I had my weekly phone call update with my mom, who lives in Florida, and she asked if I had been excited to get my first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. She said that some people she knew acted like the won the lottery, and she just didn’t get that level of excitement. It made me pause and think… how DID I feel about getting halfway vaccinated??
I felt… relief. I felt like I could actually not be tense for the first time in over 12 long months. The weight of the responsibility I had felt for my entire family was not bearing down as heavily on my tired shoulders. I felt that sweet, sweet feeling of relief. Relief that maybe there was hope for the world to eventually get back to “normal.” Relief that I didn’t have to constantly be the germ police, being hyper vigilant about everything my hubby and daughter touched and did.
Handing over the hand sanitizer as soon as we get in the car… My husband: “I didn’t even touch anything.” Me: “Yes, you did – you held that door open for that older lady coming out behind us.” This has been a regular occurrence. I can’t tell you how many times I have washed and sanitized my hands every time we got home from the grocery store or had something delivered to the house. Going out… Do we have clean masks? Is the sanitizer bottle full? Do we have enough disinfectant wipes in the trunk and the reusable grocery bags? Don’t touch your face. Grab that with your sleeve!
I know I’ve been neurotic. I know I’ve gotten on my family’s nerves. I’m just glad they haven’t run off to escape me during this past year!! But seriously, they know my natural high-stress, high-anxiety, slightly OCD self has been doing a marvelous job at holding it all together since March of 2020. I’m actually quite impressed with myself.
What I didn’t realize is that the past year’s stress and mental trauma has been so ingrained in me that it was almost becoming a part of me – a part of me I’d prefer not to have. The psychological challenge of constantly telling my subconscious to not stress out and not be too annoying has been exhausting! Not being a spazz and running my family off in the process has been a battle for me internally.
With Type 1 Diabetes, I had been eligible for the vaccine for over a month and a half, and yet I could not get an appointment ANYWHERE. Every time I called somewhere, they either had no updates or said that they did not receive even half of the doses they had been expecting. I figured I’d still have to be in hyper-vigilant, semi-lockdown mode for several more months… Then, a friend on Facebook gave me a number to call for UC Health’s drive-thru vaccine clinic. I was on hold for almost an hour. When I first called, the automated system said my wait time was AT LEAST 45 minutes. Around the 35 minute mark, I asked my husband if it was worth waiting still. He said, “YES!”
He knows how hard it has been on me. My mind races… What if I get sick and have complications due to my compromised immune system? Is my life insurance enough to take care of them and pay off the house, the car, the business loans?? What if I am asymptomatic and give it to him or our daughter and one of them dies? Will I feel responsible for the rest of my life? I’ve learned to focus on what I can control to decrease my stress, anxiety, and OCD tendencies. The hardest part is knowing there has been almost nothing I can really control this past year.
How I really knew that the pandemic was invading my psyche was when I would watch a movie or television show, see people all close together, and think, Why aren’t they wearing masks?! Why is no one social distancing?! And, I’d have to remind myself that it was filmed make-believe from before there even was a worldwide pandemic.
I felt good to be able to receive the Pfizer vaccine with its high efficacy rate, but would I have still gotten it if it were one of the others? Yes. Was it worth any of the potential side effects? Considering the alternatives, absolutely. And, it would have been worth it to me, no matter which brand of the vaccine I had received that day.
So, do I feel like I won the lottery at getting an appointment for my vaccination? No, it’s not like that at all. Am I relieved that my mental health can take it a little easier these days? That answer is a resounding YES.
My better half was able to get his first shot exactly one week after I did, and that has brought even more relief to our household.
How has the pandemic affected you? Are you excited to get vaccinated? Have you gotten vaccinated already?? Tell us in the comments below!