Friday, February 16, 2024

Taking a Shot

Covid-19 booster
It's hard to believe that we are entering the fifth year of Covid-19! Certainly when the reports of a new virus first started coming out the end of 2019, I never expected we would still be having to deal with it in 2024. 

My husband and I have had all six of the Pfizer shots, which included the two original injections as well as four booster shots. Since it has been more than six months since my last booster as well as the fact that a new booster was released last fall, I received my 7th shot yesterday.

The injection itself was not bad at all, and the only weird thing that happened is that when I got home (about 30 minutes after the injection) I started to feel a little dizzy. That has not happened with any shot I have ever received. I just laid down for a bit, and that went away. My arm is a little sore at the injection site, but other than that it has been smooth sailing.

Getting this additional shot made me wonder how many Americans have taken advantage of this latest booster? According to the CDC, about 12% of adults in the U.S. have gotten the new vaccine. That is a remarkably small number. So how many Americans have had seven shots like me? I can't find an answer to that, but it is obviously less than 12%.

Covid is still a big deal, even though most people act like it has gone away. CDC statistics indicate that 16,000 Americans are hospitalized each week with the virus, and 1,200 die each week. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that as of 4 February 2024, there have been nearly 775,000,000 cases reported in the world, with 103,000,000 of those being from the United States. Worldwide there have been over 7,000,000 deaths, with 1,200,000 of those occurring in the United States. I'm suspicious of the WHO's U.S. numbers because so many places are not reporting their data anymore in this country. Plus the U.S. statistics are less than what I reported in my July 20, 2023 post. 

Regardless, losing 1,200 Americans each week to Covid is not an insignificant thing. And we know those numbers are higher due to the lack of adequate reporting since early 2023. I don't want to become a statistic, so I'll take the shots.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Village Life

We just returned from a week in The Villages. This 55+ community has its own zip code as it is home to over 145,000 people. Located outside of Orlando, Florida, The Villages has more than 71,000 homes, and that number grows daily with no signs of slowing down. They have their own fire and police departments, post offices, hospitals, and parks and recreation department. You can pretty much find any service you need within the community.

We have heard a lot about The Villages, and some friends of ours from St. Louis purchased a home there several years ago. I actually met them through pickleball, so this seemed like an opportunity to see them and play on some of the 100 pickleball courts located there.

We were the first guests at a newly listed AirBNB. The owners just purchased the property a month ago, though they live only 10 minutes away. The rental came with a golf cart, which was important as we flew in and didn't want to rent a car. You don't even need a car as golf cart paths connect you to stores, restaurants, recreation centers and the various town centers. As a bonus, our home had a swimming pool, hot tub, fire pit and small game room, so we had a lot to entertain ourselves with if we didn't feel like going out.

There are over 1,000 clubs, so if you are bored that is totally on you. It's like summer camp on steroids. Many people buy in there due to all the golf courses, which are free or very low cost to play on. We are not golfers, but we saw tons of people on the pickleball courts, tennis courts and softball fields. We did not see a lot of walkers, and one thing that surprised me was the lack of sidewalks. You have to walk on the golf cart paths, which also carry bicyclists. That seems a little dangerous, and maybe that is why not too many people were walking.

Overall we had a very nice time, and met some great people on the pickleball courts. We played at four of the different recreation centers. We also visited two of the town centers and enjoyed listening to live music, which happens every night at all the town centers. It was nice that we could get to the grocery store and multiple restaurants in less than 10 minutes in the golf cart.

While I would not personally want to live there full-time because it is so huge and lacks the sense of community that we have here, I definitely would consider going back especially if another couple joined us.

The Villages

Friday, February 2, 2024

Squeamish over Squamous

squamous cell carcinoma
My biopsy report came back Wednesday, and as expected the spot on my arm was positive for cancer. This time it is another squamous cell. Of my 19 skin cancer diagnoses, 4 have been squamous cell and the rest have been basal cell.

Dr. Seminara offered me two choices for taking care of this spot. The first is to do an ED&C like she did to the two basal cells on my neck in April of last year. That was no fun since the cells are just scraped off and no stitches are given. They took quite a while to heal, and as I am allergic to the adhesive in bandages that made dealing with open wounds problematic. The second choice is to do a deep burn on the spot with liquid nitrogen followed by a topical skin cancer cream. The success rate is in the 96th percentile with the first option and in the 84th percentile with the second. 

