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Emails to my Therapist

A Fierce Immune System Means Worse Side Effects?

Nicholas–I had my second shot (and hope you’ve had yours) and I now have new respect for sufferers of full-blown Covid-19. A few hours of the side effects of the vaccine–and that’s all it was, about 18 hours–were a shock. I’ve read that the stronger one’s immune system, the worse side effects may be. Apparently, I have one fierce immune system, a real beast.

worse side effects

I had the shot at 2 p.m, followed by a walk at home with Carlo the Dog loping along beside me. After days of rain, the sun was bright on the tiny streams zig-zagging down the gravel road. I felt light and joyful that it was a gorgeous day and I would soon be 94.1% safe and on my way to re-entering the wider world.

About 10 p.m. I started feeling a bit uneasy and soon went to bed.

Then came, all in a swoop:



painfully stiff neck

waves of heat


back too painful to stand for long

joint pain



When I finally fell asleep, I dreamed I was a layer cake made of an odd collection of materials that was falling apart.

When I fully woke up at about 5 p.m. the next day, there was nothing left of the trouble but fatigue and a quickly passing hint of chest pain.

The following morning I was fine. And then that evening: faint free-floating sadness, perhaps because it’s in the nature of things that people get sick and die. But that will pass; denial will be at full flood again soon.

A Tiny Typhoon

One way and another, the second shot was a little whirlwind that spun me around and then left.

Of course I knew I’d write this and so in the midst of my mini-illness I took a selfie, a picture that will never see the light of the blue screen. It looked like Monet’s painting of his wife on her deathbed. Not flattering.

I’ve never been sicker than I was for a few hours. (Though, the fact that I was able to reach for my phone and take a picture shows I’ve had a lucky healthy life, have never been seriously ill.)

I am so sorry for anyone who has been through days and weeks of the full impact of this virus. Those who’ve survived have weathered something awful, and often in isolation.

I am so glad I could get that shot, and that light-hearted walk.

Vigorously wishing everyone well,





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  • Judy Carrino
    February 19, 2021 at 2:23 pm Reply

    Sorry to learn you had those side-effects. Apparently, I have a non-functioning immune system, as I had no aide-effects at all.

    • Peggy Payne
      February 19, 2021 at 4:46 pm Reply

      Well, I’m glad you’re holding up, Judy, with or without a crazy immune system.

  • Arlene
    February 19, 2021 at 5:29 pm Reply

    I had those same side effects after the second dose of Pfizer, Peggy. In bed for two full days-plus…..but then, boom, gone. (FYI, my husband had zero side effects!)

    • Peggy Payne
      February 19, 2021 at 5:50 pm Reply

      Wow, two days is way too much, Arlene. I got off a lot easier. Mine was Moderna. I’m glad we’re both through it.

  • Robert Braxton
    February 21, 2021 at 10:17 pm Reply

    soon be scheduling our #2 Pfizer round (hoping this coming Saturday).

    • Peggy Payne
      February 22, 2021 at 10:37 pm Reply

      Get the Tylenol ready, Bob!

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