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Letters to the editor: A booster moment

I am now within reach of a seventh decade and trying desperately to avoid meds in a pharmacy-driven society where a steady dose of life-saving drugs to start the day seems to have become more normal than a bowl of Puffed Wheat. My thoughts of getting a booster shot in this tragic COVID crisis was one of reserved enthusiasm.

I had lots of second thoughts taking a first vaccine; was much more comfortable with a second vaccine followed by a flu shot. Now there’s the need for another shot in the arm – a booster. Things were starting to add up. However, in the interest of personal and family health, trust in medical science and protecting the greater good for the health of the community there I was in a scene unimaginable for anyone just two short years ago, standing in a queue waiting for a COVID booster.

Things did look different on that day from the last visit to this site at the local service club facility. It was organized with assembly line perfection, including a ‘grab a number’ dispenser. Adding to my surprise there was also a doctor on site. Wow. That’s great to see. Heath care was moving with the perfection of industrial science, actually appearing organized in a world bereft, with what appeared to be flip flops in direction and at times the perception of utter chaos.

Then another change for the day popped up. I had a choice. Which vaccine did I prefer? Continue from the last two jabs or an equally effective, ‘new’ one that was now on site. Well, not really a new vaccine but new to me from the last time I was here. Like a doctor on site that was not there the first time this was another interesting turn of events. My anxieties were starting to stir. I had a choice!

I remember talk on one vaccine months ago as being viewed as the least popular of the two available and commonly used in the province. Is this the one that was compounded with talk of negative reactions, something related to the heart – very rare, we were told, myocarditis? At that time there was no real alarm from the medical and political community. Instead we heard something about choosing the lesser of the two evils. Take your chances of either getting COVID or stepping off a curve into the path of a bus. Take whatever vaccine was available!

It was an interesting turn of events but no way was I going to switch midstream. Better stick the arm with the one I knew. Like trout fishing, it’s better to return to a pond that has been great with lots of bites rather than go fishing for another pond. The time spent fishing another pond was a sure way to waste worms and return with an empty basket. There was no sense treading into the unknown.

All was going well but by this time my inquisitive mind was starting to ramp up. It’s almost something like a NASA shuttle on a countdown.”We have liftoff.”

Conspiracy theories surfaced as my anxieties started connecting dots. I flashed back to the doc. Why was the doctor set up at the clinic? It wasn’t busy. The hospital was shut down except for emergency only. This doctor might as well be busy here chipping in doing one’s part. Why, even the Premier and leading cabinet ministers were busy these days helping when and where they can for others lining up doing their part.

Jab done! Outside of a little upper shoulder pain that would never be mentioned for fear of sounding like wimp, it was all fine. Alas, that was only all fine until the next morning while getting out of bed when a wee dizzy spell kicked in and necessitated a blood pressure check. Something was up!

My blood pressure had dropped to the bedroom floor! It was now sitting at 87/55. My panic- conspiracy-anxiety button was now in super mode. Maybe it was the vaccine. Maybe the doctor was there for a reason. Maybe the vaccine was one of those situations like at the grocery store, where items have a best before date that was well beyond best before. Compounding this there had been talk lately, talk of negative reactions. It was not the booster for sure. I had better troll social media. My coffee-driven Anxiety Theory 101 was now operating in over drive.

With more coffee came more doubt. I thought I had better make an appointment but with who exactly? I called the hospital but it was operating under emergency only. Call 811. Don’t call the healthline. It was probably swamped given the COVID numbers. Maybe more people have experienced some different new reality. More anxiety was not needed at this point. Well, who do you call? This was starting to take the look of another movie reboot of “Ghostbusters”

Meanwhile, I wasn’t that bad. No coffee was being spilled and outside of the little bit of wooziness that may be linked to a quick gravity shift from prolonged rest in the prone position from the night before, everything seemed fine. Another blood pressure check and now I was up in the 90s. It still wasn’t near 120 but it was definitely on the rise.

All is well that ends well. It was late afternoon. Let’s see what a rigorous walk on the highest table lands above the local sports complex wearing a heavy Airforce issue down feathered 1940s winter coat complete with modified shortened sleeves (so as to not interfere with hitting the quick ejection button found in the cockpit of a F-16 fighter jet) does for the BP. I returned back home and did another quick check. My blood pressure had levelled off, returning to my old normal of 110 / 60. How sweet it is! I’ve always been on the low side anyway, so reaching my old plateau after a cold blustery hike in January was an intense sense of relief.

I followed up with a virtual doctor visit later in the week. We both are in agreement and chalked up the experience to perhaps my enhanced anxiety, and yes – as always – the aging process. There will be days yet where this may happen again. I’m not surprised. Our medical professional offered little support for my non-science based conclusion that perhaps this nearly 70 year old atypical physical frame of 130 lbs soaking wet should start the day off with a steady dose of salt on the puffed wheat. That suggestion was grounds for a good laugh at least. Besides, better put those thoughts to bed or else the next visit could be one in the area of psychology. Salt on puffed wheat. How foolish is that?

My booster is done and my journey continues. January continues. We will get there. I have every confidence in public health and the direction of our provincial leadership. We continue to focus on the target. We will get there – masking up with a third layer, staying confident. We will get there.

John Spencer, Channel-Port aux Basques

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