The Covid Vaccine: My Two Cents and then some

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4A When news of the vaccine approvals started floating last year, I was skeptical. I felt like this virus was something that was unknown and possibly evolving, and there was an obvious rush to get a vaccine developed to combat it. While other areas of research were focusing on how to get the pandemic under control and treat the illness more effectively, there was a parallel effort to come up with the vaccine that would, at the very least, minimize or eliminate hospitalization and death. While the cure was, by itself, quite a debacle, the vaccine to protect us from it was both a welcome and scary thought.

I will be honest and admit that my first thought was that I wasn’t too sure I would want to receive the vaccine. I was thinking about how the many years that were devoted to pharmaceutical development, testing and approval were being waived given our current situation. There’s also a paranoid side of me that goes back to the premise of the movie “I am Legend” which implies that the transformation of the infected to zombies was caused by a botched vaccine for cancer. (If my memory serves me right). Of course, that version took a lot of liberties converting the original movie “Omega Man” into a modern day post-pandemic scenario. What is heartening is that both movies end with a cure being discovered. Sadly, not without a huge casualty count in its wake.

But back to the modern day covid era where our lives in all parts of the world have been upended. Even the countries where they have successfully controlled the spread of the disease have chosen to close their borders— yet another drastic change in the normal that we all used to know.

New York started its vaccine rollout by prioritizing the elderly and front line workers. News of long lines and difficulty securing an appointment made me pessimistic about getting vaccinated. Being just weeks shy of 55 when the vaccinations began, I told myself that I’d be lucky to get vaccinated by the fall. Not that I was all excited about the prospect of being vaccinated, but I know any plans to travel home (Manila) would hinge on my getting past this hurdle.

By mid-February, a glimmer of hope came when it was announced that certain co-morbidities would qualify, even without meeting the age requirement. This was set to take effect on February 15. I had made plans to request for a letter certifying my asthma when I logged on to the patient portal of Columbia Doctors, and found the letter already in my inbox. The hospital had sent it on the 13th, in anticipation of me qualifying for vaccination. I must say I was impressed that they had made good on their promise to let their patients know when we qualify. My general practitioner, hematologist, orthopedist, nephrologist and dermatologist are all in their network — including my radiology center— so I must say I’m a happy patient.

But that was just the start. There was the debacle of finding an actual site that had an available appointment. The pharmacies were only taking on the elderly and the frontline workers. Even the vaccination center of Columbia Doctors at the Armory were focusing on the same and eventually on certain zip codes. I heard horror stories of people waiting for hours in the mass vaccination sites after the initial struggle to land a slot. I told myself that maybe I’m not meant to get it. It seemed that everywhere I went, there were no appointments available.

Until a friend sent me a link to another avenue of vaccinations in New York, and I immediately got an appointment when I registered. The appointments for March and April were gone in 48 hours.

Getting vaccinated

My reluctance and misgivings about being vaccinated was greatly dissipated by the fact that everything seemed to have fallen into place with little effort. It literally landed on my lap. I felt like the ease with which I secured a vaccination appointment was a gift I should not waste, given all the hurdles others were facing to secure their own.

On the appointed date, I showed up, and fell in line behind the one person ahead of me outside the entrance of the hospital. I had my paperwork ready – proper identification, the appointment email, and my letter certifying my comorbidity.  I chose Lenox Hill Hospital downtown as my vaccination site.  Upon arrival, I was asked to check in through my phone with a standard questionnaire common to covid screening and tracing. By the time I was done checking in, I was in line for the elevator taking me to the vaccination floor. I fell in line for actual registration with the same 5 people who went up on the elevator with me, giving my name, my ID, and my proof of residency since I didn’t have a state-issued ID. (Thank you, Spectrum, for the utility bill.) I also presented them with the letter certifying my qualification. All done in 10 minutes. I was then directed to the vaccination line, where I was ushered to the nurse who would administer my shot.

Another series of questions – and she entered my information, and finally, the jab. I was directed to another table to set my next appointment for the second shot within the approved window, and my appointment card was duly noted. Because of my abnormal bleeding — I am a “bleeder”, by medical standards — I was made to sit in the waiting area for observation for 30 minutes instead of the usual 15. All went well. Finally, one last check out in the system, a sticker (or two) to take home, and I was on my way.

