Relief, Purpose, and Riding through the Storm.

Greetings to any reader who has landed on this post, and has decided to stay a spell. I realize that when I published my last post, I was doing Pfizer one. This time I am doing Pfizer two. I got myself the second jab yesterday. Perhaps I should get jabbed more often if it encourages this litany of writing. I mean, one thing I have found to be interesting about both jabs is that I have had vivid dreams. Perhaps diving into these strange realms of my subconscious mind can be a good thing. I also took a dive into the “drafts” section of my Word Press blog, you know, that graveyard of unpublished blog posts. It was interesting. My most recent casualty that never got published mentioned the Covid crisis in India with an additional kudos to Israel for their vaccination response, and how that even included vaccinating Palestinians. One week later, here we are. My heart has been heavier with the strife that has been occurring in the world; especially those of the “Biblical variety” and things of that regard that have had me questioning what I’d been taught in comparison to what I was witnessing. In essence, a lot of things were preying heavily on my mind, pandemic included, which seems to have become the existential cherry on the cake.

So, I was laid up in bed with a sore arm, body aches, hot flashes, extreme fatigue, and my equilibrium feeling off. Like, nobody was going to get me on a merry go round after the second Covid shot when being in a motion just kind of threw me off kilter. The one piece of advice I wish I’d had in addition to “drink lots of fluids beforehand” would be “eat small meals.” Like , seriously, eat like you are laid up with the flu or a cold. It sounds strange, but it was like I did fine until I ate and my body was like, “you want me to digest this food and fight off what was just injected into your arm? Mayday, mayday…shutting down.”

Okay, I’m not trying to be melodramatic here. I’m just saying if you haven’t done the second dose yet, get all your gatorades, jellos, soups, dry crackers, Sprite or whatever beforehand and just proactively plan for the notion that your body has one mission, to fight off a foreign invader, that’s your body’s priority. Forget your other plans, or at least don’t bank on them, just BE and try and let your body do it’s thing without any outside interference from you if that is what it requires. In my situation this process allowed me to THINK a lot, maybe too much. So much, that my cup runneth over and I had to blog that sh*t.

So, if any one wants to check out, and would like to forego the deep thoughts of my fragile eggshell vaccine hysteria this would be the time to do it. In a nutshell I fell down a vaccine rabbit hole because getting the second Pfizer dose turned out to be more of a momentous marker in my life than I had anticipated, this was partially due to two things:

1). The CDC just announced the day before my second shot that all those fully vaccinated can go…wait for it…fully maskless! Let’s not kid ourselves, that was a big announcement. I marinated in that one for awhile but my first initial response was elation and relief that maybe just maybe…this could be the most significant marker to the beginning of the end.

2). The day AFTER I got my second vaccine dose a study was published by several outlets that waiting a longer period between the first and second Pfizer dose may improve immunity (I will link below). This is when I fell into a hole of self pity and frustration at how vicarious this all is, and how the science can change with new incoming information. I mean, I wish I had gotten that memo YESTERDAY. My BFF is the only person I know of who got the Johnson and Johnson and the day AFTER she got her jab they halted the vaccine over clotting issues and I’m sure she had similar thoughts.

Okay, so the optimist in me was all giddy over the announcement of newfound freedom although I was NOT one of those who was part of the anti-mask brigade or secret Dr. shopping societies who shared exemption notes from holistic Doctors to keep my children from having to mask up in school. The pessimist in me however, combed the new CDC guidelines for deeper meaning and understanding of how this would impact my community. Do I even have a community anymore? COMMUNITY, it sounds like such a foreign word. I need to get me one of those. In a nutshell, I came up with a few conclusions:

