Today, I will be getting the COVID vaccine. It is a surreal sentence to write. There are still days when I think “maybe tomorrow is the morning when we wake up and life will be back to normal”. Maybe it is the day when our lives will go back to a time when delay start Wednesday seemed like the biggest burden of my kids’ school week. A day when busses came and kids went to school five days a week and if I saw someone with a mask in public I assumed they were immunocompromised and remembered all the pediatric transplant patients I’ve cared for in my nursing career.
As part of the healthcare force in Indiana, I am grateful (and nervous) to be given the privilege of being a part of the first round of Covid vaccine recipients in our state. I work as a pediatric nurse in a private practice in Carmel. I spent 13 years of my life as a bedside nurse at Riley where everything I believed about health and sickness, life, and death, was challenged. Almost every morning this pandemic began, I have said a prayer of gratitude for those friends of mine who are still working on the true front lines of this pandemic. I have talked with friends who are lifelong pediatric nurses who have been asked to turn on a dime and learn to care for adults with Covid. Even without a medical background, I’m sure you can imagine how different those worlds can be. The doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and support staff are tired and weary and this vaccine is hope.
In all honesty, when I first heard that the Pfizer vaccine had received emergency use authorization and health care workers in Indiana were going to be eligible to receive the vaccine, I was nervous. I think many of us were. I have heard all the conspiracy theories. I have read all the comments from the “keyboard medical professionals”. But I have also read the science, I have talked with my most trusted medical professionals and they all have the same conclusion. This vaccine is our best chance of returning to our “normal” lives. The doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and support staff who have spent ten months working tirelessly to save the lives of Hoosiers will be the first in line to get vaccinated. Rather than forming an opinion about the vaccine by reading the comment section of a social media post, I beg you to talk with a trusted medical professional.
On a much more personal note, this vaccine holds a deep meaning to me. In April of this year, I lost my mother to covid. I said my final goodbyes to my mom during a five minute Facetime call while she lay struggling to breathe alone in a room. I could not be there to hold her hand or to tell her not to be afraid. As a nurse, I could not be there to make sure she had enough medication to be comfortable or ensure that her oxygen mask was positioned correctly. I had to say my final prayers with her and hope that the nurse taking care of her in those last moments would care for her like I would have done. Then in a horrible and ugly twist of fate, we said goodbye to my mother-in-law in the same fashion in November.
When I sit in that chair this morning and receive the Covid vaccine, I will be doing so with a small bit of fear and a large chunk of hope. I hope this can be my small part in ending the pandemic. My small role in helping to control this virus that has taken so much from so many of us. Just like wearing my mask, avoiding large gatherings, washing my hands, I am getting this vaccine to not only protect myself but you as well. I consider it my opportunity to prevent another daughter from saying goodbye to their mom over a Facetime call, to get our kids back in school, and to have life begin to take one small step back towards normal.