This might be the spot or time, given it’s the final paper of the year, that a year-end column would be in order.
But given we already have one from our intrepid general manager, I’m going to use this space to run one I wrote a month ago, but haven’t gotten in print until now.
Several months back, I encouraged Chieftain reporter Bill Bradshaw to share his experience getting the COVID-19 vaccine. There was no intention behind it other than to share firsthand knowledge from someone within the community that many could put a face to.
I think, then, it would only be fair that I share mine, as well.
I’ll be up front about one thing — I have been among the more reluctant ones. Exactly why I have been reluctant comes from several things. As I wrote in an opinion piece last year, I contracted COVID-19 in November 2020. It was rough. There is no denying that. It was certainly the longest I’ve ever been sick. But I could argue I was more sick when I had pneumonia at about age 9 or 10, which put me in the hospital for several days. I was hospitalized for COVID with high blood pressure, but only for about an hour, then was sent home to recover — which I did.
Like most, I’ve heard both sides of the vaccine discussion, and struggled to wade through the mess of information. How safe is it? Are there side effects? What about people allegedly having severe reactions or even dying from it? What is the truth?
Over several weeks and months, I waffled on what to do. My wife and I discussed it. I talked it over with a good friend who also is in the medical field. I talked it over with people on the fence, people for it and people against it. I prayed about it.
I fall into the 30-39 year-old category, which has had little major impact from COVID (when compared to older groups), and that was a mark to not get it. I also, being overweight, would be someone who could struggle more from a second bout, which was a mark to get it. I have had allergic reactions in the past to some medications. Another reason, in my mind, to not get it. But I have some family members who could struggle if I got them sick. Another reason to.
I looked at it from a faith-based standpoint. From a statistics standpoint. From a logistical standpoint.
Finally, after months of weighing what to do, and both my wife and I feeling the Lord was leading me to get the shot, I did.
My first dose of Moderna, with me being anxiety filled until I whispered one final prayer and crossed the threshold into the clinic, was administered on Oct. 1.
I had a very minor reaction — the next night, I had some chills and weakness, and was weak on Oct. 3, but that was it.
Six weeks later, on Nov. 11, I had my second dose.
It was a much different story.
My symptoms from the first shot didn’t come for nearly 30 hours. On the second, they arrived within about five hours. I went to bed that night with body aches already starting.
I woke up Nov. 12 at 4:30 a.m. in pain, with severe chills and a fever — severe flu-like symptoms. I couldn’t go back to sleep. I threw up twice by 6:30 a.m. When I finally could hold some ibuprofen down, it suppressed the symptoms. Eased the pain and chills some. I tried to do a little work that morning.
But I waited too long to take the next round of pills, and by noon was in misery again, shuddering with chills, wincing in pain and dealing with lethargy. More meds finally got the symptoms down again, some. My wife did a fantastic job of taking care of me while balancing her own morning of doctor appointments, errands and running her day care.
My fever, though, was a big concern. At times, it was just above 100 degrees F. But it moved all over the place. The highest it peaked was 104.7 degrees F. More meds were administered and the fever finally broke its hold that evening. The following day was much better. But even a few days later, some symptoms persisted. I had moments that my airways felt constricted, or that my upper back was sore. Perhaps the weirdest one, hiccups hurt.
I don’t write this to sway anybody one way or another. I realize my story is anecdotal. Many don’t have as bad of a case from the shot as I did. But some do. Some have had worse. I write this simply to share information, to be as candid as I can about my own experience with the vaccine.
I don’t know what decision I’ll make in the future with regard to a booster.
But I do know that all the steps I outlined above — and my experience — will be taken into consideration if and when that time comes.