Joseph Farley

Side Effects

No one likes a needle.

No one.

Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

When the Co-Vid 19 vaccine came out I was skeptical.  I saw various reports on the news and read more on the internet. There were legitimate questions about how fast it had been developed and how it had been rolled out.  There were credible reports of side effects. Flu like symptoms for a few days seemed common, especially after the second shot. A small percentage of people experienced hemorrhaging. Some deaths had been reported. There were also less credible reports, gossip really, about a myriad of other possible complications.

I weighed the facts. What were the risks to myself and those I loved? What were the potential benefits?  Not just to myself, but for others. Getting vaccinated does not just protect the individual. It also protects those around you. The people you love and haven’t been able to be around. I decided to get vaccinated. 

I put my name on the county list of people who wanted to get vaccinated. I waited for my turn. When I got the text message saying I was eligible I filled out the required forms online and scheduled my first shot. 

I went to the local convention center. FEMA staff and Marine medics were there. After a short wait in line I received my jab.  When I got home there was some swelling in my arm and some pain in the bone.  A few hours later all my joints started to ache. The swelling and pain diminished over the next 24 hours. Then the itching started. I kept scratching my skin. Then I noticed the hair. Hair growing where no hair had been before. Hair growing longer and longer. Facial changes. Nails growing. 

I took a razor and shaved what I could. I clipped my nails. I may have looked okay but I did not feel right. I called out from work and went to bed. I slept the entire day. I worked briefly in the evening, but was only awake long enough to check the time and notice the long hair on my hands before falling asleep again.

When I next awoke the sun was coming up. I was curled up like a baby under a large bush. I had no memory of leaving my bed let alone leaving my house.  My pajamas were torn. There was chill in the air. It was late spring, not the best time to sleep outdoors.  I got up off the ground and realized I was barefoot. Looking around I saw trees and a swing set overgrown with vines. 

I recognized the swing set. It was all that remained for small playground in a municipal park a half a mile from my home. The playground had been built in the 1960s but funding for its maintenance had disappeared from the local budget soon after its construction. Over the years weeds, bushes, trees, trash and abandoned shopping carts had taken over space where children had once played. It was now a spot for teenage beer parties on Friday nights, and a place where drug addicts could shoot up and nap until chased by the police.

I was familiar with the paths in the park. I knew which one would lead to the street. I started down the path and spotted the half eaten carcass of a rabbit. I did not have time to process all this at the time. I was focused on getting home. I ran, ducking behind parked cars and shrubbery whenever I heard the sound of an engine. 

The front door was open when I got home. I went inside and locked the door.  Nothing seemed to be missing. There had been no robbery, but the sheets on my bed were ripped.   I went to the bathroom to shower.  I glanced in the mirror and saw bits of fur stuck between my teeth.

Otherwise I felt fine. There was no signs of excessive hair growth, no itching, and I had my energy back. I showered and dressed and began the long commute to the laptop on my dining room table. Working from home was one of the few benefits to come from the pandemic.  Later I put the torn pajamas and sheets in a trash bag. Sanitation hauled the evidence away.

I had no further problems. My life resumed. Three weeks later I received a reminder in my email that my second shot was scheduled for a certain date and time. 

On the designated date I returned to the convention center. I stood in line and received a second jab from another Marine. 

I had arranged to be off the day after my second jab, to play it safe. I watched for hair and itching. There was none.  There were joint aches, like bad rheumatism. This passed within 36 hours. Then the thirst set in. Right after the sun set. My throat was so dry. I drank glass after glass of water. It did no good. I tried orange juice, iced tea, lemonade, pickle juice, beer, vodka – everything I had to drink in the house. The thirst would not go away. I took a final look in the fridge. I saw something red. Meat. Beef in plastic shrink wrap and foam package. Thawing. Thawed just enough for that red liquid… I poked a finger in the package and drained the liquid into a cup. I drank it. All of it. Melted ice and cold blood. 

It wasn’t much, but it was enough.  The thirst did not go away, but it lessened. I could handle it. I got through the rest of the night. In the morning I was fine. I woke in my bed. The news did not feature any reports of missing persons or pets. I had gotten through the worst of it. Since that night I have not experienced any side effects from the vaccinations. 

My life has returned to almost what it was before the pandemic.  I am seeing friends I have not seen since the pandemic began. I have started traveling, locally, and go out to dine on a regular basis. Next week I’m going to a baseball game with much of my old crew.  This would not have been possible if I had not gotten vaccinated. If I had not received the vaccination I would still be sitting at home watching Netflix and Youtube and complaining about being stuck in the house.

Take it from me. Don’t worry about the side effects. They don’t last. Get your vaccinations. If not for your own safety, then for the rest of us. Help us get out of the “new normal” and back to the “old normal.” Or as close to it as we can.

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