This past February I abruptly left my job as a public school bus driver for a rather affluent town located approximately thirty miles from my home. Several people became infected with COVID-19, one driver died, and I found myself driving around thinking to myself that my life and, more importantly, the lives of my wife and daughter had to be worth more than the modest income that I was earning driving a school bus.

To make matters worse a number of the kids I transported to and from school had gotten sick and had to be quarantined, but, because of privacy laws, I was never notified of the outcomes. The policy that school officials adopted stated that drivers had to be in contact with a student who tested positive for COVID-19 for at least fifteen minutes before they were told to quarantine. It was a policy that made absolutely no sense to me given that a school bus is a perfect container to house an airborne virus, especially one that is known to linger in the air for extended periods of time. And let’s be honest: masks are not airtight and young children don’t really understand their importance and the need to keep them on.

Though the busses were disinfected twice per day, once after the morning runs and again at the end of the day, our only defenses against the virus while on board the busses were the personal protective equipment that the drivers were required to provide for themselves and plenty of ventilation … and by ventilation I mean that we were made to drive with all of the windows down, even during the coldest winter days, which included several single digit mornings.

I found the personal protective equipment to be very expensive but I was happy to purchase the various items that I found for sale because so much was unavailable at the time. Lysol Disinfectant Spray was impossible to find and, so, I did a considerable amount of research and discovered that while Lysol kills COVID-19 within two minutes of contact with the virus, Windex All Surface Cleaner kills the virus within four minutes: and, fortunately for me, there was plenty of the Windex cleaner available for sale on Amazon’s website. I purchased two spray bottles and two one gallon refills of the Windex cleaner, as well as numerous boxes of disposable masks and gloves, several cloth masks, and two airtight goggles, which are commonly worn by forest firefighters. All-in-all, I paid approximately $300.00 for items — items that were meant to protect me as well as my riders. And, because of my concerns for my passengers, I thought that school officials would be willing to reimburse me, at least partially, for the costs, but was wrong. I sent one email to my direct supervisor and another to the human resource manager but neither one of them responded.

When our state and public schools reopened and we returned to work for the 2020–2021 school year, all management personnel and support staff had taken shelter in their respective office buildings, and the bus drivers were no longer allowed into any of the buildings, except to use the restrooms in the transportation office building. Even then, only two drivers, one male and one female, were allowed in the building at any given time. A rolling file cabinet was purchased to house the keys to the busses and vans, along with all of the necessary paperwork, and we (i.e., all of the drivers) were made to wait in line, six feet apart from one another, each morning for the keys to the busses or vans. The cabinet would be wheeled into the building at the end of the day and then back out onto a sidewalk, which led to the back door of the building each school day morning. In an effort to try to keep things dry, a temporary canopy had been erected over the key cabinet but it collapsed under the weight of the first snowfall and, so, it was removed. Consequently, all of the drivers were made to wait for their keys while exposed to all sorts of weather conditions. Thus, tensions were high and many of the drivers felt as though they had been reduced to “second class citizens.”

The secretary to my direct supervisor, a woman whom I will refer to as Francesca, is a rather strong willed person who has a rather free spirit and a bit of a temper. Shortly before the Christmas break I learned that Francesca went out with several coworkers and friends to a local bar for “Karaoke Night.” She contracted COVID-19 and then became very ill; however, before she was formally diagnosed with the disease she returned to work — even though she was feeling extremely ill — and she put everyone in the office at risk, including the manager who, only a little over one year earlier, had undergone open heart surgery. When I heard the news I could not believe what I was hearing. I couldn’t believe that Francesca would be so careless, so foolish and/or so selfish. She didn’t take the “pandemic” seriously and, more importantly, she had absolutely no regard for any of her coworkers or their loved ones.

By now I was at my wits end but I kept telling myself that things would eventually get better; but they didn’t. The final straw for me was laid upon my back when I learned about the passing of a coworker by the name of Rob. Though I didn’t know him well, I took Rob’s death rather hard. He was in his early fifties and he had a nine year old daughter, which is the part that made his passing so much more difficult for me to accept.