  1. Ah…I see what’s going on here. This is meant to incentivize more people to get the vaccine, although…this decision was partially based on new data that the vaccines worked just as well in the real world as they did in the trials. I mean, that’s good news right? The vaccines are as good as we hoped.
  2. These guidelines come with a disclaimer for tight indoor and at risk spaces, like busses, trains, plains, homeless shelters, and hospitals.
  3. States or Private businesses can over ride these new guidelines and as far as shopping? It depends on where you live. I mean, this country is not entirely a homogenous space. Hawaii is still keeping their mandates in place pending further review.
  4. We really freaked ourselves out with requiring masks outside. It’s about time the guidelines matched the science because in that regard, we were really over killing it.
  5. Just another thought, what about those who have small children at home who aren’t eligible to be vaccinated yet, like, it’s been recommended that those with small children may still want to mask up.
  6. I was struck with terror when it hit me that, “My god, what this really amounts to is “the honor system.”

7. What about “essential workers?” I mean, if they don’t trust the honor system, they may still want to mask up and employers may be questioning ethics and liability issues over whether or not their employees or customers should mask up for their benefit.

8. These new guidelines are more like “the Pirates Code.” I mean, there is so much room for interpretation, and it’s not all black and white nor set in stone. So much of it is quite frankly, circumstantial.

9. Whose going to play the role of the vaccine police? Essential workers had a hard enough time being the mask police god bless them.

10. My ultimate climatic thought and rule of thumb for myself was, “If I dont see the number of fully vaccinated matching up with the amount of people in my community going maskless I may want to reconsider donning one on in certain situations. I mean, I don’t have much faith in my community when it comes to the “Honor” system. I wish I did. Even here in Utah, “the land of the Mormons.” I’ve seen some shocking contradictions, but then again, hasn’t this been a common theme most anywhere?

Now, I am going to get to the tender hearted softie portion of this blog, the part where I eat a slice of humble pie. I don’t know if it was just the day I was seeing at my local hospital. Was it a coincidence that when I went to get my shot the line was forty five minutes long and I could scarcely find a place to park the day after the new CDC guidelines were announced?

I also had to go shopping for some “Hawaii clothes” because I am going to visit my daughter for the second time since she has had her baby while her husband has been deployed during this pandemic. My goal was to pay her two visits to help her with the baby while her husband was gone. I feel fortunate that pandemic and all I’ve been able to pull this off. I mean, if someone had told me I’d be going to Hawaii three times during one of the most challenging years in recent history I’d find that notion to be preposterous. I mean, these trips really were my lifeline to my daughter and her to us, and thank god we had one. I can’t think of a more paradisiacal lifeline.

The pitfall to my silver lining was that I lost my brother in law, my sister lost her husband, and my nephew lost his dad. This Hawaii go-around my sister, my mom, and her son are coming with me (and now vaccinated). All the special people closest to me have accompanied me on this journey so far, as safely as we could manage it, and there’s no other destination in the US that has had anything similar to the Hawaii safe travels plan. I am fortunate that if my daughter was isolated from us and we had to cross barriers and fly that Hawaii was the chosen State for our destination. I get emotional just thinking about Hawaii being a life line because it meant so much to my grandfather who is now gone and I’ve felt his hand in my life so much throughout these challenging times.

Anyway, back to standing in line at the hospital for my shot. I never felt a greater sense of community than I did standing in that line. I got teary eyed just thinking, “this is my community” and it was so different than what I was seeing on the internet. There was no polarization- just a goal, we were all trying our best to rise to the occasion and do what these times had asked of us and there were no guarantees to the outcome. No, most were not enthused to be there, but we were doing it, and shared anxieties could be felt across the room. Some of us were Pfizer one, others, Pfizer two, a few of us were going to feel faint afterwards, some of us were going to get sick, and some of us were going to skate out of there with nary a care in the world. The whole thing couldn’t have been any more beautiful under the most warped circumstances. I mean really, we were all gathered together for a purpose.

