Hi all! Here’s a little bit of background for newcomers to my blogs…
In 2018 I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgins Lymphoma (blood cancer) and treated with a short sharp dose of radiotherapy. A life changing experience in many ways. Although I have been well since, the type of cancer I had and the fact that it was fairly recent meant that the government classified me as Clinically extremely vulnerable and recommend I shield when the COVID-19 pandemic began last March. I have worked from home since, not seeing a single colleague in the flesh for almost a full year.
You can read more about my experience of shielding here. In many ways it has been one of the hardest experiences of my life but has also taught me about valuing the little things that we so easily take for granted. A hug from a friend, a trip to the shops, a family day out. Also, as I mention in my shielding blog something about being called vulnerable has never sat comfortably with me and has caused me to make a massive overhaul of my lifestyle and health and exercise has been the main thing to carry me through this difficult time.
I have done a lot of soul searching about whether to get vaccinated. Ultimately there were two reasons I decided to go for it. The first is purely selfish. My mental health, self-care, relationships, and ability to parent have been tested in the last year, sometimes almost to breaking point. The second is because it is in my opinion the responsible thing to do for others, the same reason I wear a mask.
The fear of how something might affect my health is not new to me. I have had to learn to live with the fear of my cancer returning and in the past year I have had the fear of Covid-19, along with the added worry of being told I am more likely to become severely ill if I catch it. At this point for me personally there is no route that is without fear. Ultimately, I have chosen to trust what professionals and my own healthcare team are advising I do.
When the letter came offering me the vaccine I booked with cautious optimism. I was nervous about what to expect both on the day and afterwards. How would I feel, would I react badly to it? Would I feel unwell? Would it hurt?
I booked my vaccine for 10:15 on a Saturday Morning at the Royal Cornwall Showground.
When I arrived, my car was stopped at several checkpoints. Friendly stewards who were volunteering in the freezing cold directed me to park my car. I arrived early at 10am but was sent straight in. It took place in a massive marquee, which on that day was dramatically flapping in 50mph winds!
The first person I met asked me to put on hand sanitiser and swap my own mask for a surgical one. The second checked me in on an iPad and remarked how young I was (she is my new best friend). I then stood and talked to a nurse about my general wellness and whether I had any allergies. I am allergic to dust and several types of antibiotic, not requiring an EpiPen, all which she said was fine. I was also given leaflets about what to expect afterwards.
The injection didn’t hurt but I immediately felt a heavy sensation in that arm. I was back in my car by 10:15, where I was asked to wait for 15 mins to check I was feeling OK. In these 15 minutes I felt physically fine but experienced a huge and unexpected surge of emotion. My overwhelming feeling was one of relief. A small chink of hope and a light at the end of a very long tunnel. For the first time in almost a year I felt like this hell will come to an end. This will pass.
That afternoon I felt extremely tired and I spent the next day on the sofa with what I can only describe as flu like symptoms. My arm hurt a lot, which is of course not helped by living with a 5-year-old who thinks I’m a sofa or a climbing frame! It took me a few days to get my energy back to full and my arm is still a little sore. I’ve heard of many people having these side effects or worse and many others that have none at all. To me it has felt worth it.
I’m not telling you my account to convince you either way but in the hopes that my honesty will help you with this very personal decision. Also, I hope that if you do decide to get vaccinated, knowing what to expect will make the experience easier for you.
It is such a personal choice and whatever you decide, stay safe, stay strong and stay kind – Terrie