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The Surprising Consequence of Going Through the Vaccine Flu that Isn’t Talked About (Likely Because It’s GOOD)
What I’m about to describe has happened to everyone I know who has struggled with the first or second shots (or in my case, both). I haven’t heard or read a peep about this – and when I fill out the CDC questionnaire, they really don’t give an opportunity to riff about your experience. I’ll go with my second shot because it’ll make for a shorter, more readable post. For the first, and the long version, stretch the bad stuff out over a full week and add about 20% to the intensity of the symptoms. Thank you, my most excellent immune system.
My wife and I got my second jab Friday, expecting to sail through it because I had such a rough go with the first. My wife felt her symptoms come on first, just three hours after getting stuck. I, however, felt quite good three hours in. I was relieved. For exactly 1 hour and 58 minutes. My symptoms washed over me like the second 10′ wave on an ocean beach… the first is all giggles as it peaks just over your head… you’ve jumped and it catches you a little off guard, but you’re good and you bob down on the back of the wave. Then the second wave smacks you like a train right in the arm and topples you, dragging you across the bottom for a second. In the space of fifteen minutes I went from smiling to a shivering, sore, pile of I’m not moving from this couch, somebody put in a movie, please. Tylenol, or the preferred Advil Dual Action, would take the edge off the symptoms but would invariably lead to me going from freezing with two blankets on to sweating profusely with my robe flung open and both blankets discarded in just a t-shirt and fleece pajama pants. This would repeat every seven hours (and, of course, you’re only supposed to take two ADAs every eight hours). I went to bed Saturday night knowing I’d be a wreck for Sunday as well.
I slept in a couple hours longer than normal and woke up vastly improved and quite happily surprised. I went for a decent, easy ride with my friends but kept it to the couch and rested up for the remainder of the day. I felt better, but I didn’t feel all that great, either.
Then Monday hit. I felt I didn’t sleep long enough, but when I was up, I was up so I just rolled with it. The day buzzed by because I’m outrageously busy and long about lunchtime, I felt energized. It wasn’t emotional relief, either, I simply felt good. I realized I’d been feeling better than normal most of the morning and it lasted throughout the day and night, into this morning (and I’m hoping into this evening because it’s Tuesday night, baby).
I’m not the only one to experience this, either. Every person I know who had a tough time with either of the vaccine pokes has experienced something similar. With my first shot, after the week of hell I went through, the week or two after… well, it was worth it… I’ve got a great description, actually. So, imagine you’re a big rechargeable battery (in a sense, we are, though we recharge with sleep, beef and bacon). Now, imagine you get left on the charger a little longer than normal and instead of the charge stopping at 100%, you actually fill up to 105%. That’s how it feels, like I’ve got an extra 5% in the tank.
It has its limits, of course. By the time I hit 4 in the afternoon yesterday, driving home from work, I was done. I suited up for a ride, but it was a short easy spin (I was supposed to attend my youngest’s honor award ceremony last night but her tennis match went long so she missed it – entirely her choice and I was not bummed she made that one).
Anyway, point being, if you’ve got some trepidation about getting the vaccine in the first place, it’s not all bad news, doom and gloom if you feel symptoms. The feeling of being super-charged at the end is quite wonderful.
I woke up Sunday morning and my jaw hit the floor before my feet. I felt pretty good. I checked my phone’s clock: 5:38. And I slept in. I was sure once I got moving the pain and shivers would wash over me and I’d feel gnarly again.
Let me back up a minute. When I crawled into bed still smarting from the vaccine flu, I knew for a fact there was no way I would be riding in the morning. It would take a miracle recovery. I was sweating like a wh… well, profusely and I felt rough.
I made some coffee and waited for the inevitable feverish symptoms to commence. I wrote my post for the morning and waited… and nothing. I looked at the clock. My Dual Action Advil wore off at 6. I should have been shivering for an hour already. Nothing.
