The Pandemic and I (16) – testing positive

Meh. I am now Covid-19 positive.

Yesterday morning I was sent home from work after getting my results from a weekly PCR test. Luckily I have no symptoms apart from a slight loss of taste and smell. No temperature, no aches, no tiredness. I saw my doctor for blood pressure, breathing etc – all normal. I need to go for a new PCR test next Tuesday, and if negative can return to work.

Honestly, I’m not that surprised I have it, and had already mentally prepared for such a situation. Currently we have four resident positive cases at work, plus in the region I live in the infection rate is super mega high. I had the 1st dose Pfizer vaccine on 29 January, and while I was under no illusion the vaccine would prevent me from ever catching it, I think having it has (thus far) helped keep the symptoms at bay (fingers crossed).

Okay, so a bit of a mashup for today’s post, pandemic meets Six Sentence Stories and my contribution is dedicated to dear Covid-19, with the prompt word being: Plow (a somewhat apt word right now, lol😏 )

Ode to Covid

Covid, dear Covid, I know you so well, how you cause merry hell in your search for kicks and spats and brawls, how you make us redesign our daily routines, rewrite our blueprints and protocols. I know you so well; the clang of your bell, the rap of your fingers on the doors at work, your spiriting away of the seniors and an ex-colleague of mine, the vicious spells and altered states you leave behind. I know you well through masks and gloves and disposable fatigues, have seen you in action through the misty lens of a medical visor, tried to counter you by offering my arm to a needle full of Pfizer. Week-on-week tested negative, negative, negative, as you wormed your way into our lives with nothing more to give than fear and sickness, isolation, and now me – made positive. Nice work, you did it, you plowed my defences – mon gestes barrières – and though our personal war has just begun, I am yet unwounded and happily breath the air you propose me to quit. Covid, dear Covid – old friend now – I aim to persist on whichever battlefield you decide to see fit.

***


Funny, how in my last pandemic post I wrote this:

“Maybe the vaccine will help me, maybe not. Maybe if I catch Covid-19 the symptoms won’t be as bad as my body is now currently learning to recognise it and remember it for future combat.”

Go body!

Body-Rap. France. 1988.

Staying in?

LOL. I have no choice now.

TVTA, it’s time for your next round of injections. Ouch!

Airgam toys catalogue page. Spain. 1977.

Staying upbeat? 

You betcha! The TVTA scanning room is already abuzz with new materials waiting to go, go, go! Our intrepid office cat Wooof has chosen this time of infection to break out his special gold-edition Hello Kitty mask. And I will use my time off to laze in bed in between bouts of copious alcohol drinking catch up on projects. 

Upbeat idioms!

See you later!

Another popular English expression heard among my French colleagues (such as “What the fuck!” and “Good job” and “Let’s Go!”) is…

“See you later!”

So, vintage mates, see you later!

Stay safe and healthy out there everyone!

[edit 19/02/21 : I saw the copy of my positive result and they state now the results of any variant detection. Luckily I didn’t get a variant, though I trust they would have told me if I had. My test on 16/02/21 came back as ‘Weak Positive’, so still some work to do yet before I get back to negative. Will add here a HUGE thank you to everyone who sent well wishes – it’s really appreciated and really helped cheer me up 😎 you guys rock!]


Disclaimer. This report is meant to offer an overview of the fluid impact upon a care worker in the French medical system. No names of any persons or institutions are given. Some of the reportage here concerns decisions made at a French national level which is available to the public at any time. No breach of confidentiality or professional workplace standards is made or implied. Any health advice stated here is exactly the same as that given by the World Health Organization public advice pages 


The Pandemic and I (15) – if you were offered the vaccine would you take it?

You don’t have to answer the question. I only pose it here because last Friday (29 janvier), after weeks of deliberation on my part, I agreed to have the vaccine.

Re-Animator. 1985. Image: Empire International Pictures.

