#AstraZeneca: What a feeling!

Or not. Your mileage may vary.

Let us begin in the accepted narrative fashion, with a flashback. For lo, I am nothing if not acceptably narrative and fashionable.

The revolution will be fabulous

The year, it was many ago. The Place, it was Carleton, or rather a side road several miles outside of town. The occasion was an afternoon ride that my friend and I had taken, she on her rather awful hackney cross Colonel Blake (nicknamed Flakey), and me on a borrowed Quarter Horse hunter called Abby. She, my friend, turned off the road and popped over a jump, encouraging me to follow. I did, despite never having taken a jump that size. Abby had no trouble with it, having gone over that jump probably a dozen times with her owners that summer. I, also, got over the fence; the problem was that the horse and I parted company at some point, landing separately, her on four graceful hooves and me squarely on my butt, sitting straight up with perfect posture for once in my life.

My friends, this is not a good thing to do when falling from a horse.

It took me north of twenty minutes to get back on the horse, which did not surprise anyone later when I was X-rayed and discovered to have broken my back. But back on the horse I did get, because we were three miles from home and this was before cellphones, so we rode all the way back, me crumpled and resting my upper body’s full weight on the horse’s neck, much to her annoyance, but she was a Quarter horse so she just took it rather than dumping me, and we got home and me to the hospital and, after a few weeks of rest I was mostly healed up, but with some lingering nerve damage on my right leg which remains to this day from where the nerve connected with the spinal cord and got partially disconnected, and so it remains to this day. Weakness in the sensory nerves, but the muscle controlling nerves are just fine.

There’s a QAnon army metaphor to be made here, but I’m taking the high road today.

Flash forward to the 90’s, when I, like virtually everyone else in Vancouver, worked for Starbucks. An eight hour shift there will give you a great education in how to work hard (seriously, Starbucks gave me whatever work ethic I possess to this day, never had one before then), an appreciation for finely-prepared beverages, and almost certainly a collection of painful varicose veins if you stay long enough, and I stayed for seven years. The first hour after getting home from work was usually spent with my legs resting against the wall while the rest of my body formed the foot of the “L” configuration, draining my overtaxed blood vessels and trying to make the infernal pinching feeling go away. It took a good five years after leaving retail before my veins stopped bothering me on the reg.

Flash forward to four and a half years ago, when I took a tumble down a flight of stairs, landing on my head. Yet another experience I do not recommend to most people. A few, though. A few of them, they have it coming.

Once I was sufficiently recovered to hold short conversations and notice symptoms I noticed a creeping numbness in my right calf. It felt like a cross between my leg falling asleep, but only from the calf muscle on down to the ankle, and wearing an 80’s legwarmer slouched way down. Now, this was problematic enough, but over the next several weeks and months it crept upward, eventually affecting all of my right leg from the hip on down.

Saw a doctor. Doctor’s advice, as far as I can recall, was “Well, keep an eye on it and try not to fall down.” Sooper. So I kept an eye on it, tried not to fall down, and did my own research. Ended up more or less treating myself by cutting wayyyyyy back on alcohol, taking B vitamins, making sure to get enough Omega 3’s from my diet, and walking miles for exercise. The phenomenon, known in medical circles as “peripheral neuropathy,” began to recede, very slowly. First I got pins and needles in my thigh, then the feeling came back and pins and needles shifted south to my knee, then my knee was fine, and the pins and needles moved on to the calf, then the calf was fine and the ankle was tingling, and then everything seemed back to normal.

The de-tingling, de-neuropathizing, re-normalizing process took in excess of two years, by the way. It ain’t easy to normalize ol’ raincoaster. Ask anyone who’s tried it.

Which brings us to modern times…

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Forty-Ate

We are now two days out from the AstraZeneca Covid-19 jab, which I got on Thursday at 8:30am. Last night, I noticed that tap water was tasting different for me, and wondered what that meant. Happy to report it does, in fact and in actuality, mean something.

Something meaningful.

I mean…

I mean…

It means that this:

Shrimp and orange pepper tacos with white peach balsamic dressing

Tasted like this:

Happy breakfast

You know, once I had breakfast sitting one table over from Oprah Winfrey. I was in Santa Barbara for the film festival with some friends, and while I can never afford extravagant dinners when I travel I’ve long since realized it’s much easier to afford extravagant brunches pretty much anywhere, so my friends and I went for one.

Brunch was at the Bacara Resort which is now the Ritz-Carleton Santa Barbara, which is no doubt just as lovely now as it was back in the early 2000’s. Egrets in the herb garden, surfers on the beach, sea air and ocean views and peace and quiet and celebrities in neutral cashmere at the next table hoping to god you don’t bug them. I had, if memory serves (which for once it does because I’m back on the ginko biloba) the shrimp and mango salad and fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. It cost $45 with tip, and it was absolutely worth every penny. It was both the most expensive and the tastiest brunch I’ve ever had.

Until today.

These perfectly ordinary tacos I made for breakfast today tasted better. Frozen shrimp, leftover cut orange peppers, week-old hearts of romaine, WASP-made tortillas, and store brand peach and white balsamic salad dressing, and honestly one of the most intensely pleasurable things I’ve ever put inside me. Why is that?

