Hope Won

Well, we’ve finally reached the last day of 2020, a year few will miss. It’s been a year like no other I have lived in the past 50 years. Right from the get-go it became apparent it was going to be a devastating year.

Destructive fires in Australia, California, Oregon and elsewhere killed millions of species of wildlife and will leave their mark on the land for decades. The talk of possible war with Iran came early, then quickly dissipated. The hurricane and typhoon season was record-breaking.

Racism, police brutality, and massive protests took place over the summer. And of course as the backdrop to all of this was a presidential election in a country that is as politically divided as it was during the Civil War.

But more than any of that, a deadly global pandemic altered everyone’s lives.

So if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or tired, there’s good reason! It’s been a challenging year but of course there’s always good to be found.

People have put their lives on the line to fight the fires, call for justice, and heal strangers.

For me personally, this hasn’t been a bad year. My close family and friends have remained healthy, although we did recently lose a great-uncle to Covid-19.

I’m absolutely amazed that my hospital co-workers and I have remained healthy throughout all of this. There were a couple of scares, but we have remained safe. I wouldn’t have bet on that last spring. I thought we’d be going down like dominoes.

One thing I’m not surprised by is the development of a new vaccine before the end of the year. I felt it would come soon because when people put their minds to something with proper funding things get done. We can go to the moon, and we can cure diseases.

Over the last couple of weeks the vaccines have been distributed in hospitals across the country and here in Decatur. I received my vaccine two days ago, though I could have chosen to receive it two weeks ago. I wanted to learn more about it first since I’m not the type to just jump into anything without a lot of thought.

If you’re wary of the vaccine, just know that the technology has been developing over the past 30 years. This wasn’t something that scientists just threw together with a hope and a prayer at the last minute. This particular type of vaccine is new but the research and medical know-how for its development isn’t.

Still, I was a little concerned until earlier this week when I was cleaning the instruments of a Covid patient. No matter how good PPE is it’s not 100% effective and as I was washing off a bloody instrument some spray splashed back in my eye.

That was it. I knew I was playing with fire and any risks of a new vaccine seemed very small in comparison to potentially having to fight off Covid-19 on my own.

So, the first thing I did when I arrived to work the next day was submit a form indicating I wanted to be on the vaccine list.

Later that night as I was walking to the cafeteria there were a couple workers who had just begun looking for co-workers who would like the vaccine. There were some dosages remaining since some who had signed up canceled. The vaccine is only good for 6 hours once distributed to the hospital. After six hours any remaining dosages have to be thrown away.

I considered it divine providence because I normally don’t go to dinner at the time I had left that evening, and we just happened to meet at the same spot.

So I went upstairs with my heart pounding a little from the unknown consequences. Would I burst into flames? Would I go into anaphylactic shock? Would I later turn into a werewolf or grow extra appendages?

A movie I had watched as a kid came to mind, The Shaggy Dog. What was I getting myself into? Was I altering my DNA with that shot? All those silly fears and fake news on Facebook popped up. What if they’re right?

Well, there was no time to think about any of those possibilities, though I did scan the room wondering where the crash cart was hidden.

The fears quickly died down as I hardly felt the needle. If I didn’t know I was getting a shot I wouldn’t have noticed it at all. Later that night my arm was sore but that’s very common. I’ve had far worse arm pain from other vaccines.

What I wasn’t expecting was the overwhelming joyous feeling of relief I felt that evening. I realized how hard it’s been to live with the knowledge that I or anyone I care about could die from the damned disease.

No, I’m not out of the woods yet. It takes a few weeks for the vaccine to become effective, and I still have to receive a second dose for that 95% effectiveness but what a fitting way to end this year.

It ended with hope and hope doesn’t mean, well, I hope I get lucky and this turns out okay. It means that good won in the end through the hard work of many, and I think from a lot of help from above.

I wish everyone a safe and happy new year.

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