In the life of my beloved Heather Rochat, nothing medical is ever simple.
She’s the one juggling such wonderful conditions as multiple sclerosis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease and a couple of others that would drive spell check absolutely insane.
She’s the one with the list of allergies and sensitivities that looks more like the Terms and Conditions for a software purchase.
If this were a comic book, she’d be all set for her superhero origin story. In this world, she’s mostly set for a lot of doctor’s appointments and unexpected Urgent Care trips.
So I don’t know why I was surprised when even her vaccination turned into high drama.
Like most Americans, we’ve been mentally singing “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” since an early stage in the pandemic. Heather has been especially eager – her immune system has more compromises than a last-minute budget deal, so the sooner that all of Chez Rochat got inoculated, the better.
Finally, the calls and emails started to arrive. One by one, each of us got the first poke. Heather’s appointment came last, on a fine Saturday morning that seemed to project blue skies ahead.
Jab. Wait. Return. Simple, right?
One more time. When we’re talking about Heather, nothing medical is ever simple.
“I don’t feel too good,” she said after pulling up in the driveway.
Alarm bell. Yup. Heather had a lovely rash across her shoulders and along her neck. And a little confusion into the bargain.
Allergic reaction. Again.
At moments like this, it’s easy to feel stuck. We’ve all had a taste of that, right? The light at the end of the tunnel that turns out to be an oncoming semi. The “few more weeks” that keeps stretching on and on. The crisis that keeps popping up its head like a Whac-a-Mole game.
When it’s all dragged on so long, it’s oh-so-tempting to give up. Sometimes it doesn’t even seem to matter if the news is good or bad. Some folks throw off precautions too soon, believing the worst is clearly over. Some simply quit out of fatigue and despair.
But it’s still about all of us. And we’re still in the fight.
And when you stay the course, hope has a chance to pay off.
In Heather’s case, she won on the long odds.
We talked to an allergist a couple of days later. Yes, he said, it had been an allergic response. But based on 4,000 similar cases he’d seen, it wasn’t severe enough to prevent dose no. 2 from going ahead. Just keep the appointment and stay a full hour afterward in case of trouble.
But that was it. No having to seek out Johnson & Johnson single-shot clinics. No need to encase Heather in a protective bubble for the rest of her days. Just a brief setback that didn’t have to be permanent or severe.
For now, we could exhale.
For today, we’d won after all.
Sure, we’re still crossing our fingers a little bit. The unexpected could still happen on the second poke. But that’s the way of it for all of us, right? The unexpected can always arrive. All you can do is do the right thing, give yourself the best odds possible, and then pray that you’re ready for whatever happens next.
I think we are. As a family. As a nation. So long as we hold together.
We know what we need to do. We just need to keep doing it until we’re in the clear.
And in a complicated world, maybe that’s pretty simple after all.