As a health care worker I’m among the first in line to be offered it. And my main dilemma was: fear of importing a still largely unknown substance into my body VS the high risks of catching Covid-19 through my work. In the end, the latter won out.

So, come Friday, I was nervous but determined to get jabbed. A team of external doctors and nurses came in to administer the vaccine to approx 90% of consenting residents and approx 40% of consenting staff – a small staff percentage there, and for those who I spoke to who declined to have it the reasons ranged from ‘fear’ to ‘allergic to vaccines’ to ‘I’ll let my body fight it out naturally if need be’. Good reasons, and some that I also shared. For those who did accept, I was surprised by the age group; from early twenties to late fifties. Somehow I was expecting only the older staff to agree.

Before the jab, you had to:

  • Complete a simple medical questionnaire related to any previous vaccines and allergies.
  • Undergo some standard medical checks like blood pressure and temperature.
  • Then came the jab. Painless. Quick. A shot of first-dose Pfizer-BioNTech into the muscle of the upper arm.
  • After was a fifteen minute observation by a nurse to ensure no immediate adverse reactions.
  • Then you were ‘set free’ 🙂

I’d researched some of the common side effects:

  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • joint pain
  • fever
  • injection site swelling
  • injection site redness
  • nausea
  • feeling unwell
  • swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy)

And the less common + allergic reactions:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of your face and throat
  • A fast heartbeat
  • A bad rash all over your body
  • Dizziness and weakness

So how did the vaccine go for me?

Continue reading

SSS: a micro story and poem

I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word.

This week’s cue word is Clip. Last week’s was Tender. I missed last week’s due to work, so this is my double bill feature to catch up 😊


 

The Haunting of the Clipper

She was going at a fair clip across the lurching tapestry of the Atlantic Ocean, England to America, blue agate skies and lemony sun, seabirds orbiting the old ship as it sailed westward.

Mary leaned on the rails and gazed at the vast and moving plain, her thoughts turning to the dreams of joining her husband Richard at his plantation; did she love him? Yes, otherwise she wouldn’t be making this voyage, but… the but was as stark as the shrieking of a gull as it made a pass over the deck, a black and white phantom of the seas, all hungry and brutal and vital, and Mary gave a shiver.

And she saw then on the horizon gathering clouds, blooming with the menace of a fantastic storm she might later find herself sailing into; a storm as inescapable as the life she was about to commit herself to at Richard’s plantation.

That night, in her cabin, it wasn’t storms which troubled Mary – but terrible nightmares riddled with pleas for vengeance and retribution; and the moaning and groaning she heard was not the protesting timbers of the clipper, but voices weeping with pain; and the dreadful rapping at her porthole was no striking pellets of rain nor hail, but the knuckles of fists demanding her attention; and the howls which pervaded every inch of the ship were no lamentations of the wind – but people calling out to her “Avenge us” and “Free our souls”.

The next morning Mary told her dreams to the captain, who smiled knowingly beneath a seasoned beard, and through a puff of smoke from his billowing pipe he said: “Ghosts, lass, nought but the ghosts of slaves tossed overboard and now un-resting below, aye, did ye not know this route was once sailed by slavers?”

And upon that following night, while Mary slept and once more bore witness to the moans and the howls and the voices demanding her help, she found she was no longer afraid but steeled with resolve to unshackle those ghosts, and a vow made that as soon as she reached the promised land she would burn her husband’s plantation down to the ground.

***


Tender

Tender is the man who succumbs to the virus, tender becomes his limbs and lungs, palest skin, and fragile eyes as weak as glass panes in cheap picture frames.

Tender is the meat he is helped to eat, hashed and blended, almost a liquid, when not one week ago he was scramming Sunday dinner down his throat, unaided, unhindered, unblemished by the invisible fingers of a virus tapping at his shoulder.

Tender is the bed he slept upon here, de-blanketed and de-sheeted, the mattress disinfected, his worldly belongings put into quarantine before being sent to relatives tender with tears.

