Getting Vaccinated Was a Major Mental Hurdle to Clear
Last Wednesday, I received my second and final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Because I have sickle cell disease, I was among the first groups of people contacted to receive the vaccine due to my high risk of negative outcomes from the novel coronavirus.
I know many people in my community who remain skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccine and are hesitant to get it. I was, too, for a while, but after doing my own research, I decided that getting it was best for me, and the risk of potential side effects was worth the protection it provides.
After the first dose, the only symptom I experienced was soreness in my arm around the injection site. The soreness lasted about a week. I had hoped it would be the same the second time around, but unfortunately, I was wrong.
A few hours after my second dose, I began experiencing a headache and body aches. I felt weak, so I took painkillers, made sure I was warm enough, and went to bed. I felt the same symptoms for a few hours the next morning, but as I became more active during the day, they began to dissipate, and I felt more like my usual self.
When thinking about my perception of the coronavirus and the lockdown we had here in the U.K. in early 2020, I realize that things have changed pretty drastically since then. At the beginning of the pandemic, when the world was watching the virus spread in Asia, I was apprehensive and didn’t know what to expect when it eventually ended up on this side of the world.
Fear sets in
As I listened to news reports of a few people coming down with COVID-19 in England, the fear started to set in. I feared the unknown, and believed the lack of accurate information about the coronavirus, and my vulnerability to it, would result in the worst outcome.
That fear led me to shelter at home before it was even “a thing.” My fear of leaving the house was so deeply ingrained that at one point, I was too scared to take the garbage bins to the front of my house. On the way to essential doctors’ appointments, I was too scared to roll down the car windows.
I look back at those moments now and laugh. It may seem excessive, but at the time, I thought those precautions were necessary.
The first time I left my house to do something unrelated to appointments was when I went for a walk at the end of May. It felt liberating after being cooped up for so long.
But it wasn’t until August that I started to leave the house more frequently, due to a new job I had started. I began to relax more with the idea of leaving the house, as each time I left and came back, I was fine. I was convinced that by continuing to take precautions, I would be able to minimize the risk.
With the vaccine, I have become more relaxed. Leaving the house is starting to feel normal again — well, a “new normal,” I suppose, due to the extra precautions I still take, which include wearing a mask and social distancing. Regardless, I feel increasingly comfortable every time I leave the house, each time more shops and services open up, and as more people get vaccinated.
Now, I look forward to the day when I can leave my mask at home!
Note: Sickle Cell Anemia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Anemia News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell anemia.