Posts Written By L Parker Brown

Speaking of Cousins

“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream,” or so the saying goes. So today (and each third Sunday in July) is National Ice Cream Day.

Some folks reading this are probably asking themselves, what does National Ice Cream Day have to do with cousins? If they keep reading, they’ll find out, won’t they?

One day as I wondered if there is any day recognizing cousins, I discovered more than I wanted to know. First, of course, there is a national holiday for cousins. But, in addition, there are numerous other national holidays; and some are not even on our calendars.

I think that society has gone way overboard with all its national holidays. There is a national day designated for nearly everything under the sun.

Animal lovers have National Love Your Pet Day on February 20. In addition, there is National Employee Appreciation Day (the first Friday in March) for people in the workforce. With the exception of two, hardly any of the national holidays that I mention in this post is a federally assigned holiday.

National Hot Chocolate Day is on January 31, National Pizza Day, February 9, and National Coffee Day is on October 1. (Fist pump for National Coffee Day!) The fourth Sunday in July (this year on the 25th) is National Parents Day.

There are also nationwide annual observances for families, like National Family Day on September 26, and who doesn’t know that Mothers and Fathers Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May and the third Sunday in June, respectively.

Grandparents have their day on the first Sunday after Labor Day. Aunts and Uncles get recognition on July 26. Siblings Day is on April 10, and February 4 is Nieces Day. Interestingly, I did not find a national day for nephews. But I did learn that there is a National Cousins Day, and thus, my effort was not in vain.

How about a shout-out to cousins. Some folks think that they are the closest things to siblings.

Like a friend of mine, some people have only one or two cousins. Depending on one’s extended family size, some have none. Others, like me, have so many first cousins, I couldn’t give a precise count of them if my life depended on it.

I have a large extended family. Each of my parents had at least nine siblings that I am aware of, and those siblings produced a tribe of children. (Need I say that was in the days before the birth control pill?) My cousins on the paternal and maternal side could probably fill all the seats in the Apollo Theater.

I don’t know all of my blood-relative first cousins (firsties) as much as I wish I knew. I can do reasonably well naming those in my age group; many of us grew up and played together. But some of their siblings – I wouldn’t know them if I bumped into them on the street, nor do I know many of my cousins’ children. My children and my cousins’ children are second cousins. Unfortunately, unlike many of my first cousins and me, a lot of our children don’t know each other. Only with the aid of a genealogical chart would I know some of my first cousins once or twice removed, second cousins and cousins further down the line. I fancy myself as an amateur genealogist but sometimes, trying to figure out who’s who in the family starts my head swimming in the gene pool.

As cousins go, I can name maybe twenty or thirty firsties on both sides of my family. Those would be the ones I grew up with, played with, and with whom I made memories. Give or take a few years; we are in the same age group. And as for my cousins’ children and grandchildren, I couldn’t identify their offspring any more than they could recognize mine. To its credit, social media has helped with this somewhat.

That’s why I believe that regular family reunions are so important; it helps family members bond with the current and younger generation of relatives and stay connected with the elders.

Friendship among cousins often develops when we are children, and sometimes that friendship extends into adulthood. On the other hand, some cousins who were not particularly close during childhood became close when they were grown. Many things contribute to the ongoing relationships between cousins, including similarities in age, how much contact there is between them, and how near they lived to each other.

After all, cousins run the gamut – crazy cousins, kissing cousins, close cousins, distant cousins, and even play cousins. And let’s not exclude cousins-in-law, the spouses of our blood cousins. Who understands the craziness of our family better than cousins? Sometimes cousins are closer than siblings and may even be best friends

One day I came across the following quote. I love it because it is so applicable to my generation of cousins, “A grandparents’ house is where cousins become best friends.” Indeed this was the case for many of my first cousins and me. Some of us rarely see or talk to each other anymore, but when we were youngsters, the grandparents’ house was where we often gathered during summer vacation, and holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So, while many national holidays seem trivial to me, next Saturday, July 24, I must remember to give a shout-out to my cousins in recognition of National Cousin’s Day.


Pillow Talking

Tonight is one of those nights. I am sleepless, but not in Seattle. Jesting aside, I don’t know why Tom Hanks’ movie comes to mind when I’m fighting insomnia. It just does. But sleeplessness is no joke. I can be as sluggish as a newborn when I climb into bed for the evening, often around 11 or 11:30; soon afterward, I am out like a light. Sometimes I’m even in dreamland when – wham!  A voice in my head shouts, “Wake the hell up!”

