Tag Archives: Covid

There’s something wrong with the world today

Like most people, I am absolutely gutted by the news that now 19 children and two teachers were killed at an elementary school last week.

It took time to process it and we’ll all still be processing it for a while. Acts this heinous, stir the core of our beings as we try to grapple with it being real.

I’m the couple days following, I noticed a general anxiety settle onto me that couldn’t be tied to anything in particular. Just an uneasiness. It saps my energy. I’m tired. Everyone is tired. It’s been two plus years of uneasiness. We’re screaming inside for normalcy. Normalcy like we had in 2019.

We were cleaning up dinner last night and my phone went off, a loud, blaring alarm that at first I thought was either the fire alarm or carbon monoxide alarm. I realized it was my phone and read that we were under a tornado warning and it said to take shelter immediately. Without missing a beat, all of us got to the basement with the dog and it just felt normal. It didn’t even trigger my adrenaline. I was oddly calm. Then again, after all the insanity of the last two years and the last couple days, a tornado doesn’t feel that scary when you’re in your home and all your loved ones are with you. We know what to do. We felt mostly protected. Our world as a whole used to feel that way too.

I don’t know all the details surrounding the school shooting. I do know that many people are feeling anxious and sad and that often turns to anger. It’s less scary when we can name our enemies and think we have all the answers to fight them. We can place all our negative emotions and feelings on this enemy and then we can do all in our power to defeat them and then we feel better. Anger, towards a particular foe is easier to feel than anxiety and grief.

So you will see people, politicians and those with a large platform getting angry and telling us what the simple solution is that will stop such an atrocity from ever occurring again. And they’ll tear into their political opponents and those that vote like they do and our already divided nation will divide into tribalism even further.

But I wish we could stop it. I wish we could take a beat to just process our collective grief before turning ugly towards one another yet again.

There’s something so broken in our country and I’ve never seen things as bad as they are today. It makes me yearn for the decades that I grew up in. No social media, I didn’t know any of my neighbors political beliefs.

Last weekend we had a block party on my street. It is something so simple, yet they are very rare today. People came over and chatted and politics just never came up. People talked to one another and shared food and the children all ran around playing and jumped in the giant bounce house. I couldn’t help but feel sentimental over it. After the last couple years it just felt so incredibly wonderful to get together with a bunch of people.

I don’t have the answers about why this horrible act occurred or how to prevent it but I do think it’s probably a complex problem that doesn’t have simple answers. I think if we just keep angrily shouting at each other instead of having respectful dialog, things will only get worse.

I hope in the days and weeks to come, you consider my words and try to process your feelings and fears instead of just latching onto political anger. I hope you spend more time talking to people in real life than arguing with people online or just posting hateful rhetoric to get a few likes from your echo chamber. If we want to change this world we have to stop what we’re doing!

I spent some time researching Woodstock the other night, of all random things. I looked at hundreds of photos of the event and they made me happy. There was so much unrest in 1969, yet our youth got together in a way that’s unimaginable today. I know there were dark parts of Woodstock too, but there was also pure joy and freedom. People looked happy and healthy. It’s hard to look at those pictures of a girl in a sports bra and shorts running through the mud with a smile on her face as a crowd smiled and cheered and imagine them now. Locked in their homes behind their computers and smart phones yelling at people online. What happened to them?!

We have got to get back to that spirit of peace and not war. Of love and acceptance. Of being able to talk to people that are different than us. Not just different in appearance but different in views. Even if we find their views “harmful”. Most people, regardless of their views want the same things and feel just as sad as we do when tragedy strikes. We should be want to unite in our collective grief right now instead of pointing fingers. We should be able to brainstorm solutions that everyone can agree on.

It’s a broken world and it’s always been that way and will always be that way. But it’s still beautiful and we can be part of the beauty or part of the brokenness.

Why we’re not getting the you know what

Ok, I’ve been wanting to write about the C O v I d v a c c i n e and explain all the research I’ve done on it, but I was afraid it would take too long and be too long to read.

Then it became an issue in our family and I was so passionate about it, I wrote it. And it felt so good to get all of that out! So here it is! It’s long. I don’t have links but anyone can look any of this up. I’m not a doctor and am not giving medical advice. This is simply MY opinion.

You should know I’m not trying to sway anyone from getting it. Everyone should make an informed decision based on YOUR circumstances that are not going to be the same as mine.

When I heard they were working on a vaccine for Covid, I was relieved. I assumed it would help us put this behind us and be able to get back to normal life. I assumed we would all take it! I assumed it would be a typical vaccine made with inactive or killed Covid virus.

When I learned it was different, I sought to understand it better and make an informed decision. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Do you know the history of vaccines? Edward Jenner is credited with developing vaccines but the true history is that many people beat him to it. When smallpox was running rampant, farmers had noticed that when milkmaids who had contracted cow pox from contact with open blisters from milking the cows were exposed to much deadlier smallpox, they didn’t get sick! So farmers started opening these blisters on cows and infecting their families with cow pox and it was indeed protective against genetically similar smallpox. Jenner eventually injected pus from cow pox into a little boy. The boy was exposed to smallpox repeatedly and did not get sick! This was in 1796. Yet it wasn’t until 1840 that Jenner’s work was accepted and put into the Vaccination Act.