Maybe, that’s what makes a community-PURPOSE. I also fell down this rabbit hole: “Was I a sheeple today?” My mind tricked me into wondering if I had set myself up like a lamb to the slaughter. What if this pandemic was about “thinning the herd” and I made a wrong move. In an ideal world those who were trying to be part of the solution and not the problem would reap the reward but what if by some cruel twist of fate Darwinism favored the skeptics, the stubborn, and the conspiracy theorists? What if they were the chosen ones? What IF? Right on cue I turned on the radio to drown out those thoughts and wouldn’t you know it, my radio was tuned to Christian Radio or something and there was some evangelist talking about God and the final rapture and “the mark of the beast” which according to the speaker was the “mark of the world” and worldly stuff such as micro chips in dogs, tattoos and things of that nature. I couldn’t help but think, “Why is he talking about micro chips in dogs?” I knew where he was going with the analogy as I suspiciously eyed the Wonder Woman band-aid on my arm with a tiny degree of cynicism.

I felt a moderate degree of the heebie-jeebies and turned my radio to something more soulful. I immediately felt connected to the vibe. I wondered how many people had felt soulful music such as this who were listening but never fully grasping the full extent of the underlying message? Was I even grasping the full context myself? So many songs are like beautiful parables. I felt more connected to god listening to that music than I did listening to that evangelist talk about chips in dogs, tattoos, and Armageddon. My anxieties ceased, I wasn’t a sheeple. I was a rational human being who just got a vaccine in the arm because I thought it was the right thing to do. My intentions were good and I was fully prepared to suffer whatever consequence. I mean, I DID IT. There was no going back now.

So, in addition to wishing I’d had the knowledge to stick to simple foods and fluids, I wish someone had warned me what a mind f*ck getting the Covid vaccine could be. That was one of my side effects. On day two I had gone with my husband on an errand in our car. I realized I had an overall feeling of achiness and stiffness that is usually reserved for longer rides. When I got out of the car and stood on solid ground it felt like I’d just gotten off of a boat. Like I was no longer in motion but it felt l ought to be. I told my husband that was enough for the day and I was going to lie down and just ride out the remaining hours of my vaccine.

So there I was in bed, resting, my body nearly feeling the same way it did when I was in car accident and thrown to the back of hatchback while getting beat up by an unstrapped tire. I was thinking about storms and how Jonna Jinton, a YouTuber, had just recently posted a video about Bison and storms and how they don’t go around them, but through them. Hence, the romanticized images of bison standing solid with legs like stumps in a blizzard with snow on their fur like the bad asses they are. I thought of this last year, and where was the resolution, and realized I was standing on it. I had chosen to go through the storm and not around, and according to rationale, in just another 24 hours I would make it through to the other side. I did what the situation required of me. It was the best solution offered. I took it. I took that shot (Ha-ha a little Hamilton reference thrown in).

Taking that shot was an achievement in my mind. An achievement of one, when combined with many, will hopefully make a difference on a grander scale. How could that possibly be “the mark of the beast” or any of that other nonsense. Me and everyone else in that hospital lobby were part of something bigger than ourselves. To think otherwise just seemed to go against nature. This wasn’t some Indiana Jones movie where I looked away from the Ark of the Covenant and therefore my eyes didn’t burn out. Getting the vaccine was not a test of my loyalty to god or mammon. I felt thankful that I lived in a time that the science was available and I had options. People during the Bubonic plague didn’t have options. Praise be to whatever forces were at work that inspired the vaccine. I couldn’t even believe that for one moment I even entertained the idea of, “What if these conspiracists are right?”

Another idea, that I entertained that I wish I hadn’t was just ASSUMING that everyone who was refusing the vaccine was a conspiracy theorist or completely selfish. I was really beginning to resent these people and my respect for them was dropping. My mom won’t get the vaccine, my own husband won’t get the vaccine, and one of my daughters will not get the vaccine. I’m learning that before I let the accusations fly the best thing for me to do FIRST was to just sit down and have a reasonable discussion with these people as to WHY they were choosing the way they were. You can get much further with open ended questions over assumptions. In reality, I’m finding most of the people I have talked to are not outright refusing to get the vaccine they are just reluctant and “giving it more time” and not comfortable with the “emergency use only” part of the vaccine and that is a rational concern.

