Blowing the dust off the last 16 months

So, today was the day. I got my first vaccine shot, Astra Zeneca, back at the end of April. Two months later, today, I got my second shot, this time Moderna. I’m doubly vaccinated.

Quick overview of the process

My wife booked me in through the provincial system, and with lots of bookings coming available in the last week, she found me a spot in August, then July, then two in June. We adjusted the schedules slightly and I went in at 4:30 this afternoon. The site was a local sportsplex, and I know it pretty well. My wife has played curling there as well as taken some courses, my son has had multiple summer camps, we’ve done a few expos there, swimming lessons, even attended a friend’s wedding vow renewal ceremony. Best of all? Lots of free parking. But overall, my greatest “sense” of the place was volunteers out the wazoo.

I pulled into the lot, and there were three people near my entrance directing traffic, checking timing, etc. with another three on the other side managing another entrance. They directed me to the best place to park, someone directed me at the main door to the right hall (a curling rink area in normal times that I’ve been in lots of times previously for various functions), someone at the main door directed me to another greeter, and the greeter directed me to a specific registrar in a long line of registration booths with nobody at them at the time I arrived. I spoke to six different volunteers before I even spoke to the person who registered me.

They checked my health card and did my symptom screening, all simple, and then directed me to follow a series of dots that took me down a long line only to double back and come back about half way to meet another greeter. It’s set up to deal with a lot of people at the same time, but there was only me. As I walked by the ultimate greeter spot, and she was directing me down this long unused corridor, I joked, “See you soon!”. Once I went down and back, I was like, “Long time no see!”. She directed me to another traffic director who took me down a corridor of booths lined with see-through vinyl/plastic, like a trade fair, except in each booth there was just two chairs. One for you, one for a guest. And you wait.

A nurse comes along eventually with a cart with her tablet on it, any supplies she needs, etc., and then she goes back and gets her ergo chair and wheels it along the corridor too. When she’s done a row, she goes back to the first booth and starts over. There were about 12 “corridors” / rows I would say, and all of them double-sided, so call it 24 rows of booths with about 6 kiosks per row, about 144 in total. But 24 nurses doing the shots.

I didn’t have to wait long, we chatted briefly while she got set up, and found out they’re doing about 1900 a day, and yes, it does feel like an assembly line to her. Not surprising.

Pfizer shots were what was booked, but we’re low on supply in the province right now, so everyone is getting Moderna. Fine with me, no real difference so far in outcome.

What did surprise me was the feeling as it went in. I know it goes into the muscle and I made sure I relaxed the arm in advance. But the whole time it was “in” the arm, I could feel the sting. I’ve had that with multiple things recently. Bloodwork that I did about a month ago was the same…normally you feel it going in, but once “in”, it kind of stops stinging until it comes out. I mean, you know it’s there, but it doesn’t “sting”, usually. However, for me, the bloodwork stung the whole time the needle was in. I thought it was something unique to the bloodwork but today was the same. The needle was in my arm maybe 15 seconds in total, but I felt it sting the entire 15 seconds. Nothing problematic, just made me nervous for Jacob. He hates needles and I’m hoping he doesn’t experience the same when he gets his second shot.

After it was over, I had to do the standard 15 minute wait, so over I go to the waiting area. Which is also an extra registration area? A little confusing, but whatever. Anyway, I finish my 15 minutes, walk up expecting to just show my form and leave, but no, I have to basically be “deregistered” and for them to complete the receipt process etc. Another two volunteers had pointed me to the waiting room, and then two more were directing “deregistration traffic”.

The first one told me to go to booth 1…I took about ten steps, passed volunteer 2 who told me to go to booth 4. Umm, okay, whatever. The guy at booth 4 heard both and was kind of shaking his head, and said, “No problem, I’ll take you here.” Except he couldn’t find me on his list. I gave him my health card thinking it might be a misheard name or something, but no, my file wasn’t “closed”. So he tells me to sit back down, and he’ll go check, but his question to me is, “Do you know where you got your vaccine?”. I swear to god, my first reaction was to say, “umm…here?”. But I over-rode it and told him which booth I had been in so off he want to find the nurse to get her to properly close my file, etc. He’s gone about 10 minutes. He comes back, I’m sitting about 10 feet in front of his desk, and he says in a pretty loud voice, “Okay, Paul, I’ve got you set up and you can come over now and we’ll finish this.”

I join him at the desk, and about 10 seconds later, one of the two traffic volunteers comes over and says in a big embarrassing voice, “You knowwwwww, we have a line here.” The registration volunteer helping me is like, “Umm, yeah, we know. He already went through it. Thanks.” Anyway, he is able to close the file, all good, I pick up my paperwork, about to leave, and he says kind of jokingly, “Don’t forget…we apparently have a line.” He thought the other guy was hilarious.

I pass four more volunteers to get out to the parking lot, and three more as I exit the lot. Wow, that is a LOT of volunteers.

My emotional reaction

When I had dose 1, I wrote about the fact that it seemed anti-climactic in some ways. I thought I might be super emotional, and then convinced myself it was more about dose 2. I also hoped that they would have one of those little kiosks set up where you could take a selfie to say, “I got dose 2!”.

There was nothing set up, and I had no overt emotional reaction at all. But as I walked out of the hall, I did have a physical one.

I got a bounce in my step. And I suddenly had a craving for something to “mark” the change. Something to blow the dust off the last 16 months, something memorable that I would recall in years to come. Something different, but not some ritual or anything. And then it hit me.

I wanted accompanying music. I wanted fanfare. I wanted a song that was not something cheesy like “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang or “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves, although the sentiment would work. I wanted something rarer. Something a bit more like “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. Something I wouldn’t necessarily hear on the radio very often but maybe in the future I’d hear it and think about this as a watershed moment. A turning of a corner, so to speak.

I wanted something that I could crank loud in the car, would get my toes tapping, and honestly, something with a bit of a harder rock feel, not pop. Out of the blue, I had a craving for a very specific song.

I like the song. I think somewhere in my old CD collection I even had the album it came on just for that song. But it is a song from ’73, from Scottish rock band Nazareth. It is not a song I came to myself, it is very much a product of having a much older brother who had all the 70s music there was in album and, yes, even 8-track. I think I even heard this for the first time on 8-track.

There was only one song that would suit my mood and meet my need. It’s Razamanaz.

Since 4:00 p.m. today, I’ve probably listened to the ’73 version over 20 times. Each time, it jazzes me up. It is my “end of COVID isolation” anthem. I know, I know, we’re not there yet, but I needed a song, and this one is mine. I will never hear it again in my life and not think of how I’m using it to blow the dust off my life.

Even my wife noticed, wondering where this upbeat, energetic, finger-snapping, shoulder and head-bobbing husband came from when we were running errands afterwards.

I’m fully vaccinated. Willingly stabbed twice. If that isn’t a reason to turn the stereo up to 11, I don’t know what is.