The first rumors of Rob’s passing had him dying from a heart attack, and that thought terrified me because I feared that he had contracted COVID-19, which is known to attack the heart muscle and the brain, as well as well as the victim’s lungs. I would learn much later, however, that Rob had actually committed suicide. I would also learn that his wife was hooked on drugs and that she was apparently “hooking up” with other men in order to make money to support her habit. One driver also told me that she was really hard on Rob and that she once told him that she never truly loved him.

A few days after Rob’s passing, Francesca sent out an email to all of the drivers which included suggestions on how to cope with grief and loss. In truth, I was incensed by her email. Our mutual supervisor, Andy (also an alias), on at least four different occasions told me that he considered me to be a “friend” and, to me, Andy was like the little brother I never had. As I read through Francesca’s email I could not help but think that her ignorance surrounding the seriousness of the pandemic — and her absolute selfishness — could have led to a very bad outcome for Andy and his family … and, so, I decided to respond to her email.

In my response I outlined my concerns as well as several of the concerns that fellow drivers had shared with me. In return, Francesca forwarded my email to the human resources manager, Violet (again, an alias), who responded with a rather vague threat.

In her email to me, Violet essentially said that I was to no longer have any communications with Francesca unless it was business related. (Business related? Really? I responded to her email! It’s not as if I asked her to join me at the next Karaoke party.)

Violet ended her email to me with: “This will be addressed by [Andy] separately in the future and closer to the end of the school year, as I don’t believe this is a good time for this to be addressed further.”

Ultimately, I decided to submit my immediate resignation.

Though I desperately tried to find work outside of academia (i.e., outside of driving a school bus), I very quickly discovered that there was not much in the way of good paying jobs for an older worker like me. Thus, I accepted a position as — you guessed it — a school bus driver for a town located closer to my home. Unfortunately, though, I’m now earning half the money that I was earning previously.

I’ve been in my new position for a little over five months and, because of the money issues that my departure from my previous employer created for me and my family, I have, on more than one occasion, found myself questioning whether or not my human frailties got the best parts of my better angels. But, when I consider the fact that my new employer helped me and my wife get vaccinated against COVID-19, and the fact that our daughter, Kathleen, has had absolutely no seizure activity since I left my previous employer, I feel as though I made the right decision.

At first I thought that the reduction in Kathleen’s seizure activity was due to an increase in the dosing of an herbal supplement that Kathleen’s Lyme specialist had prescribed; however, she told me that she stopped taking it because it upset her stomach. I told my wife, Amy, about our conversation and she said: “Harmony has returned to our household.” Essentially, Amy indicated to me that my stress levels played a major role in Kathleen’s seizure activity.

So, what’s the point of this story? Well, first, stress can be as devastating to a person’s health as any disease: and, much like COVID-19, stress can be very contagious. Though I am very concerned about our overall financial situation, I could not be happier with Kathleen’s much improved health. To not have to see her seizing has been a tremendous relief for my heavy heart. For over six years I have carried a very heavy burden around with me wondering whether or not there was anything that I could have done, or anything that I could have done differently, to cure Kathleen or to ensure that she was never infected in the first place. Now, though, I can see that the constant stress which exuded from every part of my being actually played a major role in precluding Kathleen from fully healing. In other words: my stress was “contagious.”

The second point that I would like to make is the importance of getting vaccinated.

I am old enough to remember some of the dreadful diseases (e.g., chicken pox) that ravaged our society when I was younger and how much people of that time welcomed the vaccines. They truly are medical miracles; and for those of you who have concerns about the speed of the development of the vaccines for COVID-19 in particular, you should know that the technology behind mRNA vaccines has been in development since the mid-1980s.

