I had my first dose of the Covid vaccine last weekend and it’s safe to say that it felt like quite a momentous occasion. As someone regarded as being vulnerable to the virus, it was something I’d kind of looked forward to since news of a vaccine first broke. Not in the same way as I might look forward to some beer and cake, a new Grandaddy record or Christmas, but I was looking forward to it.
It was done early on Saturday morning and I was in and out within about 20 minutes, including having to queue outside for around 10 minutes. Everything was well organised, the staff were friendly and helpful and it was a generally positive experience. Definitely something worth writing a poem about. And it would have been a bright and breezy, optimistic poem as well. But then the side effects hit on Saturday afternoon…
Anyway, here’s my poem about having the vaccine.
'Sixth on the list (behind key workers and various degrees of old people.)' On a misty Spring morning the air fizzes with an optimism and good humour that I can't remember feeling in a long while. March gently attempts to wrestle February to one side and it's almost twelve months since the fear began. Within minutes a smiling volunteer injects some fight into my 'at risk' body that signals hope, a way forward, a route home. As I walk back, the town is waking up and as their day breaks I feel I have a secret that I'd like to share with all. I bury my bare hands deep inside the pockets of a jacket, turn my collar to fight the chill and resist the urge to skip down the hill to my front door, safe in the knowledge that I have at least half of the weapons needed for the rest of the fight. The rest is a canyon sized unknown; I will suffer to feel good, wait in the dark to feel better and then go through it all again before I am able to even think about casting aside the unwanted cloud of our restrictions. Over sixteen hours later, having grumbled my way through discomfort, nausea, shivers, fatigue and pain, having shouted myself hoarse at a curse of Magpies, I will sit alone, at the kitchen table, as the house sleeps around me. I will try to find the words to make it all sound like a proper opera, praying silently for sleep and the chance to shut down the hell and then feel well again, but fail as all the while one inane thought gnaws away at my brain: I didn't even get a sticker.
On the whole, I have to say that the whole vaccine thing was a positive experience. It wasn’t stressful at all, mainly because of the way it was organised and the staff, but my worries about the after effects would come true and then some!
For the first few hours, all I suffered with was a bit of a sore arm, but then gradually more and more went wrong. I was fatigued, felt sick, was dizzy, everywhere ached and I just felt incredibly rough, as mentioned in the poem. Strangely though, when it came to heading off to bed, I was wide awake and ended up back downstairs, where I proceeded to open a notebook and write this poem!
I managed some sleep that night, eventually, but didn’t really feel a great deal better on the Sunday. It doesn’t matter though. The fact that I’m safer now means the world and the fact that I may be able to see my family and friends again relatively soon, makes it all worth while.
As for the poem, it’s all quite straightforward, although there’s maybe a couple of lines in the sixth and seventh stanzas that are probably best explained. Despite feeling worse than I’ve felt for a long time, I was fully aware that my football team, Newcastle United were playing that evening, live on Sky Sports. There was no way that I was missing it, as long as I could keep my eyes open. Hence then the line about shouting myself hoarse at a curse of magpies, as if you don’t know, we play in black and white stripes and are known as the magpies. It’s safe to say that my croaky voice next morning had nothing at all to do with the vaccine. The other line that I wanted to explain was the bit about making it sound like a ‘proper opera’. That’s me laughing at myself as I wrote the poem. The opera reference, be it soap or the more theatrical version is me looking back and just wondering if I’ve made a bit of a big deal about it all! In my defence, it was particularly horrible though…
As always, I hope you enjoyed the poem and I’d be interested to hear any feedback you might have, so feel free to leave a comment.