I basically enjoyed it, but I still cried a little bit.
Wait, perhaps I’m getting a smidge ahead of myself. Let’s rewind a day or six.
Last Friday eve, as I was innocently watching something innocuous on the telly with Partner, my phone pinged. I glanced at such, and I noted that I had a virginal message in the healthcare app associated with my primary doctor’s medical group. What fresh hell was this? Why are they messaging me on a Friday night? Wait, have they finally analyzed my many layers of neuroses and conditions and discovered that I have a rare and expensive disorder that requires immediate attention? I’d best check this out.
I signed into said app, navigated to the message board, and reviewed. The title of the latest entry? “It’s your turn! Schedule your COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment.” This was startling, not just because of the lack of commitment in capitalizing all the words in said title (go big or go home!), but because I had no idea I was on the radar. To my knowledge, I wasn’t in a high-risk or essential-worker category (especially since I’m retired) and I’m only 56. Still, somebody somewhere spotted something in my medical profile that smelled like a red flag and I’d best get an appointment for my apparently-jeopardized ass.
I had Partner pause the Innocuous Telly, and I briefly explained the sudden goings on. His reaction was not so much “Good for you! This will help you feel better about life” and more “What about me? It isn’t fair. I’ve had enough, now I want my share.” I politely soothed him (“I’m sure you’re coming up next”, though I had no actual intel on this matter) and then I raced to my writing nook and fired up my laptop, because really important things should be transacted on devices bigger than a smartphone.
The negotiations were quite easy. There was a clever button in the new message that invited me to enjoy punching it, which I did, and up popped a screen where I could select a two-hour time slot that spoke to me of the most personal satisfaction. Naturally, I clicked on the first available block in the list. Things whirred, something might have dinged (not sure) and the app thanked me for choosing to fly Pan Am Airways. Two seconds later, a new entry appeared in the message list (a list that is normally littered with boring cholesterol-test results and reminders to quit eating things that require cholesterol-testing) confirming my poking for 1:45 the following Wednesday.
Well, then. That wasn’t so hard. I didn’t have to deal with another human being or sit on hold for hours, listening to the Muzak version of Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus”. Sometimes progress is pretty nifty. Sometimes. I updated Partner on what was what. He updated me on his continued not-understanding of his not-receiving a similar beckoning to be penetrated with a prophylactic, since we have the same doctor and therefore the same healthcare group. I tried to be supportive, but I really had no clue about the disparity. This went on throughout the weekend, and I had to bite my tongue to refrain from countering with “apparently I’ve been deemed closer to death than you are, so get over it.”
Some things simply shouldn’t be said. Not that I’ve ever really adhered to such a dictum, but I do give it a good run every now and then.
The following Tuesday, I made a test run to the Poking Facility, just to scope the situation and see how things were playing out. It all seemed rather organized, what with giant signs highlighting important information to process and a satisfying number of orange cones delineating where one should go. There were lots of folks in brightly-colored vests directing traffic and doing their best to keep the situation from escalating into that incomprehensible mess that marked the beginning of the pandemic, wherein people lost their minds about the availability of toilet paper and proceeded to snap up 500 rolls of two-ply at CostCo. (Often times, man is his own undoing.)
The next day, I returned for my actual appointment and maneuvered my vehicle into the official line, instead of lurking off to the side, taking notes for my future blog post. The first bright-vest traffic person I encountered simply held her hand up, making the international symbols for “one” and then “two”. I signaled back “one” (first dose) and she directed me to a parking lot on the right, where there was a very-short line of cars. I joined them.
(Note: I’m intentionally including minor details, because I know some of you are concerned with the whole experience, especially if you have anxiety issues like I do. I want to know what I’m about to deal with, because the unknown makes me twist. Granted, the situations will vary across the country and the globe, and I can only share what happened to me, but I hope that humanizing it will reduce some of the trepidation all of us anxious people feel, every day.)
Within five or so minutes, I was able to pull my car up to the first “official” person in the processing chain. She checked to make sure I was supposed to be there, using a cute little transponder device, then she scribbled “A1” on my front window with a red marker. (I never figured out what that symbol meant. The window of the car behind me was demarked with an “A2”. Still no clue.) I kept inching my car foreward.
The next person in the chain simply thanked me for being there. I don’t know if the “A1” negated any further involvement on her part, or if she was there just as a Public Relations representative of the healthcare organization. In any case, I was happy that she didn’t insist on a strip-search or something more intrusive, like an anal-probe or a review of the meager stats on this blog. Take it for what it is and keep moving.
The third person handed me a clipboard and pen, told me to answer the highlighted questions, find a spot in the parking lot and then join the line of folks headed into the building. (This was my first realization that the journey was not going to be completely drive-thru, as some vaccination spots are. You live, you learn, hopefully.) I parked in a spot, filled out just a few lines on the two-page form, and then skipped most of the form because it said I could do so if I had already checked-in online. I had. Based on the number of people I spotted scribbling madly in their cars as I headed towards the line into the building, most people had not. Here’s the deal, folks. Modern technology can be beneficial. Take advantage of it.
I joined the line of humans at the front door, and within minutes I was shuffled inside. There were various stations of the medicinal cross, but none of them proved difficult or time-intensive and, before I had time to think about it, I was seated in a chair next to a Poker Specialist named Denetria. Our relationship basically consisted of this: “I’m about to poke you” and “I’m done”. I honestly did not feel a thing, as she had it down to an art.
Denetria then directed me toward a waiting room, wherein we were supposed to dally for at least 15 minutes. This was necessary so that various observers stationed here and there could make sure that one of us did not have a startling reaction that involved a need for medical attention or a sudden urge to proclaim ourselves Emperor of Nova Scotia. Neither of these things happened to me, so one of the attendants approached my little chair, informed me of the details for my second dose, and then she blessed my departure.
I was out of there in less than 30 minutes.
On the way home, I started crying.
I wasn’t sad. I was just so tremendously relieved. This whole Covid pandemic has been overwhelming. So much sadness, so much worry, so much discombobulation, so much disregard for the value of human life that has been exhibited by the heartless followers of Donald Trump, especially the governors of Red States like Texas. It’s unconscionable, this devastating lack of compassion that is now the hallmark of the Republican party. History will not be kind to those who lied while people died. We just have to get to that point where such disregard is anathema to anyone who believes in decency.
And now I’ve got my first shot. The second is scheduled in three weeks. For all of us who suffer from anxiety, and for all of us who yearn to do the right thing, I cannot begin to fully express how a simple poke gave me a sense of comfort that I haven’t known for far too long. Get in line as soon as you can, and brightly-vested good people will guide you along the way.
Note: Shout out to the Baylor Scott & White healthcare organization in Texas. You have admirably made the hard easy. And more of a shout out to the Denetrias of the world, the quiet professionals with the gentle poke and the fearless front-line determination. Some of our supposed leaders refuse to do the right thing, but you have helped us overcome that…
Categories: My Life