I am also finding that there are the anti-mask, anti-vaccine people, and then there are the people who are respectfully wearing their masks and just holding off on the vaccine until they feel like they can better trust it. I would say that my husband and my daughter fall into this group. My husband has no problem wearing a mask, in fact, he’s very meticulous about wearing a mask, hand sanitizing and taking all the necessary precautions he’s just not quite ready to take the vaccine. I do have him almost convinced however to at the very least get Pfizer one, because some protection is better than none, and getting the one is half the battle.

I’m also finding a lot of it is circumstantial. There are people I know who literally live out in the middle of nowhere, work from home, don’t get out much, and in fact, this last year with quarantine hasn’t changed their life by much. If they are only venturing out every now and again why should they rush out and get vaccinated today if they can just wear a mask once a week to venture out for supplies? Then there are the other people, who are around lots of people in indoor spaces, and just don’t really give a F.

There are also those who work outside, have no children, frequent smaller circles, versus larger circles, are around low risk people versus high risk people etc. I’m just saying the URGENCY to get the vaccine versus holding out longer, or not getting the vaccine has many variables and sometimes one just can’t assume to know what they are. I’ve noticed that circumstance effects a lot of the decision making process. Somebody with vaccine reluctance may change their mind if a loved one were diagnosed with diabetes, COPD, or someone they knew became pregnant etc. These are not bad people. They will get the vaccine under the appropriate circumstances. I know many people who are “Trump Supporters” who fall into this category. My sister-in law for example, or her father who is an avid Trump supporter and former coal miner but is also the biggest vaccine advocate I know because his wife is a brittle diabetic.

This is where the humble pie comes in for me. I was over generalizing people and putting them into camps that were black and white and not nuanced. These camps did not reflect reality. I was harsh on my community thinking that after the CDC announcement surely I’d see ninety percent of the people running around without masks while only forty two percent were vaccinated. I’m just saying…when I went shopping for Hawaii attire that just wasn’t the case. Granted it was not the perfectly matched percentile of mask wearers versus the percentage of people who were vaccinated but it was better than I had hoped. Also, seeing who was masking versus not masking as well as the caliber of people who were in the hospital lobby waiting to get vaccinated, WOW, stereotypes were blown.

I’ve felt defensive a few times as well. I’ve seen the memes about the selfishness of those people traveling to Hawaii or Mexico, etc. I’ve had my reasons for flying to Hawaii that I wouldn’t exactly call selfish and about lying on a beach and exposing a bunch of indigenous people to any virus I could possibly be carrying. I was a single mom with a baby myself once, and I had concerns with my daughter and postpartum depression caring for her first baby on her own while isolated on an island during a global pandemic. She was the factor that brought me to the island.

I am also guilty of hesitancy with the announcement that 12-15 year olds can now be vaccinated. Summer break is fast approaching and my daughter’s social circle is small. I don’t see her traveling on a plane, going to any summer camps, religious revivals, or traveling for teen sports. I made it my goal to have her vaccinated before school in September. I myself did not rush out and get the vaccine because I’m not an essential worker nor do I work outside the home, and I’m not around someone frequently who is high risk. When the appointments were harder to get I just assumed that there were people who needed the vaccine more than I do.

My approach to the vaccine has been like my approach to many things. When I’m on a plane I hang back and let people out. When I’m leaving a concert or venue I hang tight because I’m in no hurry to be a part of the herd. My son could have been vaccinated even before I was due to his neurological development disorder but I waited for that approval AND the go ahead that 17 year olds could be vaccinated because that is what I felt most comfortable with. When that time came, I scheduled his appointment with mine because I certainly wasn’t going to have him put anything in his body that I was not willing to partake of myself. This is just MY example as to why this has been my game plan, and I have to be VERY mindful that what is going on in society is not a monolith and that what is happening in my country and across the entire globe is not entirely homogenous. I’m finding in essence, that what should be happening with these vaccines and CDC guidelines is a lot like real estate. A lot of has to do with location, location, location.

