Health & Wellness

Booster or bust: Third shot may have made all the difference

Erin Tierney, Executive Editor

Six people walk into a room. Three are boosted. Three get sick. Guess which ones are which?

Welcome to my month of January. 

After apartment hunting for years, Lance and I finally managed to snag a beautiful house mid-December. With only two weeks to make the shift from our one-bedroom Eugene apartment to our three-bedroom Springfield house, we were on a tight timeline to exchange one set of keys for another. 

We couldn’t be more thrilled with this move, so when the opportunity presented itself to host a few friends for New Year’s, we pushed the stacks of boxes against the wall, pulled out the crock pots and cleared space in the fridge for a case of beer, orange juice and a couple bottles of champagne. 

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Keeping the gathering limited to the group of friends we most commonly interact with — my work family Noel, Dee Dee and Ron, in addition to our friend Aaron — we ate pork and kraut and drank mimosas as we watched the New Year’s Day countdowns from one time zone to the next.

We probably could have all been spared the experience of watching a very drunk Don Lemon in New Orleans popping out of a cardboard lemon cake (clever, not) … but other than that, we all enjoyed an excellent, low-key evening.

That experience was great. What followed was not.

Remember my little riddle at the start of this column? Yeah, about that …

By Jan. 3, Aaron had tested positive for Covid. Three days later, Lance and I were in the same ramshackle boat. All three of us have received our first two doses of the Covid vaccine, but not yet the booster.

OK, so listen, we’ve all got excuses for why we put off the things we know we need to do. Here are mine: 

Almost every week for over two years I have been writing Covid-related articles, interviewing public health officials on the best practice for preventing and surviving Covid.

There can’t be any clearer messaging for the need to get vaccinated, both to reduce the severity of your symptoms if you do catch it, and to prevent the spread of it among your friends, colleagues, family and community. So when the booster shot hit the scene in recent months, I was all in … but I wanted it to be on my timeline.

My intention was to find a slot available at the tail end of a week to minimize days off work, anticipating a reaction to the booster that’d take me out for a couple of days.

Since December I had been monitoring vaccination events, but found limited availability in general, with no availability for appointments later in the week. 

Yes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions … and excuses. 

Covid got to me first. Instead of being sick for a couple days from the booster, I ended up laid out for 17 days with Covid, 10 of which I spent in total and complete duress.

The flu and Covid are both viruses. The comparison stops there. I can’t remember another time in my adult life that I had felt so ill and helpless.

The symptoms creeped up, then swarmed.

It began with a coughing fit at 2 in the morning, gradually adding brain fog, disorientation, fatigue, body pains and a fever. We’ve all experienced these symptoms one time or another in our lives, but Covid took each symptom to a whole other level. It was gnarly.

I tried to take advantage of the sparse moments of gumption as they surfaced, but within 10 minutes of any activity, I’d become exhausted and woozy and would have to call it quits and hit the sheets again. 

You get up and Covid knocks you right back down. 

It became like Groundhog Day at my house. It was the same miserable day over and over again. My diet consisted of only Lipton noodle soup. I slept all day and all night, waking up only briefly to take Mucinex, re-fluff my pillow, and to complain. 

One of the fundamental differences between the flu and Covid is the hangover period. Like the back of a camel, there are two humps to overcome.

Once I broke my fever (twice) and the swelling of my throat reduced, I began to feel a bit better and ready to resume life again, but for the next week I could only function for a couple of hours at a time before the head fog blew back in and exhaustion overcame me. 

You get up and Covid knocks you right back down.

This was arguably one of the worst parts of Covid for me because I was eager to get back to life, and it seemed like the worst was over. The days continued to fly off the calendar like a cartoon animation, and I grew more and more miserable being sidelined in my own life. 

It took nearly the entire month of January, and I am thrilled to be fully recovered and back at it again. But what I’ve learned through all of this is that it is not enough to intend to do well; one must take action to do well, to be well – especially in a pandemic. 

I am accountable for the decision I made to postpone receiving the booster. My excuses didn’t stack up to the consequences, and because of it I lost a month of my life. I am one of the more fortunate ones; others have lost much more. 

It was an illusion to think that Covid cared about my schedule, my timeline, my plans.

That said, if you’ve got the same or similar excuses as me, snap out of it! Don’t feed the illusion; heed the call of our public health officials and of my plight.

If you don’t have time to get boosted, make time, because it could mean the difference of spending two days sick and spending a month sick … or worse. 

Erin Tierney is the executive editor of The Chronicle. 



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