Getting vaccinated

I walked out of the building feeling just fine. As I turned the corner and crossed to the other side, I saw this huge sign on the front of the hospital proudly declaring “Heroes work here.” Indeed.

Getting vaccinated

I only felt a tenderness in the arm that took the injection and a general sense of fatigue. I’m not too sure if the latter was caused by the medication, or if it was because I had walked my 10,000 steps and then some that same afternoon around the hospital. I had half jogged and walked on my way to Lenox Hill because I had been “stalled” by what was supposed to be a quick trip to Strand’s many blocks away but in the same area. (So much for a quick stop, which is not nearly that easy when you walk into that bookstore. I can literally spend the day there..)

The following day, I was fine. No side effects, and the tenderness, although still present, was barely noticeably except when I touched my arm. I felt okay. I was okay. Truth be told, I was relieved. The anxiety building up against the idea of being vaccinated, and then the subsequent dilemma of not being able to find an appointment and then getting that link, and then finally leaving the hospital knowing I had my first vaccination running through my veins was like a load off my back. I felt like I had more than just a card up my sleeve — that for the first time, beyond my masks and all the safety protocols that we now observed on a daily basis, I was actually armed with a shield. I just need the second shot — the sword — to actually have a real fighting chance.

The 21 days to my next appointment couldn’t have come sooner. The line was just a little longer (around 12 people deep) because second shot recipients were now overlapping with people who were getting their first shot. A staff member was now meeting people who were just joining the line to check their names off a masterlist. No more phone check in this time, we were ushered up again in groups of 5-6. Same deal with the registration/identification, with our names being checked against a masterlist and our information being verified with our appointment and vaccination cards. Then we fell in line for the actual vaccination.

Getting vaccinated

I was fortunate enough to have landed a kababayan (fellow Filipino) nurse who assisted me so ably. We did the run through of the questions, and even chatted about his own experience with the vaccination. As an ER nurse, he told me that he still saw a lot of people being brought in for Covid, and that it was alarming that more younger people between the ages of 20-40 were being admitted. He, too, felt relieved, when he was able to get vaccinated. Like my previous nurse, he made me feel at ease and even gamely posed for a selfie which I wanted to put on my feed to encourage my other friends to get vaccinated.

It’s ironic how my initial sense of anxiety over the thought of being adversely affected by the vaccine turned into anxiety about not getting it. It’s like running full circle on this rollercoaster ride over Covid 19 which has taken over our lives in sweeping strokes. A year after everything ground to a halt and “normal” as we knew it completely disappeared, there is still much to be done to help us go back to a sense of what we had before.

I have been fortunate to not have suffered any adverse side effects beyond the pain in my arm. I am now vaccinated, but I still wear my mask wherever I am in contact with others. I still carry and use a pocket hand sanitizer. I wash my hands when I get home or get near a sink after touching door handles and other surfaces that have been touched by others. I have even returned to work, even if only partly.

Getting vaccinated

As the pandemic continues to rage in all corners of the world and we are racing to keep in step with its onslaught, the vaccine has provided a much needed crutch to keep us steady as we try to outrace this killer. I am far from being optimistic about a return to normal any time soon. But I am hoping that the effort to vaccinate as many as possible will stop us from sliding into rising casualty figures. We aren’t quite there yet, but there is a better chance for us to get there.

I have friends who still refuse to be vaccinated. I respect their stand. But I try to goad as many as I can to get themselves innoculated against the covid virus before it gets to them. I have been fortunate enough to not have had anyone close enough to me, succumb to the ravages of the virus. My friends who have battled it have won— and successfully recovered. Still, we can’t let our guard down.

It is my hope that more people will see the wisdom in being vaccinated at the soonest opportunity. Many people envy us for the availability of choice here— whereas other countries have to contend with making do with less options for vaccines to take, and worse yet, scarcity of resources to get themselves the jab.

Let us not let that precious resource go to waste because of a fear magnified by misinformation and misplaced doubt. Despite its rushed approval, the vaccines that have been approved for distribution are based on existing studies and science. There will be casualties of side effects, true. But even the simplest of medication that we take everyday have the same dangers on any given day. To me, the most relevant point we must consider is would we rather risk getting sick with Covid, rather than take the chance on the vaccine that will help us fight it off.

