A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, I tried with tireless effort to find someone to take pity on me and give me a COVID-19 booster shot. Somebody. Anybody? The wild adventure took me for a bumpy ride.
One spectacular day went like this:
While I approached a long line at a pharmacy, I asked myself, “Are you sure you want to get the Moderna booster?”
I didn’t react to the two prior Pfizer vaccinations. Barely had a sore arm. What if I can’t move for two days, or I’m the anomaly — like always — and it takes a week to recover? What if I never recover? What if data released years from now shows that patients should have stuck to their original vaccines? Should I mix or match?
And worse, what if the pharmacist asks me to provide information to prove I’m eligible? Oh, God. Can I look the pharmacist in the eye and lie? I don’t have any medical issues or a job that puts me at risk.
At that point, I had quietly told myself to shut the hell up. Just lie! You need to be healthy for Thanksgiving when your entire family arrives. Are you afraid the CDC will look up your form and throw you in jail? The voice in my head can be relentless.
Customers shuffled toward the prescription drop-off window. Waiting for each person to fill out forms seemed like an eternity. Their cheerful banter slowed the process. I shifted my weight and compulsively checked updates on social media to distract me, even though I checked so frequently, hardly anything changed.
When the customer ahead of me finished, the pharmacist locked eyes with me.
I cleared my throat. “Do you have the Moderna booster?”
“Yes,” she said and took my driver’s license and COVID card. She studied it. Then she studied me with resting grumpy scowl. “You’re not old enough.”
It had been a long time since I’d heard those words.
“Are you immunocompromised, or do you work with a lot of people?”
This was when my entire body went rigid. I broke out in flop sweat. Could I do it? I swallowed hard as a million responses raced through my head.
And out of ONE MILLION, I could only utter this:
“My husband works in real estate, so I’m at risk for infection.” By now, my core temperature was at Death Valley level.
In a very loud, clear, and aggravated voice, she said, “You’re not eligible!” Yes, I included the exclamation point since she could be heard in the back of the store in the meat department. I swear to you — she shouted these words.
While walking away, I was almost in tears. Why couldn’t I lie like everybody else?
I felt like Jim Carrey in Liar Liar. But if that were true, I would have called her on her rudeness:
I would have said, “I realize you get people like me all day long, but there are better ways to handle us,” or, “In your profession, it shouldn’t be hard to be nice to people. Smile. It won’t kill you. I promise.” Or the in-your-face approach, which I have never tried in my entire life, “You don’t have to be such a bitch about it.” I have never called anyone a bitch to their face yet.
Why didn’t I tell her I had cancer? I did have cancer — eight years ago. She probably would have asked if I was currently going through chemo or radiation. I avoided both by having double boobectomies. She seemed like the type who would have asked for proof.
After trying two more pharmacies with similar results, I gave up.
Low and behold, the day before my mom, my son, Kelly, and his fiancé, Leksy, flew in (so many commas), I woke up with post-nasal drip and swollen glands.
Something steamrolled me.
One time I didn’t wear a mask in public, but that had happened twenty-four hours before — too soon for symptoms. Maybe I was psychosomatic. In any case, I took so many Cold-Eze, I could barely taste anything. Oh, no. That’s one of the symptoms of COVID.
Visions of lying under a thick comforter with a thermometer sticking out of the side of my mouth appeared. You get the picture —
I thought about that nasty pharmacist and how I would march in there and say, “See what you did to me?” Like that would never happen.
I drove to Walgreens and bought a COVID rapid-test called BinaxNow. My ADHD brain scampered around as I read through the directions. After sticking the swab up each nostril to my brain, I slipped it between the cardboard and added the testing solution. It reminded me of a pregnancy test.
Two lines would mean the end of my Thanksgiving vacation before it began. I hustled around the kitchen to put my croissants in the oven. I had breathed all over them and had tasted the dough. Had I washed my hands? Would my COVID germs burn off in the oven?
It was the longest fifteen minutes ever.
Only one minus sign appeared. Negative for COVID. YES!
After a quick happy dance around the kitchen, I went back to preparations and decided to be more careful with mask-wearing until I got the booster.