Since Jenner’s time, science and vaccines have gone through many changes. It was discovered by mistake on a poultry farm that leaving live virus out in the sun weakens it (called attenuated). This weakened virus was found to be protective at creating immunity to the full live strain upon exposure just a couple weeks later. This would lead to the development of weakened live virus vaccines.

Do you know the history of the polio vaccine? It’s an interesting story.
Polio had been around for hundreds if not thousands of years and 98% of cases resolved without issue, however the polio that made it into the bloodstream caused severe illness or even death.

In the 1900’s it reached epidemic levels in mostly developed countries. There’s a theory that prior to this time, infants were exposed early in life through contaminated water and were able to develop immunity to it. Once sanitation increased, infants were not exposed to it early and were instead exposed later, which made them more vulnerable to the severe form of the disease.

In 1954 a polio vaccine was developed that contained inactive polio virus. Parents couldn’t wait to get their children vaccinated. In 1955, in what’s known as the Cutter Incident, 200,000 children were given a vaccination of a live strain of the virus instead and acquired polio and several children died. Unfortunately, viruses can sometimes attenuate back to full viral mode when exposed to the wrong conditions. Additionally, people with weakened immune systems were not able to get many vaccines because of this risk and had to rely on herd immunity (or the vast majority of the population being immune for protection).

Besides the risk to those with weakened immune systems, live, attenuated virus vaccines carried a risk of a higher number of adverse events (AE’s). So scientists got to work trying to create something that would provide similar protection to viruses without the increased risks.

The solution was many of the vaccines we have now. Some of them use killed viruses, like these:
Hepatitis A

Because immunity induced by a killed virus is not as long lasting as immunity from a live but weakened virus, typically more than one vaccination is needed to boost the immunity.

Another type of vaccine uses pieces of the virus or antigen instead of the entire virus to create immunity to that specific part. The great thing about these vaccines is that you cannot ever get infected from them and so even people with weakened immune systems can safely take them. Again on the downside though, induced immunity is not quite as strong as with the smallpox and polio vaccines that were able to protect the recipients from getting or spreading the disease for life. You can still get the disease, you’re just likely to have less severe disease since your immune system has a head start. These vaccines also come with the need for boosters. Because the immune reaction was sometimes not as strong, additives such as adenovirus are sometimes added to stimulate a more robust immune response. Examples of this vaccine are:
Whooping cough

These have been the standard vaccines we’ve grown up with. There are decades of research to show their effectiveness and risks. All vaccines come with risks. Even taking Tylenol or ibuprofen comes with risks. For the vast majority of people, the benefits to them far outweigh the risks. Nevertheless, there are small numbers of people that can’t and shouldn’t take these vaccines because of either allergies to the ingredients or previous vaccine adverse events.

I had assumed the Covid vaccines would be made using one of these methods, so even though the timeline was shortened, I felt confident enough in the decades of vaccine research that went into the vaccines I previously mentioned. However, scientists have been experimenting with a different kind of vaccine for decades and the Covid pandemic created an opportunity to get them widely available to the public quickly and at a low cost, without many of the risks of infecting anyone accidentally.

I had first learned about these mRNA and viral vector vaccines in cancer treatment. A young girl that I follow on social media that I’ve followed for years has been part of an ongoing clinical trial. She had cancer at the age of 2 or 3 and went through chemo which eradicated her cancer but nearly killed her. The chemo left her in acute liver failure and there were days I didn’t think she would make it. She miraculously pulled through, but her cancer has a high recurrence rate and the chemo was killing her. She has been receiving mRNA injections that teach her immune system to target her specific cancer, and thank God she has been disease free for the last few years. The injections she receives are not without side effects but she’s mostly living a normal life.
I have nothing against mRNA vaccines, as you can clearly see I believe they’ve been instrumental in helping this girl.

That said, I wanted to understand how they work.

I learned they are sent into our cells via a lipid (basically a fat) that allows them to enter into our cells much the same way the Covid virus and many other viruses that evade our immune system defenses do.

When a virus like Covid gets inside our cells, it uses its viral rna to hijack our cells and use them as little virus factories. Our own cells start pumping out baby viruses and eventually the cell swells with these virus particles and explodes, releasing all the baby virus into the surrounding tissues to sneak into and hijack more cells. But our immune system is smart, and the battle is just beginning. Our cells have a way to let the immune system know they’ve been hijacked.

On the outside of the cell, our cells can dangle particles of the virus, like a flashing billboard that shows the immune system what type of virus it’s infected with.

Then our immune system can create antibodies that will attach onto that part of the virus to mark it for destruction.
Similar to how the virus works, the mRNA vaccines are injected into muscle tissue where they sneak into muscle cells and use our cells to make a ton of little spike proteins (the same spike protein that Covid uses to sneak into cells). Like with the virus, once the cell swells enough with all these little spikes, it explodes, releasing the spikes into the blood stream to be found by the immune system. Just like with the actual Covid virus, our immune system sees the spikes and creates antibodies that can attach onto them and mark them for destruction.

Our immune system has memory. So once you’ve had Covid and gone through the process of creating antibodies, when you encounter it again, your antibodies recognize it right away and start pumping out the antibodies and you are able to defeat the virus before it’s really able to replicate and reproduce efficiently.

Our immune system works the same way with the vaccine. The vaccine teaches your immune system to produce antibodies to the spike protein, so if you encounter Covid, your antibodies are already primed to attach to the spike protein and mark it for destruction before it has ample time to replicate and an infection to take hold.

