My Life

Memories of the First Time I Got Poked

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…


47 replies »

  1. Yay! And good for you for writing the details. I did the same when Daughter got her pokes back in January? December? 🤷🏼‍♀️ She got Pfizer… lots of folks in blog land are getting poked. Beware the 2nd poke. Prepare partner that you’ll be sick & whiney for 24-36 hours 😉

    I probably won’t get mine til the very last. Tell Partner, I understand his feelings of “hey, wait… what about me.💌

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yep, I remember your detailing of Older’s journey, which I admired and wanted to emulate. (You’re a muse!) I got Pfizer as well, which means only a 3-week interval instead of the four weeks for Moderna. I am braced for a bit of knock-out with the second poke, as both you and several family members have reported the same probability. That’s fine. I’ll just snuggle up in the bed and watch old movies. It wouldn’t be the first time.

      I hope you get yours sooner than you think you might. The emotional reaction I had after the first does, that sense of relief, made it clear to me that I was much more worried about things than I realized. A weight has been lifted…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wonderful news. Whatever the reasons, I’m glad you’re on your way to being fully protected. My husband goes in for poke #2 on Saturday… I’m hoping he doesn’t have the bad flu symptoms afterward, but it’s still better than the alternative. As for Texas politics, yeah. Good luck with that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, River. I’m trying not to dwell on what triggered my jump in the long line; I’m just happy it happened. And you’re right, I can certainly deal with the potential wallop from Poke 2, considering the alternative.

      Texas politics are surreal. Every bone of decency in my body is screaming for me to get the hell out of here, but that will have to wait until Partner can retire. I’ll just keep writing blog posts until it happens… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Had my first just yesterday evening. In the UK, the NHS have finally been let off the leash to clear up the mess that all of the Her Majesty’s Governments mates private contractors have previously made of anything to do with the pandemic. Testing, yep, cocked that up, cost a fortune… tracing, yeah, same… etc, etc,
    Vaccination via NHS of course, is all going smoother than when Mr Smooth, mayor of Smoothtown, slid smoothly down a slippery smooth slide, and allows the Health Minister to give the figures of vaccinations given with a genuine and proud smile for a change. And then try to take credit for it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Isn’t it amazing how so many of us still live in societies where stupid people are allowed to cock up the works for everyone? Then again, it takes stupid people to ELECT stupid people, so I guess I’m pissing in the wind. Still and all, end of day, there are enough decent people with some degree of power that are working to help all of us. We’ll get through this, albeit in a lethally-tardy manner.

      Since you got yours the day before I got mine, it appears that we will both get our second poke around the same time, a poke that, from most accounts, will be more solid of a slap to our inner workings. I’m looking forward to what both of us might be posting after the slapping… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • The UK delayed everyone getting jab two (to get as many done with one jab as possible first… this enables them to say ‘We have performed x vaccinations’, technically they should be saying ‘We have performed x many *half* vaccinations’…) They say it’s based on having more of the population 65-70% or so protected than just a much lower population on 95%… so it’s 12 weeks before the second one is given.
        But I can still write similar rubbish to that which I already do, at any percentage.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am the Emperor of Nova Scotia! Just don’t tell anybody, I don’t think anybody else knows. I think you did a great job of allaying the fears of many people. This whole world is so full of unknowns that a little knowledge can go along way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just KNEW you were royalty. There’s just something about your writing that speaks of good breeding and delightful summer castles and embroidered fine linen.

      And yes, I’m all for knocking down the unknowns, little chips at a time…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Being emperor of Nova Scotia wouldn’t be a bad thing. Just saying. Our COVID numbers are very low, but so is our population. Your shots would still be a month or so away and any emperor pay would be in the token zone so you would need to supplement it with your retirement income. Great post. Glad it went smooth for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So, are you inviting me to BE the emperor of Nova Scotia? Because I HAVE considered it, on those crazy, sleepless nights when one’s mind wanders down avenues it normally would never transgress. And I’m fairly adept at making do with the minimalism of my retirement income, having now had six years to practice making something out of nothing.

      Of course, as with most locales that I have considered as options where I might be emperor, I have to ask: How’s the food there? Because that’s very important to me… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ahhh food. An important subject. We Nova Scotians probably get to eat more lobster than Texans. Then there are donairs. A tasty Nova Scotian invention that is dear to our palettes. Apparently there are more bars per capita in the city of Halifax our provincial capital than in other Canada cities . It is a small city though so not the variety of restaurants that say Toronto has. We do have some very good ones though and a culinary program at the local college. So the emperor could hire a cook if his merger earnings allowed.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Glad you got your first jab and that it went pretty smoothly with the check in and all. I’ve had both shots already, and the only reaction of both was just a sore arm. Hope your 2nd goes just as easy. It sure does give us a little bit of relief to know we are somewhat protected. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, it’s the “relief” angle that greatly appeals to me about the whole process, knowing that I have some degree of control over this nasty virus.

