My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

It all began the day before…

We set off around 8:30 a.m. for Sanur. The excitement that pumped through my veins would soon be joined by the second dose of the AstraZeneca cocktail. I’d waited three months for this moment.

When we arrived, even at that early hour, we weren’t alone. This is one-quarter of the motorbike parking area. “Lots of people,” Ketut said. “We may have to wait a long time.”

The staff at Bali Mandara have their gig down. My blood pressure and temperature were taken in one room. I was ushered into another cubicle for the prick. The whole thing was over in twenty minutes and we were on our way home.

I had no reaction at all to the first jab, so when I awoke for toilet visitation at 4 a.m. the next morning, I expected nothing out of the ordinary. I sat up. The room did a somersault and two spins as a black curtain descended over my consciousness. I slowly, carefully, lay back down.

WTF was that?!

I breathed deep to calm myself but my heart had a new dance step, an awkward thump and flutter that did nothing to ease my spiraling fear. With intense concentration and a level of willpower I didn’t know I had, I made it to the bathroom and back to bed. Then slept.

When I awoke again two hours later, the barest movement of my head brought whirling nausea. It had gotten worse.

Breathe, Sherry. Don’t panic. Breathe…

At times like these, which are extremely rare and always seem to happen when Ketut has gone to his village for a few days, I debate with myself. Should I call someone? The doors are locked. I can’t get up to unlock them. Maybe just let a friend know that I’m feeling unwell. What if I become completely compromised and someone needs access to my bank account? Better send the pin number to Ketut, just in case. No, then he’ll worry and won’t want to get his second dose…

Sleep overtook my internal narrative.

The next time I woke up I had a plan. Inch by inch, with long rests in-between, I would scooch myself up the curved arm of my bed until I was sitting upright.

I scooched the first inch.

The room’s rock-n-roll started but I stared at my tented knees as though they were the key to salvation – and it seems they were. The room settled.

I scooched the second inch staring at my knees.

The third.

The fourth.

At the fifth scooch my head cleared the arm of the bed. I clasped my hands behind my neck to fool my body into thinking my head was still supported by the pillow.

The sixth, the seventh, the eighth – I was sitting. So I sat. Waiting to stabilize. Hopeful.

My phone was within reach. I googled side effects of 2nd dose AstraZeneca. Dizziness and irregular heartbeat were not on the list. But farther down, where it said If you experience these symptoms, call your doctor immediately, there it was: dizziness and weakness. That didn’t make me feel better, but it did motivate me to use every humanly possible effort to beat this nasty situation.

With the same plodding slowness I’d used to sit, I shifted position so my feet could rest on the floor. Eyes straight ahead, at the pace of grass growing, I levered myself up. I stood. Took a baby step. Stopped. Took another. I was walking.

I unlocked the door.

By 2:00 p.m., starving, I baby-stepped to the kitchen, ate, then slept again, sitting up.

By 6:00 p.m. I didn’t have to be as careful. I could stand, walk, and pivot slowly without dire consequences. My heart wasn’t behaving yet, but I knew I’d conquered. The worst was over.

When my girls were little I read them this book:


Poor Alexander. His day really sucked. But not as much as mine did.

This morning my heart beats steadily. My body’s tired but it isn’t struggling to maintain an even keel. I’ve reached out to friends with my scary story and have gotten loving messages in return. That works so much better for me than having them rush to my rescue when there’s absolutely nothing they can do.

I debated posting about my experience but we’re all wired so differently that the standard responses to vaccines, or whatever life throws our way, can vary greatly.

I’m going on record as one of those who doesn’t fit the mold. Maybe my story will bring comfort to someone else who wakes up one morning wondering WTF.

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