March, or April.

After calling Tuesday, we got little encouragement and the same routine.  Emailing our primary care physician about when they would let us know when vaccines would be available for us 70 year olds, I learned from the nurse it may be February at the earliest in York.

In the meantime, we made a deal with our friend Howie that if we heard anything about vaccine sign-ups, we would let him know, and he would do the same.  Our friend Bob sent us another phone number to try.  Our friend Corky told us to be persistent.

Come Wednesday, we phone early and heard for the first time, leave your number and we’ll return your call in the order it was received.  Hmmm.  That sounds good.

With our iPhones on loud, we went to the gym on that Inauguration Day to pedal and watch the inspiring Biden/Harris festivities.  Twenty minutes in, Hannah gets a call, dismounts the elliptical, confirms her availability, and has a Covid vaccine appointment eight days hence.  Just like that!

Handing me her phone, she says, they want to set up an appointment for you, too!  Hallelujah.  In short order I, too, am scheduled for a Covid vaccination next week.

Part II – Today (January 28, 2021) we head off to Goodall Hospital in Sanford, Maine for our Covid vaccination. Details of the experience and our reactions to the vaccination will be posted this Saturday.

Dan’s Wednesday Quote of the Week #10 –

When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Brave enough to be it!

from Amanda Gorman’s The Hill We Climb, as recited at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on January 20, 2021

Full text

When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. In the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice.

And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow, we do it. Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished. We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.

And so, we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true. That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped; that even as we tired, we tried; that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid. If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made. That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare it. Because being American is more than a pride we inherit; it’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a forest that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption. We feared it at its inception. We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.

So, while once we asked: “How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?” Now we assert, “How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?”

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised, but whole; benevolent, but bold; fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation, because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy, and change our children’s birthright.

So, let us leave behind a country better than one we were left. With every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise from the gold-limned hills of the West. We will rise from the wind-swept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful.

When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Dan’s Dream – KGUA radio free write #33

For the January 25, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour, we are asked to write on this powerful statement – “I Have a Dream.”  Dreaming sets an intention.  With an intention, purposeful action can/must follow. 

Of late, our York Public Library has a sign out front, “Good riddance 2020.  Welcome 2021.”  That just rubs me the wrong way. 

I will never say anything bad about 2020 because it was the year our identical twin granddaughters, Reese and Charlotte, were born.  They are healthy, flap and smile in their bouncy seats, and have two loving parents. 

Reese, big brother Brooks, and Charlotte

I have a dream that by the time the girls can vote there will be a woman president of these United States – for the second time!

I have dream at 90 that I will go to their high school graduation where they are not at the top of the class nor the best athlete but are known for standing up for what is right.  Instead of independence, they seek interdependence with their community and their world.

That said, I wouldn’t mind if one of them went to the Harvard of the West, Arizona State University, and became part of the solution for climate change.

I have a dream that they will come to their grandparent’s place in Maine, play cribbage with us, whack the pickleball around, and sit on our front deck having a conversation about their dreams.

Words – 198

Dan’s “Not My Finest Moment” with a Twist

The low tire pressure light flashed on the dashboard of my Prius.  (I know, I know. Using the word “Prius” sounds so pretentious. I just want to be more descriptive than merely saying “car.”). Clearly, Prius owning, I had to have voted for Biden and Harris, which I did.

Ergo, late afternoon while driving to our Covid Pod friend Karen’s place in the Hah-Bah (by that I mean York Harbor, Maine), Hannah and I stop at the Mobil station to get air in my tires, deflated by winter’s cold.  Much to my chagrin, a BMW owner (not that there is anything wrong with that), is taking his sweet time trying to figure out the recommended tire pressure for his tires by, get this, looking for the numbers on his front tires in the near dark of late December. 

Late afternoon at the Mobil station at York Corners just days after our snowy visit

We decide to return after an afternoon with Karen of walking in the aforementioned Hah-bah, drinking white wine, munching on apps, and later playing cribbage. 

When we leave near 7P, a crusty inch of snow covers my Prius.   Hopefully, Hannah suggests that we fill the tires in the light of day tomorrow.  Stubbornly, I am of another mind.  Laser focused, I am determined to fill my tires despite the snow and dark.  You can already see that this isn’t going to end well.

At the Mobil station, air pressure service is no longer free and requires a credit card.  Hannah quietly and gently brings up that we can do this in the light of day when it is not snowing tomorrow.  I demur.  You can see that I am not a reasonable human being.

High tech tire calibration

Kneeling on the snowy pavement, upper 20s, bare-handed to attach the hose to my front left tire valve, I ask Hannah to flash her iPhone so I can find the tire valve itself.  She can’t be pleased, but I avoid eye contact since I only have four minutes to fill all my tires. 

