The 2nd Day of the 1st Dose

My Mind Wonders While My Body Aches

“Do you feel better than yesterday?”

“Worse.”

Yesterday it felt like an onset of a cold: tingling in limbs and low energy. Today every part of my body aches. It’s supposed to happen. The cells are under attack and are building immunity. It must be an example of “no pain, no gain” although I usually live by its alternative: no pain, no pain.

I get into the hot bath, hoping the heat will loosen my muscles and soothe the pain. I hear my partner in the next room delivering his virtual lecture. All of sudden, the presence of 18 students feels too close and makes me feel too naked.

My choice of not bringing a device along pays me back with a stream of thoughts and feelings. The first one is guilt for benefitting from my privileges. I was able to get the vaccine yesterday because I had time and means to drive to a farther clinic that had available spots. All the clinics in my neighborhood were fully booked for the next two weeks. I have time and resources to take care of myself while experiencing the symptoms of the vaccine. Everyone should, but not everyone does.

The next feeling is not easy to label. I stare at my round belly and squeeze it, which changes its form accordingly. Quarantine Fifteen didn’t happen to me, not exactly. On the surface, my weight increased only five pounds, but the volume of my body has changed significantly due to the change in its composition: more fat, less muscle. I wonder if I can float better than before.

For the first time, I am witnessing how my back can also be fat. I also see that excessive fat not only stretches my skin but gets it pulled downward. I started using an app to count calories last week. As my temperature goes up in the tub, my breath gets shallow. I start counting my breaths. That might be more important.

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I didn’t get a sticker for getting the shot. I looked around the area enclosed by the temporary dividers and didn’t see any, so I didn’t ask. An adult asking for a sticker seemed a bit embarrassing. I could have still taken a selfie and posted on Facebook, following a series of got-my-COVID-shot announcements, which started two months ago. My partner and I even discussed the idea and decided not to. The primary reason for making a public announcement would be to normalize getting the vaccine, but that was unnecessary among our circle of friends and family. They were first in line when they became eligible or were eagerly waiting for their turn if they weren’t eligible yet.

I claimed that the announcement can be celebratory, and my partner questioned: “of what? that we survived?” Surviving the pandemic is definitely worthy of celebration; however, the sticking point is again our privileges. We both work in academia and have been working from home during the pandemic. Many people could not, like my immigrant students. They kept going to work: factories, warehouses, and retails. Some of them got the virus. Some of them got it twice. Some of them are still sick and MIA. Can I celebrate something that everyone deserved but only I got?

Enough with soaking in the warm water and gazing at my navel. Time to get out and do something.

Love,

Linda

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