My morning coffee was glorious. It was one of those cups of coffee that makes you glad you drink coffee. The second cup was just as delicious. My morning coffee was made more glorious because I was beyond hoping… I was riding.
I texted my buddy, Mike at 6:30, who’d planned on riding gravel because it was going to be chilly and windy, that I’d be riding.
My wife woke up shortly after and she said she was feeling a lot better as well. She asked if we could ride the tandem, though. She loves the back of the tandem when she’s not a hundred percent, being able to just pedal, talk and look around. She likes not having to worry about holding wheels in the group, etc.. I won’t lie, I was hoping for the single bikes because the tandem is a lot more work and I was unsure of how I was going to feel, but husbands have to do what’s right in that situation. And I did.
Mike called a little after 7 and plans were made. I sent out a text to everyone and readied the tandem, took a shower and got dressed.
The plan was for an easy ride – all headwind for the first 17-ish miles, tailwind all the way home.
And so it was, and we had a great group.
We rolled out at a decent pace into a gnarly, cold headwind out of the northwest. Mike took the first three miles then we took the next four. McMike took the next bunch. We were barely at a 16-mph average… and I felt surprisingly good. Jess was in rougher shape. She was fighting short, sparse fits of nausea. Big Joe spent some time up front, as did Mike and Diane and I was grateful in our diminished condition. Normally, Jess and I will take big chunks of the headwind when we’re on the tandem, but we simply couldn’t. Our friends really stepped up.
17-1/2 miles out, we finally hit tailwind. The ride home was as easy going as the ride out… just with some help from the wind. My wife and I were synched up excellently as pedaling efficiency was concerned. I love it when we ride like that on the tandem (it’s becoming the norm, actually). On the long home stretch, heading up a slight hill, I could feel my wife decrease her effort (which happens from time to time) and almost immediately she started chuckling and simply said, “Oh! I forgot to pedal for a second.” I busted out laughing and added, “Yep.” She kicked in again and we rolled on.
Unfortunately, there was a lot more north than there was west to the wind so the return trip wasn’t quite as fast as I thought it might be, but neither my wife nor I really cared. The clouds started to break up about six miles from home and the sun started poking through, raising the temperature a few needed degrees. I’d overdressed a little, in case I took a turn for the worse, but it was a meager 36° (2 C) at the start – a few degrees made a big difference.
We finished with 35-1/2 miles at 16-1/2-mph (26.5 km/h). I was more than a little thankful that’s all we did. Having missed riding on Saturday, I was greedy thinking about how many miles I wanted to ride. When Jess said she didn’t want more than 35 miles I readied my Trek so I could ride with Mike to his house then come back the long way (it would have added ten miles). That last mile, though, while I still felt quite excellent, I knew I didn’t need to push it. I made my apologies to Mike (who agreed I shouldn’t be stupid and push it) and called it good.
And just like that, it’s all over but the waiting. Covid poke #2 is in the books and we’re less than two weeks to normal. What a relief.
It is currently 5:40 in the am, Sunday. I got a full seven hours of sleep last night and my vaccine flu broke sometime during that stretch in bed. I sweated through two t-shirts last night, one before I went to bed was drenched and I didn’t even know it till I took it off (my fever was so intense, the moisture wasn’t even cold). This is much better than the first shot for me. With the first, it was a full week before I was back to normal, or to put it closer to where I’m at this morning, it took me five days to feel as good as I do after a day-and-a-half.
I was hoping to sail through the second shot after my body’s enthusiastic reaction to the first, but it just wasn’t to be. However, this’ll do. I was certain I wouldn’t be riding today when I went to bed. As I sit here, I don’t think there’s any question I’ll suit up this morning – in fact, my Dual Action Advil just wore off… I would have started shivering an hour ago if there wasn’t significant improvement over the night.
In my post yesterday, I wrote harshly about a woman my wife and I ran into at the bike shop. Her take on Covid was highly irrational and her behaviors in that regard were even less rational.
