This is what is going on with me.
I got both my vaccines, and then I traveled for the first time in a year and a half. I went to three different international airports and sat next to strangers on two separate planes. Both flights were full.
I’ve been running up the stairs.
All I can do is speak to my own experience, and that is that the COVID-19 vaccine seems to have restored my health. I spent a year dealing with long-haul COVID symptoms, and now they are gone.
Now I’m idly shopping for new running shoes. I’m tentatively thinking about short hiking trips. I’m feeling my way back into what used to be a pretty active, outdoorsy lifestyle.
This isn’t just a personal anecdote. I know that millions of people, for some reason or other, are petrified about vaccines. It feels really important to share that vaccines work and that they are safe, routine, and normal.
I’m starting to get the sense that getting vaccinated - against anything, really - may have a way of making a naive, “all-natural” immune system a little smarter and more efficient.
I’ve been vaccinated against, let’s see: measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, hepatitis A & B, influenza, and now COVID-19. There are probably others that I have forgotten about - but apparently my immune system has not.
What is important to me here is that I never got sick with any of the things I was vaccinated against!
I had the misfortune of contracting coronavirus early in the pandemic. The day I was exposed there were only 3,000 recorded cases in the US. Obviously there wasn’t a vaccine available yet. If there was, I would have lined up to get one, because I get the flu shot, too.
For some reason, a lot of people are suspicious of the testing around vaccines when they are not equally suspicious about other things. A few that come to mind are the cumulative effects of food additives across products and across time, and whether the ingredients on the label of “supplements” actually match what is in the product.
I know someone who believes she doesn’t need the vaccine because she drinks a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar every day.
I know several people who are adamantly against vaccines but who will use “supplements” and essential oils with wild abandon.
Question: why do you trust the makers of these products so fully? Why don’t you demand the testing on these products that you do for vaccines - or can you even explain what kind of testing you would want? How do you know that isn’t already happening - is this a close scrutiny or an intuitive rejection?
The problem with taking a firm, documented stand for or against a certain lifestyle is how to rebrand your position if you wind up having a health problem.
I didn’t have time to formulate some kind of claim about whether I thought I could keep myself from getting sick with COVID. I got infected before I really had time to realize that hey, this could happen to me.
If I had had more time to gather my dread and anxiety, as more people in my community started getting sick, I probably would have figured, yeah, I do tend to be vulnerable to respiratory infections. If I got it, I would probably be in trouble.
There doesn’t seem to be any profit to me in making claims that can easily be refuted.
Maybe I say something like, Oh, I eat a lot of cabbage, you should eat cabbage too so you don’t get sick. Then I get sick. Oops.
Health is like religion for a lot of people. The way we deal with our anxieties is to build some sort of belief system that helps make sense out of a weird and frightening world. It helps us feel like we have some control.
I bought this consumer product from a skilled marketer! It’s called [x] and the packaging looks like [y]! Owning this makes me feel strong, smart, and confident. If I can convince you to buy it, too, it will reinforce my feeling that I know what I’m doing.
I did it, too. I bought some expensive vitamins that I took while I was sick. I got better.
Was it because of these vitamins, or would I have gotten better anyway?
Was I getting better anyway, and maybe... *gasp* ... the vitamins actually interfered with my healing??
There is no way to explore this counterfactual because I can’t go back in time and do it the other way, as a control. I can only guess and hope I’m right.
This is why I look to big data and studies and testing done by other people. I don’t necessarily know the full resume of every one of these people - but I do know that I cannot trust myself as a single point of data.
I’ve tried, and it’s stressful and confusing.
What I do know is that coronavirus made me very ill, even though I am a not-old person who lacks a single one of the comorbidities on the list of risk factors. At least there is no question in my mind whether COVID is real.
What I know now is that it’s possible to get better. That process will probably be shorter for some people and longer for others.
Does this apply to other illnesses that are not viral? I don’t know. I only know what I experienced.
Right now, I am finding that my energy level is getting better and better. I am starting to have the urge to move faster. This includes running up flights of stairs.
A year ago, I could barely get down a flight of stairs, even clinging to the railing, without shaking, sweating, and waves of nausea.
Physical recovery has a lot in common with adjusting your mental framework. It can make you want to just lie down and take a nap. It can involve a lot of brain fog. It can feel like running upstairs, working so hard just to get to a higher level.
Bodies and minds are both designed for growth and movement. Both need to be exercised to function as well as possible. Exploring different ways to respond to a problem is nothing that we can’t handle.
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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