Without looking at the clock, I know, from previous experience, that it is some time past midnight and racing toward dawn. I also know that a sleepless night portends a long, tiresome day to follow.

Unless it is thunder storming, the blackout curtains hanging at the windows in my bedroom are always open at night, and the grayish-white light from the street lamps illuminate the darkened room through the closed blinds.

Two tiny red bulbs glow on the nightstand to the left of my queen-sized bed. One of them is on the cradle holding the landline phone; the other lights the handset. The numbers of the digital clock on the dresser are also scarlet. On a small table, about five feet from the dresser, a two-inch green beam shines on one corner of the cable case, and the router displays a horizontal line of seven pea-sized bright white lights. Near the east side corner of the room, in my bedroom office, the elongated Ikea desk holds the printer. A blue pinhead-sized circle of light on the printer’s front is visible beneath the translucent dust cover, indicating that the machine is in sleep mode. Near the printer is the desktop computer. Its orange-colored on/off button shows that it, too, is snoozing. The array of colored bulbs on the various devices around the room creates a comforting scene of nightlights. It is past the midnight hour, but I am wide awake.

I read somewhere that experts say electronic devices are a source of sleep disruption and should not be in the bedroom. As if to remind me of that, my cell phone on the bookshelf headboard pings, signaling that a text message has arrived. I don’t bother to pick up the phone or check the screen. Instead, I ask my facetious self who the heck is awake and texting in the middle of the night?

Lying on my back in the semi-darkness, I focus my attention on the white blades of the ceiling fan twirling slowly above the foot of my bed. Watching the rotations has a calming effect, and I feel myself drifting off when my writer’s imagination kicks in, and I hear, “Oh, no, you don’t!”

I say:  Go away, insomnia.

She says:  No.

I roll over on my side, hoping to disengage the uninvited guest in my head while envying my out-cold spouse lying beside me. He is sawing logs like Paul Bunyan in a Minnesota forest, and I remember my vow to one day write a story about snoring, snorting, and farts.

As if on cue, she says:  How do you sleep with that noise?

I say:  Get lost.

I grab the rubber earplugs from the shelf on the headboard and place them in my ears. They muzzle the snoring but not enough and don’t silence the voice. I put the earplugs back where they were.

She says:  Girlfriend, think about everything you have to do when you get up tomorrow. Oh, correction, that would be later today. You have a laundry list of chores, starting with washing and drying two loads of clothes. Then, go to the grocery store. And when you get back, don’t forget to dust the furniture, vacuum the floor and clean the stove. It really needs cleaning. By the way, remember to pay the light bill online and while you’re at it, answer your cousin’s email. He wrote you a week ago. It’s too bad that you can’t sleep now because later on, you will be busier than a pickpocket on a New York subway.

I resent the sudden flurry of chaotic activity in my mind.

I say:  Go away and leave me alone.

That doesn’t prevent my thoughts from flipping through a scrapbook of memories, revisiting decades of yesterdays, and contemplating tomorrows. Nothing is off-limits. Trying to shut down my brain only kicks things higher into gear. Some wild and crazy stuff intrudes from out of the blue, like what ifs.

What if a tenant living on the third floor of an apartment building is attempting to install a window air conditioner. Then, the AC unit slips from his grasp. It is falling at warp speed toward an unsuspecting passerby who looks up just as the machine lands with a loud thud on his face knocking him dead. Would the law charge the tenant with involuntary manslaughter or consider it an accident due to gross ineptitude?

Within seconds, my thoughts shift from a hypothetical to a real-life event. I visualize the horror of lying in bed in a Florida condo and being startled awake by the building shaking like it is in the midst of a high magnitude earthquake before collapsing to the ground. The sound of cracking concrete and twisting metal combines with the frightful screams and anxious prayers of victims being swallowed in the rubble. I pray that God will bless the souls of the people who lost their lives and comfort the survivors who loved them.

Flashback — and I am thinking about feeling abandoned by my primary care doctor, who I’ve been with for 30 years. One day I called her office to make an appointment, and a staff member told me that the doctor is on leave. A few weeks later, I called again and got the same answer. It’s been nearly two years now since my favorite doctor has been in her office. Each time I call her there, I receive the same lame remark that she is on leave. If she retired just say so. My questions about when she will return go unanswered. On one occasion, the staffer at the group facility that my doctor joined about a year before deserting us patients suggested that I could see another doctor. Like a temperamental kid, I refused. I DON’T WANT ANOTHER DOCTOR. I want my doctor. She knows my history. Sometimes she even asked how my children and grandchildren were doing, and I inquired about her family. We are like old friends. She is gone, I tell myself, stop overthinking the situation. 

