Underneath my yellow skin

Jab jab jab

Wednesday was my 50th birthday. I decided to celebrate by getting my first (Pfizer) jab as a treat. I knew I was going to have a reaction to it because I am always sensitive to this kind of thing. Many people online were reporting no effects at all. In fact, some people were saying the side effects were overstated or that people were making too much out of them. That it was deterring people from getting the vax. That really annoyed me because it’s just a fact of life for me. I’m not trying to be dramatic, but that’s just the way my body works. I definitely want people to get the vax, but I’m not going to lie about my reaction.

Let me take you through what happened. I tried to make an appointment online. I was able to make an appointment for the first jab, but when I tried to set the second one, the website said there were no times available. Um, what? Why the hell would you allow me to make a first appointment if I weren’t able to make a second one? That didn’t make any sense at all. I tried to do it again a few days later, but the website wouldn’t allow it. Then, it told me to set my first appointment and the place I had made the appointment at before wasn’t listed. Did this mean I didn’t have any appointments at all? It seemed to be the case.

I took a deep breath and did something I hated doing–picked up the phone. I called and was able to set both appointments by phone. Look, I love doing things online and I think it’s the best way to get shit doneĀ when it works. When it doesn’t, however, then talking to an actual person is the way to cut through all the confusion. The person on the other end of the line was pleasant and happy to answer all my questions (and I had many. It’s my way of dealing with my anxiety). She got me signed up for both shots and made me feel comfortable in getting them. I decided to go for my birthday because it was the best day possible of the early batch of days and I didn’t want to wait until two weeks after that to get my first shot.

Here’s the thing about anxiety. It doesn’t discriminate between legit worries and not-so-legit ones. At least my anxiety doesn’t. I found that it’s best to answer the logistics ahead of time so I can tick that off my list. In this case, I haven’t been to the Roy Wilkins auditorium in decades so I Google Mapped it. I also asked my taiji teacher about her experience because she got her jabs at the same place. She told me there was free parking if you mentioned you were there for the vax. She told me how to get from the parking lot to the auditorium and made sure to note that it was well-marked. All of that was helpful in allaying my anxiety. Knowledge is power!

Another thing I do is make sure I plan for waaaaaaaay too much time if I’m driving some place I rarely go. I wrote out the directions both way as well as sending them to my phone. As I got into the car, I realized that I hadn’t been on the freeway since the pandemic broke out and that was over a year earlier. It wasn’t too bad, actually. I don’t like driving in general, but I wasn’t more freaked out by not having done it in over a year.

The process went very smoothly and I was impressed. I got there early, got my jab early, waited the requisite 15 minutes before leaving. Everyone was friendly and helpful, and I was home before I knew it. My arm was a little swollen and a bit achy, but it wasn’t bad at all. In fact, I thought that I was going to be one of the lucky ones who didn’t have any (or very little) reaction. Well, around ten at night, that changed. My arm swole some more and ached quite a bit more. I need to mention, however, that it was still nowhere near as bad as I was expecting. I react horribly to the flu shot–which, in interest of full disclosure, I haven’t gotten in years–and was expecting something similar with this shot.

I will flat-out say it’s nowhere near as bad as I expected. It’s not nothing, though. Thursday morning, my arm was more swollen, hot, and sore. That lasted all day. Friday, I woke up with the pain and swelling much decreased, but I was hit with exhaustion and an incipient migraine. I hadn’t been able to sleep the night before, which might be due to the shot and might be because my sleep is shit in general. I was so tired I had to skip my taiji class and take it easy. Saturday morning, it was the same. My arm was roughly 80% better, but I was even more exhausted. Plus, incipient migraine. I had to skip class yet again. I still did my morning taiji routine, but that was all I could manage.

Today (Sunday), my arm is almost completely back to normal. A little swollenness and a little pain, but not enough to really even mention if I weren’t itemizing the reactions I’ve had from the shot. Still exhausted, but it’s better than yesterday AND I’m still not sure it’s completely shot-related. I believe I’ll be back to normal (for me) by tomorrow, which is a good thing.

I want to emphasize once again that even with the length of the reaction and the variables, it was still better than I had expected. Much better. No flu-like symptoms. Just swollen and achy arm, and complete exhaustion. I know that the second shot is supposed to be worse than the first so I’m mentally preparing myself for it. It’s in two weeks from Thursday, then two weeks of living exactly as I have been before I can start opening up my activities. I probably won’t do muc more because my taiji studio’s building was damaged during the summer protests and no one is sure when it’ll be rebuilt, if ever. My taiji teacher is now completely vaxxed and since we’re coming up on spring/summer, once I’m totally vaxxed and two weeks beyond, I’ll consider outdoor private lessons.

Moral of the story: Get vaxxed if and when you can. You might have a reaction to the shots, but it’s definitely better than the alternative.

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