18 Mar., 2021

“Vaccine Interlude”

So, I am now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. No real side effects. Beginning about 24 hours after I got the shot, there was some soreness in my arm, but only when I massaged it with a lot of pressure. I was hoping for the sleepiness that a lot of people reported, and yeah, I slept more than usual, but still, I didn’t get to go to bed at 10pm and wake up at 6am.

I made sure I had the day off after the shot, just in case. I kept track of my reactions as I went, beginning with my dilemma the day before over how to get to the vaccination site.

DAY BEFORE: I’ve never reacted to a vaccine (except when oral typhoid gave me the runs), but I’m hearing so many stories, I’m concerned– enough that I’m not doing anything the rest of the day tomorrow [writing Saturday night before a Sunday afternoon injection], and I’m off Monday.

I’d especially like to know whether there is any reason not to be driving or biking right afterwards. Would it be smarter to walk to the Brickyard [the Indy 500 racetrack, which was the vaccination site]? Right now, I’m leaning toward biking. I know there’s ample parking at the track. I could walk over, and Uber back.

I really like walking and for me, 50°F is balmy, not to mention my appointment is at 3:20pm, when it should be about the warmest time of the day.

I think I’m good on pain prevention. I have meloxicam for arthritis in my knee, and tramadol to prevent bounce-back migraines– I also have sumatriptan for migraines in the first place. I think I’ll take a dose of each with me, and maybe some caffeine as well. Caffeine helps me with pain– mostly with headaches, but with other pain as well.

[I was aware of this; I took medication with me, to have afterwards. I did not take anything before the shot.]

I think I will take a glucometer with me as well. The only times I have come close to passing out, it’s been from low blood sugar. I haven’t heard of vaccines affecting blood sugar, but carrying the kit is not hard.


4:40pm, DAY OF: Turned out it was set up for drive-through, so it’s good I went ahead and took the car. I wouldn’t have been able to do it on foot– bike, maybe, but it’s just as well.

I was vaccinated in Gasoline Alley, if anyone is curious, not on the track.

I haven’t heard anything at all about how people are reacting to the J&J vaccine. The mild flu symptoms from the other two are pretty famous, but I don’t know whether this happens with J&J.

So I have been vaccinated for about 90 minutes.

Pain: the shot I barely felt. It was pretty much like a flu shot. Arm is not in the least bit sore. I actually kinda roughly massaged the spot to check, and nothing.

Dizziness, vertigo, etc.: totally negative. I did check my blood sugar before I left, and ate some cheese and fruit, which got it up to 108. Sometimes stress makes it drop, and just in case the shot did something weird, I had a power bar with my glucometer in the car, but I had no low blood sugar symptoms.

Fatigue: none, but it may still be early for that.

Headache: none, and I am very prone to headaches.

Fever: none, but again, may be too early. (FTR, temp was 97°F before I left; now it is 96.9°F.)

Rash, hives, swelling, other allergy: none. The vaccine people made me wait 15 minutes before exiting, and I had nothing happen. Nothing appeared to happen to any of the 18 or so people around me.

I will say, it was fast. I never idled in line, except for about two minutes when I was next, and that was mainly because the car in front of me had 4 people in it, and one had to get out to get a left shoulder shot. The whole process, from entrance to exit, including the 15 minute wait, took about 40 minutes. I was back home in under an hour.

Indiana is the crap car capital of the US. Cars breaking down in line was a real possibility. Part of the time, I was behind a car with Visqueen for a rear window, and part of the time, another one with brown tailpipe smoke. To be fair, I was driving a manual with not the best parking brake in the world, and so I put it in gear and shut off the engine for my shot.


3:00am, DAY AFTER: I’ve been awake for a couple of hours, and finally decided to capitulate, take some medicine, and get some more sleep, even though I can sleep tomorrow.

Before I do, I thought I’d do a report on symptoms.

The insomnia is just me being the poster child for insomnia that I am. The fact that I have been awake from 1-3am ET means nothing. However, as I’ve been awake, I’ve noticed some body aches, or stiff muscles. Nothing bad, and it doesn’t feel like the kind of stiff muscles you get when sick– feels more like I helped someone move yesterday.

Blood sugar was low when I got up (which may be why I got up). It’s normal now.

Still no fever or headache. Taking some tramadol with the sleep meds, and maybe some Tylenol as well.

Additionally, woke up very thirsty. Drank about 24 ozs water, and 8 of milk. Wasn’t expecting that. Haven’t made duck soup, but I have a good recipe. I won’t eat it, but the duck is already dead before I ever get there.

[Hmmmm. Wrote that at 3am, 12 hours post-shot and sleep-deprived. Have no idea what I was talking about. I’ve been a vegetarian since the late 1980s. Don’t know if I was delirious from the shot, or just tired.]

Up again after about an hour and 45 minutes (it is 5am). Body aches are gone. Don’t know if they just are, or if medication is responsible, but I feel fine.

No fatigue. Slept 7 hours total– pretty good for me.

Slight headache, already gone from taking sumatriptan.

Slight soreness to arm with deep pressure. Nothing big.

The one thing that did happen was that I woke up very thirsty again– also had to pee really bad, and after I did, drank 16 ozs water, and 10 ozs juice made in my juicer, mostly from bruised, overripe or slightly dried out fruits and vegetables. [Just out of curiosity, strained it once, and it had a LOT of fiber. Put the fiber back in.] I realize juicing is not as good as eating the actual foods, but I didn’t feel like eating anything, and I like not throwing stuff out because I overbought, forgot something in the back of the fridge, or the bag of oranges had one with a rotten spot I hadn’t noticed.

I have been Googling, and thirst does not seem to be a reported side effect of the J&J vaccine. I don’t think I was sweating in my sleep. Yesterday afternoon and evening, I may have made a couple more trips to the bathroom than is typical for me, but I can’t believe it made me this thirsty.

I also doubt that, even with my hypoglycemia, the shot caused sudden onset diabetes, mainly because my blood sugar has been pretty good. It was 84 this morning. That’s a little bit high for me, but not “untreated diabetic” high. That would be in excess of 200, and could be as high as 800.

I will test it again about 30 minutes after I finish the juice, however.

I can’t find data for J&J, but for Astra Zenica, which is also an adenovirus vaccine, there have been 319 reports of thirst as an adverse event for, like, 12 or 15 million doses. I wouldn’t infer a relationship with a 319:12,000,000, ratio, but I have hardly eaten anything all day– just been drinking. We’ve got high-protein milk in the house, and some clear protein drinks that are pretty old, but taste fine– they’re from when I had surgery a couple of years ago. Juice, sports drinks, sugar-free root beer. It’s very strange.

The truth is, if I had had absolutely no symptoms whatsoever, I’d worry I wasn’t building any immunity. Now at least I can be pretty sure the shot did its job.

Now, the only vaccines I’ve never had are yellow fever, Shingrix and Gardasil. I need to get Shingrix.

Published by Chava Freya

Insomnia is a brain-based disorder I’ve had since I was at least 16 years old. Anti-anxiety medicine doesn’t help, except when there’s external anxiety exacerbating the problem. Sleep hygiene is irrelevant, because it’s not the problem, although I have submitted to it five different times, including having sleep specialists actually come to my home and advise me on rearranging furniture, buying special pillows, forbidding TVs in the bedroom, telling me the bed was for nothing but sleep, sex and reading, and when that didn’t work, then nothing but sleep. Period. That was the biggest failure of all.

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