Wednesday, March 3, 2021

All The Details of A Covid Vaccine


After I received dose one, I wrote about why I decided to get the Covid vaccine (read about that here). Even after I've spent the last two days dealing with the side effects of dose two, I still feel the same about the why. However, I DO want to touch on what could be expected when you receive a Covid vaccination. Last night, I shared a picture of my red and swollen arm. I was instantly messaged and received comments from others who have gone through the same things. I realized I failed in sharing my experiences properly.

Half of the reason that I still blog and have my social medias are so I can connect with people and make them not feel so alone (or crazy) in the this world. That's important in all areas of life. Obviously, on this blog I deal mainly with parenting, daycare, all things kids, and lately, homeschooling and the pandemic. All relateable things for many people. So, let me share my experiences from the very beginning.

At the end of January, I knew I would be eligible for a Covid vaccination since I own an inhome daycare. I also knew it would be tough to get an appointment. Thankfully, I have daycare families and my own friends looking out for me. They gave me tips on where and when to look for appointments to schedule my first dose. I had to check our local pharmacy's website (HyVee) multiple times and I went to a different county in which we live in, but I was able to snag an appointment. The pharmacy opened three entire days (over seventy-five appointments) and ALL appointments were filled within minutes. It was truly me being on my computer at the right time.

The day of my appointment was easy. I had filled out all of the paperwork ahead of time, so when I arrived, they simply looked at my insurance card, double checked my ID, asked what I did for work, and gave me my shot within ten minutes of my arrival. I had to sit in a chair between two pieces of plexiglass for twenty minutes while the pharmacists watched me to make sure I had no reaction. And I didn't. Not within the first twenty-four hours at least.

The next day, I woke up with a sore, heavy arm. I can't describe it any better than the arm I received my vaccination in felt like a brick was tied to my upper arm. This heaviness caused my lower arm, hand, and finger tips to tingle and feel numb. That lasted for two days, then I was fine. Or so I thought.

A week and half later, I was laying kids down for naps. I noticed an itch on my upper arm, but I didn't think much of it. It was cold outdoors, really cold, and I was bundled up even indoors. Layers upon layers. Looking back on it, my upper arm felt hot, but I didn't get a glimpse of my arm until later that evening as I hopped into the shower. I honestly let out a loud enough gasp that my family heard me on a different floor and inquired about it.

"Get up here!" I said to my husband. He had a different thought as he climbed the stairs...until he saw my arm. It didn't hurt at all, but it was red, swollen, and warm. He outlined the red blotch with a Sharpie. The blotch grew and grew, covering my entire upper arm, but it didn't hurt once. I called my doctor's office, who were reluctant to answer any vaccination questions since I didn't get it done there (I get it, legal issues for them, but it still angered me). I called the pharmacy, who told me, "oh yeah, that's been a lesser reported reaction, but it does happen. It doesn't happen enough or to enough people to list it on the actual side effects though." Through Google searches, my husband determined it was a delayed reaction (I didn't have the heart to tell him I KNEW that's what it was, but I didn't know if it was normal or not!) and that it does, in fact, happen. It primarily happens with the Moderna vaccine (which is what I got), but there's also been cases from the Pfizer vaccine reported.

10 days after my first Covid vaccination this red splotch appeared. No other symptoms.

11 days after dose one. The outside of the redness is extra red because my husband decided it was a great idea to draw the outline in RED Sharpie. It simply blended in with the spot. I also would like to note that this is NOT on the exact spot where I received my vaccination. It is slightly below that area.

Then, 4 days later, when I went to check on the arm, the redness was gone. Two hours earlier that spot was shining bright. That was that. My first dose side effects were behind me. I went about life, feeling happy my second dose was near. I was a tad apprehensive about dose two, but it was better than the alternative: not knowing  how protected I may be if I didn't receive a second dose. Currently, I have high risk daycare kiddos and families I haven't seen in nearly a year. My vaccination was imperative for them.  

The week I was to get my second dose, I noticed how no pharmacies in my area, including the pharmacy I received my first dose from, had no doses of the Moderna vaccine. I was slightly panicked, but I talked myself down. The next day, it was released on the news that they had limited doses of the vaccine I received and as many as 14,000 people may not receive it on time. I was NOT okay with this. I cried, I called around, and I rallied. I rallied hard. Twenty-four hours hard. I sat on that damn pharmacy's website, refreshing the pages every so often. 

I had eight browsers up, checking pharmacies in towns and cities within an hour drive. With every refresh, slots at different pharmacies would open up, but none had the one I needed. Then, mid-day, I got what I needed! I was a nervous wreck waiting for Sunday to come. I was nervous I would get a call that there wasn't a vaccine for me. I was nervous about getting the second dose, but I determined I was more nervous to not receive it at all. I arrived for my 12:15 appointment at 12:13. I had a quick, enlightening conversation with the pharmacist, and was grocery shopping (at the same store the pharmacy was at) four minutes later. Twenty-minutes later I was out the door and on my merry way.