Tender, so tender, the placement of flowers at a socially-distanced funeral.

Tender are the sentiments we are left with to nurse: the anxieties, bad dreams, stress and grief machined into relentless missiles lined up at the open hatch of a roaring bomber in a midnight sky –

Yet hearts, made of tough steel to meet the enemy at whichever gate it chooses, strong and vital, beating hard; O virus, ye shall know our wrath in the most tender moments you can reduce us to, and by our acts and courage we shall persist.

***


Micro story and poem by Ford.

Image: Suzy la Revoltée. Par Tani et Souriau. Lisette N° 24, 1946.

The Pandemic and I (14) – when Covid-19 comes looking for a fight…

…It gets a fight

It’s been two weeks since I posted about how we discovered a positive case of Covid-19 at my work place, and how that figure went from one to seven cases in the space of a week. I was assigned to work on a four-person Covid team (a nurse, two nurse assistants, and a person to carry out disinfection).

Here is a broad breakdown of what happened when Covid-19 came to our place looking for a fight:

Week 1 

  • Discovery of our first case via a routine hospital admission of an asymptomatic resident who tested positive on admission.
  • We go into immediate lockdown; residents remain in rooms, all visiting stopped; rapid testing undertaken – a weekly testing regime initiated.
  • Three other residents confirmed positive. All staff negative.
  • Two Covid teams assembled to work with the positive cases.
  • Positive cases = four residents, zero staff.

Week 2

  • Three more residents confirmed positive.
  • Two become seriously ill and are admitted to hospital for critical care.
  • Three staff test positive. Note: these aren’t any staff assigned to the Covid teams.
  • Four more residents confirmed positive.
  • Positive cases = eleven residents, three staff.

Week 3

  • The two seriously ill residents who were admitted to hospital both die.
  • The resident who was originally found to be infected returns from hospital negative.
  • No other residents return as positive in latest tests.
  • No further staff return as positive.
  • Three residents who were previously positive now return as negative.
  • Positive cases = five residents, three staff.

Week 4 (current)

  • A further resident previously positive, returns as negative.
  • No other residents or staff confirmed positive.
  • Positive cases = four residents, three staff.

The above breakdown is clinical and bereft of any emotion. But to say emotions were absent during this period is wrong. Fear; anxiety; stress; mental and physical exhaustion; sadness; loss… just some of the feelings known to staff, residents, and their families.

When I learned of the two residents who died I had to push my emotions to one side in order to carry on working. In private I cried. Seeing someone, one week, who is fit and healthy, then the week after struck in bed and unable to respond properly, eat and drink, or breathe without oxygen, is just hard.

By contrast, seeing some of the infected residents become negative and make a recovery is cause for jubilation. Maximum respect for those who were able to kick the ass of our dear Covid-19 when it came knocking at the door. Let me tell you that three of the cases who recovered had underlying health conditions, and one was more than a 100 years old. Imagine being that old, and beating Covid? Respect.

I’m off the Covid team now for the moment and back to my normal duties – pending no more new cases. And if our few remaining positives can come back soon as negative, then we can say we successfully fought back with only small losses and fatigue.

I don’t want to use any ‘war terminology’ to describe how we must face Covid-19 (especially on the day I’m posting here, the eleventh of November), but in some ways it’s unavoidable, and you do feel like you’re battling an enemy, and even if you manage to claim some small victories there is the understanding that further battles might occur.

For me personally, working on a Covid team has been draining and emotional, but not without rewards in terms of expanding my experience and my sense of duty as a health care worker. Working with other care staff has forged solidarities. Just before going back to my regular duties, I was assigned to work a shift with a laboratory nurse for the testing. Something I would never have imagined doing before.

Staying upbeat? 

