The Jab

 I got the jab, 9 weeks ago in Australia.  It was AstraZeneca, the only vaccine then available in Australia. I wanted to be vaccinated before I caught my flight to the USA. We stopped by the local Clinic, they said, “The vaccine will be available after Easter break.” We called after Easter, still no vaccine.  Some friends said they had been vaccinated, so we called their clinic, “Are you a patient here?”  they asked.

            “It is only available for patients.” 

            Then we heard it was available at the covid testing facility. We called and said, can you come today?

            “Yes.” We said, and we were off.

            I didn’t even feel the jab. I sat for 15 minutes talking to the staff.  Why did you have so many cancellations today?

            “They decided not to give it to anyone under 50 because of the blood clots, so we had to cancel appointments.”

            Somehow that didn’t sound like good news.  Did that mean that older people were more expendable?  Or just at a greater risk.  Actually I’d read it was the younger people that got the blood clots.

            The next day I felt nauseous, and tired, but okay.  I even went visiting relatives.  But when I got home, I went for a nap at 4pm and slept until 8 pm.  I didn’t have any trouble sleeping that night either. 

            The day after I arrived in the USA I decided to get a Pfizer shot.  I stopped in a Walgreens pharmacy and asked about it.  “I had the AstraZeneca in Australia 8 weeks ago, but it isn’t available here.  The research says it’s okay to get the Pfizer shot.” 

            The girl looks at me in shock., “I don’t know, I’d have to ask my supervisor. You would need to call for an appointment.”

            I went home and called the Walgreens number to make an appointment, since that is my pharmacy at home.  I did not bother to tell them about my other shot. She found a pharmacy near my brother’s home in Minneapolis, with an appointment in 30 minutes. “Arrive early with your medical cards.” She said.

            My brother drove me over there and waited in the car.  They took my Medicare card and driver’s license into the back room.  They had it for about 30 minutes before I was called into the backroom by a Somali woman in a long dress and flowing headscarf, who spoke  excellent English.  She grilled me about earlier vaccine, and I admitted I’d had the AstraZeneca in Australia.  She knew it wasn’t available in the USA, so she gave me the jab. I sat In a chair and waited for 15 minutes before she returned my driver’s license, Medicare card and vaccination card

            As I walked out the door, my brother was coming in looking for me.  “Oh there you are, you were gone for over an hour.”

            I stayed home the next day, feeling the same as I’d felt after the AstraZeneca jab in Australia.   Everywhere I went I was sure to wear my mask and sanitize. Some stores required masks; some said no masks if you were fully vaccinated.  But how did they know who was vaccinated and who wasn’t? 

Two days later my son drove me across Wisconsin to Door County.

Driving across Wisconsin

After being gone for 18 months, it was strange to be back.  At first I was struck by the weeds in my garden

Overgrown garden

I started to pull them out as soon as I stepped out of the car. Then I realized, no I’d better bring in my suitcases first.

            As I relaxed I started to feel sick, like I did after the shot, or the jab as they call it in Australia – nauseous, sore throat, headache and very, very tired. I brought up the local testing sites and reread the symptoms. Headache,  sore throat, tired, were listed.  I called the clinic the next morning when my symptoms didn’t go away overnight. “Should I cancel my appointment for a physical and get tested?” I asked

              “Yes, go get tested,” the receptionist said.

            She transferred me to another number.  The earliest appointment was 1:15 pm at the hospital drive up site. I waited and my son drove me over there. 

            The nurse came over to the passenger window.

            “Have you been tested before?” she asked.

            “Yes in Australia, nine days ago.”

            “Well this may be different, I’m going to stick this way up your nose to your throat, it might make you sneeze, lean your head back against the seat.”

            I did as told, holding my breath as she stuck a stick, up, up my nose.  Then it was out, thankfully out of my nose.

            “Do you have a DCMC portal?”

            “Yes.” Before I’d left for Australia I joined the online access to my medical records.

            ‘You should get the results there, either tonight, or tomorrow morning.”

            “Thanks,” I said, relieved to know I’d get the results so quickly.  I had another appointment tomorrow that I didn’t want to cancel. 

            I went home and went to sleep. When I woke up, I checked my computer. I was so relieved to see, “Nothing detected.”  I wanted to dance and jump around the house. I already felt better, so much better. 

 A friend asked if it seemed like things had changed a lot?

            No, things haven’t changed, but I’ve changed. I started to go through my too-much stuff, easily piling up clothes to give away.  I’d  lived out of three suitcases for 18 months. I didn’t need all this anymore. 

The lovely town of Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin, still looks much the same:

Small town in Wisconsin. It’s still there.



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