COVID-19 Vaccination - I Got It. Here's What Happened...

Thursday, February 27, 2020, to Friday, April 23, 2021

421 quasi house arrest harrowing fear-fueled days and nights, and I didn’t even commit a crime.

On Friday, April 23rd at noon, I breathed for the very first time since COVID-19 hit my corner of the planet.

February 27th I remember well. I shouldn’t have, as it was not a special day, but it was the last day I went outside into my world, shopping, and carefree, without a mask and a fear of dying.

You see, my fear rests deeper than most.

On December 12, 2011, I suffered a pulmonary embolism — a blood clot in the lungs — that the head doctor of my hospital said was “the mother of all blood clots,” the largest clot ever seen in a patient in the history of that hospital. I had virtually no blood pressure and was given tPA — tissue Plasminogen Activator, in layman’s terms, a massive clot buster med, that makes you hemorrhage from every orifice in your body to quickly dissolve the deadly clot — and a 50% chance at survival. Both of my lungs collapsed, the left side of my heart collapsed, and I was put into a coma and on a ventilator, as I was unable to breathe for myself. So, you see, I know a thing or two about ventilators and living on a razor’s edge.

I miraculously survived that PE. A teenager in my same city experienced the same clot that year, and she died. Doctors said it may have been from all my years of competitive swimming that made my body damn hard to kill, even at 47.

Ten doctors tried, but failed, to find the cause for the clot, as I had zero symptoms or catalysts. It just happened, and I just happened to survive, thanks in great measure to the incredible doctors in Calgary, and to Canada’s wonderful healthcare system. I was literally given a second chance at life. But I was left with a narrowed airway from being intubated for so long, so my ability to fill my lungs, which came out of that attack virtually undamaged, is permanently hampered, and I fight to breathe every day, on a good day, without a respiratory pandemic floating around.

Hence, after February 27, 2020, I was basically housebound. Getting COVID-19 could very well be a death sentence for me, so I stayed at the house to stay alive. On that last shopping trip, I had bought a decorative pillow with a word embroidered on it. You need to know I am not the type to buy things like this, especially things with words. The embroidery on the pillow simply read,

My providential pillow...

 How utterly providential, for how could anyone of us know that in the year to come it would be that social grouping that would grieve so much and heal so much through its very fight to exist?

Like all of you great earthlings out there, I had to throttle back life expectations and adopt a new normal for myself. Luckily for me, I’m a writer, so I spend a lot of time inside my head. I don’t need much outside stimulus to keep me centered.

But I’d be lying to you if I said these last 421 days have been easy. They have not. There’s been a roller-coaster of emotions, from crying jags to anger to just plain muted fear, resulting from confusion and doubt, and an unknown future.


American Chemical Society

I knew all I could do was patiently wait for the world’s gifted epidemiologists to formulate a vaccine to save us all. And while others went shopping or dined out or even gathered in groups inside and outside, I stayed home in isolation, and I waited…

But that isolation gave me a chance to study the vaccine science. No, not social media blurbs about quasi-science or hearsay gossip, the actual peer-reviewed data on mRNA vaccines — what they are, what they do, and what they don’t do in terms of harming people. Since Day One, I’ve never had a doubt about the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. I just had to stay healthy and alive long enough for it to be my turn at the needle… 421 days and nights.

Watching the news and seeing the ebb and flow of the global hospitalization rates and death tolls took an emotional toll on me, too. I knew what it was like to be on a ventilator. I was conscious for part of it. I knew the terror of not being able to breathe on my own, to have an airway and feeding tubes down my throat, to not be able to talk or eat or even drink, living solely on liquid nourishment piped directly into my stomach. I never want to be put on a ventilator again despite the fact that it was that very device which saved me.

So, I came into this pandemic with a specific game plan: stay away from close contact with people to stay alive. To do any other thing could bring death, and the way I saw it, I’d be lousy company anyway if I were dead. I had to sacrifice big, now, to live fully, later, and there could be no deviation from this plan. None.

COVID-19 Fatigue? Nope. Not for me.

Dinners out with friends? Nuh-uh.

Strolling through malls? Not gonna happen.

It wouldn’t matter if I had a mental meltdown. I could never deviate from the plan. This was my personal war, and I had to win every battle.

Does my plan sound harsh? Weird? Impossible to accomplish? Maybe. But there was no negotiation. I had to sit tight, keep healthy, adjust my expectations to control my emotions, and wait for the science to catch up to my body.

