The TRUTH about the COVID-19 Vaccine!

So, my girl Dolly Parton and I finally have something in common! Yes, I got the Fauci Ouchie, better known as the COVID-19 vaccine — and you’d better believe that everyone and their literal mother is asking me questions about it. So I decided to just write a blog post about my personal experience! (And, yes, I purposefully chose a scary click-baity headline to rope you in and entice you, because I am not above doing that.)

First, I’d like to point out that I’m not a doctor, and while I do work in the “health space” I am not technically a medical professional per se, or a licensed healthcare provider. You should always consult your own medical doctor, pharmacist, or other trusted practitioner for medical advice and to determine if the vaccine (or any treatment or medication) is right for you personally! Also, my views in my blog and on social media do not necessarily reflect that of my clients or employers and are my own opinions, experiences, and insights. Secondly, I am so not here to get into a vaccine/anti-vaxxer debate. I’m just not. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I’ll give my personal opinion, since this is MY blog, after all, but you can save yourself some time and devote it to something useful, because I am absolutely not going to argue in the comments and especially won’t respond to trolls. (Trolls are the bane of my existence and are not welcome here. Like, ever.) Lastly, I’d like to highlight the fact that this is my personal experience, not a universal truth. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to how people will react to any medication or vaccine … or even any food, cosmetic product, etc. Heck, people even react to flowers and trees and dogs and cats in different ways! 

That said – I will use my platform to highly encourage and strongly suggest that unless you have medical reasons preventing you from doing so, that you get the COVID-19 vaccine if and when you are eligible. Sure, if you don’t understand the science behind it, it seems scary. It seemed a little scary to me and I do have a relatively good-ish handle on how it works. (Spoiler alert: it does not “alter your DNA” as some online conspiracy theorists and email forwards would have you believe.) And, yes, I get that it seems rushed to the general public and agree this all happened fast (but what people have to realize is that MOST of the process and methodology has been in place for literally decades; they simply had to tweak a few factors. Oh, and another clarification: people say “it’s not FDA-approved. Big sigh. That’s very much a technicality for a litany of reasons. The FDA is the one who issued the emergency use order. These companies are not just developing and handing out these drugs ‘willy-nilly.’ And EUAs are not doled out lightly, either, just as an FYI.)

Perhaps I’m at an advantage because of the disadvantages I’ve faced healthwise in my life: I’ve been forced to learn about and understand medications, immune-altering drugs and treatments, medical jargon, and the immune system in general. My health issues are also why science doesn’t really scare me. While I am FOR SURE a little “woo-woo” (I like healing crystals, after all!) and absolutely prefer to do things naturally and without drugs if that’s an option, I am also grateful for science and for pharmaceutical medications and innovations that can help me live a normal quality of life as I navigate debilitating lifelong illnesses. It’s a privilege that we have access to so many amazing treatments, vaccines, medical advancements, and health technologies! If you don’t have to worry about those kinds of things, and don’t need any medications or vaccines to keep you healthy, functioning, and safe, then, consider yourself lucky! I will say nothing else about the idea of being anti-science or refusing to get the vaccine out of fear, ignorance, or stubbornness. (Not getting it for a legit medical reason is a whole other story and is, of course, totally valid.) 

For those of you who want to know what it was like for me: 

I was in Phase 1A here in Pennsylvania because of pre-existing chronic medical conditions that qualified me, most specifically because of a decades-plus long history of immune-suppressing drugs due to RA. So, as soon as I was able to get an appointment (which took about 15-20 emails and 3 or 4 waiting lists,) I took advantage of it. I am not going to lie, I was a little nervous, just like many of you, which is understandable. I went for my first shot at the end of January and my arm was a little sore the next day; that’s all. I was maybe mildly tired the next day, but nothing to write home about. I felt pretty normal. Then came the waiting period until dose 2.

Ah – the ominous dose two. Some people have no side effects at all, some feel sick for a few days … but if you got the first dose, you absolutley need the second, or the first won’t work properly, and is essentially rendered pointless. (And, you just totally wasted a dose for someone who likely truly wanted and needed it!) I followed tips that people gave me: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Take the next day off of work in advance. Get the shot in the dominant arm, keep the muscle relaxed during the injection, and keep the arm moving after. Rest. And so on. 

I got my second vaccination around 2pm on Thursday – I literally didn’t even feel the needle go in or need a Band-Aid  – and was fine Thursday night. The only hiccup was that I forgot my vaccination card so had to get the shot, drive home to get the card, and drive back to the health facility again to have it filled out. I woke up around 5:30 or 6am on Friday and was still fine. In fact, other than a mildly sore arm, I was wondering if I should have even called off work at all. Around 9:30am, I got my answer. Yes; yes I should have called off work. I was glad I did! Full body aches, chills, extreme fatigue, nausea. No fever for me, but the widespread pain and discomfort was unpleasant; the worst part was not being able to function and being so very tired … but simply not able to sleep. At all. 

