Vaccinated But Still Frustrated - My Vaccine Experience

 Hey there, its been a while I know. So I thought I'd come back with a bit of a bang, lets get into it.

The last year has been extremely tough on many of us, for all kinds of reasons, the phrase:

"We are all in the same storm, but not the same boat" comes to mind. That is especially the case for many disabled people who are still waiting on vaccines, who are shielding despite the government ending any support, and who are vulnerable but not on any kind of list.

60% of deaths in this pandemic have been disabled people. Let that sink in. 

Disabled people are not collateral damage in this, we are human beings with feelings, families, friends and our lives matter just as much as anyone else. We all have value in society, and we are not 'only the vulnerable'.  This is why it baffles me that people with disabilities have not been prioritised for vaccination in the UK, with the statistics showing that the majority that die from Covid are disabled and doctors asking disabled patients to sign DNR's - should disabled people not have been given some consideration?

Alas, I will keep some of my thoughts on the why's and how's to myself as we don't want to get too political here - but you know where my thoughts lie if you know me.

Funnily enough I've been one of the lucky ones, I've just received my second vaccine. Which is brilliant, but I wasn't given it because of my health or my disability - I received my vaccine because of the job I do. I am thankful to have been vaccinated - but incredibly disappointed that its the only way I'd have gotten any kind of priority with those statistics and with so many disabled people stuck in their homes and scared to catch a virus that will affect us more than most - with lower immune systems, and conditions that will flare up with any kind of illness never mind Covid that ravages the body.

People are saying that the vulnerable have been vaccinated, which when it comes to disabled people this simply isn't true. Some may have had a first vaccine but many haven't had one at all. The list of the 'vulnerable' doesn't begin to cover it, and has changed a fair bit in the last year. Chronic illnesses and disabilities for the most part are excluded and forgotten.

Long Covid is much like a chronic illness too, but the treatment for that seems to have more care and consideration than many of us who have lived with chronic illnesses for years - but that's a whole other story and post isn't it?

The Vaccine

When it comes to the vaccine, when it was first announced I was somewhat sceptical but as I saw the trials go ahead and having been stuck in my house for the best part of a year I decided it would be best for me to get vaccinated. As someone with Asthma and other health conditions it wasn't a hard decision for me, I spent so long afraid to leave my house and watching how people were behaving I knew I had to protect myself as I knew others would not protect me by taking the necessary measures and precautions. 

Nici stood in a left taking a full length photo in the mirror in a fluffy coat, bright dress, with her walking stick,
Had to get a photo in the lift for my outfit of course

I received the Astra Zennica (Oxford Vaccine) at a local hospital in January, I was not given a choice at the first appointment which one I would receive, but I was provided with information sheets and a leaflet about what to expect. The needle hurt, but not any more than any other needle I have had. I didn't look at it as I don't like seeing needles. 

They made sure I was OK and I headed to the waiting room to sit for 15 minutes in case of a reaction.

Once that time was up, I headed out to the car where my Mom was waiting - we unfortunately got stuck in the snow that day and spent a lot longer at the hospital than planned. But hey I was vaccinated and the RAC man was nice. He got our car sorted and we were off to get warm again inside.

Photo of Nici and her Mom in the car smiling, waiting for the RAC man to come and rescue them.
Stuck in the car waiting for the RAC

For the rest of the day I was fine and headed to bed a little more tired than normal with a sore arm. The next day the top of my shoulders, accross my shoulder blades, my arms and hands were incredibly painful, my whole body ached and I felt like I'd been hit by a bus. My arm was especially painful where it had been injected and I was in a total flare up. I felt beyond awful.

I spent the next few days trying to rest but also trying to work - it was hard for me to balance but I slept a lot on my breaks and after working. In hindsight I should have taken the days off but just didn't want any more sickness on my record - having a disability my sickness record is higher than most and there's really not much I can do to change that as I have a fluctuating condition. 

I managed to get all my work done (though to this day I'm not sure how!) though a lot of it was done lay down that week. The one thing about this pandemic that has been a benefit is working from home - it has benefitted me more than I could explain, when I'm sick I can still work as I can find a way to be comfortable - in the office it just wasn't possible and my sick days mounted up tremendously. I've had little sickness in the last year, but its always a worry.

When I tell you I've never felt so ill, I am not exaggerating and most certainly looking back I'd have taken time off. 

It took about a week, but eventually I got back to my level of normal. I'll never be pain or fatigue free but I felt a million times better than I did the week prior. 

Selfie of Nici holding up her vaccination card with pink hair and green eyeliner
Vaccine 1 done

The truth is though, despite never having pain like it before, I'd do it all again. Being on the inside and seeing the fear of my friends, and people I love. Losing two people I love in a year where I didn't get to fully grieve them or give them the send off they deserved has been beyond anything I could have imagined and I never want to have to do that again. I got my first vaccination, and I spent a week in pain and scared - but for the freedom to hug those I love again, to see them, to be able to go out again and do the normal things it was worth it.

I had the second vaccine on Sunday 11th April, I had to sign a document to say I was fine with taking the second dose of the vaccine as I'm under 30 (given the news around clotting) - which given the likelihood with the contraceptive pill being far higher than the vaccine, I had no reservations.  I was fine again for the first few hours and then I became tired so I headed to bed for a long nap. The nap helped a little but the fatigue remained with me, we're on Wednesday now and I'm still tired. My back hurts a little and my arm is very sore to touch and I can't lift it well but its nothing like the first vaccine. The side effects this time have been minimal. I can't say that would be the same for everyone as we are all different but I feel significantly better than I did after the first dose.

Selfie of Nici with green hair, camouflage top, holding up vaccination card.
Vaccine dose 2 done

This week our country has started to open up again, and its wonderful to see people enjoying themselves again. My vaccine is only a few days in and not fully active yet, but even when it is I won't be rushing back to the way things were. I'm really happy to see people getting back to some kind of normal but many disabled people still don't have that luxury - for some the reality is they barely leave their houses anyway, or can't leave. The idea that disabled people who work should return back to work as shielding is ending still doesn't sit well with me, especially if not vaccinated and relying on the actions of others. 

Disabled people have been forgotten, but I stand with my disabled peers who have been treated poorly this pandemic, those who's treatments have been cancelled, those who are struggling, and those yet to receive even a first dose of the vaccine. Shielding ending just means that any support has been taken away - it doesn't mean all disabled people will be heading out or feel safe to do so. We still need to be careful, all of us. 

Social distancing still matters, along with wearing masks to protect others and yourselves. The death toll here in the UK is a stark reminder that this isn't over - especially for disabled people. Nobody who has been lost is collateral damage, and the disabled lives matter just as much as anyone. 

Going at our own pace matters, people will be struggling with the reopening of many places. Some people haven't been out in a year. Be gentle, be caring, be understanding. If someone isn't ready that's ok and if someone wants to continue to shield right now that's ok. 

Just don't forget your disabled friends, check in, they might be struggling. 

I am vaccinated, and I'm still not ready. 

I hope if anything, this post doesn't deter anyone from the vaccine, I can honestly say it was worth it for the peace of mind and knowing one day our world might be a little more free again. 

If you have any questions or want to know anything more about my experience, do message me on Instagram or Twitter and I'll get back to you. I hope this post is OK for my first one back!

Thanks for reading, if you got this far. 

Nici x

Vaccinated but still frustrated, new blog post.

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