If you clicked here thinking I was talking about physical reactions, you’re only partially right. Mostly I’m more interested in the emotional reactions.
In our household of 3, we all have slightly different medical issues that raise our individual and collective profiles to higher-than-average risks. I already posted about my experience Joining the herd, and my emotional reaction when my wife hugged me afterwards, a “lighter” overall reaction than I was expecting from myself. I thought I’d be shaking when I left the office, or emotional in the car, or dancing a jig. Instead, it was rather ho-hum.
We were waiting for Andrea’s number to come up in the pharmacy lottery at various locations and then one popped up for a mass vaccination option on a weekend at a school. She registered, it all went through, and she had her appointment. I felt almost as much relief that SHE had an appointment as when I got mine. YES! She went in the a.m., lined up in a field more or less (they had set appointment times, it wasn’t a long line or anything), got her jab and came home.
Physically, I dealt with headaches and fatigue. She also got the Astra-Zeneca dose and had sweats and chills. She said she woke up in the middle of the night freezing, colder than she’s ever been in her life. Anecdotally, people are saying/estimating that your degree of reaction to the vaccine is likely the same degree you would have to the actual disease, but of course there’s almost no evidence either way. It’s a popular thought, with no way to test it, but it’s somewhat comforting almost as well as disturbing. “Oh, it’s good that I got it because if that was my reaction to the VACCINE, imagine my reaction to the disease!”.
At any rate, that put us at 2/6 shots for the house. I felt almost more relief I would say at her having hers than me having mine. That’s not some sort of altruistic thing, it’s just a mark of where my stress lies.
The big news
We have been interested in the news around the approval of various vaccines for kids, and the cut-offs. First it was good for people 18 and over. Then some news showed up where studies had tested down to age 16. Then 12. Now they’re doing some trials all the way down to infants. And as I said in my last post, we estimated he might be able to get his first shot in the fall.
But Ontario has been making some progress, having passed the 50% “first shot” threshold recently. In a conversation with a social worker we chat with at CHEO about J’s anxiety issues around a pending surgery and other topics, we mentioned that he is confirmed for return to in-person school in September and that we were really hoping for him to get vaccinated with at least one dose before then. I figured maybe 2 doses by Xmas, but there wasn’t much information out there, honestly. Not local anyway.
The social worker told us that CHEO was now doing vaccinations for some of their clients, and were reaching out to those in various conditions. This was fantastic news, of course, although it would likely mean nothing for Jacob, we thought. He’s not a super-high-risk overall, although he has some respiratory issues, and interactions with other conditions would be unpredictable/unknown. Mostly, it’s a mental health issue, if I was characterizing it definitively, at least currently. We’re in lockdown, we have been doing the “right” things for 14m. We don’t take risks. The recent lockdown makes almost no difference to our life, the only thing that changed was more curbside pickup than previously.
We talked about it, mentioned our excitement to hear the news, etc. and two hours later, CHEO called us to offer us a spot. We have no idea if this was linked to the conversation, or was more because of possible surgery coming up, or just we were next on their list in some category. We didn’t care, we said yes immediately.
They also said we could bring up to two caregivers over 16 with us (i.e. the parents or someone else if we already had our shots). We tried to see if we could squeeze his cousin in (she’s only 14 though), but alas, no. Unfortunately, by the time they got back to us with the answer, it was too late to randomly grab any friends or family in need of a shot to go with us (the names had to be provided in advance). So it was just Jacob.
He went in with Andrea, got his jab, all good, and over the two days that followed, he had a slightly sore arm with no other reaction to the Pfizer shot.
When no reaction is the reaction
Yet again, I’m not talking about the physical. Jacob got his first shot; this has been my single largest source of stress for 14m, worrying about him, wanting and waiting for him to get vaccinated so I could breathe out. And when it happened? I shared it on FB, but, well, I didn’t feel anything.
I didn’t jump for joy. I didn’t cry. I didn’t feel some weight being lifted from my shoulder. I tried to. I actually tried to “lean in” so to speak to the experience, to force myself to feel it, and there was something there, I’m certainly happy FOR him and WITH him. But no giant “hurrah”.
Yet we have reached the mid-point. Three out of six shots, and a strong likelihood our household will be fully vaccinated BEFORE the end of the summer. This is HUGE.
The biggest news in our household since the pandemic started. And that’s not just me thinking it. Everyone that I’ve told about Jacob’s news has reacted the same way. “Holy cow, that’s amazing!”. Because it is ground-breaking. Parents? Sure. Us? Sure? But our kids getting vaccinated? That’s huge!
Yet I feel almost let down by my own reaction. How am I NOT reacting more strongly? Am I just numb? Is it the languishing thing still? I can talk about it, I sense some “relief” resonating inside somewhere. But 20 minutes afterwards, it was like “What’s next?”.
I still feel like there should be some sort of milestone marker that happens. A “V1” stamped on your forehead with indelible ink that only fades when you get V2. A giant pinata you get to smash on your way out, shaped like the Corona virus molecule. A lollipop for getting a needle. SOMETHING that says “Your life is different now.”
Ay, there’s the rub
As I wrote that last paragraph, I had a small epiphany with myself. This is often why I write my blog. Because as I write, I uncover what I’m thinking but having trouble defining, an act of articulation where a phrase pops out of my mouth where I go, “HEY! Look at THAT! THAT’S IT!”.
My life didn’t change. Andrea’s life didn’t change. Jacob’s life didn’t change. We got jabbed, and we still live in a pandemic world in lockdown. Just as the new lockdown barely changed our lives, having our first jab has made zero difference either. We’re still getting up in the morning in a Groundhog Day world of computerized plug-in until lunch, meeting together for sustenance, plugging in again until dinner, sharing sustenance again, doing something together after supper (currently binging Supergirl), and then bedtime at some point for each of us. The next day, we wake up, and Sonny and Cher are singing “I Got You Babe” on the radio.
Getting jabbed is a precondition for the world opening up again, for our world to change, but it has a much longer incubation period than walking out of the office and hoping to break a pinata. And I’m not sure that I will or can feel that “hurrah” until we can do something normalish. Last summer, after the first wave, we were excited to go out for dinner and eat on a patio in Norland, Ontario near the family cottage. I’m not sure what this year or the end of the pandemic looks like to me.
I think we all need an End-of-Pandemic Bucket list. A top ten list of things I want to do when things are open again. Really open, not temporarily open.
What would be on your bucket list? How are you going to mark the occasion? How will you “feel” the world is open again?