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I GOT COVID IN DISNEY WORLD!

I have read so many X-rays over the past two years and three months of people afflicted with COVID. As a radiologist, I bear witness to the onset of COVID from the first variant to the most current. I’ve seen chests fill up with fluid and inflammation to the point of destroying the lungs. I have seen the Delta variant show up with florid, rapid onset pneumonia. I’ve seen the Omicron variants have not shown as much pneumonia and frankly, the past three months, I have been relieved as I interpreted Chest X-rays that did not show pneumonia at the outset.

My daughter has had some health challenges since November. These challenges were from new treatments for her epilepsy including brain surgery in March. Because of this, the three of us did not get booster shots. So it was with trepidation I went ahead with a trip to Disney World for our entire family: wife, daughter, son, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren. This was a trip almost a year in planning. I read that in the past three weeks, COVID cases were on the increase along the east coast with the newest variant up almost 31% in Florida. Should I cancel our trip?

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My son’s family had COVID around the first of the year. Both my son and daughter-in-law had booster vaccinations. But, because of my daughter’s surgery and trying to work out scheduled visits four hours away in Houston, the three of us never got around to it. After much thought, we went anyway. And we wore our masks. BUT, most of the people in Disney World were not wearing their masks. I should have been more careful.

Two days after arriving in Disney World with my son (we drove down 15 hours to avoid the cost of renting a van and three car seats) I started feeling weird is the only way to describe it. Now, I’m a physician and I’ve taken care of hundreds of patients in the past two years or so who had COVID and never had problems. By Tuesday night, I was having nasal congestion and it just didn’t feel like a regular cold.

Wednesday, I was a walking zombie is the only way to describe how I felt. I had no appetite. My taste and smell were fine. Wednesday night I began to choke on nasal secretions and I knew Thursday morning I had COVID. I had tested myself Wednesday and it was negative. Thursday morning, the little red line showed up at 3 minutes! You’re supposed to wait until 15 minutes to see a positive test.

I went to a local stand alone ER and they jumped all over me with intravenous steroids, monoclonal treatment, I.V. fluid, and a breathing treatment and put me on a Z Pack, steroid dose pack and an inhaler! I must admit about thirty minutes after the steroid and monoclonal infusion, I was feeling pretty spiffy.

Back to the room now in quarantine while the rest of my family enjoyed Disney World. I was pretty bummed out. Especially when my wife and daughter got sick Friday and tested positive for COVID. It was especially galling when my wife called me from the same ER because the doctor, a different one from the doctor I saw, was miffed at me that I had gotten their last dose of monoclonal infusion! I said I wasn’t the one who made the decision how to treat me. In fact, he told my wife and daughter to take over the counter medication. After talking to one of Casey’s health care providers, we opted for a conservative approach.

Fortunately, our symptoms were moderate. But the real problem arose. How were we to get home? My son and I were supposed to drop everyone off at the airport Saturday morning to fly home and he and I would drive the 15 hours home. Now, I had to buy him a ticket. Problem was, he had driven from Abilene to my house in Shreveport and this is where his car was located. He did this to deliver two car seats to take in my van. Sherry and my daughter had driven three hours to Dallas DFW Airport and parked in the long term parking to meet my daughter-in-law and three grandchildren driving three house from Abilene so they could all fly out together to Orlando.

Now how would we get the cars straightened out? It was obvious three of us would be driving back. We couldn’t fly with active COVID! So we set out Friday afternoon driving for home and left my son, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. They flew home safely Saturday and my sister-in-law was kind enough to drive my son’s car to Dallas to pass off to them and pick up my wife’s car and drive it home.

Bottom line: I don’t care what you think about masks. I don’t care what you think about vaccinations. All I know is I got COVID at Disney World and it ruined our long planned trip for my grandchildren’s first visit to Disney World. Did you read that? I GOT COVID AT DISNEY WORLD!! IT WAS NOT THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH!!

If you are going this summer, be careful! Don’t hesitate to get boosted. Don’t hesitate to wear a mask in large crowds. COVID is surging again and granted, it is the more contagious, but less deadly newest variant. But, if you get it, it will ruin you carefully planned trip. And, it may ruin your life!