I don’t know how many of you have followed Dr. Z during this pandemic. I have found him to be a rational fit for myself because he really is what I consider to be a part of “the alt. middle” and is in no way part of the “dirty dozen.” If you are unfamiliar with the dirty dozen these are the 12 people who have been found to be responsible for the majority of vaccine disinformation across social media. Literally, the majority of vaccine disinformation on social media can be linked to 12 people. Kind of like how the majority of carbon pollution in the world can be linked to about ten corporations (but that is a blog post for another day).

Anyway, Dr. Z made some valid points about moving the tiers down to childhood vaccinations for an “emergency use only vaccine” to pull up numbers because so many adults are unwilling to get it. He also questioned if those vaccines might not be put to better use going to other at risk countries where variants are popping up the most. Democracy Now also ran an interesting article on this. We are in a GLOBAL pandemic after all. I will provide links below for those interested.

Anyway, I never anticipated writing a whole blog post about the Covid vaccine so thank you to those who have read this far and have allowed me to share my thoughts on what has consumed my mind over the last 24 hours. In essence, getting the vaccine opened the flood gates to me navigating my peace, and to a large degree this pandemic. I do believe this is the beginning of the end, and what started out as a blog post last night in the throws of fever, chills and body aches has turned to calm and resolution. Nothing that a little Ibuprofen couldn’t handle. I’d do it again. My arm feels much better today, and I’m finally feeling that post vaccine high that my sister told me about it. What are my final thoughts on getting that vaccine and coming out the other side after that second dose? RELIEF absolute RELIEF.

Until Next Post,

Rachelle Whiting

A few resources for Further reading:

Bond, Shannon. “Just 12 People are Behind Most Vaccine Hoaxes on Social Media, Research Shows.” NPR. 14, May 2021. https://www.npr.org/2021/05/13/996570855/disinformation-dozen-test-facebooks-twitters-ability-to-curb-vaccine-hoaxes?utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&fbclid=IwAR0DsQB2H-tTwJ_3bo9cwnrWK3_XlNIq74JYa2TukcTbFzTekju1J-H05Pg

Democracy Now. “U.S Covid Numbers Fall as Doctors Debate Vaccinating Kids Ahead of Vulnerable People Abroad.” 13, May 2021. Democracy Now. https://www.democracynow.org/2021/5/13/headlines/us_covid_numbers_fall_as_doctors_debate_vaccinating_kids_ahead_of_vulnerable_people_abroad

Romo, Vanessa. “Shopping Without a Mask Depends on Where You Live, Despite New CDC Guidelines.” NPR. 13. May 2021. https://www.npr.org/2021/05/13/996705810/shopping-without-a-mask-depends-on-where-you-live-despite-new-cdc-guidelines?fbclid=IwAR1dzj_nb-K0aONeUeiDsyFHypPYZoeAU0tZDzo6LpUJ7mvgvMW0wfM9uio

Sample, Ian. “Delay in giving second jabs of Pfizer vaccine improves immunity.” The Guardian. 13, May 2021. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/may/14/delay-in-giving-second-jabs-of-pfizer-vaccine-improves-immunity?fbclid=IwAR2KRIXMdxSarX_0PTotiWw5ZU9IbfgjIc8sImhQviRhpIgzkuww4T2FkSI

Washington Post. “Doses of covid-19 vaccines administered¬†per 100,000 residents” (By State). Washington Post. 17, May 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/coronavirus-us-cases-deaths/?utm_source=join1440&utm_medium=email&utm_placement=newsletter

ZDOGG MD. “Pfizer Vaccine for Kids 12-15?” ZDOGG MD. 12, May 2021. https://zdoggmd.com/pfizer-kids/?fbclid=IwAR3O2YnbKjkr9_zCpd8RkLTnA4pwAOnTE2bwqPgjeUkqdAo2xiopLFVFaGs

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