Kneeling again in the pavement snow and my fingers chilling, I quickly go to each tire before my four minutes is up.  Hannah is not smiling, and metaphorically shaking her head.   Driving home, I see the low tire pressure light stays on.  Damn, foiled again.

No longer snow covered as it was that night

So what have I learned?  Well, one, I need to go back to the Mobil station tomorrow. Two, filling tires on a snowy night in the dark is probably not my finest moment.  But here’s the twist. 

My humanity is reaffirmed.  It’s a moment when I balance the real good decisions I make with this clunker.  My occasional screw-up reaffirms that I am not perfect, which I never was anyway.

Wouldn’t you say that makes me all the more lovable?  Perfect is never endearing. And now you know that you don’t have to go ten for ten with me either.

Dan and Hannah and Their California Winter of 2021

Today (January 16, 2021) was the day Hannah and I were to fly to California for our two months in Carpinteria.  We did not go.  Let me explain.

On the last day of 2020 we were hiking with our extended family.  Good times, masks, social distancing, the works.  The following day one of them started having a headache, sore throat, temp of 100F, and body ache.  Sure, it could be Covid, but this family took every precaution.  It didn’t seem possible. But damn if he didn’t have Covid. And the kicker is, he has no idea where it came from!

Consulting the Covid nurse at York Hospital, she thought that it was unlikely that we had Covid since we were outdoors and not in “close contact” (i.e. being within six feet for 15 minutes).  Even so, she recommended that we self-quarantine for ten days.  Better safe than sorry.

We met these “close contact” guidelines.

Jet Blue didn’t want us to fly anyway if we had any such contact for 14 days.  So we pushed back our January 9, 2021 departure by one week to today.

Self-quarantining was a bummer, but still very doable.  Gone was our Covid pod with Karen on Sundays, daily going to the gym that we have been doing regularly since June, weekly ping pong with George, going into any building (e.g. grocery shopping), and Hannah cutting hair.  Inconvenient but hardly a sacrifice. Our neighbor Laurie shopped for us.

On the morning of January 8, 2021 as Hannah and I lay in bed, I asked her if she felt safe flying to California.  She did, but it was the Covid crises in California that concerned her.

Currently in Santa Barbara County, there are 2,895 active cases in this third and worst wave of the virus; compared to just 241 during the peak of the first wave last spring and 444 in the summer surge.  The virulent, more contagious British variant of the original Covid also has been found in California.

It’s zero per cent in Los Angeles County and Santa Barbara County has record number of cases.

Since December 7, 2020, southern California has been under a Shelter at Home order by Governor Newsom.  Though California would rather not have us, we were technically good to go since we were staying for two months and could quarantine for fourteen days at our rented house.   

Though we are very healthy, quite the rule-followers when it comes to Covid protocols, and have ten months of being Covid-free under our belts, Hannah didn’t want to further stress the health care system with our presence. We are not invulnerable.

Carpinteria 2020

With that major medical concern real, I began thinking that my memory of winters past in Carpinteria might be muddling my thinking of what Carpinteria 2021 would be like during a Covid winter. 

We’d be pretty isolated with no pickleball connections (3-4 times per week in previous winters), no Unity of Santa Barbara connections, no Santa Barbara International Film Festivals, no movie theaters on rainy days, no community events at the local Alcazar Theater, limited time with our friends, Kim, Nancy, Claudia, and Bill since indoor gatherings, evenings, and parties are out.

True it would be sunny and warmer there for beach walking, Cruiser biking, and into the mountains hiking.  But the health risk to us and others eclipsed the lure of warm weather this year. 

We’ve been sitting with our decision for eight days, and it still feels like the right thing to do.

And wouldn’t Hannah’s brother Doug (1946-2002) and my college roommate Big Steve (1950-2011) love to be “stuck” in Maine for the winter? Hannah and I turn to gratitude at this time. AND… (drum roll)

… we are still celebrating the election of two Democratic senators from Georgia and a new president in four days. I’ve already begun planning a California national park tour to celebrate my 75th birthday in September of 2021 once we and much of the country have been vaccinated.  It seems vaccines will be available within two weeks in Maine for us 70+ year olds.

Here’s a first draft of national park itinerary.  We’d fly into LAX, spend three days in Santa Barbara, then head to Sequoia National Park, later to Yosemite…

California here we come, eventually.

Rather than morning beach walks on the Pacific this winter, Hannah and I will walk our Atlantic beaches and along the York River (see above) As you can see, that’s no sacrifice!

PS Though we had non-refundable tickets, Jet Blue has given us credit for them that we can use to schedule another flight in the coming year. The VRBO owner of our two month rental refunded our entire payment.

