It’s been a little over two weeks since I got my first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. I’m scheduled for the second dose this week. I just thought I’d share my impressions, since they’re pretty good.
I was sick with COVID a year ago. In fact, at this point, I wasn’t at all sure that I would live through it. I was having bouts of tachycardia, I was gulping air, and I generally felt like my battery was down to 2%. My hands shook constantly and I couldn’t get warm.
The closest I can come to how I felt was Frodo Baggins after his encounter with the Ring Wraiths.
My experience with recovering from the coronavirus was so bad that I wondered how it compared to radiation poisoning, or malaria or mono. It just dragged on and on. I thought, maybe this is it, maybe I’m just messed up now. Maybe this is the best I can hope for.
I started reading how some long-haul COVID patients were reporting feeling better after they got their vaccine. I didn’t qualify yet, so I had to wait impatiently for my turn. Was it going to work on me?
Supposedly it did work on about a quarter of long-haul patients. A one-in-four chance isn’t all that great, maybe not even worth getting excited about. I was definitely going to get the shot anyway, even if it made me feel worse, because I take concepts like civic duty much more seriously after having been so ill.
When I felt like I was dying, when I had reason to believe I might have fewer than five days to live, it upset me extremely that I felt I hadn’t done anything with my life. All I could do was lie there like a washed-up jellyfish and torment myself, thinking of all the missed opportunities over the years and listing off all the things I could have done, if only I hadn’t been so lazy. I cried when I realized that I couldn’t even be an organ donor now that all my organs were covered in coronavirus drool.
That sort of perspective changes you. When I rose up from what I thought was my deathbed, I had a new determination that I would make my presence felt in some way. If something mattered, I would do it.
Getting the vaccine matters.
Okay, so I was going to get the shot, and I had heard that maybe there was a chance it would do some sort of magic trick in my immune system. What if this was just the placebo effect?
I’LL TAKE IT!
I honestly love the placebo effect. If it works, then great! I wish there was a button I could push that would just click it into place on demand.
There are hypotheses about what might be going on, and within a couple of decades I’m sure science will have determined if it is one of these, or something else.
One of them is the concept of the ‘viral reservoir.’ This means that maybe tiny amounts of a virus can hide out somewhere in the body, where they are undetectable through testing, unless someone were to get lucky and scoop them out of that exact spot. For instance, apparently Ebola survivors can have leftover Ebola virus hiding in their tears. So it is true - viruses can hide in the body - we just don’t know if it is true specifically of coronavirus.
[I suspect a huge number of cases of chronic fatigue or unexplained symptoms are actually caused by infection with one type of undiscovered virus or another, and that more advanced testing methods and Big Data will start to reveal them].
Another idea is that maybe getting a vaccination somehow snaps the immune system to attention, and it starts pushing that mop a little faster and finally finishes the job.
There are other ideas of what might be going on, but the truth is that right now, nobody knows. It’s just guessing, which is a huge part of how science works. I’m totally okay with that. I wouldn’t want to be stuck with a 100% rounded-out medieval view of medical science, or one from antiquity, or perhaps even especially one from the Victorians. Yikes. Give me continually churning modernity.
My husband and I went across town to get our shots together. We both had sore arms for a couple days. I felt a little moody and sad the next day, although probably for circumstantial reasons. That was it. No headaches, no nausea, no whatever. We were both fine.
Then... something changed.
I started feeling... better.
I started working out more. I noticed my pace had picked up a bit.
I finally dropped a few pounds, when I’d been stuck all year. I took off three pounds in two weeks.
I started rearranging closets again, and then I built a new piece of furniture.
I started reading more. In the last week, it seems I’ve read a novel a day. I read more in four days than I’d read in the previous two weeks.
I started cooking from scratch again. There are a few containers of leftover homemade soup in the fridge right now.
My weekend naps dropped from 3.5 hours each to 2 hours.
I didn’t even realize that anything was different until I thought back. How long has it been?
How long has it been since I felt like doing any of those things that used to be a routine part of my day?
It’s almost like I was locked in a basement for a year, and then someone came and unlocked the door (with a syringe) and let me out, and I just climbed the stairs and picked up where I left off.
Now, it hasn’t quite been three weeks yet. I still haven’t had my second dose. It’s probably too soon to tell. Right now, though, I feel like it’s going pretty well. It feels good to feel like myself again.
For anyone who is afraid to get the vaccine, but who also had long-haul COVID like I did, don’t be scared. You’ve had vaccines before, haven’t you? What if you get your shot and a week later you realize that you feel like your old self again?
Personally, I’m incredibly curious to find out how I will feel after my second dose. Thank you, Pfizer!
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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