Today I will receive my second vaccine for COVID-19.
It feels like a huge milestone. Finding my way to a vaccine has been fraught with challenges. But my second dose will be completed today, and in 2 more weeks I will be able to reunite in person (!) with my brother and sister in law. We have not been together since 2019, despite living less than 3 hours apart. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Easter, 4th of July, summer days at the beach, and birthdays in 2020 and 2021 have all been spent apart from one another.
They have both completed their vaccination series already.
My brother had a confirmed case of COVID in January but fortunately was able to recover at home without experiencing the worst effects. My sister-in-law never tested positive but was also symptomatic following my brother’s diagnosis. She recovered well at home too.
And now we have all been vaccinated—I’m the last one and need just another two weeks —only 14 more days—before we can reunite.
This alone adds a great moment of anticipation; while I am grateful for FaceTime and Zoom, they are clearly no substitute for in person gatherings.
Giving and receiving hugs will be a most welcome event!!
April 19 Part 2- the aftermath.
I was secretly hoping I wouldn’t have too much of a reaction to vaccine #2 since I had only had a very sore arm after round #1.
But then, last evening, around 9pm, exactly 8 and a half hours after my immunization, the extreme body aches, chills, and general malaise set in. And worsened through the night despite a dose of Tylenol, which did offer a little bit of temporary relief. It was all reminiscent of my first Reclast infusion reaction.
Apparently my system does not like to be goaded into doing things it thinks it is already doing well enough—like making new bone cells or mounting an antibody response to a COVID vaccine.
But now, 24 hours later, the worst of the symptoms are beginning to abate. And ultimately, it is a small inconvenience for the greater good.
And in the background, spring is springing on. COVID restrictions are much easier to deal with in warmer weather, when we humans can at least see one another comfortably outdoors in small physically distant groups. Where dog walkers and strolling parents and neighbors and friends can touch base casually almost like we used to do pre-COVID. And where those of us who are at least two weeks out from our second vaccination can even gather indoors more safely.
I think we all gravitate toward those experiences and appreciate the prospect more than ever before.
It’s almost incomprehensible to think that everything we used to do—planned or spontaneously—concerts, plays, museums, parties, dinners, lunches out, sports events, shopping, group gatherings of any variety— have functionally evaporated since March 2020.
And for people like me with a cancer diagnosis, COVID restrictions have complicated matters even more.
Fortunately for me, I don’t mind going in to my follow up appointments alone. It allows me to just be with myself and to not be concerned with anyone’s emotional status or needs except my own for that brief period of time.
But for others, the loss of companionship and support during treatment sessions has been a major blow. Not having a choice is what is important here. It will be so reassuring when choice returns.
My hope for all of us is that as vaccinations are available to everyone 16 and older across the country (as of today!), we will have enough distribution, supply, and uptake to help us all reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections.
It’s the first step in a path to something resembling normalcy.
This concept seems somewhat familiar to me on this detour into Cancerland (with an unexpected side trip along with the rest of the world to COVIDville!) The ubiquitous “new normal”.
And speaking of a new normal—as I just stepped onto the deck to enjoy the warm sunshine and soak up a little Vitamin D, my deep breath of gratitude was interrupted by a wasp sting. How fitting.
I’ve now retreated back inside to my personal first aid station, with a welcome ice pack and a little Benadryl in waiting if needed. Another jab, but not a necessary one!
Here’s to an uneventful week ahead….🥴
“You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.”
-Mary Tyler Moore
For more on vaccines, access, and disparities: