January 15, 2021
I got my shot today. It was such a simple, easy fix to a year of misery. I won’t be protected yet for six weeks. I had the Moderna vaccine in the parking lot of the Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital at 11:15. It was an interesting journey. On Thursday, Hospice notified me that all Hospice workers were going to be vaccinated and sent me a link to a reservation porthole. Before the pandemic, many of us sat with people who were dying and had no one. It’s a program called “No One Dies Alone.” We could take some of the emotional burden again.
I felt a burst of wonderment and joy. Wow! How lovely to have that work recognized as important. Also, how lucky I am to benefit from the work of so many selfless people. What a relief it will give my family as I help to care for my grandkids. I don’t want them to ever think they gave me Covid as they start back to school. Jeeezzz. On the very same day, my friend, Daneen, was vaccinated in Seattle as a mental healthcare worker. She has three little kids and she is ecstatic.
All of this relief is, of course, followed by a panic attack the night before the shot. I consider the wisdom of injecting virus DNA into my body. And that’s just the first shot. The second shot is stronger and challenges your system to create antibodies. Lots of people get sick. I didn’t get sick today. My muscles are achy, but I also worked out today, so that could be the issue. I worked for a while this afternoon and then took to my bed, but walked the dog this evening.
I received this manna from heaven at the Goleta Valley Community Hospital parking lot, neatly directed into one of 6 lanes where they grabbed our paperwork (already done). I think you get sidelined if you need paperwork. Next, they sent us forward to the double-check counter where they ask you who you are, etc. again and the shot is then administered. It hurts less than the flu shot. It’s over just-like-that. Whamo. You are in line to be saved. You have to come back in a month, of course; but you have taken the first step toward “how it used to be.”
They motion you to move forward and wait for 15 minutes in front of the vaccination station. A monitor comes by and marks the moment of your vaccination your window with chalk. You can leave in 15 minutes. Later, another monitor comes by and wipes off your window, waving you out of the parking lot. One of the monitors is a doctor. We talk about what a relief it is. I tell him it is the best thing that has happened to me this year, and I do mean the whole year from March 2020 on.
Then, it sets in how weird it is. How can such a simple, easy procedure return us to the world somewhat like we used to know it? Half an hour in a parking lot and you are on the road to recovery from the awful dread that has hung over us for the last 10 months. Waiting for my fifteen minutes to expire, I watch the sun glance off the coastal range north of Santa Barbara. Palms sway in a warm wind. It is 80 in Santa Barbara. We are praying for rain, as usual when January is dry. There is no rainbow, no band, not even a few balloons. It is a regular day, despite the (how many billion dollar?) Miracle of the Parking lot.
Despite all of that rumination, I want you to know that after about an hour when I felt achy and overly warm, I am fine tonight. I rubbed “Arnica” into the vaccination site and took two Tylenol as Daneen directed, and it is the first time that I have felt like writing since Thanksgiving. I tried over and over without success. I realized this week that the reason I have had such a hard time has to do with how I develop my thoughts: in conversation with my friends. Not the Zoom kind or a phone call.
I sit down with a friend and a cup of coffee and talk about what struck me as interesting or funny, or sad. I try to explain my feelings or thoughts or wild ideas. I love brainstorming. I love questions and observations. I love other people’s reactions. One of the most fun questions ever was my friend, Patrice’s sly question: “Why would I want to develop anyway? It sounds like a lot of work.” We talked about it for years. It inspired many conversations. So, I guess what I want to say most of all is how much I appreciate you peeking in on me now and then. I feel graced by your presence in my life and always so happy to hear from you.
Happy New Year indeed. Don’t turn down the chance to get vaccinated! We owe it to each other.
p.s. It is now the 19th. I have felt quite tired off and on over the past four days as my system starts to crank out those anti-bodies. My arm was sore for two or three days. My ears plugged up a couple of times (one of the symptoms of mild cases) and I have sometimes felt like I was feverish, but it lasted only a few minutes. I have also been achy, a small price to pay.