I think about the millions of people still running scared in the shadow of possible contamination, and the millions of others being ravaged by the disease. It seems to be such arrogance to shirk away from the one things others are not as lucky to have access to. As of mid-May, vaccination numbers are beginning to slide and there is news of people missing their much needed second shot.

I am done with mine. My 17 year old is about to get his second shot. And yet even while I’m fully vaccinated, I’m not putting my masks away, nor letting go of the now ingrained habit of washing my hands and keeping the sanitizer close at hand. I know things are far from returning to normal. The news that finds its way to us from around the globe and even around us here continue to remind us of this. Many parts of the Philippines are on lockdown. That, in itself, is a stark reminder of how the pandemic is far from over. It hits so close to home for me.

This post has been churning in my head for over two months now. It started when my first vaccination was approaching.. and now I am almost a month into being fully vaccinated.

And the journey continues.

A walk in the park

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I have always been the laziest person when it comes to exercise. I used to joke that you’d have to pay me to get me to exert effort one way or the other. The thing is, I’ve been trying to find ways and means to stay fit — both mentally and physically — and staying in my safe corner and not doing anything beyond moving about in my small apartment was not going to cut it.

Panic hit me when I realized I was putting on weight with all the baking and cooking and inactivity. I used to clock a decent amount of steps even if it was short of the modest goal of 10,000. I have usually weighed this much only after coming back from a trip from Manila, because of all the delicious food that I couldn’t resist gobbling up.

The diet has always been in the plan, but I knew that if I were to make it work faster and more efficiently, I had to get off my butt and do something about it.

On Monday, I willed myself to don a decent attire to walk. Just walk. I grabbed my phone and tied my hair, put on my mask and off I went. I live in a relatively quiet residential neighborhood where the air is fresh and the streets and sidewalks are clean. There is even a stretch of green in a park just a block away from me.

My first outing saw me walking the long way to the neighborhood grocery. I gave myself a half hour as I did it before dinner, and the clouds were threatening up high. It was nice to actually find myself having the energy and the courage to walk out in public without a determined effort to accomplish any specific task. For the past few weeks, I would only venture out to do the groceries, the laundry, and last week, to get my hair cut.

It felt good. It was pleasantly cool, but by the time I made it to the grocery, my heartbeat was definitely elevated and I felt a light sweat forming on my back. That made me proud. I actually did it! I exercised! I made it to the grocery just in time as it started to drizzle. I picked up some ingredients for a diet soup I wanted to try out, then I walked briskly back before it rained hard.

The next day, I ended work at a decent hour and quickly changed again and walked out the door, this time determined to go to the park a block away.

Walking in the park
I found a starting point and counted how many steps it took me to go around the path surrounding the field in the middle. There was a decent crowd of others walking either leisurely or jogging / running around. There were some who were walking their dogs, or accompanying children who were biking or having their time in the playground.
Walking in the park
The path around the field was not level which made for some elevation at certain parts — I walked.. determined to keep going as far as I could — and I made it to three rounds. I had the Handmaid’s Tale on Audible keeping me company. I don’t know why I decided I wouldn’t listen to music — that I would instead listen to the book that was in my queue. It was me, myself and I, wrapped up with walking the path and listening to what was on my phone.

As I felt my legs starting to feel the strain, I left the park and I decided to walk further on to a grocery on the other side of the neighborhood to pick up some fruit and non fat milk, and then I walked back home.

Neighbors I met along the way thought I had gone to work since I was lugging a shopping bag. I proudly told them I had been to the park and had just stopped by the grocery on my way home.

I made it to my second day with an hour’s walk. I surprised myself with that accomplishment.

Today, I decided I would try to go in the morning, taking advantage of the fact that I’ve been waking up just after 6am of late because of the earlier sunrise. It took me a while to drag myself out of bed, but I changed and walked out with purpose and headed to the park again. My legs were still achy — but I figured the best way to get rid of the strain was to keep going. More pain! After one round, though, I decided I would combine the routes of the last two days and headed back the long way, looping through several blocks I had not walked previously.

