#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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It was not red nose day

The Sensitive-Nose Covid Briefing Bingo

You’re right, the title seems random.

It is anything but.

For literal months now, we’ve been naming these after an arbitrarily-chosen convention that has nothing (or very little) to do with the content. It’s almost like a metaphor for politics and media in the 21st Century.

Almost.

In any case, today we have Sensitive-Nose, which is in line with our naming convention and ALSO literally relevant because after my AZ jab my sense of smell went off the charts (upwards). Which has made living with The Roommate challenging at points, but he does seem to be transitioning to a low FODMAP diet, so that’s something. Not much, but at least now I can light a candle without blowing us all to Kingdom Come.

Anyhoodle so far we have had:

Please note that arbitrary does not equal random. Hashtag LessonsInPower.

If you think you know our naming convention, put your guesses in the comments section at the bottom of the post. You remember those? Don’t put it on Facebook; I may have once said something about Trump and how firing squads are an opportunity for national healing and a great way to promote volunteerism, and they haven’t allowed me back since Halloween of last year. Some people are so touchy!

It was not red nose day
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau stands in the House of Commons during Question Period on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Monday June 17, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand via https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2014/06/03/Parliament-Bozo-Eruption/

Anyhoodle, here’s our video for today:

On Parliament Hill, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discusses the federal government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic. He is joined virtually by Jim Carr, the federal government’s special representative for the Prairies, and Anita Anand, the minister of public services and procurement, as well as by Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, and Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer.

And here are our Bingo cards, all ten of them. Play one or play them all: new one coming soon! That’s 250 squares in play. No wonder I’m always forgetting something!

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The Gassy Covid Briefing Bingo

Well, The Roommate has returned from his brief sojourn away at his mother’s house, and suddenly, for no reason I can think of, the completely arbitrarily-chosen title of today’s covid briefing bingo simply came to me.

And if I had a dog, why would I enshrine its poo thusly?
a sentence I never thought I would have to type

Have I told you the story of the time I nearly hacked his Google Home to tweet every time he burped or farted? He averages four an hour after dinner. I had to stop using the scented candles I love, for fear of blowing the place sky-high.

So far in our united-by-one-mysterious-yet-overarching-and-completely-arbitrarily-chosen naming convention we have had:

Gassy (Today)
Wolf

Guesses in the comments section. The winner receives an all-expenses-paid and completely virtual vacation to a hidden beach resort in the South Pacific or maybe just the Equatorial Pacific if we’re pressed for time and GIPHY doesn’t have what we’re looking for, prize-wise. Plus an equally-virtual Maserati, because why the fuck not?

Our video is here:

On Parliament Hill, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discusses the federal government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic. He is joined virtually by Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, as well as by Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, and Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer. The prime minister announces a federal investment of $12 billion for transit projects in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton.

And our bingo cards are here, including the very newish Tenth Generation Card:

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that's no mushroom

The Toadstool Covid Briefing Bingo

Good rainy morning, Possums. We are coming to you live from Ottawa, although today CPAC is apparently not covering Trudeau’s briefing so we are going with the CBC video instead, as the actual PMO team doesn’t get the video up for eight or ten hours and never includes other people’s speeches or the questions from the media. This should be jarring, and bad for my French, but here goes.

If you want to take a guess at our arbitrary nomenclature convention, we’re still going. One theme unifies all our briefing titles lately and we have had:

Guesses in the comments section to win fabulous, completely imaginary prizes. Our choice today is not completely arbitrary, however, as toadstools and politics could well be more interconnected than most people think. Forget mind control chips in vaccines and fluoride in the water supply: how about dosing the entire population with shrooms to fight fascism? Or at least the Alberta and Ontario legislatures?

Researchers found unlikely heroes in keeping the world from authoritarianism – magic mushrooms. Scientists from the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London showed that psilocybin, the active compound in psychedelic mushrooms, makes people less likely to embrace authoritarian views like fascism and more connected with nature.

The study, authored by Taylor Lyons and Robin L. Carhart-Harris, a leading researcher in this field, shows that psilocybin treatment can lead to lasting changes in such mindsets.

that's no mushroom
that’s no mushroom

Here’s our CBC video, and I’m wondering about the backstory here. Did he piss off CPAC? Is Their Person sick today? I see they’re covering Question Period but not this. Come, let us overthink it together! [later: CPAC did in fact cover the briefing, although they didn’t have their placeholder in place on YouTube in advance like usual, and it wasn’t there five minutes into the briefing either].

The CBC does not go in for descriptive captions, they only promote their other channels.

And our Bingo cards are here. Play one or play the whole set or play a completely random and arbitrarily chosen subset, because it’s 2021 and arbitrary absurdism is where we are at now in Canadian politics.

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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!