To V or not to V

To Vaccinate or not to Vaccinate, that seems to be the question of late.

As we all continue to navigate our way thru this pandemic, the question of the day seems to be, have you received your vaccination yet, and if not, why not?

As a small employer, we have made the decision to not mandate that our employees receive the vaccine. Not only for legal implications, but also, we recognize that this is a very personal decision that should be left to the individual. We are also very fortunate in the fact that our facility allows for proper social distancing.

So, when did it become socially acceptable to inquire of a person as to their medical decisions? Whatever happened to HIPAA and recognizing someone’s right to privacy? And really, if someone decides not to vaccinate, and you have decided to vaccinate, then does the unvaccinated person pose a danger to you, or only to themselves?

Since the vaccine has become available my wife and I talk about whether we should vaccinate or not on an almost daily basis. And to my wife’s credit, she has done an incredible amount of research on the pros and cons of the COVID vaccine, along with each manufacturer’s individual vaccine. We have both consulted with our perspective doctors, and what the benefits and risks are for each one of us should we decide to vaccinate, or if we decide not to. In my case, I have had two lengthy discussions with my primary care physician, and there are some significant risks for me either way. Also, we’re both on the drug Hydroxychloroquine for an unrelated medical condition. Now, depending on the day of the week, and which way the winds are blowing that day, it has been said by a number of medical professionals that Hydro may very well be a therapy drug to be used in treating COVID, while others say not so much. Here is what my wife and I do know, that we live our lives in faith and not in fear, we are now more than a year into this pandemic, both of us have been out and about during this past year, and thankfully, neither of us have been taken seriously ill. Is it the luck of the draw that we’re on this drug at this time in history, or is it just coincidence that we haven’t fallen ill? A question that we still have not had sufficiently answered. What we do know is that whatever we’re doing is working for us.

But here’s the point of today’s blog. Recently, my wife has received pressure from friends and family who have been urging her to take the vaccine. Now, I have no doubt that this pressure is coming from a place of love and concern, but it has been causing my wife a great deal of angst as she’s still weighing all of her options, which then caused me a great deal of angst as well, which then caused my wife even more angst. So, after a sleepless night and enough angst to go around for everyone, I looked at my wife and told her that this is her decision to make and no one else’s. That I was impressed with her decision making process, that she’s a strong and intelligent woman, that I have learned to trust her decisions, that she will make the right decision for her, and that I will support her in whatever decision she makes, whether I agree with it or not, because it’s HER decision to make. And that no one has the right to ask about her decision, let alone question it. My wife looked at me in the way that a wife does and simply said, “thank you”.

Just between you and me, I don’t think I ever told her before how impressed I was with her decision making process and I think I kind of surprised her!

These are difficult times, and people are trying to make difficult decisions. With that in mind, let’s focus on and have faith in each person’s ability to make well informed, intelligent decisions regarding their medical care, decisions which are personal and private. And instead of asking someone if they have received the vaccine, or pressuring them to do so, let’s instead greet them with a warm hello and a wish for their continued good health. I think we will all be happier by doing such.

As always, thank you for reading and wishing you much health and happiness.

Cleft Palate you say!

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I was born with a cleft palate and lip. This is a medical condition where your upper lip and roof of your mouth does not fully come together before you are born, thus leaving a gap from your lip thru the roof of your mouth. It’s not pretty, but fortunately it’s repairable.

It has caused me numerous problems over the years, from difficulty eating as a baby, to reconstructive surgery, a misaligned bite, teeth that were crooked, one of which even came in sideways! Let’s just say the social hurdles were just as difficult, if not more so!

Recently one of my upper teeth became infected which resulted in an emergency visit to my dentist. We had talked two years earlier that this tooth was probably going to be a problem for me in the not too distant future, and he reminded me of that conversation. My quick reply was to ask him to cut to the chase and tell me what is involved in fixing my current situation.

He proceeded to tell me that the particular tooth in question is located right where the cleft was in my mouth, and with the reconstructive surgery that I had, there appeared to be a gap in my upper jaw line where there should be bone, which means there may be no way to install an implant to replace the damaged tooth. So, that means either leaving a gaping hole in my already lacking smile, or have a bridge made that would connect to the existing teeth.

My dentist made an appointment with an oral surgeon who will be taking 3D x-rays in order to properly assess the situation, after which I will be meeting with my dentist to see what they think the proper course of action should be.

What is leading me to write this blog is that for the first time in my life I actively sought out a support group for cleft palate patients, and though I found some, I didn’t see a lot out there that I would consider. What I did find was a young man with a cleft that was wondering about God, and how a kind & merciful God could allow someone to be born with such an affliction. He went on to complain about the hand he was dealt, and wondered if anyone else out there felt like he did about God and religion due to their medical condition.

Now, as a man of faith, and no stranger to heartache & tragedy, I can only offer my simple understanding of such matters. As part of the human experience, not only do we know great joy, love & happiness, but we also must endure great pain and sadness. And for someone with a birth defect, many times that pain and sadness must be endured on a daily basis. Trust me, there is no shortage of callus people in the world who are more than happy to comment on or question you about your obvious differences.

God knows & understands the human condition far better than we can comprehend, and God does not promise us that we will not experience pain & sorrow in our lifetime. It is however, during times such as this, if you’re willing & open to accept it, that a kind, loving, & merciful God offers & promises His love, His mercy, and His strength so that we can endure such trials and tribulations. God is our bridge over troubled waters, our calm amidst the storm.

Trust me, there were times when I asked God, “Why me God, why must I suffer from such an affliction?” But eventually you realize, if not you, then who? Would you wish this on someone else, anyone else? I think not. When I was born, my parents did not have all of the emotional & financial support that’s available today, but somehow they managed. And in the process, they wouldn’t allow me to feel sorry for myself. This was the hand I was dealt, and I would have to learn to live with it to the best of my abilities. And thankfully, with their firm guidance, and God’s grace, the necessary abilities were instilled within me and I managed to live a pretty successful and full life.

Every night when I lay my head down to sleep I thank God for that day of my life and for all of the blessings that He has bestowed on me, including my beautiful wife. As I see it, you can either blame God for all that is not right with your life, or you can ask God for His help to make your life right. For me, I chose the latter, and it truly has made all the difference for me, and for what I have been able to accomplish.

Hopefully when all of the tests are finished for my latest oral challenge and my medical team reviews the options with me, the fix will be simple. If that happens to not be the case, then I will ask God for his guidance, strength and mercy to be able to endure however this may go. And to all of my cleft palate brothers and sisters out there who are enduring the heartache of living with such an affliction, I ask that you turn to God and ask for His help with all of your struggles and pain, for He is kind, He is merciful, and He will listen.

And to all of you who take time out of your daily life to read my blogs I offer a simple “Thank you.”