Because jab, that’s why.

Loss of sense of smell and/or taste is a well-known symptom of the Covid-19 virus. That’s not in dispute. What IS in dispute (but I know who’s going to win this fight in the coming years, once all the data is collected and analyzed) is whether or not vaccination restores that loss, or even adds a metallic taste.

From what GAVI says about the way the virus interferes with the way salts interact with scent sensors, it seems natural that the metallic/mineral flavours in the water were the first thing I noticed once the vaccine got a good foothold and started kicking viral ass. It took till today for me to notice a difference with the flavour of food, but I really do, and my sense of scent is keener than it’s been in more than a year for certain. Yesterday I put on a sweater I hadn’t worn in a couple of weeks, and I noticed the scent of perfume on it, loved the perfume, and was able to pick it out from my (maybe 18 or 20 bottles) collection.

And man, if I thought breakfast was good, lunch, Possums, lunch was fucking orgasmic.

Behold the most pleasurable single physical experience I have had since March, 2020.

Hey, it’s been A Year, okay?

That is leftover cold chicken on a toasted poppyseed bagel with mustard (the basic bitch kind), mayonnaise, and salt and pepper. And it was orgasmic. And about eight hours later I can still smell the chicken on my fingers, and I’ve washed my hands four times.

That, if I recall, was a bagel too
That, if I recall, was a bagel too

Before you ask, no, the chicken leftovers weren’t so old they were smelly. And I didn’t put them anywhere interesting with my hands. I’m just an extraordinarily great smeller right now.

Now.

As I mentioned yesterday, it’s possible this is psychosomatic (which is different from Not Real). And I know that the plural of anecdote is not data (even if nobody seems to know who said it first). But anecdotal evidence from medical and scientific professionals I’m in touch with has begun to show a pattern: if you had the virus, and you get the jab, your symptoms are very mild compared to the norm, and you may notice a return of smell and taste. And I’m pretty sure I had Covid-19 back in March of 2020, and possibly again in the fall, when I was sick for four straight months.

And I’m noticing that yes, there are flavours in my mouth even when I’m not eating, which is consistent with a return of long-lost senses.

Basically those flavours are always there; any lover will tell you that you have a particular taste. And the reason we don’t notice these flavours most of the time is, after a certain duration of a particular sensation, our brain goes, “okay, that’s enough,” and shuts down the receptors that are getting that message. It’s like if your ex constantly texts you with unproductive statements, you block the number. If the messages don’t come in for a year, you might unblock the number, and the ex can get through again and because you’ve been free of it for a year it seems THAT MUCH MORE intense.

So that’s what’s going on in my mouth right now.

As for other symptoms/side effects, I feel just fine today. The persistent post-nasal drip that I’ve been complaining about for literally more than a year is gone. GONE, possums. GONE.

My resting heart rate, which is normally between 59-62 beats per minute, spiked to 70 yesterday, but it’s at 69 today and on its way back down, and that might have been a response to the Tylenol and one beer I had. Had a slight headache when I woke up which dissipated over the day, and my jab arm feels a little bit bruised and stiff, but I have quite a burst of energy today. The Sister, who has a biology obviously very similar to my own, is a day farther out from her AZ jab and it hit her very hard. Today her injection site is a large red welt, whereas when I went to photograph mine and share it with her…

I couldn’t find it.

I also have a kind of mental clarity that is new to me, at least recently. Remember, I’m still recovering from a traumatic brain injury four and a half years ago, but I do feel particularly bright today. That’s the exact word, “bright.” Everything is a little lighter, everything is a little less effort, everything sparkles a little bit in comparison to three days ago. If that’s psychosomatic or not, I’ll take it. There’s writing to be done, Possums!

Anything for Dental Health

Licking Rocks…and liking it

Quick drive-by blog post to say that two and a half days after getting the AZ jab, all of a sudden I noticed that the tap water didn’t taste very good.

It tasted, in fact, like licking rocks. Not that one has ever done that, you understand. But you know what I’m talking about.

Ottawa tap water used to smell like hard boiled eggs because of all the sulfur in it, but these days they’ve figured out how to get rid of that while leaving in a lot of the native minerals (this land is all dolomite and limestone and bits of granite imported on long-melted glaciers during the last Ice Age).

For roughly a year The Roommate has had a Brita water filter, which he regards as a Covid safety measure; this doesn’t remove bacteria, let alone viruses, but it does remove minerals including calcium and fluoride. Once he started using it, he was hooked on the taste, and frankly even the dog preferred the Brita water. If you give him tap water now he just looks at you and sighs, like you’re particularly stupid and he pities you.

I couldn’t tell the difference. Literally. Could. Not. Tell.

Today I got myself a glass of water from the tap, and almost spat it out. It tasted like licking rocks. So did the Sodastream water in the fridge I’d made from tap water (I’m actively trying to get more fluoride). The Brita water? Tasted like nothing, so no change there.

I haven’t had anything to eat since noticing the change, but if breakfast is particularly savoury tomorrow I will be sure to let you know.