      It’s good to hear that you only had a bit of arm-soreness after Poke #2. (I’ve heard plenty of stories about the second jab being worse.) The only effect I’ve had (so far) from the first jab is just that, my arm is a little tender. Still, I’m ready to deal with whatever, just to move on…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The introduction to your post had me thinking….Dirty boy!…and laughing out loud. It still sounds like somewhat of an ordeal. Mine was lickety-split and done.
    Shot #1 was from a woman, who complained about the lack of fat on my arms…so she had to go all the way up to my somewhat fatter shoulder. The shot was fine, but when she injected what can only be described as alien acidic pee…it burned like….alien acidic pee. I asked if that was the one that carried the little chip in it. She said no, but that she would know where I was going to have dinner that night. LOL.
    The second shot, a month later, was given to me by a man who did no complaining about my skinny arms. I saw the needle and then was distracted by a man and a tender age child waltz into the store sans masks. Shaking my head, I noticed the man readying a band-aid for my arm. Felt nothing.
    Next day…I had a headache, didn’t feel like doing anything (nothing new) and had no appetite (also nothing new.) Next day…fine.
    And tell partner…tell him the reason he didn’t get an alert is that they just don’t love him as much as they love you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • As you may suspect, I intentionally made the title of this post a bit tawdry, just to draw folks in, as I wanted them to hear my tale and realize the process is not so bad. Sometimes a little misdirection is a good thing.

      With Shot #1, there was no discussion about arm fat, so apparently I’m appropriately plump enough for them to do the deed. And I didn’t feel a thing. But when it comes to blood draws? We have discussions. Apparently my veins and arteries are of a hearty sort, as neither of them are all that receptive to intrusion. This leads to situations wherein less-skilled pokers will have to bang away at my arm until they hit pay dirt. I’m not a fan of the banging, at least not in this case, and I have to tell them: “Choose wisely. You don’t want me to slap you.”

      I hope Shot #2 has minimal repercussions, but I’m prepared nonetheless. Whatever it takes, let’s just get it done.

      As for sharing your final words with Partner, however true or not they may be, I don’t really relish the cold silences at the dinner table that will happen if I share such… 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • I think from now on, I shall call you “dirty boy.” Sounds sort of, well….dirty…and sexy.
        Anyway, I have roller veins. In the past, every time they tried to take blood, or run an IV, they’d miss…and miss…and miss, until my arm looked like it belonged to a junkie.
        I finally started telling them they had two tries and if they didn’t get it, we were done. And don’t even get near my hand with a needle, lest you be banished to the bowels of the hospital where they keep “the bodies.”
        Aww…partner. He doesn’t have a sense of humor? Surely, he has not met you. LOL

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Tell partner that he’s ‘not alone’. He’s just healthier than (deemed healthier) than most. I am surprised that they bumped YOU up too, because as far as I know (with frugal sharing of real-life details which is only sensible) I didn’t think you fell into the ‘gimpy or diseased’ pot like I do. (not that I think you’re either gimpy NOR diseased. Let’s be clear about it). No. You apparently just set off some mystifying alarm bell somewhere in a dim office where they monitor people. (yeah, big brother IS real 😉 ) . Whatever the reason I’m glad you’ve joined the rank and file of inoculated. Me too. Ain’t life grand though? Partner will get his ‘ding’ in short order I bet. It seems to be straightening itself off, this vaccine business. And about damned time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I still don’t know what pushed me to the front of the line, but I’m glad it happened, if you’ll allow me to be somewhat selfish in the matter. There are plenty of folks who need the vaccine far more than I do. I am in awe of all the front-line medical folks and emergency responders and teachers and grocery-store clerks and, well, all of the people who taking a risk and stepping up. Because I don’t know if I could do it myself.

      And I’m sure Partner will get his “ding” soon. We seem to have passed the critical point where the supplies were thin, and we are now seeing a surge of vaccine availability. It’s just wretchedly sad that the Trump administration didn’t give a damn for nearly a year, and we could have gotten to this point so much sooner…


  9. Good for you, Brian!
    I’ve had both of my shots and am considering writing about it, but my experience wasn’t 100% okie-dokie so I’m hesitating. I don’t want to scare anyone into not getting them. Of course, I don’t for one second regret getting vaccinated and I’d do it again in a heartbeat, but even so. You never know how people will react.
    If I come up with a way of writing about it, you’ll know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do hope you come up with a way to share your story, even if it did involve some degree of unpleasantness. One of my concerns right now is that too many folks will not get the shots, frightened by the overwhelming disregard for science that is so prevalent in certain right-wing cultures. If we can’t get a significant percentage of all Americans doing the proper thing, we might be doomed to an extended and unnecessary up-and-down rollercoaster of mortality stats.

