(Or a glimpse at how this anxious author copes with something out of her linear day to day life.)
After months and months AND MONTHS of waiting, I was finally contacted to receive my first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
I first signed up with my LGU (Cainta… yeah. I will always and forever call you out) months and months AND MONTHS ago. I can’t even remember when I actually signed up, but I did it at the same time as my sister who, at that time, was also waiting for word from her employer. We never heard from our LGU, not even an acknowledgment that they received our request.
So when I read in the news that Mandaluyong, Pateros and San Juan have agreed to open their vaccine sign ups for non-residents, I signed up via MandaVax. My brother and his wife had been vaccinated in Mandaluyong because they both live there. Apparently, majority of our vaccinated neighbors also got their jabs somewhere else (Mandaluyong and Pasig).
It also turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I have no idea where any of the Cainta vaccination sites were, while I had the option to choose SM Megamall (which is my best friend if a place can be someone’s best friend) as the site I can go to get vaccinated.
It took about two months before I received a text from MandaVax but I was already scheduled for the following day (October 22nd).
Now I haven’t been outside of the Pasig/Cainta area since February 2020. The last time I went out of our subdivision was December 2020, I kid you not. There’s a perfectly good sari-sari store in front of our house, a bakery and a talipapa a few streets over, and a Ministop, Alfamart, two 7-Elevens, drug stores, meat stores, pet shops, a Korean mart and everything else within walking distance inside the subdivision.
There’s also a branch of Pure Gold just outside if I need to do serious grocery shopping. My steps counter app tells me it takes about 8,000 steps from our house to Pure Gold and back so yeah, it’s that close.
Everything else I need to do, I can do online.
So staying within the mini-city that is the subdivision where I live is not a hardship at all. I’ve been a WFH freelance writer since 2009 too so I really do not need to go out.
And then I get that text from MandaVax, and suddenly I NEED to go out.
To be honest, I was more anxious about getting to the vaccination site and then home, than the actual vaccine. I want to get vaccinated. I’ve been waiting for months to get vaccinated. But I haven’t been out since before the lockdown started that the street outside our subdivision’s gates now feel like a foreign city in a Stranger Danger way.
Now, bear with me here. I have anxiety. My brain doesn’t work the way it used to, normally, automatically. Now I have to plan and take deliberate steps in order for me to do something. And going out was definitely something I needed to plan for.
The night before, I wrote a list of things to do (and bring), and I packed—actually packed!—my backpack. It sounds a bit anal, but I will do anything and everything to lessen my anxiety levels even if it looks strange and unnecessary to other people.
Wallet and house key (v. important), two pens and a bottle of alcohol as per the text, and since I found out (via Twitter) that I’d be sitting inside one of the SM cinemas, I packed a scarf so I don’t freeze to death (or get COVID symptoms) in the process.
I also packed my DaiSuga mochimochis for more comfort. I use a variety of things over the years (my Herrera, J.M. dogtag, a bracelet given to me by one of my friends, etc.) to touch to keep me grounded. I swear, my DSGA mochimochis more than made up for the price I paid with the happiness and comfort they’ve given me since I got them.
I also subtly begged Ayie to keep me company via text, because I had also subtly started to panic about being alone and outside of my tiny comfort zone.
Did I sleep at all? Yeah. A few hours. I was in bed by 9 and fell asleep at around 4:30 AM. Heh.
I woke up at 9AM, and had to rush my pet mama duties and to get ready before I had to leave at 11AM.
I clutched at Suga the whole time I was in the trike, then the UV that would take me to Megamall because holy sheep! I was actually outside, and there were so many people, and everything felt so unfamiliar eventhough there was a time when I used to go to Megamall every freaking day because I liked writing in the coffeeshops and at the food court there.
And then, imagine this. This is the first time I’ve been to the mall in more than a year, and it’s the first time I get to talk to someone in a wide, open space with a freaking face shield on. So I had the world’s most polite shouting match with the manong guard because we couldn’t understand each other when I asked if I can go directly to Cinema 2 for my vaccine, and he directed me to the lady at a computer beside the entrance because he thought I wanted to sign up to get vaccinated.
Manong Guard: SIGN UP KA MUNA SA MANDAVAX, MA’AM. SCAN N’YO LANG PO ‘YUNG QR CODE D’YAN.
Me: HINDI PO, MANONG. MAY SCHEDULE NA PO AKO. DIDIRECHO NA PO BA AKO?
MG: AH, SIGE PO. KUNG ‘YUNG ORAS NA PO SA TEXT SA INYO.
Me: ALA UNA PA NAMAN PO.