But, before we get to the "on my merry way" part, let's talk about that four minute conversation I had with the pharmacist. He asked about my first dose and reactions, then told me, "well, since you had that reaction with the first, expect it with the second, but worse. Expect flu-like symptoms, but they shouldn't last long. Two, three, four days tops. We've seen and heard that people in your age group experience the worst symptoms, while the elderly rarely experience the side effects." He had numerous theories as to why that was, but mostly, I appreciated his honesty when telling me about ALL of the possible side effects I could encounter. 

Now, back to on my merry way. The rest of Sunday was fine. I probably could have rested more, but it was my 37th birthday, so I enjoyed porch visits, a dinner, and a virtual play rehearsal. I went to bed at normal time and fell asleep. I was abruptly woken at 2:32 a.m. by my bed shaking. I instantly slapped my husband on his shoulder, "why are you shaking the bed?"

"I'm not," he said calmly. Sadly, this reaction didn't shock him. It took me a full minute to realize it was ME that was shaking. Violently shaking from chills. I was smart and kept a bottle of Tylenol and water on my nightstand. I wrapped myself in blankets and went back to bed. I awoke four hours later violently shaking and took another dose of Tylenol. The rest of the day is a blur. The morning was spent shaking, then sweating profusely. I tried to eat and drink, so I wouldn't get sick from taking Tylenol on an empty stomach. Two things stick out from the twenty-four to thirty-six hours after my second dose: I wasn't hungry at all (I forced myself to eat) and I was peeing a ton! It's likely from my body trying to fight the vaccine and getting rid of any "toxins," as I usually do this whenever I am sick. Since I was weak from shaking so much, the constant trips to the bathroom were a chore!

By mid-day (twenty-four hours after my shot), my chills were basically gone. I had one more episode late afternoon, but by evening, I was feeling much better. My body felt heavy, much like I said above, as though I had weights tied to my body. However, I wasn't achey and I no longer had chills. I was very tired though. I took my nightly Benadryl and Claritin, a Tylenol for good measure, and drifted off into an eleven hour sleep. I woke up a whole new person! Less than 48 hours after my second dose and I felt amazing! I had heard the side effects were short lived for most people. I was relieved I was in that "most people" category.

However, as my chills subsided, a red, swollen, and very hard bump came to life on the arm I received my vaccination in. I did get my second dose in the same arm as the first, as the pharmacist said it wouldn't make a difference in side effects. My husband has already said when it's his turn for the vaccine, he's getting each dose in different arms to see if that helps minimize swelling. For the next twenty-four hours, my arm continued to swell and the redness spread. However, my arm wasn't overly sore. I kept getting the feeling of tiny pokes wherever it was red on my arm, but overall, it didn't (and hasn't) hurt. One of my children even grabbed onto that part of my arm and it didn't cause me to flinch.

I am now seventy-two hours out from my second dose. I feel fine, my energy level is through the roof (likely from that eleven hour sleep!), my arm is still swollen and hard, but the redness is coming and going. First thing this morning it was bright red, mid-morning the redness was gone, and by mid-day the redness was back. I know several people who received their second dose around the same time as me and their side effects vary greatly. Some had no side effects whatsoever, others had it worse than I did and for a longer period of time, and others experienced the same symptoms I had. We're all different shapes, sizes, and ethnicities, but all within the 25-45 age group. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to who is and who isn't affected by the side effects, much like Covid symptoms.

Forty-eight hours after my vaccination. It's more hard and swollen than anything.

Nearly seventy-two hours after my second vaccination. The redness has come and gone throughout the morning, the swelling and hardness hasn't changed. It still isn't sore, nor has it effected my ability to do things.

I'll be sure to share anymore side effects I may experience in the next week or two. I won't preach as to why or why not people should(n't) get the vaccine. I can only speak for myself and our life. I will share, I have never had any side effects from any vaccination and very few medications, so this experience was brand new for me. The fact that not a lot of people I know are sharing their experiences, left me feeling alone and confused. Contact your doctor and/or wherever you receive(d) your vaccination if you have questions or concerns. Also, please fill out the survey for the CDC and the manufacturers (you should receive paperwork with information on how to do both) once you receive your vaccinations. This gives the CDC and the manufacturer an idea of any issues they need to be aware. You could be like me and earn yourself extra surveys or phone calls if you experience rare effects from the vaccine. Please know that if you're experiencing any side effects, you're not alone and it's all likely completely normal!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled daycare and homeschool craziness.