A friend whom I’ve been following for years commented:
I understand your frustration. In fact, I share it. But, this covid thing is highly emotional and I think you just need to be patient with people like that lady. I find it too easy to condemn her and be annoyed with her. But, a lot of people have died from this and there are those among us who are afraid of catching it. Don’t look for rationality where it doesn’t exist, even if you think it should, or ought to. She had an emotional response. I consider this subject to be the same as religion, unions and politics. Don’t argue because you aren’t going to change anyone. All you will do is fuel the emotional fire.
[ED. Emphasis provided by me]
Tony is right. I have no doubt I’m suffering Covid fatigue, but that’s not an excuse. Here’s my response:
You make an excellent point, Tony. While it doesn’t exactly fit, I can absolutely tailor it to fit me. As a recovered alcoholic working a daily recovery program, looking at myself first is normal… most people don’t possess the ability to look at their own lives and deduce that what they’re doing is slightly irrational. Thanks for opening my eyes, it’s appreciated.
Gotta work on that empathy. That’s one [area] I can use a lot of improvement.
Today I’m thankful for being on the mend… and possessing the ability to remain teachable. Now it’s time to get the bike ready for a spin! WOOHOO! I’m done, baby! Almost back to normal. And it’s been far too long.
And Sometimes You Get the Horns… Vaccine Flu Pt. 2: This One Might Be Enough for a Day on the Couch.
I had high hopes for my wife and I on the occasion of our second poke yesterday. I saw myself sailing through it. I’d hydrated, taken my Vitamin D, even got some early miles on the bike because I played hooky for my second shot so I would be resting comfortably at home as the vaccine took hold.
Immediately after the shot I felt a little off, but I put that to being hungry. We went to our favorite restaurant and took care of that issue and I felt quite good. My wife started with a low fever first, about three hours after her jab. I was doing maintenance on the bikes and feeling quite fantastic. I stayed hydrated and thought, finally, I was going to sail through the second.
Two hours later I was cold and I degraded quickly. My arm hurt like it stopped a hammer though the rest of the symptoms weren’t near as bad as the first shot, so I thought maybe I could sweat it out. I was a wreck by bedtime. I was sore, but again, not as bad as the first shot… also, the first shot took me a day to react harshly to, this one hammered me in five hours.
I went to sleep after taking a couple of Tylenol to help me sleep through the aches. At two in the morning, apparently that Tylenol wore off because I was hurting pretty bad. I rolled out of bed and took a couple more Tylenol and set on the couch to write this. The pain meds did their trick and I’m not feeling so bad again… actually, other than the sweating I feel quite good… and I’m going back to sleep.
Maybe I’ll be one of those who, after a day and a nap wakes up to feel better and recharged? Fingers crossed. We’re riding in six hours.
After that nap I’m feeling much better… I just may give it a go after some research that “experts” said it should be okay to exercise after the shot, and my butt is longing for my Venge.
Update: it was the Tylenol. I feel like
My wife just took my temp: 101.2.
In funny Covid-19 news, Sanjay Gupta recently said,
I wonder if you know where this is going… when did we start wearing masks outdoors?!
That would be a never. Now, granted, you can’t actually see anyone’s face in that photo… you’re just going to have to trust me. There are none. And certainly not now that the susceptible seniors are vaccinated.
In fact, that report was from yesterday. This is from the CDC two weeks ago, for Easter celebrations:
- Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart.
- Visit with unvaccinated people from one other household indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart if everyone in the other household is at low risk for severe disease.
Now, I wonder why the left in the United States are so ill-informed.
Here’s a better one. We were at the bike shop yesterday and a woman comes in with a mask covering her mouth only. My wife offers that we’d just gotten our second shot. She, of course, backs up six more feet on top of the five already between us and says, “Oh, my, you’ll have to stay away from me. I’m not getting the vaccine because I spoke with four doctors who recommended not to, and you’ll be protein shedding for another two weeks.”
I responded, “Good luck with that [not getting the vaccine]”.
She went on for a minute that we were a danger to others for two weeks. I laughed and walked away. If “protein shedding” were a thing, I’d have heard about it already.
