I took my first vaccine shot.
Over a lifetime I’ve traveled to every rathole in existence. Taken cholera, tetanus, typhoid, malaria, yellow fever, whatever immunity shot there is.
Recently, my friend Francine LeFrak invited me to Rwanda where she manufactures her Same Sky bracelets. Rwanda’s president even organized a special visit for me to the country’s gorilla preserve.
I was excited. But doctors — like those who never met a disease they couldn’t bill for — said no to the trip. These were big-time medics who knew the difference between an MD and a specialist. The difference? The specialist has a bigger boat. Their combined diagnoses was my body might not tolerate more injections. So I didn’t go.
Some people are fascinated by pharmacology, surgeons, labs, serum discoveries. They know whether their cervix needs vitamin A or vitamin D. They know if at age 65 they’ve shrunk 6/7th of an inch in height. Me not. I’m medically averse.
I’m also scared. Considering I can personally recall when John Hancock signed that piece of paper, just the sight of a stethoscope frightens me. So … now … another shot in the arm? More foreign substances? I didn’t feel safe.
But comes coronavirus, statistics, fears and locked at home 11 months where I’m gaining weight and width and worry — and there is no choice.
Date with a needle
My arm was slotted for a 9 a.m. appointment. My housekeeper, convinced I still look like Sophia Loren in the ’60s, made me tart up. “Pick a blouse with a capped sleeve,” she said. “That will hide your upper arm,” she said, obviously suddenly realizing my upper arm no longer resembled Sophia Loren’s. Truth is, six more months and it could out-hang Lizzo’s.
You arrive at a place not seen before. A big auditorium that did not appear welcoming. I’m nervous. Actually terrified. Will it hurt? What are the after-effects? Will my body tolerate it? One physician hardly eased me. His professional assessment? “Who knows? It’s better you should take it than not.” Really comforting.
A door guard asked who sent me, who’s responsible for me, who’s my contact, where’s your ID? So many questions it’s even easier now with Brexit for a Brit to schlep from London to Paris. Inside your name is checked. You’re asked questions. You answer. You sign. You fill out. You’re shown to rows of seats. The seats have tags. Those just vaccinated are to sit in the tagged seats. The mandate is you remain seated there for 15 minutes afterward in case of some adverse reaction. There was none.
Two elderly ladies nearby were talking about playing games at home to make the housebound days go by. They discussed “moving the pieces.” Into Netflix’s new chess show “The Queen’s Gambit”? No. Monopoly.
Just a little prick
Fronting me, wearing masks, a dozen socially distant desks manned by bodies in white hospital jackets. Motioned to one, you sit and answer appropriate questions. A Post reader and a fan said to my table’s white jacket: “You know who she is?” I puffed with pride. He said, “No.” They told him. Uncharmed, he said, “Oh.” I de-puffed.
He then shoved my carefully selected handpicked capped sleeve way way up — higher than Sophia Loren would ever have worn it. The injection, painless. A blood test needle, removing fluid, is thick. Hurts. This needle, injecting fluid, is thin. You barely feel it.
At home, slight headache. They said to take Tylenol. Also a nap. Waking up I felt fine. No after-effects. None. In the injected spot slight tenderness which disappeared immediately.
Mine was Pfizer which means Shot Two in three weeks. I’m now hunting a trainer who’ll thin my arm in 21 days.
Only on Planet Earth, kids, only on Planet Earth.