Lawes received the Pfizer vaccine yesterday, only to be immediately told to self-isolate upon returning home. At least it meant watching some decent films and spending time with his beautiful kitten.
I got the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination yesterday, the Pfizer vaccination, which is the one that is stored between -60 and -80 degrees. The doctors phoned me on Friday night and said, as a home carer, I was eligible for vaccination and would I like to come down on Saturday morning? Of course I said yes, as anybody with any sense would do. After the phone call ended, I was struck by a wave of conflicting emotions. I felt guilty, that I was getting the vaccine before my 89-year old grandma, about as vulnerable as a vulnerable person can get. I felt elated, that I was getting the vaccine and I’d have more protection from the effects of the virus, should I contract it. I felt nervous, that I was having the vaccine administered while it was still in its infancy, while the long-term effects are still unknown. Most of all, though, I felt relief, like there was a light at the end of the tunnel of this awful pandemic and the devastating impact it has had on the world.
In the freezing cold, I traipsed down to the Health Centre the next morning, posting my weekly Covid home-test on the way. I was a bit early, so I waited outside the hospital grounds until nearer my appointment time, chain-vaping and observing the queue outside the vaccination building. It was predominantly older people, and the guilt returned that here was me, young(ish), healthy(ish), who only supports one client along with three other people, about as safe a work environment as you can get, and there were vulnerable people who I’d moved ahead of in the queue for the vaccine. It felt selfish, to feel so relieved that I’d be vaccinated before other, more deserving people who would benefit more. I joined the queue outside the vaccination centre, where the poor staff were sat for hours in the bitter temperature, rubbed-in some of the hand sanitiser offered and filled in the personal details form they brought to me. I then joined the line of people the other side of the door, each waiting for our turn to be called in and injected with this miracle of modern science. As luck would have it, ahead of me was another of the four people from my work team, and we had a nice conversation as we waited the ten minutes or so before we received the call to be injected.
So people can understand what happens when you go down, and hopefully settle any nerves people might have: Once I reached the front of the queue, I was asked to move inside of the building, against the wall. Opposite, outside the vaccination room, was my colleague. When he went inside for his injection, I moved across the hallway and stood outside the vaccination room entrance. As people came out having had their vaccine, the older, frailer people were moved into a little room inside the building for fifteen minutes, to ensure there were no immediate side-effects, whilst more able people were asked to go and wait in the hospital waiting room, about twenty metres down from the vaccination building. When it was my turn, the staff escorted me inside the vaccination room, which had several stations separated by dividers, and led me to the person who would be administering my injection. I waited while they finished sanitising the area, then I sat down, answered a few standard questions about allergies and other vaccinations, then they asked which arm I wanted the injection in. It was, genuinely, one of the least painful injections I’ve ever had, despite the layers of tattooed skin that made it tougher for the needle to pierce through. The whole process took about three minutes, and one of those was me clarting on with my jacket and my sleeve. I left the room, picking up my vaccination card and a leaflet about the vaccine on the way, then went and sat in the hospital waiting room for fifteen uneventful minutes.
On my journey home, I walked as leisurely as possible. The air felt a little fresher, the sun shone a little brighter. Though the first dose of the vaccine only has about 50% efficacy, that’s an awful lot of stress lifted from the shoulders. I felt so grateful, so relieved that we had reached this point in time, that a pandemic which, at one point, seemed like it would go on forever was now, hopefully, approaching the endgame. There’s still a long way to go; many millions in this country still need their first dose of the vaccine, never mind their second, but we’re getting there. Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, this last year will feel like a bad nightmare, and we can regain some sort of normality. I miss playing darts with my friends. I miss seeing my grandma, who turns ninety next month and will still probably be unable to see most of her family. I miss seeing my nieces, who I used to see once a fortnight or so before last March, and who I now see about once every three months. And yet, I’m one of the lucky ones, those who have a wonderful family to live through this with, to support each other, to get each other through. So many people don’t have that, and my heart goes out to them.
In a scene you couldn’t script, I returned home to find out my partner had no sense of taste or smell, and we would have to isolate pending a negative test result. This was so frustrating, because I was meant to be in work today, but now I could not work, and a very small staff team was going to be pushed to the limits to cover my absence. My partner went down to the testing centre while I tried to arrange some cover for my shifts, cover that’s not easy to find when your shifts are 24-hours long. After a lazy couple of days in the house, I awoke from my Sunday siesta to find out my partner had tested negative, so as long as my result is also negative – and there’s no reason it wouldn’t be, given hers is negative and I have no symptoms – today is the only shift that I’ll have to miss. Even in the short time we’ve had to be confined to the house, I was starting to feel restless. It’s one thing when you’re able to go out if you want, but choose not to. It’s another when you’ve only got a few rooms in the whole world you’re allowed to be in, and anything you need from outside those rooms, you’re entirely dependent upon the kindness of others to provide. I’m very grateful that my partner tested negative, and this experience of isolation need not continue for more than the day or so it has so far.
