I booted down the door and strode into the Village Hall like a Queen returning to her palace.
Rolling up the sleeve of my ‘I HEART ASTRAZENECA’ jumper, I brandished my arm.
“WHO WANTS ME?!” I bellowed, picking up a handful of vaccines and hoisting them above my head, pretending to weight lift.
I waved cheerily at the queue of anxious looking vaccine virgins at the entrance.
“Don’t look so worried!” I called. “You won’t feel a thing! I had no fever, no aches – nothing! I definitely didn’t self-diagnose sepsis and almost call an ambulance... HAHA!”
I was that overjoyed at the prospect of repeating my first vaccine experience that I actually booked myself in for a third shot, because I just can’t get enough of the side effects!!!
... Obviously none of the above actually happened.
No, what had happened was that I had worked myself up so much in the taxi on the way that I'd almost projectile vomited Pink Wafers everywhere.
It had taken six laps of the car pack to actually brave entering the village hall.
Despite it being 17 degrees outside, I was stuffed into a t-shirt, jumper and a coat, protectively swaddling my upper arms from the fate I knew I had to face.
"Are you here for your first or second vaccination?”
“Second,” I gulped, casting a sympathetic eye over those queuing for their first.
But no, I wasn’t going to allow myself to think about my first encounter with the vaccination.
I wasn’t a victim, but a survivor; an AstraZeneca pro.
I could do this! I could... Couldn’t I?
Just as I was helplessly warding off flashbacks and debating pelting from the room, I was called forward by one of the volunteers.
"Please take a look at the questions on the board and let me know if you answer ‘yes’ to any of them.”
I took a look.
I mentally answered ‘yes.’
“Excuse me?” I said. “Question 7: Have you previously had a reaction to the Covid-19 vaccination? The answer is yes. Yes, I have.”
"Okay, and what was the severity of the reaction?”
"Well, to put it bluntly, I nearly died,” I stated.
The man blinked in surprise above his face mask.
"Did you?” He asked, clearly taken aback.
"Yes. Well, that’s what it felt like anyway. It was on par with the time I went to Budapest, drank fresh orange juice and got a kidney infection.”
"When you say you nearly died...”
"I had the WORST back pains of my entire life, and I had a fever. And when I say fever, I don’t just mean I got a bit warm and turned the heating down, I mean I was FULL ON rocking with the cold, and-”
"Fevers – of all degrees – are a very common side effect of the vaccination, as are aches and flu-like symptoms. Please go and take a seat with my colleague over there.”
The colleague in question waved, and I saw the glint of the needle tip bounce off the lights above. I nearly fainted.
After the NHS had tattooed my arm with another hideous hole, I walked the 8 kilometres back to my Mum’s house in an attempt to calm my post-vac trauma. (Didn’t work. Every time I saw a tree, I freaked out, envisioning it as some sort of ginormous, disguised, leaf-clad needle ready to pounce and batter me.)
After my first jab, my husband had whinged for days about the lack of sleep he’d endured after I’d spent the night crying in pain. (My heart bleeds for him, and so should yours...)
My Mum was a much more empathetic host this time around, greeting me Midget Gems, a Bounty, and the new series of Ackley Bridge.
By 11pm, I still was reaction free, and was almost on the verge of allowing myself to feel ever so slightly smug.
... And then I recalled my last run-in with AstraZeneca, and decided not to get too big for my boots. I knocked back some Calpol and scurried off to bed.
Just after midnight, I woke up with the driest mouth know to man.
Thinking back, that could well have been attributable to the fact that I had guzzled down an entire ‘share’ bag of Cool Original Doritos right before bed.
Coming to my senses, I became dismally aware of a hideously familiar feeling.
Oh God! The dreaded AstraZeneca reaction had come to visit again!
My body didn’t just ache; it felt bruised. It sounds strange, but even my scalp and fingernails felt sore! My calves winced, threatening to cramp. I had a dull headache which throbbed as I stood up to throw open the window. Even with the brisk night air pouring in, I couldn’t cool down.
The only saving grace was that this time, I didn’t have my husband’s unsympathetic voice growling about how ‘dramatic’ I was being. (I can’t wait until he has his jab! This is the man who once wore sliders out in public for a WHOLE YEAR because he was at war with a non-existent ingrown toenail.)
I lay awake from midnight until 4 O’clock in the morning, silently stewing in my own sweat. (To anyone reading this who fancies a date with me – sorry, but I’m married. I know that’ll come as a great devastation to many x)
It was one of those unbearably restless nights whereby no position remains comfortable for more than 12 seconds, tops. It was the kind of night that sees you groggily stir after 11 minutes broken sleep with a pyjama wedgie, a sock over your ear, and numerous pillows scattered across the room like confetti. And when you do manage to steal a few brief minutes of shut eye, you dream about notepads with teeth, or pigeons line dancing to Oops Upside Your Head.
I’ve just had a look back over my Google searches from 2:30am on Friday night/ Saturday morning, while I was in the deepest throes of feverish insomnia:
Signs of a blood clot
Am I having a blood clot? QUIZ
Blood clot 111
Why does my scalp sting?
Covid jab side effect nits?
Can plants catch Covid-19?
Are Crunchy Nut cornflakes good for a fever?
How long would it take someone to die of Covid vaccine?
AM I DYING OF THE COVID VACCINE???
Buy funeral plan
Is it insensitive to have rap music at your funeral?
Can kangaroos get shin splints?
Somehow – and I still don’t know how – I managed to grab two hours of sleep between 4 and 6am. I distinctly recall having a very vivid dream about a Jaffa Cake driving a bus.
When I woke again, my fever was still rampant.
I felt wide awake, and knew there was little chance of nodding back off. I decided to just get up; I’ve learned that squaring up to insomnia makes very little difference to its venom.
Now, what to do at 6am on a sunny Saturday morning...? Ah yes – go for a run, of course!
Many would label me a fool, but I say CARPE DIEM!
... Wasn’t saying that an hour and 12k later when I crawled through my front door, deprived of Calpol and carrying my left arm at a very odd angle.
Turns out jogging and a newly vaccinated arm are not a match made in heaven. (Who knew?!)
And so to conclude, here are Cazza B’s top five vaccination tips:
1) Take up your vaccination invitation. Yeah, you feel beyond death for 24 hours, but it’s worth it (I think... I mean, I know I’m not exactly selling it, but in all seriousness, come on, guys. Bill Gates is not remotely interested in your life, so stop listening to the propaganda and accept this privilege as your ticket to freedom and safety.)
2) Don’t go jogging 12 hours after getting your vaccination, particularly if you’re literally running on 2 hours sleep and a fever.
3) Don’t attempt a yoga sesh the day after your jab – I almost keeled over trying to do the Downward Facing Dog, taking out the TV and five cacti on my way down.
4) Eat as many ‘share’ bags of Doritos as you want. And by this, I just mean in general, not just after your vaccination. Doritos are life. Doritos are love.
5) Never board a bus driven by a Jaffa Cake.
* You can read about my experience with the first jab HERE: https://www.carajasminebradley.com/post/they-d-swapped-mince-pies-for-pfizer-for-the-occasion
Cara Jasmine Bradley