I dreaded the rest of the day because I was told these side effects could last 12 … 18… 24+ hours! But, alas — three hours, max. Maybe less. I’d say that, for me, the worst of it was closer to the hour-and-a-half range with some intermittent ickiness here and there. 
Now, I will say I did feel extremely tired and lethargic the whole entire weekend – and, I still did as of yesterday which was Tuesday. But — not so tired I couldn’t function. And, it could have been from other medication I began last week, or the changes in weather; it’s also better than catching coronavirus, ending up on a ventilator in ICU, and dying alone, ya know? Just my personal opinion lol.

It was miserable, but I’ve been through worse, as many of us have. Again, if you haven’t, and feeling icky for a few hours or even a day is the worst of your problems, then I say consider yourself lucky. It wasn’t the end of the world. I believe that it’s worth it. (I also believe that people have different tolerances to pain and sickness. I have a very high tolerance for all of that. And, while I do know some folks genuinely got really sick from it and I empathize with them fully, that some people also like to complain, dramatize, and exaggerate more than others, but, that’s neither here nor there…)

Now, I do recognize that, as with any medication or vaccination that some people may have really suffered after their shots, and if you do happen to be one of those people, I sincerely apologize if I come off as crass or insensitive – it’s not my intention and you’re truly not the types of people I am referring to, to be frank about it.

I genuinely hope you are feeling better now, and that the vaccine works for all of us. (If not, at least we can say we tried and did everything in our power to keep ourselves healthy, to help slow the spread, and to help minimize the effects of this terrible virus. That is something to feel good about! Give yourselves some grace — we all need it right about now.)

My thoughts are just that, barring any serious adverse or allergic reactions, for most people, the side effects simply aren’t worth not getting it; a couple hours or even a couple days of moderate flu-like symptoms and arm pain doesn’t justify skipping out on it for me, especially if you have the privilege — yes, privilege! — of having it offered to you. Living in a society where a vaccine to help prevent a potentially-deadly virus is being given out to you FOR FREE is not a punishment, you guys.

I know there are people who are exceptions and who have good reason for opting out. I know some of these people personally, and I understand why they are not getting vaccinated. But, there are many, many folks who don’t have any good reason at all for not getting it. In fact, recent polling shows that 1/3 of American adults – mostly white Republicans – are hesitant to get the vaccine. And many of these people do not have a medical or even religious reason not to.

For me personally, if being vaccinated even remotely helps my chances of possibly going to a concert again someday, or traveling internationally again, or socializing maskless with family and friends, or snuggling my baby nephew sooner rather than later then I would get it done all over again in a heartbeat, and that’s the truth. If there is a chance it can reduce the overall spread of this thing, then, by all means, I’m here for it.

I have a mild headache this morning. Is it from the vaccine? I highly doubt it. I’m a walking headache. But even if it is, who cares? Life is about sacrifices. And sometimes we do what we gotta do for the greater good, because, ya know … we’re adult human beings who look out for not just ourselves but also each other. The more people who get vaccinated, the better. That’s how pandemics operate.

And hey – if Bill Gates microchipped me, great, he can have fun watching me go to Starbucks and yell at my dogs every day, because that’s about all he’s getting. Maybe he can add some money to my Starbucks app while he’s at it. We all know he’s got the funds.

The fact, if anyone cares about facts anymore, is that with any drug or vaccine there’s a potential risk and there’s a potential reward. (Even Tylenol! And, yes, even supplements! In recent weeks, I’ve had more of a reaction from my asthma inhaler than from the COVID vaccine, and that’s a fact. That’s a whole other crazy, annoying, miserable story for another time — and something that I am still rather unpleasantly dealing with at the moment. Ugh.)

And, listen … let’s be real … I just know some of you have done way worse to your bodies than get a vaccine. Don’t kid yourselves 😉

Stay safe, healthy, and well, everyone, regardless of what personal choice you make about the vaccine! And it IS a personal choice, for sure. I respect that. Everyone should have autonomy over their body, especially when it comes to medical decisions. But – this is a matter of public health and public safety, which, at least in my mind, changes the conversation at least a little bit, for what it’s worth. So, like, to each their own, but also, this is bigger than any one of us as individuals.

At this point, COVID-19 coronavirus won’t be completely eradicated, of course (barring a great miracle from beyond,) but, any baby steps towards normalcy are a win for me — and I wish you all nothing but happiness and health! And if you are someone who has gotten the vaccine, continued to wear your mask, wash your hands, and socially-distance, I thank you on behalf of myself and others who live with chronic illness and immune or autoimmune disease for being respectful of our health, our safety, our lives, and our existence. You are appreciated!

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