Before last October, I never even had a flu shot. I think my last vaccine was IPV (Polio) 60 years ago. Last weekend I got my booster, and that makes my 8th vaccine in one year! Three Covid shots, two Shingles, two Flu shots and one Pneumonia. I am maxxed out on vax. I am on my last good nerve and antibody. I’ve had it. My right upper arm is permanently sore, and I am tired of checking off the Walgreens’ viral playlist of shots like tetanus, malaria, whooping cough, etc.
I am now an expert on arm injections. I was thrilled when a National Guardsman gave me my first Covid vax last February. But it killed me, and I was black and blue. There is an art to injections and even blood draws (I now have my own phlebotomist come to my home for my annual bloodwork and I have never had a vein collapse yet). It is more than a pinch of the skin or the locale of inner vs outer arm.
So, when I went to Walgreens for my “final” shot of the year (on Halloween) I asked the nurse to do it in my ass or thigh. My one shoulder was achy from a rotator cuff injury and the other is just injection exhausted. She laughed in my face and said, “your butt is off limits, and I am not allowed to shoot your thigh.” I didn’t argue and let her blast my right upper arm one more time and, luckily, she knew how to do it. I was sore in 30 minutes, but that’s a given.
Believe me, I am grateful for Warp Speed (which doesn’t get enough credit). A year ago, I was looking at mortuaries and deciding if I wanted my remains in a cardboard box or a porcelain jar. We’ve come a long way, baby. Vaccines took over our lives in 2021. For better or worse. They became our ticket to ride, and it was all we talked about. But where are we now exactly? Of course, nobody really knew anything then, and they still don’t.
Last week journalist Katherine Eban did a NYT opinion piece “How will we live if Covid is here to stay.” Clearly it is, even as cases decline and vaccinations rise. Dr. Fauci said this month, “It is going to be difficult — in the foreseeable future, and maybe forever — to truly eliminate this highly transmissible virus.” Talk about the ultimate long haul. So, the virus is going to be with us forever? Back to masks and distancing as a way of life. I now want to really look at therapeutics instead of just shots as the only way out.
But I wondered about this as I had my recent Walgreens’ “shooter” sign my vax card on the third line. I asked her, “Will there be a fourth?” Her answer: “Who knows as there is one more line left on the card, so maybe they will create just one big annual serum.” With prayers of no “break-through.” But we all know people who have “broken the barrier.” And no, they didn’t die, or end up in a hospital, but a few did end up struggling with long-term foggy brain and severe body aches.
The vaccines have allowed a few of my pals the freedom (and balls) to go to Dubai for shopping, the Maldives for cruising, and some got to study gorillas in Rwanda on safari. But not me. I simply can’t mask up for longer than 25 minutes.
Standing in line (after constantly Covid testing) in an airport or for a concert is not worth my suffocating discomfort. But that’s about me. Friends raved to me how they “survived” the trip, the show, the exhibition. I don’t want to “survive” (in a mask) and just make it through. I want to thrive and FEEL SAFE to be able to get up and go on any journey without thinking about the pandemic background hanging over me. Maybe I’ll get used to it.
You should read the guidelines Disney World issued “to make your trip the most magical place on earth.” It’s more than masks and sanitizer. “Arrive early, buy souvenirs at home, skip the fireworks, be flexible” and a whole lot of BYO. By the end of the list, I thought you have to be so desperately bored to want to leave your home with your own giant screened Disney Plus channel. And remember, Disney and airlines and most hotels have raised their rates and provide less service. Who hasn’t!
Maybe the word “toxic” has taken over our lives too much. Look at our toxic “air”, toxic culture (offices), toxic relationships, toxic death on film sets, toxic governments — even NFL fans are now being called “toxic” by the players. What does this all mean? Can we get a vaccine for this behavior, let alone one for just plain hate.
Meanwhile, I celebrated this last booster with a little more awareness. I am older and super sensitive, so any injection now results in a reaction. Believe me, I tried Advil, Tylenol, hot salt baths, and more water for the body aches and fatigue. Vaccines don’t care. You’re just kind of down for 8 to 24 hours — forget remedies. Although, it does make you feel great when the symptoms fade. And this last shot was a reminder for me how awful this virus feels. I was getting lax in my hand sanitizer at the gas pumps, and I was letting my mask go below my nose at the bank. I was beginning to believe the pandemic was over (it’s not!). We are just exhausted from everything nowadays.
What we do have is a souvenir and an update on the most important accessory since the handbag — the vax card! What will they be worth in 50 years?
I have also become skilled at post-shot reaction entertainment. For my 8-to-10-hour recovery I have blasted through my backlog of Succession episodes. It is the perfect binge watch choice, as it is about toxicity at its highest, most entertaining level.
Everyone is awful and terrifically dressed and they all use private jets and helicopters like cabs. They go from NYC to Sarajevo without luggage and wear the same clothes for three days without a wrinkle or stain. They also all use the word “fuck” so consistently and creatively it is fascinating. No one wears a mask or mentions Covid. Talk about life in today’s trillionaire bubble. I love it. It feels refreshing — despite the toxicity.
Meanwhile, last week was the “Día de los Muertos” celebration. My dear friend Mirella Caro came to visit me in my booster crash and set up an “Ofrenda” (Day of the Dead altar) in my living room dedicated to my deceased family members (and as of this year — it’s all of them). It was a beautiful process to watch, with flowers, photos, mementos, skeletons — everything joyful, weird, and funny.
This was not a depressing gravesite but a real at-home celebration and creative blessing in a protective kind of way. I am keeping it up permanently, with some changes throughout the year. A remembrance in process. I decided the Día de los Muertos altar was a vaccine for my house and soul.
Anything but another shot!