On one other occasion I was prescribed a topical cancer cream to use on my forehead. Let alone making my forehead swell so much I could barely see, it burned a lot and made me sicker than a dog. I thought I had the flu until my husband pointed out that I was sick on each day I used the cream, but started feeling better on the off days of usage. Based on that experience, I am opting to go with the ED&C again. I am waiting on the dermatology scheduling department to call me and set the appointment.

In the meantime, I'm just going to enjoy watching the sun from the shade of my back porch.

Mountain Island Lake

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

The Dark Side of the Sun

sun damage
When I was growing up we played outside all the time. After all, there was no air conditioning in the house, so at least being outdoors with friends made us forget the heat. There was also no sunblock available, at least at my house. Through the years my skin has had a lot of exposure to the sun, and I have been paying for it since I got my first skin cancer diagnosis in 1992. 

Last week I went in for my six month checkup. One of the spots the doctor had frozen at my last visit has disappeared, which was great news. I pointed out some trouble spots to her, and she froze four on my right hand and one on my left temple. The temple one will bear watching. But she took a biopsy of a spot on my left arm above my elbow. 

I should have gotten the results by now, but I guess the lab is backed up. I'd like to think no news is good news, but she has been spot on (pardon the pun) when it comes to calling what she thinks is a skin cancer. But I can still hope she is wrong, I guess.

Though I am diligent now with applying sunscreen and wearing a big hat, I can't undo the damage that was done in the past. I just have to accept these continuing skin cancers as a part of my life. And hope that this one isn't number 19 for me.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Sending Out an SOS

Apple watch SOS screen
A couple years ago my Fitbit watch conked out and I replaced it with an Apple watch. I love the seamless integration of the applications, and the fact that I can sync it with my other Apple devices. It was an added plus that the Workout segment of the watch actually has a selection for playing pickleball! I use that feature many times each week.

But a weird thing happened the other night with the watch. I was laying in bed reading when all of a sudden a heard a woman say, "911 emergency. Do you need police, fire or ambulance?" What the heck? It took a minute for me to process that the voice was coming through my watch. I had to quickly tell her that my watch had made the call, and I was not in need of any emergency services. 

As I was holding my iPad in two hands at the time, obviously I did not press the SOS button. You are supposed to press the side button and hold it for five seconds in order to make the call. So how did this happen? I am not sure, but I don't want it to happen again. The 911 call centers have their hands full dealing with real emergencies. I went into my Apple watch settings and disabled the SOS feature. Hopefully I won't need it in the future.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Another Year Over

our signature cranberry cosmo
The holiday season blew by and we are rolling into the middle of January already. We had a great Christmas with the kids and their families gathering here. Our daughter was again able to work remotely, so she was here for a few weeks. It's nice to have the extra time one on one with her.

Our son, daughter-in-law and their daughter were able to spend five days with us before heading on to see family on the other side. As our granddaughter is mobile now, we had baby-proofing to do before they arrived. I was very concerned about the Christmas tree, but she really only batted a couple of low-lying ornaments. As I had made sure all the low ones were non-breakable with cloth hangers, that was no big deal. I just didn't want her to pull the tree down on top of herself. I also didn't want to be the grandma that constantly said NO. 

We took them to the Stowe Botanical Garden to see the lights. My only choice with their schedule was December 23rd, which happened to be the last night of the light show. We lucked out in that it was in the low 50s, so we did not get cold. The lights were better than last year, and everyone enjoyed it.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
The day after Christmas we sent the big kids off to a movie. That gave grandma and grandpa some nice alone time with their only grandchild. She was very happy with us, and it was fun to take her for a walk in our neighborhood to show her off.

New Year's Eve our community had a party here. We didn't attend last year due to Covid, but we decided to go this year. They had a huge tent since we don't have a building large enough to house a big party, complete with a red carpet for us to walk down. Our picture is washed out due to the lighting, unfortunately. There was a second tent for the food, and there was also an eight piece band. It was a really nice way to ring in the new year. We are looking forward to seeing what 2024 will bring us.