Two Shots Change Everything

I just got my second COVID-19 vaccine shot. I am not sure how I feel. It is not a lack of feeling. It is an overflow of emotions and thoughts bubbling up. Some are good. Some are sad. They are all there at the same time. A two-second needle poke just upended the life l have known for over a year which is a life that was upended to begin with. Two weeks from now, my vaccination will be at “full strength.” I will be able to go outside masked and not dying from COVID-19.

Fear

You would think that having multiple sclerosis means pondering death quite a bit. From time to time I recognize that this chronic illness is unpredictable. I currently am relapsing-remitting. However, as a Black woman, I am acutely aware of the fact that this fact can make for faster progression. Ever wrong swallow becomes a thought loop of wondering if this related to multiple sclerosis or if I was eating to quickly. The progressive inability to safely swallow food or beverages is a serious problem that can lead to death over time. Yet, this fear of a death by COVID-19 was on an entirely different level. This was not a potential change in status that could shorten my lifespan. This was a death that would happen in weeks, days, or hours.

The warnings for anyone immunocompromised

If you are someone who is immunocompromised or have multiple underlying conditions, you were warned that COVID-19 would be potentially life-ending. No, it was more than potentially. We were told that catching this novel virus would ravage us through our weakness and kill us. Our bodies were already fighting daily battles and COVID-19 was a war that we would lose. In losing that war, we might suffer through a painful intubation that may not be enough. We were not afforded the luxury of thinking that we might only suffer through a horrendous case of the flu. WE were the people everyone stayed home to protect.

I struggled despite my good fortune

I am blessed to have private transportation and the ability to order necessities online. I have the ability to shelter-in-place and have no responsibilities that would take me out of my home regularly. Teleheath is an option I use. Even with all of these in place, I survived in fear.

Relief

Now, I am surviving in relief. Relief that my mask is not my only shield. I am surviving in guilt. How did I get to be so so very lucky? Why was I not among the 530,000+ souls who passed away? I am surviving in confusion. I am confused about what is ahead for us as a nation, for my multiple sclerosis community, and for me. I am surviving in gratefulness. I am grateful that those closest to me will be fully vaccinated just weeks after me. I am on my knees grateful that my senior mom survived alongside me.

Remembering how to live

I have seen a lot of photos on social media showing people getting their shots. I have a photo of my first jab. I was excited to know that by the end of the month, I would have a bit of Dolly’s Moderna in me. Returning to some small pleasures passed through my mind. The discount Tuesday movie could return to its rightful place. Excursions outside and being in close proximity to people would be safe to do. Other than that, I have not made grandiose plans. I have not planned a vacation or a visit with friends. I have not had a dance of jubilation or posted on social media. I am simply sitting here letting go of fear.

Today I got my second COVID-19 vaccine shot. Tomorrow, I start to remember how to live.

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