Well, it’s not really a “happy” one, but it is definitely our anniversary. It’s okay if you didn’t remember a gift, I’m not bitter. I won’t even blame you for forgetting. Traditionally for the first year anniversary the gift is paper, so you can print this edition out for your keepsake! You’re welcome.
Seriously, March 11th, is the official anniversary our world was rocked (figuratively), economies shuttered, and lives were forever changed. That’s right, it has been a full year of shelter in place mandates, lockdowns, socially-distanced behaviors, and the ever-popular Zoom calls!
My personal journey to where I am today has led me down a path that has had me perilously and precipitously pirouetting on the edge of the pandemic pandemonium. At times, I have felt like I was falling into depression and despair. A year of my normally active life has now physically altered me too (too much jiggle in my wiggle). It has been a rough road and I know that I’m not alone. My optimism, Eric (the hubster), Pato (the cat), and the occasional virtual gatherings with the Posse have kept me anchored. I consider myself grateful and lucky throughout this past year. I have been fortunate to still retain employment, and like so many other nonprofits, we’re battling back and adapting to a new environment. I see the vaccine(s) as vials of hope that will lead to our economic recovery and healing. As a Black man and a Gay man, I can’t let allow the historical and racist spectres of the past or political misinformation in this country impede my personal health decisions; #tuskegeetrials. I wholeheartedly trust the science behind the creation of these vaccines and understand the risks and side effects.
Last month, Eric and I signed up for the vaccine notification system here in Portland, Oregon. I felt like we were signing up for a lottery where the chances were calculated in our favor but then came the period of waiting. I was also a bit confused at the initial online intake form. I figured being both Black and a cancer survivor the process to securing an appointment would have been more expeditious, instead I received a rejection notice. I was saddened by the notice but accepted the fact I had to be patient.
Then word dropped that the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine was given emergency authorization for production. I have never been thrilled about getting shots, other than the ones filled with my favorite booze, but this one made me almost giddy with excitement. Though it is only rated at 85%, only one shot was needed to keep me and anyone who may be lucky enough to receive it, out of the hospital or a refrigerated container. I didn’t really care which vaccine I would get, but did put a word out into the universe that I’d been good this year and ate all of my vegetables, so I deserved a really nice present.
The days again began lapsing by. Eric checked our email and to our surprise, there was a notification of upcoming appointments! We selected the closest location to us which was at the Portland International Airport (PDX) Red Lot and then checked our calendars for a mutual time and date, Saturday, March 13 at 11AM. Since we were travelling together, we each had to select a time that would work for the both of us. And by coincidence, we had selected the same time slot. As we awaited the confirmation email to land in our inbox, I began to feel joyous and hopeful the yearlong nightmare would soon be behind us, and then ping, it was there!
Our day began like most Saturdays during the past year, at home, cooking breakfast. The difference this time is that by noon, we would be vaccinated! From our home, it only took 12 minutes to get to the airport. The confirmation stated not to arrive more than 30 minutes ahead of the appointed time. As we quickly headed out the door to the vaccination site, I grew nervous about the amount of time we’d likely be spending in lines and the unorganized chaos I’d seen in the news. When we arrived at the PDX Red Lot for our 11AM appointment, it was just the opposite. There were plenty of staff directing us at every step of the process. Within 20 minutes after arriving, by 11:02AM we were inoculated and in the recovery cue
(15 minutes), where we waited in the event of any adverse reactions to the vaccine. At 11:17AM, we were released. I wasn’t expecting us to be done so quickly. Now that we were headed home, the yard work that I had a legitimate reason for procrastinating about, was once again before me. I didn’t yet have any side effects such as soreness of my arm or the growth of a third eye (kidding), so I decided to be productive. It turned out to be just another weekend at home until later that night.
For whatever reason, all the side effects appeared to hit us all at once and after we had gone to bed. We both awoke in the middle of the night with chills, aches, and headaches. It was like we had the flu. By the next morning, I was feeling better-ish but Eric still felt pretty crappy when he lethargically came downstairs for his coffee. He looked beat. So much so that he decided to take up residence on the living room sofa under a pile of blankets. It was crappy weather outside and that made things appear worse than they really were. With Eric still suffering with chills, I lit a fire to help take the chill out of the room. I now felt fine, and only had a little soreness in my right arm from the shot. It ended up taking Eric three days before he was finally feeling like himself again. That little “one-shot” Johnson & Johnson vaccine packed a punch that left us recovering for days afterwards. Please don’t see this as a complaint or justification why one should or shouldn’t get vaccinated. It’s more about being prepared and planning for the potential pain in the … arm…head…or whole body, you get the idea.
A year ago the idea of a vaccine seemed more like a fairy tale dream. It was a time when I was suffering from extremely vivid nightmares because of the apocalyptic nature of the moment. Now that we are vaccinated, I (we) feel like our participation brings us one step closer to seeing family, hugging friends, dinner parties, and even trips abroad. I’m realistic about my aspirations and know that we need to still remain vigilant and follow CDC protocols so we all can safely arrive on the other side of this of this endless misery. C’mon, what are you afraid of? It’s just a little prick!
#Blacklivesmatter #georgefloyd #Armaudarbery #breonnataylor #rayshardbrooks #blacktranslivesmatter