I listened to some podcasts as I had finished the audio book, making a mental note to download my next “read”. I am not really a podcast person, but listening to two episodes of something I picked up from The New York Times, I think I’m going to start exploring more. I am quite late to the game, I know..

The park had a haze and smelled of crisp grass and morning dew. You could hear the birds in the stillness, with a few stragglers here and there making their way around the park like me. I was alone, but not alone.

I liked that.
Walking in the park
The park benches beckoned, but I couldn’t give in or I would end up sitting there until my time was up, and I wouldn’t have accomplished anything except stare at all that greenery with no steps clocked.

The mask, I have to admit, makes it a little harder to exert effort. But I couldn’t take it off. There were people huffing and puffing ahead of me or heading towards me, and I couldn’t risk it. Plus, the norm nowadays is to give those without masks “the look” — and I would be the last one to invite that air of disdain — so I comply. I actually managed to do it!

Almost an hour this time, as I had to be conscious of making it back home before 9am, so I can log in and begin the day’s work. I thought I deserved a treat and headed to the neighborhood Starbucks. Nitro Cold Brew in hand, I walked home. (All of 70 calories!)

My legs are a bit sore.. but I think I’m feeling better. And what’s more, I feel great. I actually did three days straight — and I’m hoping I keep this up in the next few days.

I like how I know that I’m doing something good for my body, but more so for my mental health. I am “opening up” to the world at my own pace, in my own way. We cope in different ways. This is how I do it — with a walk in the park.

My Nth Weight Loss Journey – this time for keeps (Fingers crossed)

I don’t know how many people noticed that I have a “WeightWatchers” category on this blog.   I have two posts under this category — one in 2011 and one just recently.  I have been writing about trying to lose weight (yet again), but when I finally started three weeks ago, I kept mum.  Well, I didn’t exactly announce it to the world except for a post last August 28 on “Walking Healthy.”

I wasn’t too sure I had the determination to see it through, and I really had my doubts I’d go beyond the first week.

The truth of the matter is, I was inspired by my art inspiration, Julie Fei Fan Balzer’s own journey which she posted here.

I had had considerable success with WeightWatcher’s before I got pregnant — dropping 3 sizes in 1 year.  It was a rather difficult journey for me but I was happy with the results.  That was 10 years ago.  Then I got pregnant, breast fed, and it’s been a struggle since.

This time around, it was a different reason that inspired me to go on the journey again, and I have to admit, it took me a while to put my words into actions.  I have been saying this for the last year, but instead, I succumbed to emotional binging.  Food was my number one source of comfort, and I didn’t really care.  Between February 2012 to August 2013, I just ate whatever I fancied.  I ballooned and gained an additional 15 lbs to my already round figure.  It didn’t help.

I couldn’t last longer than 3 hours on 3 inch heels because my feet felt the torture of the weight I put on it.  I hated that because I love shoes!  Then I started to feel my clothes getting tighter which was a serious problem because I didn’t want to discard my wardrobe and buy the next size up.  It meant having more difficulty buying nice clothes, because despite “choices” out there, it’s really harder to look good when you are on the plump side.

I felt so huge that I ordered plus size clothes to try on for Counsin M’s wedding last May.  You won’t believe how relieved I was to find my round body “swimming” in the plus size clothes, so back in the box they went and I returned them to the store.  Still, finding out I was a size 14 and not a size 14 plus wasn’t comforting.  When I got my spanx and wore it under the dress, it pushed my humongous breasts up and even I felt self-conscious.  I knew I looked good and I felt pretty, but there was that thought in the back of my head wishing I didn’t have all that excess “me” in that pretty dress.

What really pushed me, though, was the fact that summer came and went and there were a lot of clothes I wanted to wear which didn’t look quite right on me.  I could’ve braved it and gone with the “tight” look, but that wasn’t me.  There were also a lot of nicer outfits I saw on racks, tried on, and had to pass up on because although they fit nicely from the chest up, they were a problem from the waist down.

I also got alarmed that I’d get winded rushing to the corner to catch the bus to Manhattan, or going up and down stairs in the subway were laborious and left me feeling like I was about to have a heart attack.

I’ve never really been one to go for exercise.  I thinking about it translated to pounds lost, I’d be 10 lbs lighter.  I know I’d eventually have to do more than my routine walks, but at least I’m trying to do something I can chalk up as an activity point on my tracker these days.

