Underneath my yellow skin

Learning to exhale

Day Five of feeling like shit. Utter shit. Day One (the day of the shot), ironically, is the day that I feel the best. Yes, my arm is all hot, swollen, and burny, but that’s it. It’s Day Two when the shit hits the fan. Chills and sweats alternating (and normally, I do neither), and being utterly exhausted. Not just tired, but exhausted like I was before I ended up in the hospital.

Today, I’m slightly better than yesterday. I did end up doing the Cane Form and…the Fan Form yesterday? And broke out in a sweat. I emailed my teacher to confirm about the sweating thing. She said when you’re sick, yes. You should do Taiji if you’re lightly sweating. When you break out in a heavy sweat, though, you should stop. I just emailed her to ask if it was the same for when I get the chills.

I also have had to use take my migraine pills (two of them) twice in the past four days. I’ve only used them once or twice since I came home from the hospital. Before this week, I mean. And when I say migraine pills, I just mean Migraine Excedrin.

I have not done any weapon forms today. I feel worse than yesterday in some ways and better than others. I have done stretching and a bit of bagua–oh, and some one-posture drills in taiji, but that’s it. My teacher was emphatic about taking it easy. She said that the weapons would be there for me when I got better.

That is the gist of Taiji in a nutshell. It’s there for you when you need it. It doesn’t need you to push yourself for it. In fact, it prefers that you don’t. It’s about putting in as little effort as possible, and when I’m sick, thatt’s so very little.

I was talking to Ian about him being sick. He has some kind of crud from being rundown, and he’s miffed about it. Why? Because he has a great immune system and does not get sick. My brother is the same way. He does not consider a cold being sick, and he gets a sneeze once every five years or so. He did get Covid, however, which makes sense because he’s out and about all the time. This was before the vax was available and while he wore an N95 at all times back then, he was exposed when he went to eat with clients. Outdoors barbecue and one of them had Covid.

I was mad because he told me this as he stopped by to visit. He didn’t think to inform me before he came over. He hasn’t quite internalized that I have a shitty, shitty immune system–even though he’s seen what it can do to me. Not just me ending up in the hospital, but me getting bronchitis every few months before the pandemic. I rarely got the flu, however. It was just bronchial shit. My doctor once told me I had the lungs of a seventy year old–when I was in my thirties. So, yeah. Bad lungs.

I haven’t gotten the flu shot consistently. Every time I get it, I have a terrible reaction. Plus, every other year I get it, I get sick. Yes, I know the two are not related. And it’s not the flu I get–more like a bad cold. I know that they try to predict the six or so flus that will be the most prevalent in any given year. It’s not a guarantee that you won’t get one of the other flus. Or even one of those six flus and jsut get it less bad than you would have otherwise. I know all that. And still. I associate the flu shot with getting sick.

In addition, I don’t get the flu. I haven’t ever gotten the flu. And I don’t get out that much, especially not now, so it’s a measured decision not to get it. And yet, I can’t help but think about my doctor from about a decade ago getting upset when I said I didn’t get the flu shot because of the really bad reaction I had to it. She snapped, “It’s better than being dead.” Which is true (although dying ain’t bad–and yes, that’s mostly a joke), but not a great way to convince me to get me to do something. I don’t react well to hyperbole or being pushed into doing something ‘just because’.

What would have worked better would have been for her to acknowledge the cost to me while pointing out the benefit. And be transparent that getting a flu shot is not a guarantee of anything, really. It doesn’t mean you won’t get the flu. It just means that you’ll probably have a less-bad version of it. Which, by the way, is not what I thought about the shot back when it was being pushed so hard. I thought it meant you would not get the flu. Docs (and the medical councils) aren’t always great at explaining themselves.

This is what I would have wanted to hear. (Which is the reality.) Doctors looked at which flu strains were likely to be prevalent in any given year. They chose the top half-dozen or so to include in the shot. That doesn’t mean that those will be the only flus in any given year–just the most likely.

Now. Let’s say you get the flu. If it’s one of the other ones, then you’re SOL. If it’s one of the half-dozen popular ones, then you will be innoculated for it. However, that doesn’t mean that your body will completely reject the flu–you’ll just probably have less of a reaction. That’s it. And, yes, it can stop some people from dying from the flu. That’s pretty much it. Not saying that’s small, but it’s not as big as it was assumed to be back in the day.

So. Back to the Covid shots. I knew that I would have a bad reaction. And I knew it was possible that other people would as well. That’s why when the vaxxes first started happening, I tweeted about my bad reaction because I wanted other people to know that it was possible. I am a big believer in having all the information available when going into a situation. That’s just how I roll. I would rather know ahead of time that it could be that bad and prepare for it than to be caught off-guard.

It’s part of my PTSD, I think. I am always ready for the worst-case scenario*. In this case, it’s with other related experiences under my belt. Still, however, I was not prepared for this time around. I really think it’s worse than it was in the past. Let me clarify. Not the actual shot part itself. That’s the norm for me. As I’ve said in the past, the welt from my first shot lasted until I got my second shot, which was 3 weeks and 1 day later. But, the other stuff–the exhaustion, chills, sweating, and headaches usually went away by day three.

I will say that I got the Moderna this time instead of the Pfizer. That might matter. I don’t know. It’s all a mystery to me.



*Which is a weird thing, anyway, because you can’t truly prepare for the worst-case scenario. As my last therapist said when I fretted about moving to the Bay Area, “Minna, half of what you think is going to happen, won’t. And you can’t imagine half of what will happen.” It’s a way for the brain to be fooled into thinking that it can predict and deal with what happens next.


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