Nobody Wants Your Advice

Where was your concern for those ‘most at-risk’ when you were coughing in my asthmatic son’s face and making fun of him on social media for being sickly and weak?

“We don’t have flu shots available for children right now. They won’t be in for several weeks,” the nondescript, but smiling lady behind a makeshift card table tells me, mother of one. At the time, September 2014, my only son James is four months away from turning 13.

At the moment, he’s smiling, too. This is just a routine flu shot. We get those every year in the fall. Doctor’s orders since my pregnancy in 2001.

“But we have the FluMist,” she continues. “He can certainly have that” as long as he doesn’t have pre-existing asthma.

Oh, but he did. Unbeknownst to me and all his pediatricians, since his Swedish Ballard birth Jan. 21, 2002.

He never showed any signs. If he had, I trusted the medical professionals who examined him for wellness checks and the occasional sniffles and fever would’ve informed me.

They never said a word.

A well-known, former radio personality would rag on people who questioned the science of COVID restrictions, basically calling them selfish idiots. Wear your mask, protect one another, he’d say. The usual spiel. When I sent my son to deliver sourdough to the guy as thanks for helping sell our house, I asked how the delivery went, and fretted because I’d forgotten to remind my son to wear a mask. “He wasn’t wearing one,” my son said.

A little voice inside me said to wait. But the annoyed, busy mom wanted to get it out of the way, so we wouldn’t have to come back later, during the worst of the cold and flu season, and school, whose staff frowned on any absences, even legit ones.

I gave in.

I remember the nurse administering the shot warned that he may cough afterwards, but that was nothing to worry about. Temporary side effect. James proudly proclaimed, “I didn’t cough at all,” afterwards.

The next day, he felt mild flu-like symptoms but never told me till later, when things got considerably worse.

In three days, he began exhibiting signs of full-blown, uncontrolled, chronic asthma.

He complained he couldn’t catch his breath one sunny late September day, almost crying. He never cries. I rushed him to the nearest walk-in clinic, where our family doctor practices. Another doctor prescribed a week’s course of Prednisone, which made me nervous.

James started breathing easier on the third day, then progressively went downhill.

Remember when the media made a big deal about the flu killing healthy people who ALREADY got flu shots? They reported breathlessly, relentlessly on the escalating numbers, risks, and the science to fit the narrative (click-bait) of whatever headline they were pushing to sell papers and jack viewership. They kept making the flu worse and worse, until we all feared we would catch it inevitably — and then drop dead of complications, like sepsis. It went from, the flu shot will protect you from the flu, to the flu shot is only 10–15 percent effective in a bad season, didn’t you know that, dummy?, constantly edging toward this is the worst pandemic in history. They must’ve had the biggest boner when COVID hit.

The circle of life, yo.

He turned blue one or two nights later, trying to hold on so he could just get a few minutes of sleep. His father came home late from a gig, took one look, and rushed us all to the ER at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Children’s Hospital’s doctors, nurses, and breathing specialists were confounded. They kept asking us if he ever had asthma before. We said no. They put him through tests, checked for viruses (none were found), kept him overnight, showed him how to use the inhaler.

He sat miserably in his hospital bed, missing soccer practice and games. We felt helpless.

The poor kid would return to Seattle Children’s ER again, and after Thanksgiving, one more time, at Spokane’s Sacred Heart Hospital during a family trip.

More Prednisone. More ridiculous diagnoses.

It was up to us to find proper doctors. Keep up our appointments. Accept their asthma and their medical remedies, more inhalers, a controller — Qvar, then Symbicort and Singulair, and staying away from Timothy grass, and accepting the probability that he will always have a flare-up and possibly more ER visits whenever he caught even the mildest cold.

Doctors would tell us he had the flu when he had the cold, the cold when he had the flu. Nurses would deny he had the flu despite reporting flu-like symptoms (fever, muscle weakness, cough) because it was summer and, I quote, “people don’t catch the flu in August.”

At some point, not only did I blame myself for agreeing to give him the FluMist, but I didn’t believe a goddamned word the experts said to me about what was wrong with him. Neither did he.

I have no idea what he went through. This rigamarole destroyed him mentally and emotionally, as well, and convinced him to seek his own guidance and the support of friends who’ve been through similar and worse ailments.

I hate that he felt alone, on his own.

After about two years of faithfully taking him to a real asthma doctor, one of the best in the area, and navigating the school’s infringing, inflexible, inhuman attendance policies (the one they don’t advertise at welcome back events), his father and I did the Math, discovering that James had stopped taking all his asthma medications, cold turkey.

He couldn’t stand the side effects — crippling fatigue, vomiting, weakness, helplessness, confusion — and did his own Math. He learned to adjust, practiced breathing deeply, and slowly strengthened his body back to health, his way.

James is 19 now. Legally allowed make his own decisions. His body, his choice.