My random thoughts begin subsiding, and sleep is creeping back.

But then I hear her say:  Unh-uh. No, you don’t.

I ignore her. Reaching over to the nightstand, I grab my iPod, place the buds in my ears, and from my playlist, select Mahalia Jackson singing her beautiful rendition of Trouble of the World. When the song ends, my nemesis returns.

She says:  How’d that work for you?

I’ve grown sick and tired of kickin’ it with insomnia and bite my tongue to keep from shouting profanity. I finally steal a glance at the clock. It’s 3:30 a.m.

I say:  You win. As she vanishes until the next time, I do what I often do when visited by the nocturnal pest; I climb out of bed and find something to occupy my mind. On this morning I consider — I could dust the furniture or clean the stove. But Nah. Not today. I have a better idea. I walk to the other room, open my laptop and compose this post.



Resurrecting Memories for Legacy II (revised)

My parents once lived in this cabin. Photo taken by Dwayne White in 2013. ©


This is a revised version of a previous post.

Curiosity drives some of us to become amateur genealogists because we enjoy learning about our ancestors and distant kinfolk. We also appreciate the importance of family history and want to preserve the information for future generations.

I was blessed to be the first of Hattie Staton, my maternal grandmother’s, 21 grandchildren. Although circumstances, like birth order, sometimes work against us, being the first-born grandchild also has its advantages. We tend to remember things that our younger siblings and cousins may not recall or may never have known.

The process of writing my second book is awakening memories of distant relatives and my interactions with them.

Rhea Williams was the first cousin to my Grandma Hattie (who we called Maw). I recall meeting Cousin Rhea only twice. Both meetings occurred when I was a very young girl, probably not even eight, and Cousin Rhea was in the winter of her life. I initially met my cousin when my mother took me to visit her home on the outskirt of Oak City, North Carolina. She lived in a tiny cabin down the road from grandma’s place. (Although I’ve been unable to confirm it, I was told that it was the same cabin my parents had lived in for a short while before they moved to DC.)

I suspect that mother was preparing me for the visit when she told me before we arrived that Cousin Rhea was partially blind. A frail-looking, slow-moving woman greeted us at the door and invited us into her dimly lit one-room home. Cousin Rhea’s body was stooped by age then, and thin strands of white hair puffed around her head. Childhood curiosity led me to rudely stare at her, curious to see what a blind eye looks like. I decided that the sightless eye must have been the one that was fully closed as if it were sleeping, the other eye was partially open.

Cousin Rhea appeared to be a kind woman; she smiled at me while reaching one scrawny arm toward me to take my hand, which I refused to extend. “How you doing child?” She asked in a whispery voice. I timidly backed away from her. Clinging to my mother’s side; I pulled on her skirt, concealing my face, and clung to her during the duration of our visit.

The last time I remember seeing my cousin was when her grandson, Perch, dropped her off to visit with our family at our home in Washington, DC. And I’ll never forget what happened the first night that she was there.

It must have been after midnight because everyone in the household had gone to bed and they were probably asleep when I awakened to go pee.

Sluggishly, I climb out of bed and walk toward the bathroom, where I switch on the light and step toward the toilet. I am about to turn around and sit when something on top of the tank catches my eye. I can’t believe what I’m seeing. There is a mason jar partially filled with water, and resting near the bottom of that jar is an eyeball.

For a second, as I am standing there, I think I’m dreaming. I stare in wide-eyed disbelief at the lidless eye in the jar. The eye stares at me. I stare back at it. Never in my young years have I seen an eyeball that wasn’t in someone’s face. The sight transfixes me until my imagination fools me into thinking that the eye is moving. Now it is floating to the surface.

Suddenly, wide awake, I switch off the bathroom light and sprint like the Road Runner fleeing Wile E. Coyote back to my bed. I throw the covers over my head, and until I fall asleep, I lay there shivering and praying that I won’t wet the bed because there is no way I am going back in there until daylight.

The following day when mother and I are alone, Cousin Rhea may have still been sleeping; I ask her about the eye in the glass in the bathroom. She says that’s Cousin Rhea’s glass eye and then explains that the artificial eye replaces Cousin’s natural eye and that she removes it each night before going to sleep. Although I accepted my mother’s explanation, my young mind refused to comprehend, and I left many questions unasked. Where does someone find a glass eye? Do you buy them at the grocery store? How do you put it in and take it out? Can the glass eye see me?

