As a mule …

Here’s two of those bloodlines, represented by my great-granddad, Lester Gressett, and great-granny, Gertie Mae Arp Gressett.

Stubbornness is a trait well-represented in my family by the confluence of at least three bloodlines (two from my mom’s side, and one from my dad’s). It comes in rather handy when standing up for principles, but if new information changes the equation, I’m not too stubborn to re-evaluate my position (hey, my candidate didn’t get the nomination, but that didn’t mean I would continue cheering for her in a race she was no longer in).

That stubbornness is mildly annoying when you refuse to do something, like get with the times. My mom refused to take my old laptop or to get a smartphone (she had a flip phone), which meant that if she wanted to look something up, she called me (I didn’t mind, but still …). I didn’t get a cell phone for the longest time, but after I had my stroke, I began to see the wisdom of having one with me to make communication easier, especially if I experience dysphasia (loss of the ability to speak) again. One brother still refuses to get a cell phone (even of the non-smart variety). Sure, maybe it’s because I’d probably be texting him a lot to gig him for one thing or another, but I already do that on Facebook, sooo …

Two of my favorite beings in the world, my mom and Luke (her grandkitty). I miss both of them so much.

Other times, though, being stubborn can come with severe consequences. Few of us really like going to the doctor, but it has to be done, especially if you are experiencing something that could threaten your life or your abilities. Maybe that’s being bitten (cat bites, for example, can infect you with pasteurella, which, if untreated, could mean amputation) or stepping on a possibly rusted piece of metal that breaks the skin (ooh, tetanus!). Waiting too long to seek treatment can make recovery a foregone conclusion. My mom waited until it was really too late to ask to be taken to the hospital for her flu; her body, already weakened by the renal cancer for which she had been treated for about six years, gave out by the time the week ended.

Now I’m dealing with the lingering stubbornness of the same brother who refuses to get a cell phone (brain cancer is his fear there), but this time because he refuses to be vaccinated against covid-19, insisting, essentially, that since he’s been around the unwashed masses all this time and hasn’t gotten sick, he must be immune.

Dat’s my brudder. He still has much bigger feet than I do.

My brother is no idiot, though he often maintains that he is. He’s a very talented photographer and hilarious storyteller, and could probably make a living at either. He’s wily and has good business sense. He didn’t have the advantage I had of a college education, but he certainly learned a lot in the school of hard knocks. For the most part, his common sense is stellar.

But when it comes to covid-19, well, not so much.

My theory, in answer to a post on what we learned from the first covid “scare” (his scare quotes, not mine): “I learned the youngest of my three older brothers might be a little scared of needles (otherwise, why refuse?). Is it because of the mean nurse at Dr. Woods’ office when we were kids? They don’t give you the shot in your butt, so sitting down shouldn’t be a worry.”

That nurse really did seem to harbor a grudge against kids (the trip home was always painful since there were a lot of bumps and the seats in the car weren’t comfy), so it was a treat when Dr. Woods gave the shots himself. Plus, he had Highlights, so there was that.

Like others who refuse to get the vaccination (many for political reasons, probably the worst reasons not to get the shots), he often brings up the death rate. But the death rate, which changes over time, location and conditions, isn’t the only thing that matters here. At the moment, the vast majority of the confirmed covid-19 deaths in the U.S. (99 percent in May, according to the CDC) are among the unvaccinated. That means the odds of getting covid and possibly dying from it are much higher for the unvaccinated than the vaccinated.

The Q shirt should tell you all you need to know. Protesting masks for political reasons or because of conspiracy theories (especially if you’re armed like the idjits in Michigan) is just inane. Image found on Los Angeles Times.

While there are breakthrough cases of covid after vaccination, especially of the more contagious Delta variant, most of those vaccinated are being spared the worst effects of the virus and, hopefully, the lifelong health problems many survivors have to face.

North Carolina pastor, author and blogger John Pavlovitz and his family are a notable example of those hit by covid after vaccination; the Pavlovitzes’ daughter, 11, was the only one unvaccinated. After the waiting period was over, they went on their first family vacation since lockdown began. “We were being as careful as we could while traveling,” Pavlovitz wrote, “but as vaccinated adults it’s easy to let your guard down and to generally be less attentive than you had been regarding wearing masks and hand sanitizing and distancing. False security began to set in.” Their daughter was the first to get sick, then Mom and Dad. Their son was asymptomatic but tested positive.

They’re recovering, but had they not gotten their vaccinations, their odds of coming out unscathed would be low. Meanwhile others continue preaching the no-vaccination doctrine, and some of them, such as nurse Olivia Guidry of Lafayette, La., who claimed on her now-deleted Twitter account that the vaccines would change DNA, are paying for it with their lives. It’s unclear whether Guidry was vaccinated, but the hospital where she worked didn’t mandate it; the hospital is also backtracking on whether she died of covid-19 complications (her sister posted on social media that she’d been diagnosed with covid early this month).

