My wife, Judy, and I have started wearing masks again when we shop indoors.

This is to help protect us from the delta variant of the coronavirus and to prevent us from spreading the disease to others.

We were back to wearing masks after my sister, Becky, said she had to let a couple of unvaccinated home health aides go who would not wear masks when they cared for our 93-year-old mother, Susan. One was already working, and the other had planned to start soon.

If they could work without masks, unvaccinated, for a high-risk population, how many more people like them are out there?

Our mother had a month of in-home care after she fell and broke a rib.

It was painful, and a lot of her care was gallantly provided by my sister, Mary Jane, who also recently had broken a couple of ribs on her visit to the Grand Canyon.

After a long month of trying to stay in her own home, our mom moved to MorningStar, a nice senior living facility that allowed her to take her 21-year-old dog, Princess, with her.

And our mom recently fell again, breaking two more ribs and bruising her head. She was back in the hospital for another couple of days. This time, according to her doctor, it may have been the result of a small stroke.

My mom was very independent prior to her falls, and I am sure her dependency on others is hard for her now.

But things change in life, and we don’t have much control over how we age.

Earlier in the summer, I was diagnosed with shingles.

Although I had both of the shingles vaccinations — the vaccine has a 90 percent efficacy rating — it wears off over time. My last shot was four years ago.

When I saw my doctor, he immediately prescribed an antiviral medication.

My outbreak was mild, but the infection was persistent and lingered for over 10 weeks.

People who had chickenpox carry the herpes zoster virus, which is not contagious, but they have a 1 in 3 chance of getting shingles later in life. It usually affects older adults or people with weak immune systems.

Besides being 71 and a recent prostate cancer survivor who received radiation and hormone therapy, I am also taking prednisolone, a steroid that weakens the immune system. My doctor prescribed the drug to see if it would reduce mysterious muscle pain and itching, which becomes more intense at night.

Although ibuprofen, over-the-counter pain patches, topical pain-relieving lotions, gels, ice, heat and my preferred exercise — running — all help, nothing really has worked to get rid of the pain.

I have lost 11 pounds dealing with nausea and fatigue since my bout with shingles.

And recently, I was told by two dermatologists I consulted that I may not have had shingles after all. They said they didn’t believe shingles would affect both sides of the head, as my illness had.

Regardless of my aches and pains, this summer has been delightful, and there are a lot of things to be thankful for:

We have had a spectacularly wet monsoon.

My wife and I got to watch our 4-month-old granddaughter, Tavi, grow each day.

We even did some babysitting while our daughter Shawna and her husband, Michael, were able to enjoy a night out.

We were also a part of the marriage ceremony in June for our son Randy and his wife, Shamsa.

It was a small family gathering, rich in cultural and religious traditions.

My parents were not able to attend the wedding, but both received regular updates and photos.

And finally, the nation’s vaccination rate for COVID-19 has started to improve.

Andy Winnegar has spent his career in rehabilitation and is based in Santa Fe as a training associate for the Southwest ADA Center. He can be reached at

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