STORY TIME: My personal experience battling with the virus and the side-effects of the vaccine.
Does the idea of fighting lab-made zombies give you nightmares at night? How about getting “chipped” through vaccines so the government can control your mind? Do you still believe in “evil scientists” that want world domination? There are many reasons why fear exists in our mind and it’s usually instilled by movies, fictional stories or our wild imagination because it’s easy to fear the unknown; however, fear can also stand in the way of progress so staying clueless about what’s real and what’s fictional can pose bigger threats in our lives.
In the midst of a pandemic, we’ve heard a lot of creative stories about the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), about the vaccine, its origins, and causes of death. In fact, the more outrageous the story, the faster it spreads on the streets and on social media. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of people becoming “magnetic” after being inoculated, someone’s friend of a friend dying after getting vaccinated, being forsaken by God for trusting foreign medicine more than the antibodies in our body, or that some billionaire created the virus and vaccine in order to control people’s minds. These stories exist and they’ve been successful in convincing people that the vaccine is more of a villain than the actual virus. In case you believe (or partly believe) in any of these, let me share you MY STORY this time.
COVID-19 IS REAL. I’m a COVID-19 survivor and a few months after catching the virus, I got vaccinated to protect myself and those around me. If you believe in what you hear from other people, please hear me out as well as I compare everything I went through.
COVID-19 SYMPTOMS vs VACCINE SIDE EFFECTS
Up until now, I have no idea where I caught the virus but we’re suspecting that it’s from one of our quick trips outside to get our parcels or food deliveries. One thing’s for sure: The virus goes around really fast and is quick enough to infect everyone at home.
Regarding symptoms, Ariana Grande wasn’t joking when she said “Listen to the goddamn qualified scientists” in the movie Don’t Look Up. Just like what experts in the field said about COVID-19, I experienced all the common symptoms. I had diarrhea for a day, fever for around two to three days, continuous cough, tiredness, sore throat, chills, and the worst of all – loss of taste and smell. I also felt excruciating pain and shortness of breath whenever I tried to move. Lying down on my bed gave me chills but it also feels as if my temperature’s really high, it’s a confusing feeling. My bathroom breaks became suffocating and quick stretches would leave me feeling numb all over. Everything felt heavy during the first week of my COVID-19 infection, but I slowly recovered during the second week. My sense of smell, however, did not go back to normal until the fifth or sixth month. I can’t even say that it has fully recovered now.
If you compare these symptoms to the side effects that I experienced after getting vaccinated, I’d say getting the vaccine is child’s play. I got injected with a Moderna vaccine two times, 28 days apart. After my first inoculation, my arm felt swollen for three days, I had slight fever, and a bit of body pain which was manageable since Paracetamol was enough to help me get through it. After my second dose, I didn’t experience a lot of side effects. It only took me two days for the pain on my arm to go away and I felt feverish for a few hours, but that’s it. To avoid serious side effects, please ensure that you disclose all kinds of allergies and medical conditions that you have in the sheet that needs to be filled out or inform the volunteer who will be screening you prior inoculation.
THE HASSLE YOU’LL GO THROUGH
Catching COVID-19 if you’re not super rich may be a huge pain in the ass. It was tough to look for a hospital or facility that can accommodate me and those in my immediate family that I’ve infected, but it’s even tougher to isolate separately because we have limited rooms. Good thing we were allowed to isolate at home. Just imagine being separated from your loved ones and not seeing them again in case you’ll need to be intubated or moved to a different facility! That thought alone kills me. However, isolating at home isn’t as easy as you think. With everyone infected, it’s hard to order food and medicine every now and then without leaving the premises of our home. Our essentials had to be left by the window and we had to disinfect or throw everything we use. Paper plates, plastic utensils (sorry, Mother Earth!), bottled drinks, and pre-heated meals come in handy during these times.
On the other hand, the “hassle” of getting jabbed is just a walk in the park. You’ll only need to book an appointment online and wait for an SMS indicating your vaccination schedule. The only inconvenience that we experienced was falling in line for around an hour – screening and blood monitoring steps included (I have asthma and hypertension so there are extra steps), and that’s it! Our vaccination schedule fell on a weekday so I had to take a day off at work, but I used my Sick Leave so my pay won’t be affected. I’d suggest that you take at least half a day off so you have enough time to rest while the vaccine stimulates antibodies in your system.
Mental health is also wealth. My two-week battle with COVID-19 wasn’t all about physical strength. My mental fortitude was also on its limits as I continued to worry about a lot of things: (1) Will I ever recover even though I have asthma and hypertension? (2) Will my family survive this challenge? (3) How will I ever catch up with all the work and meetings I’ve missed for the past weeks? (4) I’ve missed out on events and opportunities outside work, (5) I’m being blamed for spreading the virus at home and I hear it consistently whenever someone checks in on us, (6) People I’ve infected are also greatly affected and I feel guilty about it, (7) I wonder if our savings will ever be enough after everything we spent, (8) I miss talking to people, (9) Wouldn’t it be cheaper if I just died? And the list goes on and on. Because I had nothing to do but rest and recover, my mind had a lot of time to worry about things. I was lucky that no one died in my family, but that would really suck if I had accidentally infected someone who was immunocompromised.
Meanwhile, when you get vaccinated, you’ll only need to worry about a day’s worth of work absence (in case it falls on a weekday) and hope that you are physically fit to be inoculated after the medical screening. Not a lot of mental gymnastics there. In case you’re not sure if your comorbidities can affect the effectiveness of the vaccine, best to consult a doctor first. Free Bayanihan E-konsulta is also available in case of a tight budget.
Lastly, the vaccine is FREE for everyone, but you’ll need to spend thousands (some even reaching over a million) for COVID-19 treatment if you need medical care.
When I caught the virus, I started with a few hundreds to buy medicine for my fever, cough, and body pain. Then, I had to get an RT PCR test which costs Php 5,000 at Makati Medical Center. Because of my sore throat and loss of taste, I also had to regularly buy congee – the only food I can eat and somehow “taste” that time because of the kalamansi, so that’s around Php 500 per day – including delivery fees. Cooking at home was not an option because everyone was busy recuperating on their own. We also had to buy 1L drinks with electrolytes to keep ourselves hydrated and stock up on a lot of other medicine and vitamins such as Fish Oil, Melatonin, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, and other Multivitamins (e.g. Conzace and ImmunPro). That easily reached thousands as we had to get enough that can last us over two weeks. Aside from these, we also had to purchase disposable items and a lot of masks, gloves, alcohol, and other disinfectant solutions. Although it depleted part of our savings, I’m thankful that no one in our family had to be hospitalized. I personally know people who had to spend over a million after recuperating. I personally know people who died because of the virus. IT’S REAL. Listen to doctors. Listen to scientists. Listen to experts in the field. They are doing actual research and not just confirmation bias.
If only we were able to get vaccinated early on, all these financial, physical, emotional, and mental burdens wouldn’t have been that heavy. The vaccine is FREE for everyone. Plus, getting jabbed does not only protect you, but also those around you. To know more about how the vaccine can help save lives, you can also read this verified piece from the World health Organization.
And please, for the love of God (no s/he will not forsake you for getting jabbed because s/he also granted humans enough wisdom to create a vaccine), GET VAXXED. 😊
P.S. This lengthy blogpost has been delayed for months. I didn’t have enough courage to post about my situation last year as I was really overwhelmed by a lot of things, like how bad contact tracing is in the Philippines. It’s also my semi-rant after reading a lot of posts online from Filipino anti-vaxxers saying that the virus isn’t real. If it isn’t real, then I wouldn’t be wasting my time to post about such things on my page.