Obviously, one difference I want to point out is that the vaccine is only priming your antibodies to attach to the spike protein. When you have had an infection with Covid, your body has seen and reacted to the entire virus, not just a piece of it. So if the virus mutates, as they always do, you’re more vulnerable to the mutations if your immune system is only primed to fight certain pieces of it. Additionally, the virus enters our bodies in the wild via the respiratory tract, the nose and lungs and infects those tissues. It is a different mode of delivery than the vaccine being injected into muscle tissue and scientists are trying to find out currently how that is playing into things.

Obviously, the benefit of getting the vaccine instead of the live virus is that you don’t have to go through a full infection and all the risks that go along with it. Yet it doesn’t offer as complete protection as having recovered from the virus. But if Covid is going to kill you, obviously, having protection against severe disease is a great trade off.

There’s debate currently about how long natural immunity lasts to Covid and how long vaccine induced immunity lasts. There’s strong evidence that in people without compromised immune systems, immunity is very long lasting, possibly for life. They are able to speculate on this because they have found memory B and T cells that fight Covid in those with prior infections. Our antibody levels will continue to wane the longer out we are from encountering the virus, because we would swell into blimps if we continued to carry a high antibody load in our blood to every virus we’ve ever encountered our entire life! So our immune system makes some copies of antibodies that go into the blood to protect from an infection but it sets aside some “in the bank” if you will, (but really in the bone marrow and lymph) to keep in case it’s needed again.

You can boost your antibody levels by getting a vaccine booster, or by encountering the virus again. It’s important to note that even if you have no antibodies in your blood to Covid, as long as you have those memory B and T cells stored away, you still have a high level of immunity to reinfection.

Not everyone has a strong immune system. After age 65, it is well documented that the immune system starts to decline. Chicken pox is an excellent example of this. Most of us had chicken pox as young children, and it’s another virus that tends to be mild in the young and can cause serious complications the older you are. It’s why, before there was a vaccine, it was common for parents to purposely infect their young children so they had it when they were young and had lifelong immunity. My own parents did this and brought me to a friends house to play that had chicken pox! My daughter got chicken pox when she was 6 months old (too young for the vaccine) and nearly 3 decades after I had it, I still was immune and didn’t get it.

Your immune system never really “defeats” the chicken pox though. It pushes it to hide within your nerve cells and lies dormant there your entire life. However, after age 65, your immune system declines and that’s why they recommended the shingles vaccine for the older population. It’s essentially a booster for the immune system to prevent the virus from coming out of hiding and causing extreme symptoms. Bouts of intense stress can also dampen the immune system and so sometimes young people can get shingles infections too. The immune system is dampened enough to allow that virus to come out of hiding and wreak havoc.

So people with weakened immune systems may not have the ability to fight off Covid when they encounter it again and get reinfected. That’s why it’s important to get the data, on the 1% of Covid reinfections to see what the ages are of those becoming reinfected. It’s also important to genetically sequence the virus each time a person tests positive to make sure it’s a different virus and not just that the body hasn’t cleared the original infection or that the test is picking up dead viral load.

Remember, immunity doesn’t mean you won’t encounter the virus again, it just means that the virus will not have the ability to replicate and produce live virus that could then transmit to someone else. To date, the cdc has released a statement that they do not have a single documented case in the US of someone becoming reinfected with Covid and transmitting it to another person. And that’s in 2 years of this virus being here!

Ok, so maybe natural immunity IS long lasting but why not just get the shot? It’s shown it boosts antibody levels in those with prior infections so it can’t hurt right?

While it’s very true that getting the vaccine after a natural infection will cause a spike in antibody levels, that doesn’t mean it increases protection. Just like you can’t be a little bit pregnant, if you’re immune, you can’t be “more immune”. Ok, but what’s the harm?

Hopefully, there is no harm. What if there is? We’ve literally never done a vaccine that enters our cells in much the way a virus does and hijacks our own cells to get them to become little spike protein factories. It’s true that viruses have been doing this to us since our co-existence with them. And it’s caused a lot of issues. There’s still much we don’t understand about auto-immune diseases like my mom’s MS.

They know there’s a genetic component. They’ve found mutations on several different genes that people with autoimmune diseases seem to share but they don’t all share the same mutations or even the same set of gene mutations and people that have the mutations don’t always have autoimmune.

There’s a much higher incidence of autoimmune diseases in climates the furthest from the equator leading to the theory that low vitamin D levels are also a contributing factor.

The last piece of the puzzle seems to be some immune event in people with genetic components that also live further away from the equator. Frequently, among people with MS, many of them had a really bad bout of a virus, flu or mono before the age of 18. The theory is that whatever the virus did to the people predisposed, caused the immune system to overreact and attack healthy myelin (the fatty sheath that protects nerve cells). This is what MS is. Your own immune system attacks your nerve coatings as though they are a virus and it damages nerve and brain tissue. It’s a terrible disease. Watching what it’s done to my mom over the last 10 years specifically has been awful. There is no cure. All she can do is take medicine that weakens her immune system in the hopes it will then leave her nerve coverings alone.

With my mom, sister and my aunt all having autoimmune diseases, I have to assume that I’m genetically predisposed and that my children are too.