MG: AY, MAMAYA NA KAYO PUMUNTA, MA’AM. KAPAG ALA UNA NA. MAG-LUNCH MUNA KAYO, MA’AM! MATAGAL PO KASI ‘YUN, MARAMING TAO!
Me: AY, GAN’UN PO? SIGE PO. THANK YOU PO, SIR!
MG: YOU’RE WELCOME, MA’AM!
I did take his advice to go get lunch first. I’ve been craving for Taco Bell soft tacos for a while because I love them, and the last time I’ve had them was when Ayie, Ivy and I had dinner before we watched the Westlife concert with Rozz a lifetime ago.
I barely tasted them though because I was still nervous about being around other people. And I never realized that I spoke English when I’m nervous, because I ordered my tacos in straight English, and the ate girl at the cashier in Taco Bell probably thought that I was an airhead. Sorry po. I do think in English most of the time, though I speak in straight Filipino when I’m furious.
I made my way to Cinema 2 at 12:50 PM, got asked to show the text from MandaVax and an ID, then I was asked to go into Cinema 2 (or was it 3?).
Now, I’m almost blind. That’s the reason why I rarely go out of the house without my sister. Because I can’t see very well. And add the face shield? THEN add the fact that they don’t even have the house lights on in the theater. It was a miracle I didn’t face plant even once.
The guard directed me to a row of seats that was already near the top of the theater where we waited for about an hour before we were told to go down so we could sign the forms.
The guy to my right was sniffling while watching something on his phone. The guy to my left was having a meet cute with the girl to his left. The guy in front of me was having a quiet solo concert (his voice was actually good). The girl behind me kept kicking my seat, and the guy beside her was already asking if they were going to feed us because it had been an hour of nothing but freezing cold and the guards directing “mga bagong dating, sa taas po” and “next row, tayo!”.
I just sat there, holding Daichi or Suga, while waiting.
When finally it was our row the manong guard addressed when he said “NEXT ROW, TAYO!” (Guy beside the girl behind me: UWI!), we stood up and shuffled outside to get our forms. I totally messed up my vaccination card because aside from having to fill it out without a table, three guards were also channeling the strictest drill sergeants calling out “FORWARD! FORWARD!” even before I could fill out a single line on my form.
Kalma naman, manong and ate! Ninenerbyos na nga ako eh!
I survived the form filling and went into another theater to get screened, and this time, the girl beside me kept worriedly telling her companion that she messed up her own card because the pen she used smudged on the card when she accidentally touched it because “nataranta ako sa guard! Nagmamadali kasi!”. I feel you, sizt.
It took about ten minutes of waiting before I got to the desk where they screen you.
“May ubo, sipon, lagnat, hika—”
And the guy just checked everything on my form even before I could answer.
I did have asthma but I haven’t had an asthma attack in years so I said no to that.
“Hindi po.” Tacos po ito saka patatas, hindi bata.
Then another twenty minutes of waiting before I moved to yet another cinema, and another round of waiting before we were asked to finally come down.
At that point, wala na ‘yung kaba ko. I just wanted to get it over with and to go home so I can go to bed because I was exhausted. I’m telling you, everything is at least five times as hard if you have mental health issues.
The really nice Ate HCW asked me pretty much the same questions in the screening, gave me a spiel about being contacted for my second dose after 28 days, then asked me if I knew which vaccine was available (I said no, although I did know. It was Sinovac.), and asked me if it was okay that it was Sinovac. I just sighed inwardly because the best vaccine is the one available, and after months of waiting, and the actual hours there, I wasn’t going to go home without getting vaccinated.
I said it was okay, and I rolled up my sleeve, and Ate HCW showed me the syringe.
“Ayan, may laman po. Ayan, wala na po.”
Magic lang, Ate?
Seriously, I waited months for this, then hours, and I had no idea what the heck I was expecting. Slow mo? Sweeping teleserye music? A spotlight then a shower of glitter and stars? It took about two seconds before the “may laman” and her “walang laman” comment, and then she was pointing at the next table. I couldn’t even remember if I thanked her kasi ang bilis ng mga pangyayari. If I didn’t, THANK YOU, ATE! YOU ARE AMAZING AND YOU DESERVE GOOD FOOD, GOOD SLEEP, HAPPINESS, AND YOUR HAZARD PAY!
I was given another form to sign with questions about how I feel after the jab (fever, chills, etc.). I felt my arm going numb and my fingertips starting to prickle, but since that’s my body’s normal reaction to small wounds (my whole arm started to shake violently after my finger got pricked during a blood typing thing in college), I didn’t worry about it much.
