I have hated needles since my childhood.
I don’t have trypanophobia, but I was definitely that kid when immunization time rolled around: The one who shrieked loud enough for everyone in the building to hear.
The sensation of a needle feels like a floor burn in my veins and flesh, and that poke makes my skin crawl.
My dad once told me my agony and screams made my mom cry, which is hilarious because I’ve seen her cry just once in my life — and that wasn’t it.
Thankfully, as I grew older, that fear dissipated. However, that panic only dulled after a visit for the flu shot when I was 10.
I saw a 5- or 6-year-old boy smiling as he entered the doctor’s office to get his shot and thought, “Here we go. He won’t look so happy on the way out.”
This child got his shot, left with a lollipop and not a single tear in sight. My sobbing from shots ended that day.
The anxiety occasionally rears its head, but I’ve survived most of my adult life without it. Then COVID-19 made its way around the globe, closing everything and creating lockdown mandates in March 2020.
By mid-April, I craved my regular gym sessions. I missed my cheat day meals inside Bingo Burger and my trips to Tinseltown for the popcorn. I figured we would all have to take the vaccine to return to this normal.
However, I wanted to avoid the shot if possible. After all, COVID-19 hadn’t affected me or anyone I knew. So why bother to get a shot?
Then, reality hit with a single phone call from my mom. The Friday before Memorial Day in 2020, she called and told me my grandad died of COVID-19 and that crushed me.
Zoom meetings weren’t custom at this point, so my grandma, who’d been married to my grandad for 35-plus years, couldn’t be beside her husband in his final moments.
All she had: a phone call from the hospital alerting her of his death and then she had to plan a funeral she couldn’t attend. Here I am whining about the lockdown, its guidelines and a shot — while my grandma lost her love.
When I received the news, I was at Memorial Park, wearing a mask and adhering to the rules. I was preparing to do a cardio workout, but my mom’s words zapped me of all my energy.
I aim to be a look-at-the-bright-side person, but that didn’t fit this situation. Even if it did, I had no right to utter those words to my grandmother.
A few days later, my older brother and I called her and listened while she reminisced and we occasionally chimed in. She was in good spirits, all things considered.
Her demeanor never withered as she shared various memories of her and my grandad. If she could reflect on his life without issue; surely, I could take a vaccine to do my part.
Fast forward to this April when I got the shot, I arrived at the Broadmoor World Arena to a fleet of cars filling the parking lot. Attendees approached each car with instructions and pamphlets.
I immediately placed those in the passenger seat. I was too nervous to read, but not for small talk.
“Does it take long for the 5G to kick in?” I asked.
I joked to hide my angst, but the attendee didn’t find my jest funny. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time they’d heard something 5G-related.
The process took about 30 minutes and, per guidance from staff at the facility, we had to wait in our cars for 15 minutes after the shot to make sure we felt OK.
I pulled out my phone and scrolled through social media to burn those 15 minutes. While sifting, I recalled people saying they felt a sense of relief after the vaccination.
It sounded cheesy, but I understood their feelings during my wait.
I doubt anyone watching that ball drop on New Year’s Eve/Day 2020 thought we’d be in a yearlong pandemic that year, or that we’d still feel the impact s in 2021.
Local shops and other businesses shuttered because of this pandemic. Several people can’t return to the norm because that no longer exists.
One poke for me and I can return to most of my life prior to COVID-19. All I needed to do was be brave and get the vaccination. I wish my grandmother and others could cure their sorrow with a shot.
Marcus Hill is the sportswriter for the Southeast Express and a staff writer for the Schriever Sentinel.