Could the fact that our own muscle tissue cells are used by the vaccine to become little spike protein factories turn our immune system against our muscle cells? Many neurologists are sounding the alarms but are sadly being censored because they don’t want people to question the vaccine. If this does happen, it’s not something we would see for likely 5-10 years as autoimmune diseases are slow progressing and notoriously hard to diagnose.

If someone has a high likelihood of dying or having severe disease from Covid, it makes sense that they would take this risk of unknown 10+ years down the road. And the less years of your expected life, the more it makes sense to not worry as much about unknown long term effects.

For our family, we have to hope (nothing is guaranteed) to have many decades of our lives yet to live, and I don’t want even the slightest risk to any of us of a terrible life long disease like MS because we took a vaccine that we likely didn’t even need.

Additionally, the spike protein in and of itself has been found to cause havoc throughout the body. They have found the spike, and not the virus in brain tissues of some of the people who died of Covid. Scientists theorize that in people who get a more severe infection, the spike protein and virus has infected many more parts of the body and created inflammation there. So should we be turning our muscle cells into little spike protein factories and causing inflammation throughout the body? Scientists have said our body does this “for a few weeks” after receiving the vaccine. What could happen during these few weeks of spike protein floating around our blood and going into our organs and tissues, including the brain? I don’t know, but I would rather wait and see.

Additionally, there are adverse events occurring as a result of the vaccines. This is the case with every single vaccine, as I’ve said. Even Tylenol and ibuprofen can cause issues and are generally regarded as safe. The most serious AE’s of course are blood clots and strokes, Bell’s palsy and GBS, and myocarditis. I’m aware that the chance of these AE’s occurring is incredibly small given such a large number of people who have received the vaccine. But they do occur. Why would we risk one of these AE’s for a virus we’ve already survived and possibly have robust immunity to?

Myocarditis is being classified as mild, though it does involve hospitalization for children. Are you aware the heart damage it causes is irreversible? Once the heart is damaged, it cannot repair itself, but it scars, which can cause lifelong complications and the 10 year survival rate is 50%. Now that’s probably lower than it would be in children because the age and health of those that get myocarditis is probably already compromised but my kids hopefully have a long life ahead of them and I’m not willing to take the risk of 161 kids out of one million vaccinated getting myocarditis when we just don’t know what those kids will have in 10 years.

Furthermore, there are less serious AE’s that have occurred in people we know for which science has not really explained. For example, many women have had heavy vaginal bleeding following vaccination, including some women that I know. So far, the explanation has been that it’s stress from vaccines causing menstrual irregularities, because it’s very easy to write off women’s issues as “stress” or not take them seriously. That doesn’t explain why women who are well past menopause suddenly having heavy bleeding. It doesn’t explain trans men who are taking hormones having bleeding.

I could continue to give perfectly rational and well thought out explanations for why we feel it’s best to wait, but I think I’ve explained that much enough. Another factor for me is that I don’t like how hard they are pushing the vaccines on everyone and I will not be a part of that. I hope you are all aware of what is happening in Australia with the vaccine mandates. I listened to an interview last week of a woman that lives in Australia that has well documented and severe allergies to Polyethylene glycol, which is in the mRNA vaccines in addition to a whole host of other medical complications she has that make her a perfect candidate for a vaccine exemption.

In Australia, the messaging has largely been that everyone must get vaccinated to protect those who can’t get the vaccine. Well, this woman has well documented anaphylaxis to these ingredients and has had to be hospitalized after multiple injections of epinephrine that nearly killed her and she has not been able to obtain an exemption. Her doctor has told her that she would not vaccinate her in her office because it’s too risky, but she also will not write her a medical exemption because it’s too risky to her practice! She then was told to try this hospital that specializes in allergies and was told it’s a 6-12 month wait and this woman will not be able to work or be in society without the vaccine or a medical exemption.

Once her story broke, a lot of people reached out to her to try to help and recommended a doctor that was writing medical exemptions. By the time she contacted his office, she was told his office was currently being investigated by the health and human services authorities. People have told her she should just go to a hospital and get the vaccine and get an epi pen and allow them to treat her. They are essentially asking her to risk her life, as there is no guarantee that an epi pen is going to be effective each successive time and that the epinephrine itself won’t kill her. It’s absolutely insane, and I highly recommend everyone listen to this interview. It’s by Brett Weinstein for free on Spotify.

It’s extremely concerning that in a country like Australia, they can push these mandates and say there will be medical exemptions granted, but then, when you see that doctors are too scared to write them, there really is not an allowance for medical exemptions and that should terrify everyone. So I am absolutely against being shamed and guilted to get the vaccine by any authority or non authority. It is very upsetting to me that it’s thought acceptable to discriminate in this way.

To close, we respect everyone’s choice on whether or not to get vaccinated or get your kids vaccinated. It is not an easy choice for anyone and none of the choices available are free from risk.

I want to show everyone just how much research I’ve put into this. I didn’t watch a bunch of YouTube videos or follow some conspiracy theorist online. I read medical textbooks that I had to read more than once to make sure I understood. I have read medical journals. I have talked to doctors including my own who was perfectly fine with my decision not to get vaccinated. I don’t expect everyone to reach the same conclusions I did, but I do want the amount of time and effort I have put into this to be respected.

As for the vaccines, we know that vaccinated or unvaccinated can contract Covid. If you have Covid virus replicating in your body, you can spread it. So I just hope everyone knows that having the vaccine will not prevent someone spreading it to you if they are sick.