Regular readers will know one of my themes is to stay upbeat and offer a little ‘Pandemic Gallows Humour’ to help take the edge off things. Am I upbeat right now? You betcha! Despite our losses, we’re fighting back, we’re on track, like a mean machine Big Trak!

Upbeat USA!

During our ordeals at work came the long and drawn out presidential election results in America, which we saw on TV, and the news that Biden had won and that a brighter future might be in store! It caused some cheering in our small part of France I can tell you 🙂

Upbeat archiving!

On my two days off I decompressed by archiving music for a change and not vintage images. It was for a psychedelic hard rock band I played with in the mid-90s. Found a whole bunch of old cassettes we recorded live on, mostly jams, rough around the edges, but cool to hear again. I bought a cassette to MP3 converter, and… ah… went back in time. Beautiful.

Zig Yell Seed flyer. Collage by Ford.

Then there is the upbeating matter of chocolate

Just like in the last lockdown at work, the residents’ families are sending in parcels of delicious treats to help keep us going.

Good job!

A popular English expression heard among my French colleagues (aside from “What the fuck!”) is…

“Good job!”

Job par Mucha 1896

Stay safe and healthy out there everyone!

The final word goes to Wooof’s ongoing new feature …

TVTA Thinks:


Disclaimer. This report is meant to offer an overview of the fluid impact upon a care worker in the French medical system. No names of any persons or institutions are given. Some of the reportage here concerns decisions made at a French national level which is available to the public at any time. No breach of confidentiality or professional workplace standards is made or implied. Any health advice stated here is exactly the same as that given by the World Health Organization public advice pages 


 

The Pandemic and I (13) – positive cases and a new lockdown

President Macron of France has just announced we are going into our second lockdown of this year.

It’s been 4 long months since my last ‘Covid’ report in June of this year when I wrote about how I was looking forward to a week off work and my first socially-distanced coffee at a café terrace following the lifting of national lockdown measures.

As a reminder, I work in a multi-disciplinary team at a private French medical retirement home for 80+ elderly people with a range of pathologies.

But back to the coffee on the terrace in June, and dare I say ‘happier times’… this was the pic back then:

Infection, hospital admission and death rate figures were down in June, and the holiday season was beginning in earnest. And for me back then at work, no positive cases for the residents or staff. Indeed, throughout all of my pandemic posts to that point, I was both proud and relieved to report no cases where I work.

And then after June? The figures in France continued to drop, and the holiday season went into full swing in the heavily touristic region I live in. And still, no cases at work.

Until now.

I’m sorry to report that since last week we now have 7 positive cases of Covid-19 among our current residents. No staff confirmed positive – we were tested the week prior and came back negative, but we still has to take a retest in light of the confirmation of cases.

I’m happy to report all staff again tested negative. To say I was anxious for myself and my colleagues is an understatement. Now I can only hope we stay virus free and offer the best for our residents who are sick, and keep the healthy ones healthy.

Two of the confirmed cases are residents on my unit. Working with these residents prior to their Covid state I was wearing my normal protective equipment of uniform, mask and gloves.

Like this:

Since last week I have been working like this:

Forgive me my selfies. I’m not a ‘selfie person’ and these are only to illustrate what a typical health care worker might have to do to protect themselves and others in a clinical environment with Covid cases.

Question: if all staff were tested the week before the discovery of Covid cases, and then retested the same week – and both time frame results came back negative, then who brought the infection in? Visitors… for who visiting frequencies and times had been increased over the latter part of summer? Outside agencies such as doctors, drug deliveries, maintenance, oxygen, medical equipment and food deliveries? Meh. Who can say.

