On Wednesday, I finally got shot #1.
In common with many locations, my city is not getting NEARLY enough vaccine to accommodate demand. Given the supply we’re currently receiving, by my calculations, it will take us until WELL into the fall to vaccinate everyone who wants to be vaccinated.
The city is running a preregistration system with a lottery, and when your group comes up, you get included in the pool. And I was preregistered, but as someone who is NOT a senior, NOT an essential worker, and has no pre-existing conditions, all I could think was: “Some unlucky person is going to be last in line, and I’m betting it will be me.”
Thankfully, one of our neighboring locales scored a FEMA mass vaccination site, and their local leaders decided to open it to anyone because, to quote them: “It’s a federal resource.”
Hence, shot 1 of the Pfizer vaccine (thank you Ugur Sahin, Ozlem Tureci, Joe Biden FEMA, and Larry Hogan).
So now, we wait.
My spouse, who does have pre-existing, got J&J a few weeks ago, but we had decided before either of us had even scheduled an appointment that there would be no behavioral changes from our past 15 months of lockdown until BOTH of us were at max immunity. An additional complicating factor is that we podded with another couple last fall, and one of our foursome has still had no luck scheduling an appointment, so her comfort level sets the rules for all of us until then.
The thing is, even when my immunity kicks in in mid-May and our fourth is vaccinated, we’re not just going to be able to jump right back into our pre-pandemic life. For one, lots of things are still closed, or only partially opened.
But there’s also anxiety to deal with.
My spouse was chatting with his mom, who is in her mid-80s, last night, and, as he reported: “I think the pandemic is REALLY getting to her at this point.” She’s not a big traveler or arts patron or anything like that, but she was, prior to COVID, a very active volunteer (library, Audubon Society), active in her church, and a dedicated member of a book club. Without access to all that, she’s struggled with feeling a lack of purpose. But she’s also now struggling with fear of resuming those activities. She’s not alone.
I suspect, when the rubber meets the road, a surprising amount of us are going to find ourselves in the same boat. I haven’t eaten – even outdoors – at a restaurant in over a year. I haven’t gotten on a plane in over a year. I haven’t been to the theater, or to hear live music, or to the gym, in over a year. I haven’t been in someone’s house (other than our podmates) – or had someone in mine (same) – in over a year.
Right now, spouse and I are talking about things like what restaurant do you want to go to and what destination do you want to pick and whatnot, and it’s all still kind of theoretical, since I don’t even want to schedule anything until I hit that mid-May date, just in case. But it’s also bringing up some anxiety for me.
We’re all going to need to make a plan for, as the Washington Post reported this week, “exposure therapy.” It’s going to require things like being honest with ourselves about our own anxiety levels, having open conversations with friends and family about what we are – and aren’t – comfortable with, setting priorities, making some concrete plans, and realizing that there’s some potential unpleasantness ahead that we’re just going to have to push through.
Which is kind of hard to deal with, to be honest. Many of us have spent the past year pining for the things we miss and picturing ourselves running out, all Mary Tyler Moore arms open wide, to embrace our lives once again.
The reality might – probably will – look very different. And it’s important to be compassionate and patient with ourselves and our loved ones as we work through that.
Image by user SCOTTMLIDDELL, RGBStock
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