Another lie that keeps repeating is that the unvaccinated are causing the variants. The truth is that any host that has a weakened immune system allows the possibility for a virus to mutate and for those mutations to take a foothold and then be passed on.

Please, fact check me on any and all of this. I really want people to have information and not just these politicized views of people who are not getting this vaccine. I want people to know why we feel this way!! I’ve done interviews with researchers in the area because I want people to know we are rational and sane.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.

The immune system

This is part 2 of my writings on the shot for Covid. You can read the first part here.

To understand how the shot works, it’s necessary to understand the immune system. I am not a doctor, or an expert but all of the information I provide is from my own search for understanding and I encourage everyone to find this information yourself.

The immune system has two basic parts, the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system.

The innate immune system is best understood if you think of what happens if you step on a nail. There’s pain and redness and swelling that happens at the site of the injury. There are many things happening in the area, and all together it’s described as inflammation. This inflammation is protecting you from any number of bacteria or viruses that were on that nail when it broke through the skin. It is non specific, meaning, it doesn’t care if it’s virus or bacteria or what particular kind. It’s there to get to work on any foreign invaders that can do you harm.

The next part of the immune system is the adaptive immune system. This is the system responsible for creating specific antibodies to defend against specific invaders. It’s more complex than that of course, but I won’t go too far down that rabbit hole just yet. The innate and adaptive immune systems work together to keep you safe and healthy.

So to understand a virus like Covid, and how it attacks you, it’s important to understand a bit about these parts of the immune system.

The Covid virus is incredibly small. Only 120 nanometers. For reference, one strand of human hair is 75,000 nanometers. https://www.ocregister.com/2020/04/10/coronavirus-heres-how-small-the-enemy-is-and-how-it-attacks/

These viruses are so small they are aerosolized, which means you can inhale the virus just by breathing around someone who has been infected and is exhaling these particles.

So if you do happen to inhale these particles into your lungs, they have a spike protein we’ve all heard so much about that is able to bind to your cells via ACE2. This means the virus is able to enter any cells that have this receptor. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32418199/

Once the virus has gained entry into these cells it’s able to hijack our own cells and use the virus RNA to get our cells to produce copies that then leave the cell to go on and infect more cells and create more copies of itself so that eventually the new host is breathing out these viral particles too.

But it’s not as though your body just sits there and allows the virus to slowly take over. Your immune system is actually AMAZING. It’s so complex that there are still things we don’t fully understand about it.

Like when your cells get highjacked by the Covid virus, even then they are sending out SOS signals that your body picks up on and reacts to. Your innate immune system and adaptive immune system work together, like all forces of our National defense work together to fight a foreign invader. You have the Army, Navy, Air Force, National Guard and certain special forces, all with different goals and operations with ultimately the same goal of keeping you safe.

Amazingly, everyone has the ability to make antibodies to pretty much any virus. The way your cells can rearrange their proteins to make these specific antibodies is nothing short of amazing. It’s kind of like a lock and key. Your B cells are trying to attack Covid and trying different combinations to find just the right mix. Once they do find the right combination, there is a positive feedback loop that sends out signals telling your immune system “this is working!” And so those B cells start proliferating and producing more and more. Once your adaptive immune system gets going on this, it works with the innate immune system to neutralize the threat.

Even after the threat is neutralized you still have a lot of these specific antibody B cells floating around in your blood. If the same invader tries to attack again, your body is primed to neutralize it much more quickly, often before you even have symptoms.

Vaccines have worked based on how the immune system works. People figured out that milkmaids who encountered cowpox, which caused blisters but was not very deadly, we’re not getting sick with smallpox, which was much more dangerous. Farmers were found to have purposely exposed their families to cowpox blisters and it was effective at keeping them from getting smallpox when outbreaks occurred in their communities.

This was effective because cowpox and smallpox viruses were so similar that the specific antibodies that cowpox produced were also effective at neutralizing small pox.

Eventually, many vaccines used either dead or weakened strains of the actual virus and found that with the right additives they could effectively produce an adaptive immune response without the host having to go through the risk of the actual sickness. And thus, in developed parts of the world, many of these illnesses that caused great injury and death have mostly been eradicated. But it hasn’t been exactly a perfect road. I won’t get too deep except to say that you should look up what happened with the polio vaccine sometime just for a bit of interesting knowledge. Oops. Yep, just like with anything in life, vaccines are not risk free.

Along with some of the best inventions, there has been great cost. Think about the invention of the car and how it forever transformed the way we move. Yet auto accidents remain one of the highest causes of death. Antibiotics, of which the discovery was by pure accident (another fun story to look up) have saved countless numbers of people from early death, yet they have also caused some death by giving rise to antibiotic resistant bacteria.

So when I talk about risks with shots for Covid, it doesn’t mean that I am against the shot. It means I believe in people making informed decisions taking the risks and benefits into account. That is not at all what is happening with these shots and as a result, people are no longer trusting in people and institutions that have had much of the public’s trust for years.

So why is this Covid shot different from other shots? I’ll get into that more next.

Health and research

I know, I know, you’re sick of hearing about Covid. Me too, yet we can’t seem to stop talking about it.

Is this going to be controversial? I don’t know. It seems like just about any topic could be these days. When we politicize every single aspect of life, that’s what’s going to happen.

