On Feb. 19, I received my second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. According to the nurse who gave me the injection and clinical trial results from the biotech company, the vaccine is about 95% effective against COVID-19 within seven to 14 days, a period that ended for me on March 5.
Now more than ever, I’ve thought about how I’ll live my life with Duchenne muscular dystrophy after getting my vaccine. While I’m not suddenly throwing out my mask collection, attending a large party, or emptying my hand sanitizer, I have less fear about the virus. It will be safe for me to go out again. Everyone will have to face the world at some point. But because of the added difficulty of living with Duchenne, I plan to do it differently.
Imagine being stranded on an island where you’re forced to eat coconuts, fruit, and fish, are separated from your family and friends, and are bored out of your mind. After a year of barely surviving, you are finally rescued. Obviously, you would be overjoyed to see the people you love again. But I’m guessing the first thing you would want to do is stay at a five-star hotel and order room service all day long.
This is obviously not the situation with COVID-19, but part of me feels connected to that island rescue experience.
I have a newfound appreciation for the little things in life that I once took for granted: eating out for dinner, visiting more than one friend at a time, going to the grocery store (my parents have done this for my safety), watching live sports and movies, and traveling. I’ll also rediscover how Duchenne makes all of that so much more difficult. It will be an opportunity, however, to move forward in my life, which had been put on hold by COVID-19.
My parents and I traveled a lot before I got busy with college and life, and Duchenne doesn’t make traveling easy. We must haul my scooter in and out of various vehicles, find excursions that aren’t physically taxing, and negotiate cultures unfamiliar with the rare muscle condition. Traveling has made us experts at working around whatever obstacle we face, and I’m hoping to bring that skill back as I reenter society.
Because I’ll have more autonomy with my vaccine, I’m planning on traveling with friends, going camping again, and enjoying the things we lost because of COVID-19. Each adventure will be a new idea for a workaround and an opportunity to be open-minded about doing life with a disease that’s taken my muscles away.
I’m going to be socially outgoing, because after extra introspection and time at home, I realized that I missed out on so much before COVID-19 because I was self-conscious about what I could and couldn’t do in my wheelchair. Post-COVID-19 me is going to make more friends, ask people I like on dates, and say yes to social events even if I don’t feel like going. I’ll stay an introvert, of course, but being around people and loving them reminds us that we are human. It’s a connection that a lot of us, including me, have lost, however much we’ve interacted with others online.
COVID-19 has given me an excuse not to pursue my career in journalism with the vehemence I once did. Let’s just say the lack of structure I developed during quarantine isn’t going to get me any prestigious job offers. The vaccine will give me a pathway to get back on my post-college trajectory and focus on my future.
With added time because of the coronavirus, I’ve had time to think about what I want my adult life with Duchenne to look like. It’s currently comfortable to live with my parents, who know what I need sometimes even better than I do. With this vaccine, I have the confidence to find an aide and live on my own, no matter how uncomfortable it might be. I’ve done it before in Sacramento, California and Washington, D.C., and plan to do it again.
The fear of COVID-19 has been debilitating, and my hope is that I won’t be afraid anymore with the vaccine. I won’t be afraid of living my life and seizing the day. I’ve been blessed with an opportunity to hit the reset button and come out of COVID-19 ready to make my life and the lives of those around me that much better.
Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.
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