The fear begins to lift

The fear of death, now that I’ve had both shots of the Pfizer vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. And the vaccine will have taken full effect by April 2nd (Good Friday, though either Easter or Passover would have been a better omen), at which time I can feel reasonably comfortable venturing (masked and suitably distanced from others) out into the world, after nearly 13 months in isolation.

The end game involved some waiting in line that was unusually light and easy, as explained in a NYT Magazine Tip “How to Wait in Line”, by Maria Wollan (on-line on 3/16; in print on 3/21).


(NYT illustration by Radio)

Wollan’s subhead:

Distract yourself to pass the time. If you can, embrace the camaraderie of wanting something en masse.

Wollan conveys this advice from “Richard Larson, 77, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has studied queuing for 40 years”. Ending with:

Sometimes profound human experiences are shared while biding time. Larson recently got his final Covid-19 vaccination at a clinic near his home. Normally, he makes every effort to avoid queues, but he relished this one. Many around him were elderly, some in wheelchairs, some with helpers. There was collective elation on their faces as they waited together, a lightness that only comes when fear begins to lift.

1st shot 2/25. My Facebook report at the time (with a bit of amendment here):

Tons of praise for the Santa Clara County vaccination program at the Mountain View Community Center. Easy to get to from my house [driven there by my caregiver, Kim Darnell], then an efficient operation staffed by cheery, competent folks. There was a special program for the mobility impaired; we were pulled out into a high-speed service with its own staff. After I was Pfizerized, on to scheduling the second shot and waiting 15 minutes for reactions to this one; we were greeted by an enthusiastic volunteer who called out “Congratulations!” …, as if we’d all just won some kind of prize, and directed us to the scheduling staff and the after-shot waiting zone. The whole thing was about an hour and a half from leaving my house to getting back home.

It was a beautiful, bright day, a good day to be out and about. All that, plus chatting with staff and other vaccinees [especially others in wheelchairs or motorized chairs, or using walkers (like me) or canes; we were all a bit giddy at being together in a group, on a beautiful day, starting on the road to liberation] made me yearn to be back in the world, with other people. [Eventually, I’ll move up from the walker to my cane, the way I used to walk on the street, in the before time; my dyspnea will still restrict me to a few blocks of home, but there’s a whole world to explore in that space, as I used to.]

Meanwhile, the table insert for my walker elicited lots of attention and comment. I suspect we sold a number of the tables for Amazon.

(No, I’m not the first person to use “vaccinee”. It [has] some currency as a semi-technical term in the vaccination world.)

Reactions. A bit of soreness in my left shoulder, and a lot of exhaustion. And then after a few days,  the vaccine seems to have triggered a huge flareup in my osteoarthritis pain, concentrated on my right (already neurologically damaged) side, especially my right hand. First, terrible pain in the top — nail — joint of my middle finger, which then became red and swollen, and eventually hot to the touch; since that finger was the most functional on that hand, my right hand largely became useless.

Then it got worse; the middle joints of my right ring and little fingers became similarly inflamed. It was not a good time, with only a little relief from Biofreeze (menthol) gel and ice packs, and a bit more help from Tylenol / acetominophen.

Over the weeks the inflammation gradually subsided some and it became possible to type with my right index finger without much pain. My middle finger was still swollen, but could now help in grasping things without much pain.

2nd shot 3/19. Last Friday afternoon. Almost all the vaccinees were the old and infirm getting their 2nd shots, like me, people with our eyes on the prize, so the time it took us to get through the procedure was limited only by our speed in filling out the final information form (plus the post-shot waiting period). On the way back to the car I stopped to give heartfelt thanks to every person on the care team I came across.

Reactions again. A bit of left-shoulder soreness at the injection site, as before, then deep exhaustion. Then on Sunday and yesterday, terrible pain in waves in every joint in my body (worse on my right side) — but only if I tried to lie down. So I’m living in chairs and walking around the house for exercise. Sleeping a whole lot sitting up in a chair. And I’ve been doing very small postings, just trying to keep my hand in.

But the end is in sight. I weep, happy tears, in anticipation. After April 2nd, I’ll be able to get taken on a visit to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden, which I haven’t seen since August 2019. That’s a good, small goal.

4 Responses to “The fear begins to lift”

  1. Julie Taaffe Says:

    I’m thinking about you, picturing your gambol (is that a noun?) through the Gamble Garden.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Any action verb is easily nouned, but gambol is such a good already-existing noun that it’s in the substantial one-volume dictionaries, like NOAD. Hard to think of myself as gamboling anywhere these days, though.

      • Robert Coren Says:

        Well, it’s sort a relative gambol, wouldn’t you say? (And less of a gamble than before.)

        And now I have an earworm of “Gamboling on the Gumbo”, from Songs of the Pogo.

  2. Rod Williams Says:

    Good news! I’m glad you’re almost over the nasty reaction. Happy gamboling!

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