They Say ‘Nothing Changes’ After You’re Vaccinated, But For Me, Everything Changed
It felt like a hangover.
The day after I got my second Pfizer shot last Thursday at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, I didn’t work and slept in, sleeping until almost 3 p.m. I felt like I had been pounding tequila shots all night, achey and weak all over my body with a bad headache, and soreness in my left arm. It eased up just enough for me to take my typical Friday night jaunt to my partner’s apartment for movie night and dinner, and by midday Saturday, I felt normal again. After that I was left with just one lingering side effect:
A sense of relief and closure.
Experts say I shouldn’t, and those who continue to advocate for continued mitigation hate when I say it, but for me, the threat has passed. This entire pandemic, I have been following my intuition and though It was sometimes a smidge more optimistic than reality turned out to be, it hasn’t been completely wrong yet. Now, my intuition tells me the danger has passed, SARS-COVID2 is no longer a threat to me beyond the possibility of a cold-like illness, nor my family and friends, and the dark days of the pandemic are behind me, even if it’s not over yet in much of the world.
A year ago, as I sat in lockdown pondering the future, asking myself if I will ever see my loved ones again, my intuition told me there would be a vaccine and it would come in a year. I ignored it because I thought it wishful thinking, but throughout the past year, I found myself seeing late March/early April 2021 has some sort of event horizon, even going so far as to hear my higher power telling me “you’re halfway through this” back in October, when I was freaking out about my parents going to Maine on vacation. I wish I had listened, because the intuition hit then nail almost squarely on the head. On April 1, one year and one week after I started my arduous 55-day stay-at-home measure, I received my first shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Three weeks later on April 22, I received my second, an although I’m waiting for two weeks to pass before giving myself the all clear, to know that I am almost certainly at least mostly immune from a SARS-COVID 2 infection, and nearly as safe from hospitalization and death from the virus as I was before it existed, is just a huge weight off my shoulders.
Though the virus never quite paralyzed me the way it did others, it did scare me. I’m overweight and have a history of asthma. I had a nasty cold back in 2018 that left me with lingering breathing problems for months, knocking me off my CrossFit routine and ultimately leading me to fall out of shape. If there was a 37-year-old out there who would likely die from this thing, it would be me. I was not willing to tempt fate.
But that was hard. It was hard to stay home for 55 days and be separated from my partner and my friends. It was hard not having big family gatherings for Memorial Day or Christmas. It was hard to not spend time with colleagues and not work normally and not do the things I love to do in the summer and during the holidays. It was hard to not eat out at my favorite restaurants, or spend time reading in a library or not go to the beach last summer, or take my annual vacation. It was hard losing out on all the things that make life worth living.
When I was younger, I battled depression and suicidal thoughts. I fought back by focusing on things that brought joy to my life, and things that I could look forward to: Travel, nights out with friends and family, plays and concerts, big family gatherings, Christmas. COVID-19 took all that way from me, and I got through it by reminding myself that it was only temporary. All that stuff will come back, and when it does, I will see it with a newfound appreciation having had to live without it for a while.
What was uncertain however was how long it would take to get back there. Last year we were being told it could be years, and that devastated me. Some experts who I trusted, and later discovered to be complete frauds, warned me some of that stuff might never come back. COVID, they said, has fundamentally changed the way humans socialise and we would have to accept it. I would never have some of those joyful life moments ever again.
I wondered which family members I may have seen for the last time. Which ones would die of COVID or would die of natural causes before the pandemic ends. I wondered which friendships would be lost; if the travel destinations on my bucket list would now just become something I’d have to wait for in another life. There were moments where I would wonder if COVID life was even worth living anymore.
Thankfully, I did nightly meditation with my Reiki healer, Rev. Joanne Angel Barry Colon (whose TV show I regularly appear on and write about here). During the quarantine period, every night at 11:11 p.m., we did a meditation. It was during those meditations that I took time to think and ponder what the short term and long term future would look like, and it was during that meditation that my fears of long term social isolation and life-altering restrictions were alleviated by, for the first time, really learning to listen to my intuition. And it was right. Joe Biden would beat Donald Trump. I would be vaccinated before my next birthday. I would sell a house in 2021. I would finally start my blog and my vegetable garden.
I never forget the feeling I had when my best friend Andrew texted me at 9 a.m. on Monday, November 9th to tell Pfizer’s phase three trial results showed over 90 percent efficacy against SARS-COVID2 infection. We had been told to expect 60-70 percent if we’re lucky. The elation I felt was incredible. This was going to come to end and fairly soon, I thought. My intuition told me Pfizer was the vaccine I’d be getting and it was. Now my body is no longer naive to the SARS-COVID 2 virus, and my entire family and most of my friends are vaccinated or getting vaccinated right now. My life, and my world around me, are slowly going back to normal, with fears of another setback waning by the day. Work happy hours and broker open houses will resume this week, family gatherings this summer, vacations next year. I will check off those places on the list, and I will have joyful moments again.
It felt like a hangover, because getting vaccinated was the greatest celebration I’ve had in years. The crippling fears of isolation and death from one year ago seem far away, and the next chapter of my life, filled with the things I promise never to take for granted again, seems closer than ever.