This is the face of vaccine anxiety. Not a covid-denier or anti-vaxxer—simply, vaccine anxiety. Now please don’t just come at me with facts, figures and stats like anxiety can be reasoned with. Trust me, I’ve tried to help it see the rational side of the argument. Things like, the science, the numbers and the risk vs. reward. Or how about the fact that I’ve been vaccinated my entire life without a single issue. You might think all that would calm the anxiety but it prefers to plug its ears, close its eyes and say “la la la, I can’t hear you” over and over again.
While I have skipped a social event or two (or a dozen) after getting myself in a panic, and I may or may not have redone grade eight after dropping out entirely the first time, my rational brain does often edge out the anxious competition ever so slightly and win the argument. I’ve never skipped a flight because of what I consider to be the very likely chance my plane will fall out of the sky and I still swim in the ocean even though I’m convinced the sharks are waiting for me to come in the water. And, I got vaccinated last week, despite the fear-mongering rhetoric flowing from the anxious side of the brain like verbal diarrhea saying “you’ve been the one-in-a-milliion before”.
No, I didn’t want to be another statistic. I’ve thrown my family into an upheaval of worry before and I really didn’t want to do it again. But, I made the choice to do it and wrote something which I titled “My Anxious Path To Vaccination.” I wanted to share that my journey to vaccination was filled not with joy or tears of sweet relief, but with anxiety—and fuelled by wine. I was going to share it after I was home with my “I’m Vaccinated” sticker and a glass of wine that I earned. However, things went a little sideways. See below to see how my anxiety maybe won this round.
This is how it went down:
- Spend weeks pretending you don’t have to make a decision because you’re young and not yet eligible. Do this while watching your husband, parents, in-laws, friends and siblings all get vaccinated without issue.
- Register for the vaccine notification only after you are well into a bottle of sauvignon blanc.
- Pretend not to see the text that comes in a week later that says you are now free to go forth and book your appointment.
- Receive a reminder text to book your appointment after drinking two glasses of pinot gris that lower your anxiety just enough to pick a date two weeks in the future.
- Spend the next two weeks agonizing over all of the reasons you should and should not cancel.
- Cancel the appointment the night before because your breath keeps catching in your chest and you want to vomit.
- Feel your anxiety do a 180 and fuel your instant regret. Spend the next several hours feeling guilty.
- Reschedule the next morning for that night so your husband can come with you and hold your hand because you’re a child.
- 9. Get the shot. You barely feel it and your anxiety quickly dissolves as it always does because the lead-up is always the worst part. Scroll your phone while you wait your just-in-case 15 minutes.
Pick up a bottle of rosé (because you’re not actually a child) and go home to resume life as usual.
Feel your tongue start to swell and lose the ability to swallow.
- Move to an observation curtain where two doctors and a nurse decide you are having an allergic reaction and administer EPI into your leg. Look at your husband in disbelief and say “Is this actually happening right now?”
- Be pushed on a stretcher past all of the lovely people getting vaccinated, ensuring they have a story to tell when they get home. Transfer into the back of an ambulance and manage not to have a PTSD moment
- Sit in emergency for four hours complaining that you were supposed to be watching the Friends reunion special with afore mentioned bottle of Rosé.
- Make it home by 2AM, sans wine, and fall into bed. Wake up to the biggest three hugs anyone ever had ever and assure your children, again, that you are totally OK.
- Spend most of the day on the couch, send everyone to bed early and, finally, have a glass, or two, of the rosé you most definitely earned.
I did the math on it:
3 bottles of wine
3 weeks of anxiety
2 vaccine appointments
1 actual vaccine
1 shot of EPI
1 ambulance ride
4 hours in the emergency room
+ 1 spectacular IV induced bruise
1 partially vaccinated version of me
The rational side of my brain does not regret going for the vaccination, but the anxious side of it is fully gloating, saying “I told you so”. But, in the end, the process worked. I stayed the 15 minutes and the reaction was caught and dealt with. While I will most likely remain a half-vaccinated member of society, I can’t say I didn’t try.