I registered online, paid for the three months (so I could get 1 month free), and I read up.  The system they are using now is different from what I had used previously.  I actually like it better this time because it gives a hefty allowance for you to go beyond your goal daily points consumption (which, in my case is 26).  For me, I have 49 points to spread out, including converted activity points.  You no longer “bank” or save points for a splurge.  Another major difference is that points unused don’t rollover.  You use it or lose it.  To date, I haven’t run over the points allocation/conversions combined.

My first week almost made me drop the diet because I came down to a pound lost.  All that effort for nothing, I told myself.  Then I reminded Size 14 me that I DID lose a pound.  For all that I had done to try and lose weight the 3 months prior, my weight never moved.  It held steady at 185.

I continued to research foods that worked for me.  I bought WeightWatcher’s snacks and desserts. I drank more water and tried to watch my intake of my favorite foods.  I even had some House of Polvoron which a colleage of Alan had given him at the hotel.  (I will write about points conversions in another post.)  Instead of trying to find food that would fit into my points allowance, I researched the food I liked and found their points equivalency.  I was surprised to find that some food that people treated and classified and healthy was actually high on the points scale.  They were healthy, but they weren’t exactly low calorie.

Instead of seeking out healthier or lighter calorie alternatives, I tweaked the meals I was used to to make them fit into my points plan.  I am still eating the food I like.  I have not sought out meetings at this point because I hardly have time for anything more beyond work and home and my personal hobbies.

On my second weekly weigh in, I hit my 5-lbs lost milestone.  (Congratulate me!)  This morning, midway through my previous and next weigh in, I saw another 2 lbs shed.  Hmmm.. I’m trying to keep my expectations reasonable because my first round with WeightWatchers saw my weight going up and down throughout the program.  But as it is, I’m just celebrating that I am within the program’s goal of helping me lose 1.5-2 lbs per week.  It’s a healthy pace, and it’s something I’m able to manage, and hopefully will be able to maintain.

My primary reason for trying to seriously lose weight again is to get healthier.  I’m 47 and I want to be around longer.  My weight and my health is something I can control, so I don’t want to lose the reins to that anytime in the near future.

I like the way this new program works because it’s something I can easily adjust to.  It is going to mean rethinking my eating choices but it doesn’t mean revamping my whole eating regimen altogether.  I haven’t felt as positive about achieving results as far as losing weight is concerned in a long time.

 

Sisters: Bestfriends for life

I have two sisters.  One, I have known for almost 45 years, practically all my life.. the other came into my life rather belatedly, and we rediscovered our sisterhood only when my father passed away almost two years ago.

Both are very special to me, but my “little sister”, Ofie, is like a half twin.  “Half” because we don’t quite look alike — but we are in many ways, joined at the hip.  While like most siblings, we have our moments when we want to grab each other’s hair and yank real hard, I have always considered my sister and I to be very close.  All four of us are — Ofie and my two brothers.. and we are pulling my half sister, Pam, into the fold.  But Ofie and I are bonded for life as girlfriends are.

My favorite story has always been how she wouldn’t hesitate to borrow my underwear or even my toothbrush,  but she wouldn’t use the same spoon I used at the dinner table. =)

When I came home to bury my father in July of 2010, my bestfriend told me that my sister, Ofie, had some health issues.  She had to have an operation to have something taken cared of, and when I left, I wrote her and asked that she take care of it soonest.  I even pleaded that I needed her healthy because if anything happened to me, I wanted her to  be there for Angelo.

The months passed until my father’s first death anniversary came and went, and when I came home in December 2011, I nagged her about taking care of it again.  Finally when I saw her this March, she said she was already having prework done.  Last week, she had the surgery, and it was more radical than even I thought it would be, and she has been very brave through it all.  I would’ve been a nervous wreck if it was me — like I am trying to not to think of my own diagnostic procedure which I have postponed and which my gynecologist then postponed and which is finally happening this week on the 12th.

We haven’t heard about the results of the biopsy but I’m praying very hard that it is nothing to worry about.  I wish I could be there when she goes back to the doctor for her post op check up on Wednesday.  I had bugged my brothers right and left about why no one was going to be there when she went under the knife except my sister-in-law.  I admonished my brother to make sure he got the explanation from the doctor about what the procedure was all about and what the findings were.  I wanted to be there.