With the help of my new employer, my wife, Amy, and I received the J&J vaccine this past March; and once it was made available for her age group, Kathleen received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine shortly thereafter, in May. The day after she received her second shot, Kathleen experienced a little bit of headache but, by day three, the headache was completely gone. With regard to the J&J vaccine, Amy and I had absolutely no side effects whatsoever. And, from the time that all of us were fully vaccinated, I have slept much more soundly.

Bottom Line: Don’t be afraid to get vaccinated!

If I had gotten sick and then made Amy and/or Kathleen ill, I would have had a very difficult time forgiving myself — especially if the virus took their lives. Personally, I would much prefer to deal with the loss of income rather than the loss of life of a loved one. Money is replaceable — Amy and Kathleen are not!

These are most certainly extraordinary times in which we are living, and I would bet that, like me, there are a large number of people out there who could never in their wildest dreams have ever imagined that we would be living through a hundred year pandemic. Each and every evening when I sit down to watch the news I quickly find myself praying for all of those people who are suffering … and there is certainly no shortage of suffering these days.

For all who come to this website looking for assistance with their own suffering, please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your loved ones.

 

the power of the sun

Disclaimer: Nothing in this website should be construed as medical advice. This site is intended, solely, to share my family’s experiences with Lyme disease, with the hope that our experiences, both bad and good, will help others suffering from similar issues discover the resources they need to find relief.

 

In October of 2019, right before the Columbus Day holiday, I became seriously ill, and in looking back I can’t help but wonder if I was not afflicted with COVID-19. I had chills, a fever, fatigue and a cough that would not quit. I then lost my voice for several seeks. And symptoms lingered, seemingly well into the summer months.

While cutting the lawn one summer’s day my left knee became excruciatingly painful. Pain had started weeks before, and I was wearing a knee brace at the time, but whatever happened left me bedbound for several days. Luckily, however, the pain subsided and I regained full use of my leg; but for the longest time I was left to navigate the stairs in our home one step at a time, like a young child.

Recently, while taking a restroom break at one of the elementary schools where I serve as a school bus driver, I had a conversation with one of the maintenance staff, whom I will refer to as Roy, and he told me that he had been afflicted with COVID-19. Roy said that he had been instructed to clean one of the classrooms after it had to be evacuated when school officials learned that one of the children in the class tested positive for COVID-19; and he said that within days he began feeling ill.

The incident occurred right before schools closed for the Christmas break, and Roy told me that he cried when his wife showed him the positive test result on her phone. He further told me that it took him several weeks to become well enough to return to work and that he was still suffering from headaches, joint pain (especially in his knees) and terrible fatigue. Worse yet, Roy is a Type 1 diabetic who requires insulin, and he has a son with a heart condition. Not good! Not good at all!

I shared my experiences with Roy and I told him that my daughter, Kathleen, had also been very ill in February of 2019, and that she suffered a grand mal seizure just after becoming ill. I then shared that which I felt was a miraculous experience with Vitamin D supplements.

I first took Kathleen to a walk-in clinic and then to her pediatrician’s office and, in both cases, I was told that it was probably a viral infection and that it should be treated with palliative care: plenty of fluids and rest (think: idiotic advice for the 21st century). I then took her to her Lyme specialist, Dr. Thomas Moorcroft, who shared with me a study that came out of Canada which discussed the “dramatic” results that vitamin D had on patients suffering from influenza viruses. The 2015 study, entitled “Vitamin D for influenza,” talks about the amazing benefits of treating patients with the “flu” with vitamin D. As the final paragraph states:

A colleague of mine and I have introduced vitamin D at doses that have achieved greater than 100 nmol/L in most of our patients for the past number of years, and we now see very few patients in our clinics with the flu or influenzalike illness. In those patients who do have influenza, we have treated them with the vitamin D hammer, as coined by my colleague. This is a 1-time 50 000 IU dose of vitamin D3 or 10 000 IU 3 times daily for 2 to 3 days. The results are dramatic, with complete resolution of symptoms in 48 to 72 hours. One-time doses of vitamin D at this level have been used safely and have never been shown to be toxic. We urgently need a study of this intervention. The cost of vitamin D is about a penny for 1000 IU, so this treatment costs less than a dollar.

