Dear Amy: A bunch of us blood cancer patients, as well as others with compromised immune systems, are starting to find out through blood tests that even though we have been fully vaccinated, we were unable to develop antibodies to COVID.
I dealt with serious side effects from the vaccine, and unfortunately have zero antibodies to the virus.
As depressing as that is (I’ll need to wear a mask pretty much forever, always living in a pre-vaccine world), my bigger concern is how to share this with friends and family who are celebrating and burning their masks.
Most are living by the rule that, "As long as you have been vaccinated, pull up a stool and sit by me."
Well, Amy, I have been vaccinated, but only I know that it didn’t do any good.
How do I handle that? Should I tell people?
I am not feeling sorry for myself. I am merely trying to learn how to live in a world that doesn’t get it or want to hear it.
I want to live again. I’m not depressed, even if my immune system is.
Thoughts or words of wisdom would help!
– Looking for Guidance
Dear Looking: I cannot render an opinion on how vulnerable you are when around vaccinated people.
That’s your doctor’s job, and I realize it’s not the question you’re asking.
One aspect of experiencing this pandemic together is that we have all become much more used to mask-wearing and seeing others wear masks.
In many countries, mask wearing in public is extremely common, as a result of the SARS epidemic that swept through Asia in the early 2000’s. Masks also offer some protection from air pollution.
In parts of Asia, it is now considered most polite to wear a mask, especially when sick, as a way to protect others (as well as the mask-wearer).
I assume that we in the West will adopt this practice, to some extent.
The next time I get a cold or the flu, I will definitely wear a mask.
As we exit the worst of the pandemic, another individual’s choice to wear a mask and safely distance really isn’t anyone’s business.
You have cancer. Your illness and survival is not an excuse to wear a mask – it is a reason to wear a mask.
If people ask you: Dude, what’s with the mask? You can tell them the reason.
I disagree with your assumption that people don’t get it or don’t want to hear it.
Your choice to follow protocol is helping to keep you alive, and the people who know and love you will be extremely grateful for your choice.
Dear Amy: I was with a person who out of nowhere gave me three weeks’ notice that she was moving back home in order to take care of her sick parents.
This was over a year ago.
We have been together for over 10 years.
Now, she calls me every day, as if nothing happened!
I asked why? And she said, "I didn’t want things to change."
Should I cancel our communication?
Dear Confused: People with responsibility for sick family members don’t always get a lot of advance notice that they’re needed at home. Certainly, the pandemic accelerated many such decisions; last year, with the growing awareness that as the country was basically shutting down, they knew their own ability to travel and relocate might be severely restricted.
You seem to see this only through the prism of how abandoned you feel. That is certainly valid, but it should not be your only reaction.
You could feel compassion, for instance, for a person who responded to familial duty.
When she says, "I didn’t want things to change," this should not be the end of your conversation, but the start.
Dear Amy: Responding to "Concerned Daughter," who was trying to get her mother to stop driving, my beloved stepdad passed away last year, but lived with macular degeneration.
His physician told him it was time to stop driving. He went to the DMV to surrender his license and get a state ID.
The clerk asked, "Are you sure you want to do this? You can’t change your mind. You understand? This is irrevocable."
He looked her in the eye and firmly said, "Take the damn license."
This was characteristic of his acceptance of reality, but also reflected his concern for those he might put in danger by continuing to drive.
– Proud Stepdaughter
Dear Proud: He sounds like my kind of guy.