I’ve always been real fuzzy on childhood memories, but one thing I do remember from those days of yore is the day I got my first double shot – the kindergarten boosters. I was there at the same time as this other kid my age, Timmy Fox. Our moms knew each other, but I wasn’t altogether sure about Timmy, mostly because I was terrified of basically everyone when I was a kid (and also still).
Anyway, Timmy went into the other room first. Shortly after that, I remember hearing him scream – like, a “monster who lives under the bed was eating him” kind of scream. This obviously concerned me a few minutes later, when it was my turn to go into THAT SAME ROOM, but it turned out that nothing bad was actually in there, and everything turned out fine. I got my double shot, but it didn’t seem that painful, probably because I had been pretty sure I was marching to my death before.
And what a relief that I was one of the lucky ones unaffected by shots, because over the years I got a bunch of ’em. Twelve years of Depo-Provera, a whole, whole lot of blood draws when I was sick, and more afterward during my follow-ups meant that shots were just part of the whole doctor experience for me. I even kind of enjoyed it (not the shot itself, gross) because I almost always got compliments on the condition of my veins and how easy they were to – I guess, drain? I have big veins, nbd.
I’ve always been happy to take a compliment.
I have been working for an amazing employer, Arrow Senior Living, and they worked very hard to ensure that their residents and staff were able to be vaccinated. I squared up for shot number one on Wednesday, February 24, which coincided nicely with my sister’s second shot in the same location on the same day.
We got to see one another, the shot was almost completely painless (compliments to the nurse, whose name I did not get), and I was out the door almost as soon as I had arrived.
And honestly, there was nothing more to it than a little arm pain. I’d say it was worse than a flu vaccine but not nearly as bad as a tetanus booster. My arm was sore that night, and the pain was gone by the time I woke up the next morning.
For four weeks, I went about my business (“my business” means I worked from home, paced my house, and occasionally walked around outside), and then, before I knew it, it was time for Shot Number Two.
Now, many of you might recall stories of the second shot being a little more hard to shake, effects-wise, than the first. I got the Moderna shot, with side effects listed as chills, fever, nausea, aches, etc. Also, I’m really glad I didn’t look any of that up before just now, because I will run so far from everything that even hints at nausea. It’s the worst.
But I digress.
I went in early that morning, first because I wanted to get it over with, secondly because that’s when I was supposed to go. I was glad of the early time, because I hoped that I would sleep off the worst of it, plus I had a busy work day that day.
I got right in, had the shot administered just after 8 a.m., and was back on the road by 8:30. The administrator, a pharmacist, had that same light touch as the nurse the first time, the shot itself didn’t hurt, and this time, I got it in my right arm (mainly because that was the way the chair was positioned the second time, which is probably a whole thing those medical folk planned because they are SO SMART). I got a super cool pin designating the enormity of the day, too.
I don’t know if I was expecting to drop like a sack of bricks pretty soon after that or what, but as the day went on, I continued to feel…fine. Better than fine, really. I felt great! I was going to beat the double shot blues! Part of it was likely due to the placebo effect of being giddy that I wasn’t sick, but we’ll never know, will we?
Later that afternoon, I sent my sister a text. She, our other sister, our brother, and both of my parents had already had their second shots. Basically, I was last. My parents struggled a bit. Shannon, who is much younger than me, had a little bit of a rough go later that day.
Well, five came and went, and then six. I started getting real smug. I started telling myself, well, I drink lots of water and work out, and only eat cookies some nights, so probably I wouldn’t get sick at all. I would’ve punched myself in the arm in congratulations, but my arm was definitely in pain. Even if I’d punched the other arm, the act of raising the shot arm was too much.
And then the pain got bigger. Finally, around 8, I got into my pre-sleep position in my recliner and self-swathed in the giant blanket my mom had just made me. I took a single Tylenol, just in case.
At 10:30, when I woke up to transfer myself to bed, things had rolled just way, way downhill. My arm hurt a LOT. My whole body felt weird. My face was hot. I ached.
To be on the safe side, I took one more Tylenol and a swig of generic Nyqil.
I got about four hours of sleep that night. I woke up at 1, 2, and finally, for the day, at 3. When I woke up, I knew that I had some seriously wild dreams, but couldn’t remember anything except that I immediately turned and glared suspiciously at my sleeping husband. Pretty sure he had been up to no good, whatever they were.
I got up, both to get a double shot of knock-out syrup and to get away from his no-good ways, and went from sweating to freezing. My teeth were chattering so loud that it would have been kind of interesting if it weren’t also super awful. I doped myself up and settled onto the couch. And then I basically stared at the darkness until it was time to take the kids to school. The idea of even turning on the television seemed like way too hard, and the thought of looking at moving images made me feel even sicker.
I took the kids to school, only scaring them mildly when they asked if we could get breakfast and I just made noises. Once I got back home, I went straight to bed, willing myself to sleep.
Ninety minutes later, I woke up. And I felt…completely normal.
Other than some vague arm pain, I felt totally fine. I got up carefully, but nothing hurt. I wasn’t freezing or burning up, I wasn’t sweating, and I wasn’t weak.
It was, as my sister said, like “the flu on crack.” A wild eight hours, a definite roller coaster of awful, but ultimately, well worth it. I’d take a double shot anytime if it means the world can begin to heal, to move forward together, and to come out on the other side of this. While we’ll never be the same, while we’ll always mourn what and who we have lost…I’m grateful for all of the people who worked their asses off to get us this far.
For the record, though, my arm still hurts a little.