      No pressure, of course. We do what we can, when we can, and the decisions are entirely subjective…

      Liked by 1 person

    • May I add my support to the idea that you DO document your less than satisfactory experience? The more one knows etc etc… It’s great to know what the bad things are one might expect, as well as the good ones.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Congratulations! Are you the first one to get the jab in the Bonnywood neighborhood? Does this mean you can flash your vaccine certificate and go to public places without a mask? Crying is good for you and happy tears is therapeutic. “…thanked me for choosing to fly Pan Am Airways”. LOL. I remember encounter “Pan Am” in the movie “Catch Me If You Can”, but not anywhere else. I don’t know who things will proceed. Do we have to wait until everybody on the planet get the jab to feel normal again? I mean with the international travel and everything. Does the last recluse living in a remote Philippine island have to be vaccinated? I say this because there are two Japanese soldiers found in 2005, hiding in Philippine’s jungles, 60 years after WWII and they didn’t know the war had ended long ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not the first in the Bonnywood neighborhood, but I’m definitely in the first graduating class. We’re in Texas, where the distribution of vaccines will not win any proper-planning awards, It’s all been a hodge-podge of ineptitude, from what I can see.

      But I will say that, even when I am fully vaccinated, I’m still going to wear a mask in public. It’s just the right thing to do until the vast majority of folks are equally protected.

      The “Pan Am” reference is just another one of my whimsical trivia references. I greatly enjoy inserting arcane little tidbits into my writing. I realize that lots of folks will not get the references, but I also know that, for the folks who DO get the inference, it’s a satisfying lark.

      We won’t have to wait for every last human to get the vaccine. Once we achieve “herd innoculation”, the threat will be diminished to the point that we can carry on as we once did…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Congratulations! Like you, I am very happy to get on with this. I HATE covid and what it has done to so many. I am getting jab two after work today. First one went very smoothly and I agree with you – the Denetrias of the world are amazing. We have nurses, pharmacists, nurse-practitioners and doctors coming out of retirement (mostly on a volunteer basis) to give jabs – they are terrific.

    On a different note – I am intrigued by your language choice. We would never use the word “poke” (rude sexual implications), but “jab” is okay. US, UK, Canada, Australia, NZ and SA all mostly speaking English, but it has such a vibrant variety. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • First, I am in awe of the Denetrias. There used to be a time, at least in this country, when everyone would step up and do their part in a crisis. That’s no longer the case. Now, far too many people are far too self-absorbed to even consider doing the right thing. It’s ridiculous and sad. Luckily, we still have a sizeable contingent of good people doing good. We need to work on upping that factor, all across the planet.

      I must confess to purposely using “poke” instead of “jab” or an equally less-provocative term. I wanted to draw folks in with the mild titillation, just so they would read my words. Getting the shots is not the wretched experience that some folks fear. I may not be a Denetria, but I can still have a tiny impact in the whole scheme of things…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I got dose number two yesterday, and I get why you cried. I suddenly felt relieved and happy, like I’d won the lottery or something. A bit giddy almost and all mixed up with gratitude. I think I had shoved some big concerns into the background and decided to ignore them. I’m experiencing side effects from this second one, but that means my immune system is busy developing a bunch of protection. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Cry with relief; You don’t realise the angst that can build up, what with dealing with a pandemic, dealing with the ‘ Open our schools, our bars, our gyms, our Krispy Creemeries, our rifle ranges and close our minds to all that ain’t the ‘Gospel Truth According To The Devotees Of Our Cussedly Blessed Lordy My Trump Allmighty.”
    And in taking the jab, your DNA was NOT uploaded to Paranoia -12, you are not now bar-coded, micro-chipped, have not been gelded of your Second Amendments ‘rights?’ You haven’t? Boy, was Q-anon wrong on that one or what? I’m sure they’ll get back with an apology, or worse, their March 4 update. Again, my sympathies; I don’t appreciate how lucky I am at times here. Life is soooo close to normal, and I have to check myself from bitching when I have to sign in and sanitize if I go into a library or some such.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The whole Texas (and general Red State) scenario has been mind-numbingly surreal and deadly. The whole “Neanderthal thinking” (perfect phrase, Joe Biden) of the past year has left decency in the dust. I keep saying that history will not be kind to these sociopathic idiots, but we all know that history is most often written by the victor, and the Repugnant Party is certainly not down and out in this country.

      And QAnon? I can’t even…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Bravo, dear Brian! One down and one to go! I get my second shot tomorrow afternoon. Please, make certain that you and Partner stay very safe and keep well. Your government there in Texas seems to be intent on trying to kill off their populace. Love and hugs, honey! 💋

    Liked by 1 person

    • Partner and I have been very good little boys throughout this whole mess. (Of course, it helps that I generally don’t care for most people, so avoiding them has been rather satisfying, in a way.) But it’s still amazing to me how blatant and obvious the Republicans have been in this state when it comes to letting people die in the name of blind politics. I’m ready for that karma to come back around. Any day would be fine with me…

      Love and hugs right back at ya!


    • Sadly, it’s not so hard to believe. Our former president couldn’t have care less about doing the right thing. And it all rolled downhill from there.

      But I’m certainly enjoying the peace of mind!

      Liked by 3 people

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