I chatted with a guy for a bit because he said he thought he was getting cold. We laughed about it probably just because he was nervous because it was our first dose.
When, after fifteen minutes, I still felt normal, I signed off on the form and gave it back. My sister got instructions for after care (meds if she gets sick, no coffee, smoking and alcohol, etc.), so I was thinking I’d get that too. Instead, I got a thumbs up when the guy saw that I said NO to all the side effects listed in the form.
So… I left.
I was in there from 1PM to 4:30 PM. I got the jab at 4:10PM.
And THEN my anxiety ramped back up because NOW I had to go home. Seriously. Sabi sa ‘yo mas takot ako sa biyahe kaysa sa karayom. I’m not afraid of getting the vaccine because I vividly remember being jabbed with the Hepatitis B vaccine when I was around eight. And I do watch when a nurse draws my blood during the annual physical exams when I was still an employee.
I called my mom first to cry. Kidding. It was her birthday. Then I walked around a bit because I missed Megamall. I debated whether to ask Ayie if she wanted to meet up, but I didn’t want to hassle her with a sudden invite to meet, and I was also exhausted (more mentally than physically).
I went to McDo to get dinner for me and my sister (and walked past someone rotating his arm the way I was at that time. Huli ka! Bagong bakuna ka ano?), then to Red Ribbon because I wanted their cake slice thingy.
Then I took a cab home because again, I was exhausted.
Other people who got Sinovac said that they didn’t feel any side effects, except that they ate like dinosaurs after getting the vaccine, and slept like the dead.
My sister got Astra Zeneca and she was crying for our mother 12 hours after getting the vaccine, with an awful headache, limbs she couldn’t move, and a 39.9 degree temp.
I just ate a 2-piece chicken McDo, an extra helping of rice, half a box of Chocolitos, three and a half Red Ribbon cake slices and a whole bottle of Coke Kasalo. Then I slept for about 12 hours, then 14 hours on day two after the vaccine. I didn’t look at those as side effects though because again, sleeping for two days is my body’s normal reaction to being out for a whole day, pretty much like when Kenma gets sick after a particularly intense game.
Also, for a few hours, my arm felt like someone punched it, but that was it.
I’ve actually just recovered from my day out, and I’m already nervous about my second dose. (Seriously, I need to name my anxiety because it won’t leave me alone.)
But the important thing is that I’m half-vaxxed now. To be honest, I got vaxxed 40% for me, 60% so that other people are protected. I have depression too, and, honestly, my own safety isn’t one of my highest priorities, but I’m not going to be the reason why other people get sick.
The mask-wearing thing is for me though. I will continue wearing masks even after they lower restrictions about wearing masks. I’m more comfortable with a mask on. And besides, I got so used to mouthing words and muttering to myself when I’m in public. That would look really weird without a mask.
So, please PLEASE get vaccinated. If your LGU sucks, sign up somewhere else, but please get vaccinated. I thought about getting rescheduled because I wanted to decline getting Sinovac as a protest but that would be like cutting my nose to spite my face. Look at it this way. It’s better to have sex with a cheaper condom, than risk getting a virulent strain of STD because you went bare.
In other (writing) news, I’m going through a god-awful phase of writer’s block. I always tell myself that the best way to combat writer’s block is to keep writing, and I kept trying to but I really couldn’t focus on anything. It got triggered when I accidentally overwrote my most recent WIP folder with an older version and wiped out more than a week’s worth of work (about 9 chapters across four WIPs). I didn’t want to stress myself more because I almost had a breakdown early last week because I couldn’t move past a paragraph in one of my most favorite WIPs.
I think I’m back though? I mean, I managed to write this many words for this blog, right? So… yay, me?
I’ll give it a try. It’s my Wattpad anniversary too, and I did have plans to update everything on Wattpad, but since A LOT of things happened all at once this month (accidentally/stupidly deleting my work, my birthday, my mom’s birthday, sched for my first dose, family drama, me volunteering to help a friend with her website that I still haven’t been able to work on, finding a new, awesome M/M military romance series to binge on, release day of Nalini Singh”s Archangel’s Light which I’ve been waiting for since the very first Guild Hunters book…), I haven’t had a chance to do anything work-wise. And I wanted to release a new self-pub book next month too! Good luck. Hindi na ako aabot.
But anyway, surprise na lang if ever. I’m starting my work sched again today? Tomorrow? I have a ton of outlines and plans. I just need to move my ass.
Thank you for reading my ramblings as always. And again, PLEASE GET VACCINATED! And PLEASE REGISTER TO VOTE!
Enjoy the rest of your day!