I have a hard time taking these people seriously, and not just because they can’t spell “tyranny” (which leads me to believe they wouldn’t recognize true tyranny if they saw it). Image found on Texas Tribune.

I love my home state and its people, but it’s become increasingly obvious that too many have let politics and/or crackpot theories infect their every decision, right down to what medical precautions to take. I prefer to err on the side of caution, with good (and simple) reason, well-elucidated in a statement issued last Friday by the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (read the full statement here):

“People who are unprotected because they have not been vaccinated should recognize that because of Arkansas’ low vaccination rate, whenever they enter a public place such as a grocery store, entertainment venue, church, or dormitory, they likely are around other unprotected people, and the virus is likely present. The unprotected should get vaccinated today to protect themselves, their families, and others around them―especially because young children are not currently eligible for the vaccine.

“For those who have had covid-19, the antibodies developed as a result of the infection do not provide total protection. Some people have been re-infected after they have had covid-19, and the Delta variant appears to be more likely to cause reinfections than the original virus. Even people who have had covid-19 infections should get vaccinated.

“People who have received only the first dose of a two-dose shot regimen―the protocol for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines―should be aware that new research suggests a single shot provides far less protection than two shots against the Delta variant, and significantly less protection than a single dose provides against the Alpha variant. These people should get their second shot as soon as the protocol allows.

“Individuals who are fully vaccinated should know that while scientific evidence is still limited, reports suggest that the Delta variant may reduce vaccine effectiveness. With this variant surging, the fully vaccinated should consider reinstituting defensive measures they may have relaxed, including face masks in public, social distancing, and frequent hand-washing.”

“ACHI board urges renewed vigilance against covid-18 amid rise of Delta variant, low vaccination rate in state,” July 9, 2021.
One of the few times I’ve gone out in public since this whole thing started was to drop off my absentee ballot after getting my hair “did” … on Halloween, which explains the skulls on my scarf.

My immunity and respiratory system could be better, and I know many people who are immunocompromised, which is a problem considering the low vaccination rate in Arkansas. Therefore, even though I’m vaccinated, I will continue to wear a mask in public for the foreseeable future because I don’t want to give a virus an easy mark. Some may call that fear, but a lot more call it a smart survival instinct, not unlike buckling up in a car … especially if your crazy cousin (or friend … or sibling) is at the wheel. Our legislators outlawed mask mandates that could be issued by the governor, mayors or county judges (private businesses can still require masking), so it’s up to individuals to do the common-sense thing.

The more unvaccinated and unmasked people we have, the more chances there are for the virus to infect them and to mutate further every time it multiplies. More unprotected bodies means more respiratory systems to attack, and more body bags or lifelong impairments.

But when you have more vaccinated people and people wearing masks (vaccinated or unvaccinated) than the unprotected, the virus will have nowhere hospitable to go and will starve and die.

I don’t often wish for something to die, but I’ll make an exception in this case. And I really hope it does before it ever contemplates infecting my stubborn unvaccinated brother.

I don’t get to see the guy enough as it is. I’d hate for that to be permanent. Hey, Bubba, if you do it, I’ll give you a lollipop and an issue of Highlights!

Yep, dude, better get your story straight.

14 thoughts on “As a mule …

  1. Tell your brother to get a smartphone. If he’s afraid of brain cancer, he can talk and listen on speaker. And he can text or dictate texts. I don’t think I ever have my phone up to my ear. Can’t help with the vaccine thing, though. Covid has no politics and it doesn’t give a damn about yours. It just wants victims. I’ll bet he’s had other vaccinations at some time in his life. So what’s different about this one? Oh well, you’re preaching to the choir here, so I’ll let it go.

    That pic of your mom and Luke is so sweet. Was Luke really as big as he looks in the picture? He looks huge.


    • Luke was 20 pounds at his largest, and a little over three feet from nose to tip oh his tail. He was also freakishly strong, which made vet visits an adventure. There will never be another quite like him.


  2. Safe. and. effective. Just like Zantac. What is a little cancer among friends? Quickly developed under the greatest of all our Presidents that is still known for his mental acumen and level-headedness. I wash my hands aplenty and I really do not like people that much so the distancing thing is not a problem.


    • We’re alike in our aversion to people, though mine is stronger. But please, I”m begging you as a sister who loves her brother, get the shots. The benefits are far greater than the risks. I want you protected. I’ve lost too many people I love.


  3. A couple of customers of mine got the vaccine and both ended up in the hospital with atrial fibrillation. They are married to each other and about my age, although not quite the physical specimen I am. My doctor told me I have the immune system of a mule but I had best watch my heart, because of family history and such.


    • You have the stubbornness of a mule. I haven’t heard of a-fib as a side effect, just myocarditis and pericarditis, and both are very rare, so I’m wary of this being a result of the vaccination. The risks outweigh the benefits. Get the shots, or keep rolling the dice and hope they don’t come up snake eyes.


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