Thank God, we only have mild symptoms so far. I am hoping and praying it stays that way. So BE CAREFUL! Don’t take this for granted. A little precaution can save your day. And, maybe your life!

Now for the humor. I told someone I had Disney COVID so every time I coughed I sounded like Sneezy (or Wheezy, or Croupy, or Grumpy). And I had a touch of gastrointestinal effects and lets just say driving for 9 hours on Saturday we had to stop way too often for me, Whiny the Poop! Sorry, too much information!

If you go, seriously, let me recommend:

Wear your mask in large crowds.
Wear your mask in any attraction line.
Wear your mask on all attractions.
Use the hand sanitizer every time you get on and off an attraction.
Wash your hands over and over in the bathrooms.
And, I recommend picking up a home COVID test the minute you get there or bring your own because the tests will be in short supply as this new surge peaks in Florida!

Book Signing Tomorrow!

MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

ORLANDOHenniganSuttonSEP14FBSherry and I are in the Orlando area this week celebrating our 34th wedding anniversary. We first came to Orlando in October, 1980 for our honeymoon and we’ve been coming back to Walt Disney World for the last 34 years.

People ask me why I come to Disney World so many times. Doesn’t it get old? Don’t you grow tired of it? Haven’t you seen everything you can see? Let me tell you a story.

A father took his two girls to an amusement park every Sunday afternoon after church. The amusement park sat on the coast in California. But, the father was not happy about his experience. The location was windy and dirty and wet. The attractions were seedy and broken down half the time. The grounds were unkept and weedy with trash blowing everywhere. The workers were, well let’s just say somewhat undesirable to be around children!

The father would sit on a rickety bench and watch his girls riding the carousel and he wish he could join them. And so, this father began to dream. After all dreaming was his business! What if there was an amusement park that was clean and bright with gorgeous landscaping. What if the workers were right out of a Hollywood movie — clean and costumed and playing the “role” of a kind, considerate person who would make you feel like you and you alone were the most important person in the world? What if the attractions were safe, high quality, and most importantly, allowed families to enjoy the attraction TOGETHER? And, what if the amusement park was every changing and improving over time so that families could return again and again and never get bored?

That father was Walt Disney and the rest of his story is history. He went back to his studios and quickly drew up a plan for such a park in the studio’s parking lot. By the time he was finished, as was his nature, he began to think bigger and bigger. Disney’s “folly” as it was called opened in July, 1955 as Disneyland and changed the world.

This is why Sherry and I continue to go back. It is a place that is clean, high quality, magical, and restive. Also, we have good friends in the area and we have always loved Florida in general.

We are here this week and this weekend. If you are in the Orlando area, Mark Sutton and I will be signing our book, “Hope Again: A 30 Day Plan for Conquering Depression” on Saturday, September 27 from 1 to 3 PM. Come see us! We’d love to meet you!

WAITING!!???!!!

I hate waiting.

 My father, who will turn 98 tomorrow, was in the ER twice in the past week. Both times, he was in congestive heart failure which means his lungs were full of fluid. I had been in the same ER the week before that with a possible heart attack (all was normal). But, I was getting tired of sitting around and WAITING for something to happen. Turns out my father had eaten two cans of potted meat and each can had 890 milligrams of sodium. His daily limit is 100! All that salt had thrown him in fluid overload.

I had a trip planned last week with my daughter and two sisters to Disney World in Orlando to experience Star Wars Weekends. Both of my sisters decided to stay in town and take care of my father. I had promised my daughter a trip so just the two of us went.

I am a veteran of Disney World and when I tell you that the parks were more crowded than I had ever seen them, that is saying a lot! Rides that no one would get on that usually had no line were upwards of 20 to 30 minutes wait time! I was WAITING again!

To make matters worse, it was raining when we landed on Tuesday evening and it rained continuously until Sunday morning. The last morning in Animal Kingdom was hot and sunny and we only had two hours! But, the real WAIT for me was WAITING for yesterday to arrive.