In Kathleen’s case, Dr. Moorcroft prescribed an initial dose of 40,000 IU for the first day with instructions to take an additional 10,000 IU each day until she finished the bottle — and the results were dramatic! Within twenty-four hours Kathleen was feeling much better; and within forty-eight hours there were no remaining symptoms.

Now, many, including my wife, Amy, may believe — as Kathleen’s conventional medical doctors would more than likely say — that “the virus simply ran its course,” but, personally, I’m not in that camp. To me, the results from the vitamin D were remarkable and almost immediate. True, Kathleen’s body mounted its own defenses against the enemy, but I for one firmly believe that the vitamin D supplements were the reinforcements that her body needed to put a quick end to the invasion. To my mind, we were able to harness the true power of the sun through supplements and enable Kathleen to awake to a bright, new day.

 

Cherish Each Moment


A coworker by the name of Robert died, suddenly, on January 21, 2021 from a “heart attack” — or so I was told. No one really knows for sure his cause of death, other than to say that it was a complete shock.

Robert was in his early fifties, and he leaves behind a wife and a young daughter, which is the part that grieves me the most.

Like me, Robert was full-figured guy — which is to simply say that there was more of him to love — and he was truly a loveable man. He adored his daughter; he had many friends; and he was a kind and caring person who liked to make others happy.

 

 

Every year, before schools would close for the Christmas Holiday, Robert would dress-up as Santa and turn the school bus that he drove into Santa’s magic sleigh … and to say that he will be missed by his young passengers is an understatement.

Though, more than likely, I will never really know the true cause of his untimely passing, because of my experiences, and because of all of the research that I have done since my own daughter became ill with Lyme disease, my mind immediately goes to a place where I can not help but wonder if Robert was not infected with a bacteria or a virus (think: COVID-19) that, at some place in his heart, blocked his arteries and stopped his heart. For me, it’s a terrifying thought!

Like so many schools across the nation, the school system for which Robert worked, and where I am still employed, seems to have a David Glasgow Farragut attitude of: ‘Damn the virus, we’re keeping our schools open!’ But, for me, personally, I subscribe to Dr. Leana Wen’s point of view that a “…loss of learning isn’t the same as loss of life,” and that “…we cannot put the burden of society’s failures on the people who work in schools.”

Google “COVID-19” and “heart” and there is no shortage of information regarding the long-term damage that COVID wreaks on the heart muscle. One of my favorites is a Healthline article which can be found here. In the article, the author, Julia Ries, does an excellent job of describing the ill effects that the virus wreaks on the heart. She also provides links that lead to other valuable information, including a link to a three part medical journal series published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, which “takes a deeper dive into the impact COVID-19 has on the heart.”

If Robert’s loved ones are still unaware of that which took him from this world, seeking the root cause(s) of his death will more than likely only serve to bring more pain to an already painful situation, but for those of us who knew him, worked with him and loved him, Robert’s premature passing has served to remind us of just how frail life can be — especially for those, like me, with certain, albeit ‘loveable,’ comorbidities.

For those of you who have been afflicted with COVID, or for those of you who know someone who has, or has had, the disease, added attention to heart health is very good advice to take or to be given to others. Further good advice to take or be given is to make certain to cherish each and every moment, because none of us can know for certain when our time here will be over — especially during these very troubling and uncertain times.

 

As I sit at home and watch all that is unfolding in the world around us, I have to wonder if I shouldn’t also create a website entitled ‘CovidTimes.’ No matter how we choose to refer to it, this is most certainly an extraordinary time to say the least.

While now having to cope with COVID-19, I still have been dealing with my daughter’s issues with Lyme disease. Shortly before the Christmas holiday Kathleen had a major seizure and it felt like a major set-back. She had gone almost one year without any seizure activity and I thought for sure that we were totally on the path to full recovery. After her seizure, however, I was not feeling as good about our situation.