Now, humorously, my wife let me in on the fact that this very woman is taking HGH and has been trying to recruit my wife into a multiple tier marketing scam. And she’s on the stuff.
So let’s take an accounting:
- She walked into the shop with her mask down below her nose. The word “useless” comes to mind.
- She’s on HGH but the vaccine is just a bridge too far – and four doctors have told her not to get said vaccine.
- First, why is it always four doctors? And are all of the kooks talking to the same four doctors?!
- Aaaand better still, all of that and she’s nutty enough to believe in “protein shedding”. In vaccinated people.
God help us all.
After being stuck late Friday afternoon with my first vaccine shot (Moderna), I rode my bike 20 miles at an easy pace for me, averaging a touch better than 16.5-mph for a little more than an hour. I felt a couple of minor muscle pains toward the end, a slight stabbing pain in my quad, then one in my forearm – both on the side I was injected. Other than that, for Friday, nothing any different.
I am not the only one of my friends to ride shortly after being stuck, and a friend who happens to be a well-respected pharmacist was one (he rode through both shots).
Saturday was interesting. I woke up with a surprisingly sore arm. That my arm was sore was not the surprise. That’s expected. It was the degree of soreness that was surprising. It was not enough I bothered with pain management (not even a Tylenol). I went about my morning as I would any Saturday with rideable temperatures and sunshine. I prepped my Trek for the chilly start 36 F, or 2 C, but with the sun rising quickly. We’re upping the mileage as spring takes hold and we had a nice route on tap for the morning; 41 miles and some change on what we call the sod farm loop (a favorite of mine). My friends started showing up shortly before 9am and we rolled out with six in our group, picking up two on the road. We managed a lively, enjoyable pace for the course just shy of 19-mph. Other than feeling a little discombooberated (a variant of discombobulated) at times when my heart rate went up with my effort, I felt no ill-effects on the ride other than my sore shoulder.
It was a special day, too. My mother, who lives about 45 minutes from my house, was scheduled for her second shot and, with my sister’s family busy, I was taking her to get it done. I showered immediately on getting home, got ready, slid into my vehicle and headed down to pick her up. I also picked up lunch along the way and ate while my mom was in getting stuck. Shortly after eating, I hit a wall of sorts. I was tired. I almost took a nap in the car but didn’t want to miss my mom coming out. Her second shot was administered at the University of Michigan’s stadium, the Big House – with all of the people roaming around, I just wanted to make sure she found the car because I’d moved to a closer, better parking spot.
Everything went fine and I got my mom back to her car without incident. Then, I got my butt home, where I took a nap. Then I watched some TV… and took another nap. And another. After that third nap it dawned on me, it was the vaccine that had me drained.
My daughters had their boyfriends over in the afternoon and my wife and I cooked dinner for everyone. It was an enjoyable time – my girls choose well.
I watched a movie and one-quarter before wanting my bed. Sleep took me quickly and I slept wonderfully, through the night.
On waking this morning, there’s rain in the area so the ride is a bit up in the air. It just may be a day off, but only for the rain – the vaccine wouldn’t sideline me a bit. If it dries out, I’ll ride. The soreness in my arm has subsided greatly and I can’t tell how tired I am quite yet, but appears to be the extent of my first shot symptoms. I ran an interwebz scanner over my arm and apparently Bill Gates forgot to load the tracker into my vaccine. Lucky me. I also haven’t lapsed into an autistic ball on the floor or turned into a zombie, thank God. I am, however, thankfully well on the road to normal. I’m expecting a bit of a tougher time after my second shot, but I have no doubt I’ll ride through it. My pharmacist friend did.
My experience may differ from others. I am exceptionally healthy and firmly believe I’ve just hit middle-age at 50. My immune system is, and always has been, excellent. I am slightly overweight, because I love food, but am still on the good side of the Body Mass Index scale. I’m also quite exceptionally fit. While I could drop a few pounds, I have no doubt they’ll be gone before summer hits. Excess weight tends to burn off when you’re riding 200 to 300 miles a week.
