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Column: Everything's Gonna Be OK*

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  • Column: Everything's Gonna Be OK*

    I write a magazine column for the community I live in, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. It's gotten popular with the locals, and I often write about my MS. Here's my most recent column, about vaccines and those of us who are immunocompromised. You can read all my columns going back to 2015 here:

    Everything’s Gonna Be OK*
    By Dave Bexfield

    Throughout this pandemic, I’ve been continuously on the lookout for subtle signs of hope in the Village. And the not so subtle, like large fluttering flags comfortingly reminding us that “Everything’s Gonna Be OK.” That thought salsaed and tangoed in my brain while Laura and I enjoyed our first meal at a restaurant since March of 2020: a fantabulously memorable meal at Los Poblanos’s Campo. But there’s an asterisk in the headline for a reason.

    With the vaccine making a significant dent in the number of Covid cases throughout the country and in New Mexico, everything appears to be on track to reach that mystical destination of A-OK, an almost preposterous thought a year ago. Except. While some people have made the conscious choice to not get the vaccine just yet (or fall into the never-ever camp), there is another subset of people who have precious few choices. I fall into that unfortunate group—people with medical conditions who either are unable to take the vaccine or whose bodies fail to mount a robust antibody response with the Covid vaccine due to the medications they take.

    Folks with autoimmune diseases like myself are especially in the crosshairs. Our myriad diseases are like doting aunts with a new niece or nephew, they just keep on gifting! (But really, I think I’ve had enough with the multiple sclerosis presents.) Many of us take drugs that tamp down our overactive immune systems, and those same immunosuppressive medications can blunt the impressive effectiveness of the Covid vaccines. How much protection we are getting from our Pfizer, Moderna or J&J jabs is wholly unclear. So we’ve been instructed to keep on keepin’ on—keep on masking, keep on socially distancing, keep on hand washing. (And I was so ready to stop washing my hands!)

    But there aren’t that many of us, are there? Um, yeah. According to the National Institutes of Health, up to 23.5 million Americans (more than seven percent of the population) are afflicted with autoimmune diseases. And that doesn’t even include those who are immunosuppressed due to other reasons, like organ transplants. By that count, it’s safe to assume there are more than 400 Villagers facing the same dilemma that I am facing: what now, what next, especially in light of the new Delta variant? I wish I had answers for my neighbors, many of whom have shared with me their own autoimmune struggles as I handcycle through our neighborhoods. And it’s not just the cool kids with popular maladies like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. I’m talking inclusion body myositis, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and a whole host of others I can’t pronounce, much less spell.

    This column is not intended to guilt or berate or science anyone into getting a vaccine. That doesn’t work worth a hill of beans anyway. But maybe I’ve cracked the door of consideration for a few fence sitters who may not be aware of one uniquely temporarily powerless (but uncommonly powerful) group of individuals: your neighbors who can’t wait to hug grandkids, go grocery shopping at Smiths to complain about the annoyingly uneven selection of yogurt, and go to a restaurant to do that crazy thing called—eating inside—gasp!

    I don’t know when in 2021 (or 2022?) I’ll have the opportunity to dine indoors at a restaurant. Fortunately, though, the glow from dining outdoors at Los Poblanos will last for a good bit. Especially because it was documented by New Mexico Magazine in their August 2021 issue! But while seeing/hearing about Dave would be a highlight for any Villager (clearly), the article is on the overall fabulousness of Los Ranchos. And you darn well know I brought out my pom poms for the occasion. It’s another brilliant day in the Village.

    Dave Bexfield