July 22, 2021
Among the current flood of bad news is the word that a few fully vaccinated people are testing positive. According to this widely-cited study, their most common symptoms are headache, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, and loss of the sense of smell.
I got my second dose of Pfizer in March. I haven’t been in a big crowd since I went to the clinic for that shot. I know the vaccines are highly potent against the raging Delta variant, which is why 99.5% of the people dying are unvaccinated. I still wear an N95 in public places.
Unless we’re talking about University of Michigan football or basketball, I’m a pretty rational guy. Colleagues used to say I could keep a steady hand when things were falling apart. And except for the loss of smell, the effects of my seasonal allergies are almost identical to the Covid symptoms above. So why, when I woke up the other day with a congested nose and a mild sore throat – exactly the kind of allergic post-nasal drip I’ve had for years – did fear grab my insides while I ran to look up those symptoms?
Though it was probably wishful thinking, I thought I was done with pandemic heebie-jeebies. My anxiety went down several notches after we stopped sanitizing groceries and quarantining mail. When the first jab hit my shoulder, I felt real relief and hope.
What probably got to me is the roller-coaster effect: a terrible winter when cases soared, followed by a hopeful spring and early summer, normalcy popping out like the leaves on the trees, and now we’re hurtling backward. Again. A leading vaccine expert at the Mayo Clinic says this about Delta: “Don’t be deceived that ‘I got this far and I am OK.’ This is a very different variant. It will find you. This virus will find everybody who is not immune.”
Even though I have as much immunity as anyone, I’m recalibrating. From now on I’m following the doctor’s lead and masking up in all public spaces, indoors and out. However, I will not grind myself down with paranoia. Again.
Doing rational things (and writing about them) helps keep the neurosis at bay. A cold shot of vodka on a hot summer day doesn’t hurt, and neither does some good old rock ‘n roll by the Kinks. Take care and be safe.
Silly boy, you got so much to live for
So much to aim for, so much to try for
You blowing it all with paranoia
You’re so insecure, you self-destroyer — Ray Davies, “Destroyer”