As the eldest at 46, Ofie is 44, Abril is 42, and Nikky will be 28 soon..  I worry about them meeting an accident or getting involved in some mishap or other — but in my mind, they are healthy as can be and will grow to a ripe old age with me.  I’d still like to believe that, even now.  So at a time like this, I’m rattled.  I worry about Ofie.. I pray she’ll be fine.  I pray she recovers and heals quickly.  I wish I could be there to take care of her.

Get well soon, sis.  I’m here if you need me.  Take care of yourself because I need you to be around for as long as I am… life wouldn’t be the same without you.  I love you, Suzy.

Riding it out

I’ve been trying to catch up with rest today, but it’s difficult to lie still when your body is periodically racked with heavy coughing.  I am also not used to sleeping with my head this high since I cannot lie flat because of the asthma.  All the struggle for air has also exhausted me, so while I am not confined to the bed because of this, I find it such a chore to move around.  I did breakfast and then tried to rest two hours, then hit lunch and now get my break before dinner.  (Since it’s just 1pm, I’m confident I’ll get some shut eye in before I have to return to the kitchen again.)

I hate it when I’m sick because while I’m not sickly, when I do come down with something, I tend to get hit hard.  A simple cold or sore throat can easily be a precursor to asthma which usually takes me a week and a half to ride out.  I’m almost done with the first week and will hopefully get to the “half” instead of a second week.  I’ve been offered a ride to the hospital if needed but I think that’s a little too extreme.  I’ve been worse. I just need to ride this out.  It’s also not like the things I do will get done if I don’t get up.

I feel helpless, though, in the face of all that I had planned for the weekend.  Of course I haven’t picked up my pliers, I haven’t had the chance to do any knitting (a precaution against further aggravating the asthma) although I think I have the right knitting needles now.  The only thing that has moved is my art journalling although that has moved at a literal snail’s pace.

I have been waiting to hear from a friend but who, I guess, has been busy processing things.  I patiently wait.  One thing I’ve learned in recent years is that when some thing is beyond your control, you can either pray or just lay in wait.   Spoken like a true disciple of Fe’s theories of the universe. =)  (I know, pal, the universe is listening.. I just don’t think it’s heard me just yet.)  I try not to do any processing myself because I’m afraid the old impatient me will kick in.  It just makes me wonder how one can put a friendship on hold.  Sometimes, processing takes more than one to do — like I usually process with Fe.. but that’s me and her

I try to take things lightly and just sit back here in bed.  I would normally be already up in arms for not getting a response — but the answers will come in time.  Perhaps the absence of an answer is an answer in itself.  (Although Fe would argue against that.)  I just know I’m exhausted — literally and figuratively.  It’s like constantly drowning and coming up for air.  I really shouldn’t be complaining because I’m used to being ignored.  I remember one time I had written letters endlessly with nary a response until some mischievous room mate picked up the letters and sent me a hair-raising reply that brought my friend to the rescue.  It sounds amusing recounting it now, but relating that to what’s been happening makes my heart sink anew.  I thought I was promised this would not happen again.  But we each have our guilt and grief that we must deal with our own way.  Process, we must.

Sleep would be such a welcome respite from it all.  Endless sleep.  That would help my heart catch up and rest from running after each and every breath.  The dreams would bring me some place where all is well.  And maybe I might meet a little girl there I missed out on meeting in this life — and she might help me touch this heart that needs to know it’s alright to be happy now, that the sins of the past are forgiven, and the promises that have been made can be kept without it being at the expense of others.  I know she would want that heart to move on — and she would say it’s alright to be happy.

I just wish the asthma would go.  I just want to be able to sleep uninterrupted for a change.  I woke up just before 5am this  morning — and I can’t remember now if it was because I couldn’t breathe because of the cold or my chest was congested and I had to cough to clear my airways.  I hate waking up because I gag and retch when I try to cough then.  Nothing left for me to do but just ride it out.