My nostrils were smarting for ages when the doctor took my tests. A nose swab is no fun. Then there is the soreness to face and ears from having to wear the upgraded masks issued recently. And the heat and discomfort of having to wear all that protective clothing. But you know, I’ll happily put up with all of that if it means no more residents are infected and no staff return positive. To be honest, it’s been somewhat a miracle we’ve gone all year without a case up to now – like angels were looking down on us; or Rhiannon the Celtic Goddess was our protector; or Superman, Wonder Woman, Judge Anderson and Sister Night each had our backs …


One of the themes of my pandemic posts is to stay upbeat. So even if I one day soon catch our dear Covid-19 (and that likelihood is now a one-step-closer risk than ever it was before) you can be sure your humble editor will remain as chirpy as chirpy can be as he scrambles to stay alive and kicking.

Pandemic humour is not so different than gallows humour, non?

Let us go to a quick commercial break to see how your TVTA editor is doing during the pandemic…


TVTA editor current health status VS anticipated worst case scenario health status as seen in this handy flow picture chart!

Chart N°01

TVTA editor health status – as seen in September 2020 in a photoshoot for the Spira/Ford art project. Chart shows Ford healthy, relatively fit, and able to look at picture books and concentrate for short periods; can answer simple questions.


CHART N°02

Chart shows Ford haunted by Halloween-inspired hallucinations, attention span impaired by delusions of apocalyptic holocaust survival. Has pair of fake scissors sticking from head.


CHART N°03

Chart shows Ford and art-partner-in-crime Spira holding  a conference call to discuss their latest project; and proving once again that socially-distanced art collaborations can be undertaken successfully in a pandemic situation. Ford is in good spirits, though looking pale and more dishevelled than normal. Spira, too, is not looking his usual self… best get some medical attention, mate! PS – an email coming your way soon.


CHART N°4

Chart shows Ford in state of near death and unable to work efficiently and successfully as editor of TVTA [many would argue this has always been the case since TVTA began]. All editorial duties handed over to office cat Wooof – who himself is showing symptoms but bravely cat-soldiering on. Mrs Coldkettle the TVTA tea lady appointed as new chairperson of the board, and immediately orders new tea urn and designates scanning room 2 as a canteen for light refreshments.


CHART N°5

Chart shows Ford and now Wooof in advanced state of death and unable to work. Mrs Coldkettle becomes new editor of TVTA and announces the site will become a part pop-culture part cooking blog.


CHART N°6

Chart shows Ford and Wooof reanimated by means of advances in science and medical technology involving time travel, bowls of spaghetti, French cheese, tea and chocolate biscuits. Mrs Coldkettle hails their cure as a miracle of vintage advertising and announces the pair will soon be able to resume their TVTA duties [once replacement organs, skin and fur etc has been sourced]. Great news for TVTA’s vintage mates everywhere!!.

I’m LOL-ing now, yes, but later? Better to have LOL-ed and lost than not LOL-ed at all?
Non?

The temperature right here right now:

  • Last week – France extended its curfews as cases surged – 47 departments were under orders to stay at home between 9pm and 6am for six weeks because of rapid spreading of the virus across the country. These curfews affected 46 million people: two-thirds of the French population.
  • Tonight, 20 heures, France – President Macron announces a national lockdown for the duration of one month.
  • The second wave is not coming – it’s already here.
  • And still my next-door neighbour is insisting the entire thing is a hoax and a nefarious plan by world governments to control the population.
  • It’s a mad world…

Tang MAD offer. 1997.


  • Yes, it’s a mad world and 2020 has been one heck of a long and ever-changing year.
  • I hope all of you stay safe and healthy out there, and can navigate successfully through these extraordinary times we live in.
  • A final word… and a new feature here at TVTA which Wooof is calling “TVTA Thinks”

TVTA Thinks:

Disclaimer. This report is meant to offer an overview of the fluid impact upon a care worker in the French medical system. No names of any persons or institutions are given, and the reportage here concerns decisions made at a French national level which is available to the public at any time. No breach of confidentiality or professional workplace standards is made or implied. Any health advice stated here is exactly the same as that given by the World Health Organization public advice pages 


Skeleton images by Biodicac and Revealing Paws. Telephone images from Dawn of the Dead and Halloween.