I’m not into politics. I vote. I read. I have opinions on issues but for the most part, I keep those to myself and am able to listen openly to the views of others that differ from my own. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a politically divided home so I witnessed my parents having polar opposite political views, maybe it’s because I met so many different people over the years through running and I’ve allowed different viewpoints to open my mind (from CEOS and VPS of major companies to the grifters). But I also think as my spirituality has grown, I’ve seen the way that politics very much becomes an idol for some people.

So I come from the standpoint of someone who doesn’t want things to be so politicized and believes there is corruption (a great deal of it) in every level of our government, on all political sides. So hopefully, you understand I’m not pushing an agenda, or a political party or anything of that nature. In other words, I’ve tried to remove any bias. While it’s likely impossible to completely remove all bias, I certainly do my best to go with fact and truth, regardless of whether or not it fits in with my worldview.

Back in March of 2020, there were so many unknowns. By June of 2021 we have learned so much and are still learning.

There continues to be politicization of Covid and even the shot. I’m not going to say v a c because there’s a lot of censorship going on. Lately, the news media has been trying to further divide people by posting that it’s conservatives that are largely hesitant of getting the shot. Yet, I know in my own life this is simply not true. I know lifetime democrats who do not want it, and I also know lifetime republicans that happily got it.

I think what the government and media are failing to realize is that people are so much smarter than they give them credit for. Also, people today in the US have access to more information at their fingertips than ever before in history. Now, not all of that information is credible to be sure, but nevertheless, it’s out there.

So of course the best course of action for the government to take would be to take politics right out of it and give factual information, even if they think it might cause people to not get the shot. It’s honest, and that is how you build trust. It takes years and years to build trust, but its lost in a single moment of dishonesty.

We like to throw around labels and say that people are anti you know what. Is that helpful? Or is it a bullying tactic to shut down honest conversation?

For me personally, I’ve always blindly trusted in the shots and even always got the flu shot. There are a lot of people out there like me and I can tell you a lot of people are now questioning shots in general, because they feel the government has been dishonest with the public. But instead of humbly reassessing, the government and officials seem to be digging in.

What is my opinion on the shot? I think it’s amazing that we were able to get one available so quickly. Obviously, Covid was a huge threat to many people and since the shot became available, the death rate for Covid has completely plummeted. That’s a great thing! Additionally, the science on MRNA has very promising research going into it for very hard to treat cancers and diseases such as MS.

That said, every thing in life comes with risks. The shot is not free from these risks and normally there is a risk/benefit analysis that occurs before taking any drug into your body. That is simply not happening here and the message being sent is “get the shot or you’re selfish”, or “if you have questions you must be anti science and anti you know what, conspiracy theorist”, or the new one “All you Trumplicans are so uneducated, you aren’t even worth the air you breathe”.

These are bullying tactics and thus far they have not been helpful in moving the needle for those hesitant of the shot.

Could you imagine raising your children this way and then being surprised when they revolt? It’s disgusting.

Look, the shots have risks. They have short term risks and they have long term risks. All shots have risks.

We know that people who are over 65 have the greatest risk from Covid. We also know that people who are obese, have diabetes, heart disease, cancer, are smokers, or have inflammation type diseases are at greater risk from Covid. If people are going through and checking off those boxes, the risk of serious injury or death from the shot is probably lower than the risk of death or serious injury from Covid. It makes sense, that these are the people who would want to get the shot.

Then there’s people who are young and healthy and want the shot because they still don’t want to get Covid. They are aware of the risks of the shot and willing to take on that risk for the benefit of feeling more protected if they do encounter the virus.

Then there are people who are not really worried about Covid and would rather wait it out on the shot.

And then there’s children and people who have already had and recovered from Covid.

I know people in all of these groups. It’s complicated because there’s a lot of pressure and a lot of threatening and coercion going on. Even our own government agencies are putting information out there that is not true. People don’t know who to trust or where to go for information. We should never shame people for non credible sources. Not everyone knows how to find a good source, but that doesn’t mean they are stupid.

When a situation like Covid happens, and science is changing by the day, it’s important to know how to find a good source. Doctors and nurses that have been treating patients are a good source of information typically but in this highly politicized climate there’s a lot of censorship going on and also severe consequences for speaking outside the standard talking points.

I’ve found keeping up with current research is the best way to stay on top of the latest and greatest information but even that comes with some careful caveats. Medical journals such as the Lancet and Nature have been posting free research on Covid, which is great but much of it is prior to peer review. This is fine, but if someone doesn’t understand research really well, and the article has not been peer reviewed, it’s possible to miss some serious red flags.

I’ll give a non Covid example. I had a c-section delivery with my first child. When I was pregnant with my second I had a choice on whether or not I wanted to have a trial of labor or schedule a repeat c-section. Both had potential risks, so I poured myself into the research to help make my decision. The research supposedly showed that a repeat c-section is safer for the baby and more risky for the mom. That didn’t sit well with me so I went and found the actual study that this conclusion was based on and found that in the vaginal birth after c-section group, there were 2 infant deaths out of around 1,000 healthy births, and that was why they were making that claim. If you do the math, you know that is less than 1%. While any death of the baby is a tragedy, there was no additional information given surrounding those two deaths that could have helped understand what happened better. So I brought this information with me and had a very candid conversation with my doctor. She explained further to me that if she didn’t think I was a good candidate for a trial of labor, she would recommend against it. She also explained that this was why the hospital had strict protocols in place for what’s allowed during a trial of labor after c-section and what’s not. For instance, the hospital allows trial of labor because they have an OB on call at the hospital 24/7 and an anesthesiologist so if the worst happens, they are able to quickly perform an emergency c-section. I ended up having two successful VBACS! The research and science was good, but sometimes conclusions are poor.