Breathe

I knew it was coming but it hit me hard last night.  The hot-cold-hot-cold weather in the extremes this winter finally caught up with me.  I had to cut my conversation with Fe midway last night as I had a hard time talking.  All the sniffing the past few days have not helped either.  I was feverish as I lay down last night and my throat was killing me.  I simply wrapped my neck in another one of my trusty tubaos, downed some antibiotics, drank a ton of water and slept.  All the walking I had been doing of late during the day has also taken a toll on my lungs.  No matter how good you are at bundling up, the cold air hits it with a punch.  (Memories of braving a cold winter day two years ago when I snapped away at the Rockefeller Christmas tree..)

I have had asthma since I was a baby and have learned to cope with it.  I try not to take any asthma medications unless I literally cannot breathe anymore because of the finger tremors and the adrenalin it infuses my system with.  So I self medicate and deal with the symptoms.  (I know… not good.)  It is during these times when I appreciate each breath I take as precious.

I thought I’d be good today but I ended up walking towards Bryant Park first thing when I realized that I had arrived in the city just minutes after 8am.  No reason to rush to the 41st floor — Boss is travelling.  So I took the camera out and started snapping away, trying to learn how to swing the camera to take panoramic shots and just clicking for graphics for the blog.  I have always enjoyed just shooting pictures randomly and then going over whatever I have in the memory card for later use.  Of course I forgot that temps were under 40 degrees.  I was, after all wearing four layers of clothing (!) along with a silk and a knitted scarf and finally, a hat.

I didn’t get very far because of the cold.   Then after depositing my goods to the 41st floor, I remembered I had to get some throat spray which meant walking out again.  I have started a love affair with the cold winter air — as if I was praying for pneumonia. LOL

I would’ve gone to the bead stores but they were still all closed.  I picked up a few things at the nearest Duane Reade, got my throat spray and I don’t know what possessed me when this bottle of nail polish seemed to call out my name.  Pompeii Purple by OPI.  I don’t normally purchase nail polish because I have quite a stash from Watson’s and Landmark from Manila, but this was just irresistible.  I think it’s my half-lucid brain wandering off — sort of a semi-insane moment brought on by the lack of oxygen thanks to the asthma.  It’s a metallic fuschia pink, actually, so I don’t know where the purple happens to be.  I tend to go for make up or anything to pretty myself up during times when I feel like a much-needed boost in the cheer department.  Looking at my now painted nails as I type away, I’m actually soooo happy I took the bottle.  (Shallow thrills..)

Lunch time was a done deal.  I hied off at 12nn and went straight for my pearl supplier — I can stay in these bead stores forever and just go up and down 6th avenue and 37, 38th and 39th streets and just browse, browse, browse.  My excursion to the stores today were not without purpose, though — my pearl earrings needed some help, and after an hour of browsing and looking, I finally went up to my warm and cozy desk.

I know I tortured my lungs again but I had to keep busy.  It felt liberating to pull myself away from the computer for a change.  I had been sitting in front of it through lunch the last two months.  It was more for my sanity than anything else — hence I’ve been taking these “dates with myself” even if the air is stone cold.  Spring is just around the corner anyway.  Then maybe I’ll actually corner one of these tables in the park for a regular lunch outing when the air is warmer.

We’re getting some rain between today and the weekend.  I guess that’ll limit my strolls around, but I comfort myself with the thought that the park is not going anywhere.  I actually like exploring it when it’s all wet and not so full or near-empty because then, it’s easier to take pictures.  Then, the park is all mine.

I took another deep breath at that thought.  My chest is still heavy with that knot, and now my breathing is more audible but no discernible wheezing yet.  I just feel it inside.  Sometimes the exercise of exerting energy to take air in can be cleansing, too, at least until any accompanying pain reminds me I’m actually toying with my asthma again.

I’m excited to start creating again — if I actually find the energy to take my pliers in hand again and create something tonight, that is.  I haven’t really done that since I arrived from Manila.  (!)  The vacillation is really between creating more and just storing everything away.  The asthma doesn’t help, but with the long weekend up ahead, I might actually get something done.  The pearl dust gets me worried but I’ll live.  I’ve worked with my goodies before when I was in a worse condition.  I just need to keep busy.

I can feel my sinews getting tight again, and my back is heavy.  Have to head home but the eyes are burning.  I guess I just have to remember to breathe..