About a month ago or so, I finally got my text message saying that it was my turn to get the first Pfizer vaccine. Here in Iceland, basically when its our turn they let us know, and there are certain groups that are getting the shot first like the elderly and chronically ill etc. The months leading up to that text message, Ive been bombarded by posts of scaremongering about said vaccine. Anti vaxxers are losing their minds about it. Not only that, people who did receive the vaccine posting about how horrible it was, how sick they became, stuff like that. Ill admit its partly my fault that I kept paying attention to those posts… but it certainly didnt help my anxiety one bit. Anxiety sucks like that, you know you shouldn’t subject yourself to it but being so anxious tends to fuel the need to learn more about it. Its weird. Very often while going through an episode, I know how ridiculous I might be acting but I literally cannot do anything to stop it. My brother, who’s usually around for my anxiety and panic attacks, just kinda goes “yea it sucks,” or kinda laughs as I yell “THIS IS SO STUPID I HATE MY BRAIN!” Which is fine, hes super chill about it and really the only one that doesnt push my anxiety levels up by trying to help in a manner that actually never helps. All of that is beside the point. What was my point? Oh, right. I was so anxious about the vaccine by the time it was my turn I could barely function. I freaked when my phone alerted me that I had an appointment, so much, in fact, that by the time I actually got to the appointment I was exhausted.
My brother drove me to the appointment (he waited outside), which was at a gymnasium type place. The line was really long. So I had to walk a ways. I assumed that oh no, this is going to take forever, since the line was so long, but we were all ushered in rather quickly. We followed arrows on the floor into a room that had chairs lined up throughout. I sat somewhere in the middle. So we are all sat there, waiting, and a row of nurses with carts are standing at the front. Then someone yells “Áfram!” (which means forward! But I kept thinking of it as Onward! which was funnier.) And the nurses then move to give the first shot. Then they wait. And someone again yells “Onward!” and they move up one more and give a shot. This was funny enough to help me relax a little at least. So its my turn eventually, and the nurse asked if I was nervous, I said yes while thinking it was the understatement of the century. I didnt feel the shot at all. Then we had to sit there for ten to fifteen minutes, during which my anxiety was basically honing in on every tiny little thing I was feeling physically, expecting to react to the vaccine right then and there. Thanks a lot, Internet. But yea no, I was fine. On the way home I was retelling it to my bro in a very very dramatic way, with interludes of “Fuck anxiety…” followed by loud sighs before continuing.
The only side effect I had from the first shot was a really sore arm. I couldn’t sleep on it. And I think that soreness might have been worse than expected due to fibromyalgia. Anytime I hurt myself it tends to spread because of fibro and jump starts a flare up.
The thing about being chronically ill is that the side effects listed are basically things we already deal with on a regular basis. So often times its difficult to know if something is a side effect or just the illness. I also think that because I deal with said issues on a regular basis, the side effects were not that bad really because its something Im used to. So when the second shot came around (a few days ago) it also wasnt that bad. I noticed that I was more tired than the day before, and the headache that lasted all day wasnt that different from my usual headaches. I felt like you do when you know the flu is about to hit you, like the very beginning. You can feel that achyness and its like oh shit, I think Im getting sick. That is a regular thing when you’re chronically ill. So I couldn’t tell if it was side effects or fibro. And then it hit me, for someone who is not chronically ill, safe effects like that probably feel really really bad. Because its not their normal, so naturally they’ll react to it like it was horrible. And this is something that didnt occur to me when I was reading said posts that sent me into an anxiety spiral leading up to the first vaccine.
I came across a post some time ago that said something along the lines of when you’re chronically ill you forget that healthy people exist. Because you’ve been sick so long you cant even imagine what its like to just do things without having to think about whether or not it will make it impossible to do another thing later that day. Like okay,, yea, Im aware that healthy people exist, obviously, but the idea or the concept of being healthy is so alien now that its nearly impossible to imagine. Just writing this post is causing pain in my hands, wrists, shoulders, back and neck, which is giving me one hell of a headache.
So yea, the whole point is that the shot wasnt even that bad. The first one makes your arm sore, the second one makes you tired, gives a headache, the arm sore again but not as much as the first time. Other side effects are fever, nausea, general feeling icky for a day. So if you are not allergic, getting the shot is not a big deal at all. Dont fall for the scare mongering you see online about the vaccines. Protect yourself and your loved ones by getting vaccinated.