So when reading studies, ask who is doing the study and why are they doing it? Also, the way the study happens is important. Are people aware of what they are getting and will that psychologically alter their thoughts and opinions? How did they select the participants? Are all groups represented? Many clinical trials historically have not included women because of our unique reproductive system that can skew results so unfortunately, women are often not represented. How many people were in the trial? Do the conclusions made match the results? In the c-section example, 2 out of 1,000 is a very small number to draw such conclusions from.

Real science always allows for questions and good debate. I’ll write more about what current research says and other ways to protect yourself from Covid.

Your voice matters

The weekend before last, my 8 year old had a soccer game. While we were there watching, something very strange was happening. There were two adults roaming the fields policing the mask policy.

This is not a post to discuss the merits of wearing a mask or whether or not you agree with the policy. The two individuals that were on the soccer field that day were going above and beyond any requirements. Here’s a run down of what happened.

My mom, who is someone I consider a mask wearing advocate if you will was sitting outside, more than 10 feet away from anyone else when we arrived and she was sipping her coffee. The lady approached her and reprimanded her for having her mask pulled down and told her she needed to pull it up in between sips.

My daughter, when she was sitting off the field during her rest period, outside and not near anyone and who had her mask pulled down to get some fresh air (she plays soccer with a mask on, which I am not a fan of but we comply) was reprimanded and told to pull her mask back up.

My husband (the coach) was wearing a black gator type mask (he’s running during the games up and down the field too) was handed a medical mask by the man and told her needed to wear that instead of the gator.

I had brought food and was snacking on our blanket, again, outside and seated no where near anyone else and was told I needed to keep my mask up in between bites and then the woman stood off and stared at me for a couple minutes to make sure I got the message.

Many other spectators were sitting spread far apart and were also harassed and one of the girls on my daughters team was distressed watching her grandpa argue loudly with the two Individuals before he was asked to leave.

The whole experience left a very bad taste in my mouth. Again, this is not about the merits of mask wearing to prevent the spread of Covid. For the most part, everyone at the game was complying with the rules. It felt like the two individuals were there to “get people”.

I used to work as an official for the state high school track meet. I remember clearly, the head official telling us all that we were not there to try to “get people out”. We were told to always give warnings to athletes and only disqualify someone when absolutely necessary to ensure fair play. It was supposed to be fun competition and if we did our jobs, most of the time no one knew we were there.

So I go back to the soccer game. Kids and parents are there trying to have fun and the two individuals turned it into something completely different.

My husband sent an email to the organization and apparently many other parents did too. Enough parents complained that they scheduled a virtual meeting about it that very week. My husband was very kind in his email. He just asked for clarification on what exactly the rules are and where they were coming from. He tried to find some of them that people were being harassed about on the soccer page and the health department page and couldn’t find them.

Other parents had these same questions and wanted to know what organization the two individuals represented. We are not involved in baseball or softball but some parents have kids that play baseball and softball too and pointed out the difference in enforcement at the ball fields.

The day after the meeting the soccer organization sent out an email admitting that it was not the county health department enforcing these rules but rather volunteers from within the organization that took it upon themselves to be the mask police under the guise of trying to not get soccer shut down by the health department. They told us they would no longer be roaming the fields, and indeed the next Saturday was a much better experience for all. They then requested that we all follow the rules because the county health department could show up at any time.

This is exactly what happens when people take it upon themselves to be the authority in righteousness. Churches have long been criticized for similar tactics. It’s like this with raising children too. If you try to be too authoritarian, you may win the particular battle but eventually your kids will resent you if your rules are harsh and serve no purpose. They will learn how to not get caught and take pleasure in defying you. However, if you take a more authoritative approach and let your children have as much freedom as possible while also keeping them safe and healthy they will feel respected and in turn have more respect towards you if they feel your rules were fair and that you weren’t just trying to control them. I try to even let my toddler have as much freedom as possible. If it’s not that big of a deal, I give him choices and save the things that are non negotiable for the times I have the authority.

People like to be treated with respect and allowed the maximum amount of freedom to make their own choices. My opinion is that these two individuals are particularly strong advocates of mask wearing and that people who do not want to wear masks in all situations really bother them. They feel they are carrying out some moral responsibility by policing people as though their lives depended upon wearing masks while seated more than 6 feet away from people while outdoors. They are not following the science and they further work to divide people by proving to those that are already against blanket mask mandates that they are more concerned with the morality of it than the science and health.

I think we all need to do our best to lower the temperature. We should speak up when something isn’t sitting right with us, like my husband and many parents did. It should always be done in a respectful way, and then I believe it really does make a difference.

Fall is here, back to school?

“If you had asked me 20 years ago if I would ever homeschool my kids, I would have laughed.” I was telling my high school friends this just last week. Welcome to 2020 and all the other crazy things I never would have believed would happen this year as I stared it down December 31st of 1999 when everyone was freaking out about Y2K!

I have decided to homeschool my 2nd grader this year. It was by no means an easy decision. If you see the dark circles under my eyes, a lot of it is from lost sleep over this decision. That said, as we edged closer and closer to the start of school in some form, I’ve felt more and more confident that it’s the best for our family.