My cold departed as quickly as it arrived, and Thanksgiving was a blast, as usual.
On Monday, the CDC opened up the booster availability to everyone over eighteen. Finally. I freakin’ qualified.
Life returned to normal on Tuesday, and I returned to Resting Grouchy Scowl to get a booster. I would show her.
It surprised me that no one was in line. Maybe Resting Grouchy Scowl scared everyone away.
“Are you here for a COVID shot?” RGS said, more miserably than before.
“Yes. Do you have the Moderna booster?”
“Our pharmacy doesn’t have any Moderna.” She dismissed me by looking away.
As I turned my back, she added, “Other stores might have them.” Maybe there was hope for RGS.
I drove to several other grocery stores, but they were only giving Pfizer shots. Those who had the Moderna booster would only give shots to customers with appointments, and they were already booked into January.
Defeated, I drove home to let my fingers do the walking and called around.
The King Soopers in Longmont had a fabulous pharmacist.
A happy pharmacist.
A pharmacist whose help seemed effortless, joyful, and triumphant. “We give out the Moderna on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 9:00-10:00, but I would arrive at least fifteen minutes early tomorrow. We are only giving out four shots.”
Tuesday, I got ready as if it were the first day of school. I couldn’t wait for my shot. The nervous anticipation made time slow until it was time to go.
When I rushed through the store to the pharmacy, I took one of the empty seats in front of the locked and gated department. Three pharmacists giggled while preparing to open for walk-ins. Their chill vibe relaxed me. I no longer worried about getting the Moderna shot. I would survive it and would be pretty dang resilient by Christmas. I wouldn’t have to freak out at least for six months.
One of the happy pharmacists met me in a private room and agreed that Moderna had been more effective in preventing break-through cases. BUT she warned me that it caused more of a reaction. “Get ready for a fever and some body aches, and your arm will be pretty sore.”
After a quick jab, I hustled back to the car with a spring in my bouncy step.
I rubbed and squeezed my upper arm to get the vaccination to circulate. Back at home, I helicoptered them like a little kid getting ready for takeoff and realized my rotator cuffs pop.
NOTE TO SELF: Alternate leg days with puny arm days.
Hours later, my arm was less sore than when I got the flu shot a couple of weeks ago.
Just wait, I thought. In the middle of the night, it will hit me like a Mack truck, and I’ll be achy and feverish and will want to stay in bed all day.
Nope, in fact, I slept great that night, but I was a little tired the next day and napped for an hour in the afternoon.
Wednesday night, I prepared for a late hit.
I never get up before my husband lets the dog out and makes coffee. I know. I’m totally spoiled rotten to the core.
Thursday, I woke up like a crazed maniac at 5:00 AM!
I made coffee, let the dog out, and watched my very first makeup tutorial courtesy of Adele and Nikkie Tutorials.
Once in a while, I have the opposite reaction to drugs. When the doctor gave me valium before Lasik surgery, it made me hyper, and I couldn’t shut up. Before my double boobectomies, I practically danced around the room until the lights went out. Same thing with my knee.
It’s called a paradoxical reaction — the opposite reaction to drugs.
But, lots of people had mild reactions to the booster. The Moderna booster is only half a dose. The Pfizer is a full dose since it wasn’t as effective as Moderna.
Did I make the right decision to mix shots? Who knows? Too late now.
Maybe a year from now, I’ll wake up with a new superpower!
I will develop a mega-brain with all kinds of new ideas, or imagine a place and have the ability to teleport myself. My body will stop aging and build muscle more easily, so I can become a world-class adventurer. I would travel to the highest peaks, scuba to the lowest depths, and have energy for more.
While I wait for my superpowers to kick in, I figure it’s better to be boostered by something through the holidays.
So, get your booster when it’s available. If you don’t qualify, go ahead and lie. I won’t judge you.
I wish you, your friends, and your family healthy holidays and a helluva better New Year!
Don’t worry. I’ll be back. I started sketching my annual Christmas card today. It’s a doozy! Does anyone say that anymore? Spellcheck recognized it.
Have you gotten your booster? Waiting for more data? Hitting the party circuit or staying quiet this holiday season? Which superpower would you be stoked to have?