So, when you tell me what to do about COVID-19, scream endlessly about body counts, spiking infections, and vaccine passports, I tune out.

Been there, done that. Actually paid attention to the alarmist, hypocritical, back-and-forth backpedaling, pre-COVID.

I certainly don’t trust a word from the medical establishment.

With very few exceptions, my husband’s bladder cancer notwithstanding, they don’t know what they’re talking about. Worse, they don’t really care whether you live or die.

“One friend who bragged about her and her family’s strict adherence to COVID mandates (lies) during the height of the BLM protests — ‘We never go out without masks!’ ‘My children never go inside their friends’ homes to hang out!’ — would regularly get on me about merely questioning the restrictions. She told me later, apologetically, that she’d hugged my son without a mask on or social distancing. She also visited my home once, and when I asked whether we should have masks on, she said, ‘I don’t give a damn anymore,’ and took hers off.”

Before they died, friends with fatal illnesses have shared how little doctors cared, how very, very little…when they could’ve been the difference between the will to live and giving up.

It’s just a job to most of them at this point. A matter of survival. Dog eat dog.

You’re on your own. Make your own decisions. Trust your gut.

Live and die by your own rules, based on logic and past experience.

And for god’s sakes, if you survive, help others who are just beginning to go through their own private hell.

I can’t tell you how many moms and dads made us feel pathetic and weak, like James getting asthma was a personal failing — with all the social stigmas attached to a leper. They made light of his other health issues, breaking a pinky during a soccer game, then an MCL at practice, all within two months. A dad actually posted to me something to the effect of, “James tends to injure easy,” like there was something physically wrong with him, and that maybe he should be in better shape. (A few years later, his son suffered a leg fracture twice as bad. Not a word.)

During 2014–2015 when my son went through one of the worst periods of his life with the asthma attacks, only ONE MOM reached out with her own story about her own son, a star pitcher and football player. Mary told me, “It’s a bump in the road. You’ll get through this. Do what you have to do.”

Other than her, the general attitude from everybody else: “Sucks for you.”

All the times when I truly needed help, people checked out. Wasn’t their problem.

Now, they expect me to believe they do care about everyone’s welfare. They’re doing the best they can to beat this latest virulent virus.

And if we push back, we’re heartless, dangerous, and risking countless lives of the most vulnerable.

The mom with a million kids who never bothered with masking up and safe distancing, much less staying home if sick BEFORE, is now lecturing people on social media to do these very things, because of COVID & its deadly effects on those most at-risk. Cold & flu can kill those most at-risk, too, IDIOT.

Where were these “compassionate” people during pre-COVID cold and flu season who just went about their day, maskless, sick or not? The “friend” who coughed in my asthmatic son’s face in 7th grade…parents who went to every soccer game and practice sick as a dog, hacking up a lung…the celebrity singer who sang the “Star Spangled Banner” at SuperBowl halftime with the full-blown flu, then turning around a year or so later to be the spokesperson for COVID-19 precautions, lecturing the little people about staying our asses home, pretending like she gives shit?

NOW, it’s important to stay home when you’re sick. NOW, it’s important to let the attendance policy lapse and close down schools. NOW, it’s important to work from home. NOW, it’s okay to change the rules and make allowances for those MOST VULNERABLE AMONG US, because we’re in this together and we need to watch out for one another.

Kindly go fuck yourself. I’ll do what I want.

Nobody Follows COVID-19 Guidelines Correctly:

Just admit it and move on

Everyone fucks up. Yes, YOU:
•constantly pulling at your mask
•talking with your mask slipping off your nose, or half off your face
•re-wearing your mask for four days straight
•touching, hugging, making any bodily contact with me
•saying, “To hell with it,” halfway through a get-together at your place out in the backyard
•smoking/vaping around me
•refusing to cross the street as you jog, sweat, open-mouth breathe past me

Fucking up isn’t the problem. It’s human; we all do it. I’ve touched my mask out in public way too much, trying to get a good fit. If I talk, forget it. That mask is going down off my nose.

The problem is not acknowledging that we fuck up from time to time, acting like our shit doesn’t stink, and that delusion gives us carte blanche to tell others what to do. It’s an appalling lack of self-reflection, totalitarian arrogance, a complete disregard for the fact that we’re human and we don’t always do the right thing all the time. Sometimes we forget, we’re tired, we miss our loved ones.

Give us a break.

Instead of getting on your soapbox, judging and lecturing, be the human you are. Let up a little. When a friend comes to you feeling bad because her son often goes out without masking up, stop with the holier-than-thou outrage and rubbing it in about how you and your family NEVER. Yeah, you do. You just don’t realize it, or you’re so far up your own ass you don’t give a shit what your self-centered, self-righteous hypocrisy does to people who are struggling and just trying to do the best they can.

I bet you’re not masking up right now… Just own it.

Originally published at https://carolbankswebercoggie.wordpress.com on April 7, 2021.

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