So yeah, there’s really nothing to worry about with the vaccination. The only side-effect I’ve had is a mild dead arm, barely noticeable unless I try to raise my arm above shoulder-height. The staff down at the vaccination clinic are wonderful, working so diligently to make the experience as pleasant as possible, full of positivity despite the cold weather and the heavy workload. They’re doing such wonderful work, so make sure to thank them and let them know how appreciated they are when it’s your turn. They’ve had to work so hard, so selflessly, through the scariest of conditions, for almost a year now. I’d wager there are few people on the planet more relieved at the emergence of these vaccinations than the NHS staff that sacrifice themselves for our benefit. These wonderful people all deserve the best and, at the very least, they deserve a substantial pay rise. This nightmare feels so much closer to the end than it did even just two months ago. Let’s make sure that, when it is, we all remember who did the most to help us all.
While briefly being under house-arrest, I didn’t really do much. I watched Newcastle put up a spirited, yet fruitless, display in the cup against Arsenal. I ate a massive pizza, fearful that my taste and smell would soon vanish and I’d not be able to enjoy my favourite food for a while. I played with my kitten, Sven, who we’ve taken to calling Honey-Crumpet because of some silly game that went round Facebook the other day. What a little gallivanter he has become. We used to think that, when he went outside into the back yard, he’d pretty much stick to the adjoining properties. He’d climb on the sheds, he’d frolic in the snow and the neighbour’s grass, he’d have a little explore but he’d stick pretty much to the place he knew. How naïve we were. Not only does Svennypoo pop into the neighbour’s houses if they leave their doors open, in the mornings he also goes several houses down, through the alleyway, across the road, up the alleyway opposite to where three other cats live. He plays with them for a bit, before running into their home and stealing their food! The little tinker. No wonder he’s put a bit of podge on this last month or so. His best friend is the black Labrador, Koda, who lives next door. He’d play in her yard with her all day if he could, chasing each other, teasing each other, cleaning and grooming each other. It’s really beautiful to see, while also making me long for the day when we move into a bigger house and I can have a dog of my own. At least we know Mr. Honey-Crumpet will get on with our future pup, whenever he may join us. I love my special boy so much.
I watched a couple of films while stuck in the house too. The first I watched, No Country For Old Men, I’d heard a lot about over the years. All the awards, an 8.1 rating on IMDB, this was a film I’d been meaning to watch for a long time and finally was able to. What intrigued me most about it was a team of clinical psychiatrists evaluated 400 films a few years back, and Anton Chigurh, the villain of the piece, was found to be the most realistic portrayal of a psychopath from all of those films. Yet, as great as a character as he was, I found the film itself to be somewhat of a disappointment. Maybe it was the hype over the years, maybe my expectations were too high, but I expected this film to blow me away and it was merely good. I think the real problem with it was it felt less like a complete story, and more like a vehicle for the character of Chigurh. While he was an outstanding character, it’s not a film I imagine I’ll go back to watch again. The second film I watched was the Tim Curry-starring Clue, based on the classic board game Cluedo. This film was so much better. Fun, camp, full of humour, mystery, entertaining characters and intrigue, I would recommend this to anyone. Curry, predictably, completely steals the show, with his performance in the closing fifteen minutes a whirlwind of entertainment and brilliance. The rest of the cast work very well to add to the film, giving Curry the platform to work his magic while ensuring he isn’t carrying the film by himself. I’d go so far as to say there’s never been a better film based on a board game, though I can’t actually think of many examples. It’s available for free on Amazon Prime, but it’s well worth paying a small fee for it, just for Curry’s performance alone.
I think that’ll do for this chapter of The Lawes Report. I’m already finding my passion for writing coming back, which was one of the points of starting this blog and is a very good thing. I had intended it to be a weekly update and reflection, but I can see it being more regular than that, depending on how much time I have and what is going on in my life. Thank you for reading.
Song of the Chapter:
Nine Inch Nails, Terrible Lie (piano cover)
Quote of the Chapter:
“The way the world is,
I think a silly evening at the theatre is a good thing,
to take our minds off terror.”