Long Sands Beach, York, Maine on a January 2021 afternoon

A friend from Santa Barbara who thinks our decision not to to come to Santa Barbara a wise one and a reader of this blog, sent out this news today from the Edhat newsletter of Santa Barbara. For the bad news, Santa Barbara County is now the worst county in California in terms of COVID-19 spread. This means, according to our data, a person with COVID-19 is likely to infect more people in our county as opposed to other counties. This is directly related to behavior and people not following the guidelines. Do not gather with anyone outside your household, wear a mask, and keep at least six-feet away from others. 

Dan’s Quote for 2021 – KGUA radio #32

For the January 11, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour, we are asked to free write about a meaningful quote. 

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.  – Mary Anne Radmacher

It must have been my DNA.  I was so shy as a kid, as a young adult, and on into my twenties.  Pray tell, how’d you ever choose to be a teacher, Dan?   Some therapist should be able to unravel that one.

Anyway, I was so worried what others thought about what I did.  Courage is what others had, not me.  Unfortunately, that lead me to play the role of being the good boy, making no waves since compliance and obedience seemed to work.  I don’t recommend it.

Escaping New Jersey for college in Ohio, I thought I could change the script.  Nope. But then, when I was so miserable in college, my little voice of courage sat me down for a little heart-to-heart.  That conversation led me to transfer as a senior, sight unseen, to Arizona State University.    

Following graduation, I stepped up my courage game by just moving to Anaheim, California, again sight unseen, to teach fifth and sixth graders.

And then it got real.  Uncle Sam said, Dan your number is up.  I want you to fight in Viet Nam.  With all the courage I had, I said no.  How could I go against my core?   I was a conscientious objector. 

These decisions got the courage ball rolling.  Still pretty shy to this day, I fight through that wall and fake it til I make it.  It turns out that courage is with me all the time.

Words – 261

Dan and Hannah Pandemic Hike with Owen and Max at Weir Hill, Massachusetts

First off, New England has some unusual pronunciations.  Check these out! Weir of Weir Hill is pronounced Wire??  How about these towns in Massachusetts? Leominster is Lemon-ster, Haverhill is Hayve-rill, and Gloucester is Glaw-ster! 

Owen, Max, and their Omi, parents in the background

With the pandemic winter here in New England, Hannah and I fortunately are still able to winter hike with our grandsons, Owen (8) and Max (6) and their parents on a regular basis. 

Listen to this line-up of trails that we have hiked since the cold and dark of 2020 came to stay: the Ring Trail at Mount Agamenticus in York, the Little Harbor Trail in Portsmouth, and through Steedman Woods to the Atlantic Ocean in York Harbor.  Our daughter Molly has found us a sweet #4.

Driving 50 miles south from our home on the last day of 2020, we arrive ready to hike the trails of the Weir Hill Reservation, a 194-acre public park located in North Andover, Massachusetts.   Though two weeks ago a foot of snow covered these trails, this New Year’s Eve Day we find that all the snow has melted.    

We hiked the yellow trail that circles the property

The trail begins with no lack of enthusiasm

Fully masked, we opt the 2.3 mile Weir Hill Trail loop with just 130’ of elevation that circumnavigates the property.  Max matches up with his Omi, telling his parents to go ahead because he and Omi have some trash-talking to do.  Trash-talking for this six year old means talking about his strategy for Sushi Go Party, a game that they received for Christmas.

Max with his Omi and Poppa

Molly and Tip

By the way, a fish weir is a submerged woven fence with stakes to catch alewives, a type of herring.  Hiking with a first and second grader is not linear; it means stopping and starting; we see them jump on to the larger trailside rocks and balance on the logs along the path.  Other times, Max reaches for my hand and Owen for his Omi. 

Arriving along the trail to the Lake Cochichewick, Owen climbs up on a bending trunk and finds a place for his brother. 

Later, Owen and Max scamper out a horizontal tree just above the icy water.  For many reasons, it’s great to hike with Molly’s whole family; among the reasons are that Hannah and I are not responsible for the boys’ safety.  That’s what they have parents for.

Molly and Hannah on the home stretch

Heading back to the trailhead with Molly, I ask her what she thinks lies ahead with the roll out of the Covid vaccines.  Will she feel comfortable resuming normal life once she gets the vaccine?  She just doesn’t know. As a public school teacher, Molly will soon get the vaccine.  What if 80% of the population has received the vaccine, what will she have her family resume doing?  She and I have no answers about what we will do. Stay tuned.

Even though we are 70+, I’d be surprised if Hannah and I get vaccines before spring.  I take on a mindset – expect the good.   There is a part two when needed.  If the not so good happens, find the good.  Worrying ahead of time is just self-induced suffering.

With lots of families on the trail this festive New Year’s Eve afternoon, the Weir Hill trails deliver for us all.