As I said elsewhere, we are hyper-aware of our bodies right now, looking for symptoms and so on, so it’s quite possible this is all psychosomatic, but either something is going on in my water supply, or something is going on in my brain, or something is going on in my body.

Time, Possums. It shall tell.

I (finally) got poked! OR Two too many tutus

I’m not the dainty type, Possums. You know that by now. My motto is “49 degrees latitude, 360 degrees attitude,” with “Hard to kill” hot on its heels. I have been called a cross between Dorothy Parker and Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. All to say that you wouldn’t expect me to be the type to own a tutu, let alone two. Or more.

Yes, more.

And I’m still waiting on yet another one to come in, been waiting for four and a half years now, but the pressure is somewhat off, given what I discovered in the closet.

You can find the most amazing things in closets, from sexual identity to Narnia. What I found was tutus. Well, and also a bag of bloody human teeth but more on that later.

The worst Morning After The Day Before of my life.

Flashback to my Accident: I fell down the stairs and landed on my head, nearly bleeding out and giving myself a head injury that would have cost most people their lives, and put an end to my cybersecurity journalism covering hacktivism. Being unable to earn a living, and saddled with a very expensive course of physical therapy, I created a fundraiser, and raised more than expected, so I was able to pay The Sister back for a lot of the help she’d given me over the years, buying glasses, getting my dentistry taken care of (still have a bag of my own decayed fangs upstairs, no idea why I was keeping it in my sock drawer. Now I’m keeping it in the box where my nail polish resides, much more logical), and so on.

As part of the fundraiser, I offered to put a tutu on and pose with a shoe on my head. The problem, Possums, was that I did not own a tutu. A friend volunteered to make me one, but life got in the way as it tends to do, and that tutu is still somewhere in the ether.

It appears that at some point I lost patience (moi? unthinkable!) and ordered a tutu from somewhere else in the ether, and it appears equally that at some point it arrived. And it’s been hanging in the back of my closet for the intervening four years. Who knew?

I do remember when my friend Cathy came for a visit from Vancouver I ordered an extra-special tutu just for the dinner. I was still pretty brain-damaged so I spent much of the dinner staring idly into space, but at least between that and my tissue silk batwing top in baby pink, I looked damn good doing it.

Here is the extra-special tutu:

Of course I got it in my trademark grey.

The other one from the back of the closet is just a plain long skirt with a few layers of tulle on top. In, yes, grey.

The third is only a virtual tutu, but if I recall (which is always a question) it was going to be turquoise or a grey-blue. I was feeling festive that day.

Anyhoodle, clearly I have a photoshoot that I owe you once I decide which shoe to use. Might use the infamous Bus Boots which I wore for seven straight days on the Greyhound, from Victoria to Ottawa. The boot on the head thing is its own kind of chic, as our Grand Vizier Vermine Supreme can attest.

In related Eventually Getting To The Point news, I needed a tutu this morning. For why, you ask? I refer you back to the title. I was in for a poking. And oh, baby, you know how bad I wanted it! A good skirt is a major advantage when you’re looking to get poked, as is a top that shows some skin. No skin, no poke.

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Wish Lists of the Covidian Age

Well, possums, it’s been roughly 2.5 months since ol’ raincoaster here was in receipt of any of these much-lauded Covid-19 supports. She got what has been referred to as “The Letter” although she got it by email which is a damn good thing because if it were up to the Post Office who knows when, but there, I’ve said too much. Like that this week they emailed me a job opening that closed on January 15, yes, before it was posted. The Letter informs the (un)lucky Canadian that the Tax Person (we don’t say Tax Man anymore) requires them, the Canadian, to prove that they had a net income of $5,000 or more in 2019 and that it ceased as a result of the pandemic. And that, until they do, they get nothing.

At least on Tuesday they announced they won’t be clawing back the money given to people whose net income was less than $5000, but whose gross income was above that benchmark.

So, there’s that.

Now, there’s a workaround that should be effective, but I’ve got to do another call with them on Monday, which will be a solid month after the last time they requested documents from me, and we’ll see what happens then.

So, anyhoodle, money has been scarce around the ol’ raincoaster burrow since the end of November, as CRA requests documents, then requests 4 weeks to review those documents, then requests more documents and another 4 weeks theretoreview, and so on, all to determine whether or not my income from pet-sitting did or did not evaporate during the pandemic.

Spoiler alert: it did.

But in between hunting for a job and whining on social media about having no money, I still find time in my busy schedule to engage in the favourite pastime of the destitute: making fantasy shopping lists.

Now, back in the day when I had a steady income I could flip through glossy magazines and put, say, some whimsical 17th Century Chinoiserie chairs on the list, but these days, when I can’t even afford the catalogues and the library is closed and Connoisseur magazine folded, even my dreams have contracted.

Presented here, on the general principle that pain shared is…well, just great material for a good goth lyric, if nothing else…my fantasy shopping list of All The Things I Would Have Bought By Now From Local Companies (fuck Amazon!) If I Still Had The CRB To Which I Am Entitled Because Duh, Pet-Sitting In A Pandemic, I Mean Come On.

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