When my eligibility came up, I put myself on two pharmacy waitlists and made an appointment for May 12th with a third. Whichever popped first would be the one I’d take, cancelling the other two. May 12th seemed so far away, and the COVID-19 variants were ramping up. I truly wondered who would win the race — variant infection or my vaccine?

Then a text message beeped on my phone. On Monday, April 19th, I was notified a spot was open for me for that Friday. I jumped at the chance, registered on the spot, and patiently waited, yet again, for Friday to come. Those five days were the longest days of my life. I purposely kept busy writing, working around the house, so I wouldn’t go mad counting the seconds as they so laboriously ticked by.

Then Friday came. Holy cow, it was truly here!

I readied myself and drove to the pharmacy, arriving on time. With a double mask, I entered the drugstore, made my presence known, and waited to be called. Sitting socially distanced in the waiting room, every second again laboriously passed. Never once did I fear the vaccine. My fear lay with those 421 days of having an immune system that had no defense against the ravages of COVID-19 (Note: I took the Moderna shot. My doctors said I could not chance another blood clot with the AstraZeneca).

The pharmacist came out and called my name. I went into his mini surgery, hopped up on the examination table, and he talked with me a while about my condition. Then as I removed my sweater and lifted the left shirt sleeve, he told me to breathe in. There was a slight prick, and as I breathed out, he filled my arm with the life-saving serum. He applied a circular Band-Aid, instructed me on any side effects I might experience and what to do if they occurred. He told me I would be called sometime in June for my second dose, barring any vaccine delivery delays. He handed me a prescription slip as proof of my dose, and after a 15-minute stay in the waiting room to see if I had any immediate adverse reaction, I was out the door to a brand-new future filled far more with happiness and hope than fear and doubt. I was so utterly happy, I couldn’t even cry happy tears. Before I left the drug store, I profusely thanked the pharmacist for all he and his global colleagues were doing, to risk their own lives to save ours.

All the way home, I kept giggling like I had drunk an entire bottle of champagne, celebrating New Year’s Day, and, of course, for me, April 23, 2021, became New Year’s Day. Day One at my second chance at life. How lucky can one human being be?

Over the weekend, the upper part of my left arm was a bit sore, a feeling similar to muscle pain after working out. I remained a wee bit tired throughout the weekend, so I didn’t fight the feeling. I rested, and got decent night’s sleeps. I had an ever so slight twinge of a headache that never really took hold, so I didn’t even take a Tylenol. And beyond that, no adverse side effects at all.

I signed up to be a part of a national survey to let virologists/epidemiologists know of my physical reaction to taking the vaccine. Doing so is my tiny way of giving back to the multitudes of scientists around the world who worked around the clock to give me the gift of life.

Two weeks from April 23rd, I will achieve 52% immunity from COVID-19 with the Moderna vaccine. At that time, I will be able to go out shopping for essentials with my double mask and keeping my distance from others. Two weeks after my 2nd dose, I will achieve 94% immunity, and then I can be around others who have had both doses, too.

I can wait.

I can patiently wait.

After 421 days of waiting, I’m pretty darn good at this waiting game.

In this interval, I can breathe in the gratitude I feel for all humanity.

In this interval, I can send positive thoughts to those who have been afflicted with COVID-19, who at this very moment are fighting to breathe themselves and remain alive on those life-saving ventilators. Survivor’s guilt lingers in me when I think of those we have already lost, but it’s also been the impetus for me to publish my story, to convince others to take the vaccine, so the world can begin to save more lives than it loses.

Four days after my shot, I remain in home confinement.

I continue to find joy and contentment in the little things that happen all around me in my little world… most especially my ability to breathe in and breathe out, and the wonder I feel as that miraculous vaccine swirls inside my body, readying its forces to protect me against any COVID-19 attack. With each healthy inhalation, I’m reminded I have been given another chance to see blue skies and hear birds sing and feel God’s kiss of life on my cheeks as a gentle springtime breeze. I am abundant in my isolation.

Be afraid of the Covid-19 disease.

Never be afraid of the Covid-19 vaccines.

Read up on the science to eliminate your Fear of the Unknown.

And once you do, and your eligibility comes up, register for your shot.

And do it freely, happily, joyously, for that day will be your new New Year’s Day.

You will save your life and the lives of all others who come in contact with you. What could be greater than that?


This was what happened to me at noontime, Friday April 23rd, 2021.

I have been physically and spiritually uplifted every second of every minute ever since.

Get your shot, and you will be, too.