UPDATE: Sunday was a little rough. Thankfully, the weather sucked. Cold, windy and raining, so I was quite happy to spend the day lounging around. Unfortunately, I got so much sleep during the day, I found it impossible to fall asleep later that evening. This morning, Monday morning, I simply feel discombobulated and a little sore all over. No fever, just random body pain (mostly in the shoulders) and feeling a little run down. I did show up for work this morning, though I don’t know if I’ll stick it out or just go home and sleep it off.
I first felt symptoms that matched with reports of what happens with COVID-19 somewhere around March 19th, just shy of a month ago. Those symptoms were surprisingly mild – just enough to make you wonder. Tight lungs and chest, I couldn’t say shortness of breath, it just felt as if someone was squeezing the tops of my lungs so I couldn’t get full use of them. I thought I was just being hyper-sensitive until the annoying dry cough started. My buddy’s son and wife had it, though this was before tests were abundant (due to a bureaucratic SNAFU, thanks to the FDA). She was tested for everything but COVID and all of that was negative. They didn’t send her test in for COVID because she didn’t fit the profile for someone who could become terribly ill. Chuck started experiencing symptoms shortly thereafter. It was the damned fist bumps at the end of a ride (snotty glove to snotty glove, wiped my nose the next day… we stopped with the fist bumping just after the initial panic and his wife became sick). I texted my boss that morning and called him a little later. He paid me to
stay work from home for the rest of the week. My symptoms eased over that weekend but according to guidelines I had till Thursday the next week before I could go back to work (72 hours after symptoms and minimum seven days after symptoms first showed up). My wife complained of symptoms that matched mine the day after I started feeling better.
Just before I was supposed to go back to work, our governor shut our industry down. I’ve been home since.
That wasn’t the end, though. I’ve had good days and not as good days, since. I believe continuing with my cycling was vitally important to as well as I’ve done through this. In fact, when this is all done, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that those who locked themselves in suffered worse than those who managed to get as much fresh air as possible fared better… but that’s nothing more than a personal hypothesis.
Long after the dry cough was gone, and long after the tightness in my chest eased considerably, I felt like something had been taken out of me – that I was a little short. Not short of breath, I just wasn’t all the way back. Some days, not all, it still felt like the top quarter of my lungs were useless. In terms of cycling, I stopped sprinting and I was usually okay with puttering along with my wife (for the most part). While I wanted to shake the funk, I didn’t want to overdo it and land myself in dire straights. Still, I wanted me back again, at the same time. It was frustrating, and I internalized the whole struggle.
I always had the thought in the back of my head, “what if it gets worse… a lot worse“.
I finally shook that yesterday. I don’t know how or why the switch flipped, but it did. I gained a lot of me back. Going by percentages, during symptoms I was 67%. After, I was 80-85%. Yesterday I hit 90-95%. I can still feel something, but my breathing is loose and free again.
And just in time, too. We went through a cold snap for the last four days – it snowed three of them even if it didn’t stick. Today, while it’s going to be windy later, we’ll have a decent temperatures along with a steady breeze and sunshine to start the day. I’ve got big miles planned, too. 10-11-mph winds heading into the wind, and it should pick up to 18-mph to push me home. If I time it right. We shall see.
Anyway, Mrs. Bgddy is still where I was – not quite right, but she’s getting back to normal. Unlike me, she had the intense headache a few days ago. If she follows my pattern, it’ll be another four or five days before she feels like herself again.
As for my daughters, they experienced nothing. Completely asymptomatic.
So, you may wonder why we never got tested… Well, when I started with my symptoms, we were still in the “you’re not old enough or sick enough for us to send this test in” phase of testing. Getting tested would have been useless. I will be getting tested for antibodies when that test comes out – a doctor friend of mine has my back on that… this way, at least I can give blood to help others who aren’t as fortunate as I am.
More on that another day.