Another Year, another Day

Recently I was fortunate to celebrate finishing another orbit around the sun.

That’s fifty eight so far. When you’re young you know you’ll live forever. When you’re old you know you’ll die someday. I’m at the uncertain age when I hold both thoughts in my head at the same time.

Evan most likely caught a flu infection during a sleepover last Saturday at a friend’s who wasn’t yet symptomatic. His parents texted us to warn us that their son had the flu on Monday morning. Early Tuesday morning Evan had a high fever and threw up. Evan’s pediatrician ran some tests. Evan came in negative for Covid and positive for flu. He was on Tamiflu by that evening after throwing up three times. Jo, Vivian, and I tried to be careful, and Evan isolated pretty well. After two years of pandemic we all knew the routine. But by 6pm on Wednesday I was distinctly unwell. Jo suggested I do a quick tele-health consult with a doctor. By 7pm he had called in a prescription for Tamiflu. By 8pm Jo had stood in line at the nearest 24-hour HEB pharmacy for 45 minutes to pick up my prescription. At 9pm I popped my first Tamiflu. Jo checked my temperature. One hundred and three point five degrees. She sighed. I grimaced. In 36 hours Evan and I were scheduled to be on a long airplane ride. Evan was on a trajectory to recovery but things didn’t look good for me. How I celebrated my birthday the next day wasn’t on top of my mind.

Tamiflu works by blocking newly replicated virus from being able to exit an infected cell. From our Covid reading, we all know that a virus enters a cell in the host using a suitable and specific spike protein. Then it takes over the biochemical factory of that cell to make many copies of itself. The copies are released into the host to repeat the process. The cell wall is ground zero in the fight against viral infections. The mRNA based Covid vaccines work by pretending they are the spike protein of the Covid virus, tricking the body into producing defensive antibodies for the Covid virus spike protein. This protects us from the worst effects of an actual Covid infection in the future because the virus can’t get into enough cells. Tamiflu works by stopping the newly created copies of a flu virus within our infected cells from being able to get out of the cells. It stops the neuraminidase enzymes of the virus from being able to attack the inside of our cell walls. The virus are trapped inside our cells. They can reproduce all they want inside an infected cell but they can’t infect new cells. If taken early in a viral infection, Tamiflu can reduce the spread of the infection, minimize symptoms, and make you less infectious quicker. I was a perfect case, having started my dose about three hours after the first onset of symptoms. As I went to sleep, I hoped the science would work.

Thursday dawned. I slept on. I had turned off my alarms but I am usually awake between 5:45am and 6:30 am. I woke with a start at 8:05am. My first thought was the memory of feeling sick the night before. The second was I late for my daily morning trail walk. The third was that Vivian had left the house for school almost an hour ago and here I was just waking up. The fourth was that it was my birthday. I jumped out of bed to check my temperature. I zapped my forehead with one of those forehead scanning thermometers left over from taking Vivian’s temps every morning for a year (for her school’s Covid protocol app). 98.6. I knew these aren’t the most accurate devices. I zapped three more times. No fever. I checked my pulse. Steady, strong, 68. Jo walked up the stairs and asked how I felt. I said “Uh – I think great!”.

I didn’t go on that walk. But I finished a huge breakfast just in time for my 9am meeting. Then there was another longer meeting at noon (both remote). When Jo asked I told her not to cancel dinner reservations. Evan took his unused puke bowl down from his bed and put it in the sink, saying he felt pretty good too. Birthday wishes came in from various time zones. Alu called and held out his phone while Michelle played the most uplifting concert version of Happy Birthday ever. By the time Jo and Vivian walked in after Vivian’s school, Evan and I were showered and dressed in real pants and we went for a lovely dinner at Josephine House.

Two glasses of cab and a perfect steak later I felt like a million bucks. Some of that was wondering whether I got lucky, or had the science worked so damn well. Some of it was because I knew Evan and I were going on that trip tomorrow morning. Some of it was the wine speaking. But most of it is warm reflections of another great orbit around the sun with my crew who are sitting around this marble dinner table outside Josephine House on a lovely October evening with me. Love you to the core of your DNA. And you RNA too.

Why don’t ants get Covid?

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They already have anty bodies.

Goodnight : – )

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