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Life Lessons

The COVID Vaccine’s Side Effects Were No Match For My Steel-Trap Mind And Columnist’s Body (This Time Around, Anyway)

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To begin with, science is good, especially when it is correctly applied for good. You know, like when people are contracting a virus we all had been warned for years was coming and we all heeded the people who know about it and took the precautions they suggested and didn’t end up spending an entire year trapped in our own dwellings and watching that exciting new game show, Piles Of Grandparents.

Thus, your humble and irritating author did all the things you’re supposed to do in this pandemic: Mask up, wash up, distance up, and maintain what passes for vigilance until there’s a vaccine to lower the odds of getting the cooties. When the vaccine notification arrived from the invisible pixies in the county’s IT office, I was ready for the next step in winning one for science and beating back the puddles of gray liquid that comprise the anti-vaccine community.

Then in an act of predictive bastardy, science lied to me, at least a little bit. I still think science is a smarter way to deal with medical issues than wombat entrails or whatever the anti-vaxx crowd thinks is better, but there has been damage. Now I doubt not only the safety of online banking but even the existence of Planet X.

I had been told by others, by personal research, and even by television chat show zombies (which is all of them, trust me on this) that the aftereffects of the first jab were much easier than the second one, so I blithely headed off to the Oakland Coliseum parking lot with my paperwork and confirmation code, trying to make out whatever extraterrestrial messages were being sent me by NBA Radio as I meandered through the line. Within 25 minutes I had been jabbed, promised a FEMA volunteer I would bring her a beer my second visit, done the 15 minute hot-walk (sitting in my car waiting for dismissal), and went home. Couldn’t have been easier; I even thought about going back to get my second one on a to-go basis.

Eight hours later, I left my body because my body was flipping me off. Not only did the injection site hurt like Stalin’s worst mood, my neck and other shoulder and arm felt like Avni Yildirim after the Canelo Alvarez fight. Plus, as a special added bonus for all that conscientiousness, my chest hurt like the way you imagine it would just before you code, go room temperature and end up on the living room mantelpiece in an opaque Tupperware. As I explained to my long-enduring bride, who deserves to hit nine Power Balls in the next life for not killing me in my sleep in this one, it would be just my luck to beat COVID and stiff anyway, and she rewarded my observational skills with a look like I owed her six months’ back rent.

That lasted another eight hours or so, and only a frantic call to a physician and my daughter’s medical-degree-level watch monitoring my blood pressure, blood oxygen level, pulse, and speed of organ rejection prevented me from updating the will to exclude the family dog, who is Tottenham Hotspurs–level overrated. I was going to be fine, or as fine as someone who treats his body like an abandoned Rambler can be. I just had to wait the sucker out. That took two days. Fun was not had.

But enough pitiable whingeing about not dying. The point here was, science told me the second jab would almost certainly come with even worse side effects (what, like a prolapsed face or my feet melting in my shoes?), so I spent the next three weeks considering the worst-case scenarios and multiplying by the value of pi. This was surely going to advance the level of suck to the point where my last earthly memory would be the first five minutes of Texas Southern–Mount Saint Mary’s, and that’s a hellscape nobody should see in the rearview mirror before the car goes off the bridge.

So I was told to take the day off work by my wife. I was told to drink eight glasses of water by my daughter, who works for the camel lobby. I was told to take Vitamin C and Vitamin D by the fistfuls by my son. They did everything but buy pallets of bubble wrap and paintcans of CBD oil. If I was heading for checkout, it wouldn’t be on their heads. I chalked that off to their fear of legal liability, since none of them are interested in any of the stuff I own.

Instead, nothing. Not a wince at the shot, no dizziness, no lesion festivals, nothing. No side effects at all. Mardi Gras in my innards, bow to stern. I endured no pain, no discomfort, and all four play-in games, all of it a cruel joke played upon me by Big Lab Coat, which had made me a figure of fun for its own petty amusements. I wondered if the parking lot nursing staff had replaced my Pfizer vaccine with one from Fisher-Price.

It is a day later now, and I still have no deleterious effects from the dreaded Second Syringe Syndrome, and I am now a member of the Invulnerability League Of America, right between Mark Cuban and Martian Manhunter. I got my crud in the wrong order, though, and someone at BLC will have to pay for my three-week angstfest. Sure, I’m good to go against COVID, but at what cost? We may never know. I mean, you should get the shot anyway so that your friends won’t look at you as the idiot you would be if you refused, but know that your immediate results may vary. Long-term, you’ll be better for it, and that’s whether you deserve it or not.