As I have written about, I am a Covid “long-hauler”—that is a person who is struggling with symptoms long after I am “cured.” The week leading up to the vaccine was a tough one. I was suffering extreme exhaustion and flu-like symptoms. I was barely getting home to crawl into bed. The conversation I had with my doctor in August kept coming back to me. He suggested I retire. I have three more years until my full retirement, so, at that time, it was out of the question. As I lay in bed, I thought that perhaps, I would have no choice. I could no longer live like this. Something had to change.
I entered a lottery at work for the vaccine—a real lottery, not a metaphorical one—and I was chosen. I felt like I had won Mega Millions. My partner, who had received the vaccine the day before, drove me out to the vaccination site. I knew I needed this vaccine because if I got the virus again, I was afraid I wouldn’t survive it. The process there was swift and efficient. All the volunteers were upbeat, positive, and helpful. From the time I entered the door to the time I left was less than a half an hour.
When I sat down to receive the injection, I rolled up my sleeve and looked away. I felt the jab, a minor one, then I felt a jolt down my arm. By the time I stood up, I felt a lightness in my head. I thought about learning how I was allergic to penicillin the hard way a few years earlier. I sat down and told myself I was a hypochondriac and I’d be fine. And I was. By the time we got home, my partner was feeling the effect of his vaccine the day before. He went off to bed to sleep it off.
I lined up work I had to get done for the evening. I got it done and looked up. It was 9:15 p.m. and I wasn’t tired. I haven’t been able to stay up after 8:00 p.m. in months. I thought it must be some sort of placebo effect. Later, I went to bed and slept well, something else I haven’t done in months. When I woke up the first thing, I noticed is how well I felt. In almost a year, I haven’t woken up feeling well. Mostly, in the past, I woke up achy, stuffy, finding it difficult to get out of bed, sometimes with a headache in the offing. I spent most of this morning and the afternoon pinching myself. I felt so, well, normal.
As I write this, it has been seventeen hours since I received the vaccination. I have not felt this well in such a long time I cannot remember. Of course, I googled this effect, and it appears that the vaccine actually helps long haulers heal. I still have chronic pleurisy, I can feel it in my lungs, but almost every other symptom I have suffered for a year are gone or so much improved it feels very—well, miraculous. I know science isn’t a miracle but it sure feels like one when things like this happen.
I don’t know if this is a placebo effect or a short-term thing. Either way, I still continue to be a strong advocate for the vaccine. The vaccine is the only way we can stop the spread of this plague and protect each other. The long-term effects of Covid almost caused me to make choices I would rather not make at this point in my life. I am hoping that the healing I feel continues. I would like to get rid of my chronic pleurisy. Let me tell you, I wouldn’t wish Covid on anyone. This last year has been a difficult physical struggle for me. Wear a mask, wash your hands, get a vaccine. We are truly in this together. Hang in there just a little bit longer. We can do this. We can do this for each other.