Sunday, November 28, 2021

Bathtubs, Boosters, and Bears, Omicron!! [A Holiday Update]

On November 24, 2021 I decided to get my fourth shot of the COVID19 vaccine.  The first two doses (Astra-Zeneca) were administered in a vaccine trial in November and December of 2020.  The next single shot (Johnson & Johnson) was given in May, 2021.  Did I medically need a fourth shot in order to have the maximal protection from COVID and its variants?  The answer involved a lot of math, a lot of probabilities, and a lot of maybes.  Ultimately I opted to receive the next dose (Pfizer) because it removed uncertainty, cleared up my ambivalence, and helped me to feel in control over what happens to my body. 

When I made this pre-Thanksgiving announcement on Facebook I received much support from family and friends.  One person, however, whom I would describe as vaccine ambivalent, privately reached out and asked, “So what does this mean?  That you’re going to keep getting booster shots over and over?” My answer:  YEAH!!  I will happily get COVID booster shots as long as it takes.  You’re talking to the same guy who regularly uses PrEP to prevent HIV and doxycycline to prevent STIs.  The idea of utilizing biomedical interventions to enhance my quality of life and reduce harm is hardly an unusual concept for me.

About 24 hours later media headlines started swarming around the World Health Organizations’s announcement of Omicron as a “COVID variant of concern.”   At the time of this writing, there is no clear evidence that Omicron is more likely to lead to illness than the other variants, nor how well the current vaccines protect from this new strain.  But I do know that having an additional booster shot offers me a way to feel proactive, responsible, and empowered about my pleasure and protection, in the midst of more panic and uncertainty. 

Damon in Mike Enders' Tub
This theme of seeking medical and mental safety in times of turbulence and trauma has come up frequently in my new “Tub Talks” series.  The idea of doing naked interviews in a bathtub came to me years ago, when I saw my buddy Mike Enders, aka as “The Accidental Bear” holding court in his tub in San Francisco.  I begged him to let me be part of his show, and we filmed a very fun episode in early 2018.  Mike was already moving beyond his bathtub to focus on animal activism by that point, and I thought eventually I wanted to host a similar type of forum for discussions, dialogues, and deeper lessons about resilience and hope. 

After finishing my 50 Lessons of 50 Series last Spring, I began planning  “Tub Talks With Damon" -
Kareem McJagger In The Tub
...featuring naked conversations with thought leaders, artists, healers, creators, bears, and people who just fascinate me.  All have generously shared experiences of vulnerability, as well as lessons learned from surviving pain.  Everyone who has visited my Tub has deepened my appreciation for overcoming obstacles, fighting to gain a sense of safety and control after dealing with traumatic setbacks, and using their experiences of adversity to help improve the lives of others.