Though, Amy and I now believe that Kathleen’s seizure was the result of Kathleen neglecting to take her antiseizure medications the day before the seizure occurred: and, as sad as it may sound, I was relieved to think that she had forgotten to take the medications since the alternative thought (i.e., that the diseases were progressing) was so much worse.

Personally, I believe that we, as a species, have altered the ecosystem to a point of no return and that we have finally reached a day of reckoning. For decades scientists around the world have been trying to warn us of the impending doom, but, collectively, we were not listening. Now, each and every one of us will need to do our level best to try to figure out how we can survive this mess.

Not long ago I read an article which essentially said that if bugs were to be completely eliminated from Earth that the planet would be thrown into absolute chaos, but that if human beings were to be rendered extinct, the planet would return to a state of equilibrium. The article made me think of the movie “The Matrix,” when the fictional character “Agent Smith” said: “Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.” But, unlike the movie, there is no one other than ourselves, individually or collectively, who can resolve the issues; and, sadly, there are so many of us who seem unwilling to accept the grim reality of our circumstances.

To be perfectly honest, there have been days when I have seriously wondered if I did not make a mistake by bringing a child into this world. Putting aside all of the various health issues that so many individuals are enduring, our world has become a very unstable place — economically, medically, politically and socially, and I worry about the quality of life that Kathleen and so many young people will have in the future.

Putting aside the recent seizure, for me and my family things things have been going pretty well. Kathleen has been taking an antimalarial/antiparasitic medication for the past seven months to kill the babesiae, and she has been doing so much better — thank God! For a time, I took comfort in the idea that she may be protected from COVID-19 because of her blood type and because of all of the treatments that she has undergone for Lyme and the co-infections, but I am unsure if my sense of comfort is only wishful thinking, especially given the way in which the virus has been mutating. As of the time of this writing, scientists have discovered three different mutations, one of which, out of South Africa, may be resistant to antibodies, and that is very worrisome.

Much like Lyme and other bacteria, SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19, prefer certain blood types, but no matter what blood type one may be, the absolute best advice that anyone can offer would be to do all that you can do to avoid being afflicted with any of these diseases, bacteria and viruses alike.

Sadly, though, people are getting very tired of masks and social distancing; and being able to stop the spread of the virus is still very much contingent upon everyone doing their part to avoid being infected and thus spreading the virus.

And, to complicate matters even further, because of the slow roll-out of the various vaccines that have recently become available, all of the preventative measures (i.e., wearing masks, social distancing, etc.) will need to remain in-place for years to come in order to beat this thing.

Not long ago, Amy, who works for a fairly large manufacturing company that does a great deal of work for United Technologies, learned that a coworker, located at an office in Florida, died from complications due to COVID-19. The coworker was a sixty-five year old male with no known health issues, and the virus killed him within two weeks of learning that he had been afflicted with it. Not good!

Up and until the time of the news of his passing, Kathleen had planned to return to classes when schools in our area reopened, but news of his death caused her to change her mind. Fortunately, the high school she attends has done a very good job with online classes and she has, in fact, been doing great academically. The bad news is that I have returned to driving a school bus and my family and I are now more exposed than ever to contracting the virus.

Management has formally indicated that, per CDC guidelines, drivers are required to open all of the windows on the busses when they are in operation — regardless of weather conditions — and, as one might imagine, many drivers have not complied. The heaters on all of the full-sized busses were never very good at keeping the busses warm under the best conditions, but add having to drive around with open windows in dark, damp winter conditions and most will find that transporting children to and from school has become a sloppy, uncomfortable mess that no one really wants to do. There are certainly better ways to earn a living.

So, for the moment, I am now holding-out hope that a vaccination is forthcoming and that I will not contract the virus before I am able to get vaccinated. In other words: I’m currently working on hopes and prayers.