My daughter, Casey, is now 25 and she has suffered from epilepsy since age 8. Our last neurologist in our home town basically “fired” us and refused to take care of Casey anymore because he was getting out of the business of treating epilepsy. Problem is, in this town with four universities, a nursing school, and a medical school there were NO other neurologists treating adult epilepsy! I could not believe it. It took us four months to find someone and the closest neurologist was in New Orleans, a five hour drive away. So, Casey had an appointment with this new neurologist yesterday. My wife had to stay at home with her mother (who lives with us) so she didn’t get to experience all the magical WAITING in Disney World in a drenching deluge. She drove down to New Orleans Sunday evening and I had to drop my daughter off at a different airport to catch a nonstop flight to New Orleans from Orlando. My flight back to Shreveport was at a different airport.

Watching my daughter, even at the age of 25, walk away from the car into the huge Orlando International Airport alone was one of the hardest things I had to do. Knowing she faced a new doctor the next day and a possible barrage of tests didn’t make it any easier. I was a basket case. I was WAITING again to make sure her flight made it; WAITING again to hear from my wife that she had picked Casey up at the airport. Let’s face it. In today’s world a single young woman traveling alone is ALWAYS at risk!

I arrived at home Sunday evening and my wife’s sister had returned from her vacation to come and stay at our house to take care of her mother. My wife called me later than I wanted her to and told me all was well. But, Casey had a major breakdown once she picked her up at the airport and the two of them spent an hour crying. They were WAITING as well for the next day.

Let me make it plainer. My daughter’s life is rough. She has these “auras” off and on during the day where her mouth will suddenly stop working and she can’t say what is in her brain. Sometimes this lasts for a minute; sometimes for 30 minutes. She has these flashes of light and feelings of “electricity” running through her brain. She has always suffered from the social stigma of being someone with “seizures” and her time in high school was mostly horrific. She worked her tail off just to graduate and every time she gets a break, it seems someone comes along and kicks her in the gut. But, she is a trooper and one of the strongest people I know. I just want my daughter to have a chance at a normal life. Is that too much to ask? It seems my entire family is WAITING.

My wife tells me over the phone that she had a breakthrough this past week. She was worrying and fretting over Casey and the new doctor. She and I had made the realization together that we had done everything possible a parent could do to help our child. Her breakthrough was in realizing that Casey is God’s child, too. And, that God is in control and loves her more than we can ever love her. When she made that breakthrough, she found peace. I was bitter. I had not had this kind of breakthrough. I was still mad and upset and, frankly, WAITING for God to do SOMETHING to help Casey! I did not have peace.

At that moment, another call came in and it was my co-author and one of my best friends in the world, Mark Sutton. Mark was our former pastor and is now retired in Orlando working with Haitians. I had seen him and his wife Donna just the Friday night before while in Orlando. I took his call and told my wife I’d call her right back. What did Mark have to say? Turns out our agent has some inside line to a possible “sequel” book to our “Conquering Depression”. Mark wanted to talk to me briefly about some work we needed to do on the concept because he was going out of the country the next day for his anniversary. I told him I was “discomboobilated” about the whole thing because I couldn’t think past the next day.

Guess what he told me? “Bruce, you need to stop worrying about this new book idea. God is in control. He knows what we need to do and I know you hate WAITING, but God will work it all out. He is in control!”

I almost started crying. Here, in less than two minutes, God had told me twice what I needed to hear. I am NOT in control. That is why I am always WAITING. God is in control and I needed to give up my anxiety to God and let him give me peace. Okay God, I get it!

Fast forward to Monday and a very hectic day back at work and once again WAITING to hear from my wife. She gives me a call at 3 PM that afternoon. And, she drops me a bombshell. This new neurologist is not 100% certain, but he believes that Casey doesn’t have epilepsy but has been suffering from migraines! I couldn’t believe my ears! Migraines? Really? We’ve been treating my daughter for years for epilepsy and all the time she has had migraines? In fact, her medicine for seizures can cause migraines!!!!

So, today, I am once again WAITING for the neurologist to call me and to look at all of Casey’s EEGs. But, this man is more knowledgeable than any doctor she has seen. He specializes in adult epilepsy. I am hoping and praying he is right. Because if he is, then Casey can get off of her epilepsy medicine and have a normal life. We can all stop WAITING.

Today, I am pausing to thank God. He is in control. Man has failed time and time again especially with regard to my daughter. The circumstances that led us to this doctor are phenomenal and clearly impossible without the intervening hand of God. It took years, but we may finally have an answer and an answered prayer.

WAITING? Join the club and remember my favorite verse in all the world:

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

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