There are many reasons that in person school didn’t feel right to us this year. There were also a lot of reasons the online option didn’t appeal to us. Now that more information has been released, it’s even less appealing. To be clear, I’m not blaming teachers, administrators or schools in any way for their decisions. Family and friends of mine are teachers and I know some of what they have been going through lately too and wish everyone could understand the impossible situations they are facing.

I thought our teachers did a fantastic job this spring with no training and no time and many of them small children at home to take care of. Even with the fantastic job they did, the online format just did not work well for us. For one thing, we don’t have reliable, fast internet. It seemed with Tim working from home and using it too, we had daily issues.

Then there was the whole computer aspect. If Alex accidentally clicked something I would have to help her get back to wear she was.

Then there was just the fact that she hated watching videos. She’s a bright girl and I don’t say that to brag at all, rather to try to explain the depth of the frustrations she faced. She hated watching a 15 minute video lesson when she knew how to do it. I would catch her yelling at the screen.

We also don’t do a ton of screen time and it’s not an exaggeration when I say that I saw some very clear anger issues rising up that I believe were a direct result of all that screen time. For older kids, the online learning might be better, but for my very active 7 year old, it’s just not what she needs.

So I never thought I’d be homeschooling but here we are! Now let me talk about the positives. Maybe this can help another parent who is struggling with what to do. Maybe I can encourage someone that they can do it!

The first positive is that I live in a wonderful neighborhood with amazing neighbors, many of whom will be homeschooling for the first time too. Not everyone has that so I feel so very thankful. My kids will still be able to socialize during the day.

Next, I can work to her pace. In an online setting the teachers can’t tell who is following along and who is stuck. I can take extra time on the areas she is struggling with and also move more quickly in the areas in which she is excelling.

It’s not as much “work” as I thought. When you remove riding the bus, having the kids stop by their lockers, getting the class ready to learn, moving to and from recess and specials there is a lot of time spent on that that doesn’t happen at home. For second grade it’s about 1.5 hours a day of schoolwork. Not 6 hours. And there are so many parts we can make fun. So much learning happens in just living. And if you are very intentional about it, you can turn many every day activities into learning. My kids love exploring nature and I’ve been more conscious about the conversations we have.

Our set up will not be affected if the schools need to shut down again. We won’t be thrown into a new online program and trying to change our home dynamics completely again. I do anticipate this new adventure will be difficult at times. I don’t think it will be easy. That said, I don’t anticipate it to be more challenging than the spring was for our family.

Finally, my daughter’s and our family’s mental health is a huge consideration. While I noticed some times of stress in Alex during the online schooling in the spring, as a whole, she has been thriving. I say this with humble gratitude of the neighborhood community in which we live. If I was upset or stressed out about the state of our country, my kids didn’t know it. I’m not saying they don’t know there’s a pandemic going on, they do. It’s still affecting many aspects of our lives. However, I don’t believe it benefits them (or really any of us) to live in that constant cycle of stress.

Also, our family has the flexibility to travel as we wish without worrying about her being pulled out of school. We purchased a new camper this summer and there are plenty of great fall camping opportunities both near and far and sometimes when the stress of the world is getting to be too much, it’s been great to get away and unplug for a bit.

I’m getting more and more excited the closer we get to starting! I know there’s a lot of strong opinions about what parents should do. I want to stress to other parents that there is no right decision and there is no wrong decision. You have to do what works best for your family and not allow others to make you feel guilty for your choices. I know some people won’t like that my daughter is not going to the public school. Hopefully they will be happy to know I’m doing a partnership. What this means is that my daughter will count for the school to receive money from the state and in return the school pays for a couple of classes. We chose for Alex to take a ninja class once a week (this is entirely dependent on the facility being able to hold classes which has not happened yet) and then we chose a monthly box subscription. The subscription box is a nature kit and we just received the first one and it’s so cool!

I plan to write about and share some of our experiences, hopefully to encourage others! One of the things I’ve found is that the homeschooling community is amazing and the parents that have been doing it have been more than willing to help us first timers get started. They are so so nice and welcoming!

For those reading who are not making these difficult choices, my only request is just to be supportive of the people in your life that are making these decisions with their kids. Their choice may not be what you would do, but trust that they know their kids and family dynamics the best and that likely there is no perfect option. I do get emotional when I think about my daughter missing out on art and music and PE class. I think about not hearing her sing at Christmas, and how she was so brave to go out for and sing a solo last year. I think about the football games she went to and the various parties and events we went to. Then I remind myself that these things are likely not going to happen this year if she were going to school anyway. We are all doing the best we can with a very difficult situation. I’m hoping that we end up having lots of fun and enjoy some extra family bonding and make the sweetest lemonade from these sour lemons.

Lastly, I’m thankful. It’s worth saying again. The children and teachers very much need our love and support and prayers right now. Nearly 4 years ago when Tim and I were thinking of me leaving my career and staying home this was not a situation we ever thought we would encounter. I remember something my aunt said to me, “The Lord will provide”, which I clung to during those first couple really tough years. Additionally, when I look back at us purchasing our house 12 years ago, we just liked the house and yard and the fact it was in a court. I couldn’t have imagined then how our neighbors would become like family to us.

Parents, I wish you all the best this school year with whatever you chose!