As an adult, looking back on what then was a chilling experience but is now an amusing memory, I decided to do some research on glass eyes. I was surprised to learn that the first in-socket artificial eyes were made as early as the 15th century. And contrary to what the naive little girl believed, a prosthetic eye (as they are now commonly called) cannot restore vision. It is merely for cosmetic purposes.

Today, a custom prosthetic eye cost will run you somewhere between $2000-$8000. If you are lucky, health insurance will cover the cost. Recently, my out-of-curiosity search on eBay found glass eyes selling for as little as $30.

I don’t know the cost of Cousin Rhea’s glass eye. I suppose they were less expensive back then. According to a now-deceased family member, the county welfare department paid for Cousin’s eye.

You are probably as curious as I was to know how Cousin Rhea lost her eye. Over time, narratives tend to get distorted, but I will retell the story as it was told to me.

One day Cousin Rhea was visited by a circuit preacher as they were sometimes called back then. During the act of blessing her, the preacher poured oil on Cousin’s head. I wonder if he was attempting to follow the Scripture that reads, “Thou anointest my head with oil.” I don’t know. Anyway, some of the oil rolled down Cousin’s forehead into one eye. (I imagine that must have burned like hell.) Not to make light of the issue, but the blessing apparently did not cover the eye that got the oil because it cost Cousin her sight.

I don’t know who, if any, of my cousins or siblings remembers Cousin Rhea. Although my memories of her are vague, memories of her grandson, Perch, are more vivid. He lived in DC as we did and I remember him often visiting my parents at our family home, and in later years, when I was married, he, his wife, Martha, and their two children lived about half a mile from my home in Suitland, Maryland.

Perhaps someday in the future, after I am gone, if one of my kinfolks decides to do a family genealogy study, this tidbit of information about Cousin Rhea and Perch will be helpful.


Trapped in the Elevator

Last month, I got stuck in an elevator. I remember the precise date as Friday, April 30, because that was the date of my appointment with a new doctor. There is nothing worse than having your long-time primary care physician abruptly close her private practice and integrate with a medical group located at a hospital. Then, shortly after that, she retires, abandoning her former patients, leaving us at the new facility without so much as a “See ya.”

Having lost “the best” doctor I ever had, I inherited a physician who I didn’t select and didn’t particularly like. And dissatisfied with the operations of the medical group in general, I located another doctor on my own and made an appointment. Pardon my digressive rant; I’m still upset about that forced transition and will revisit the topic another day. But now, I will return to the elevator episode.

The new doc’s office is on the 4th floor of a small, four-story medical building (not a hospital) with a single elevator. So far, I like him better than the other guy.

When my appointment ends, I summon the elevator, step inside, and push the button for the first floor after the doors close. The elevator could hold four people comfortably, six in a crunch, but I am pleased to be the lone rider. I watch the panel showing the floors as the car begins descending 3 – 2 – 1, and then step forward, waiting for the doors to open. Nothing happens. I press the “Open” button. Still, nothing happens. I press the open button again, then briefly press the red alarm button and wait. The thought of prying open the doors crosses my mind, but I know that I do not have the strength to do that, so I angrily slam my fist against them. “Open!” I command. “Ouch! Is anyone out there?” I shout.

The narrow hallway on the ground floor extends about 30 feet from the lobby door, past a single elevator and a stairwell. I remember this because upon entering the building, I noticed that the wall at the end of the hallway, opposite the entrance, has a beautiful landscape mural on it.

“Hello!” I holler. “I’m stuck in here. Is anyone there?”

Hearing no one, I scan the panel looking for an emergency phone or push-to-talk button. I don’t see either, so I push the alarm button again and listen. Not a sound other than my labored breathing. Surely, someone hears the darn alarm. I think.

I begin to feel panic rising like a tidal wave. My body alternates between cold sweat and hot flashes. Calm down. I tell myself. I start doing Pranayama, deep yoga breathing and even try to use humor to help me relax. I’m in a medical building; what better place to hyperventilate.

Anxiety soon overtakes my positive thinking, and I press the alarm button again, wait a few seconds, and then repeat the process. Now I’ve got big-time attitude. I lean on the button for several seconds like a determined telemarketer rings my phone. And then, I shout. “Someone get me out of here.”

The light above my head flickers. I bite my bottom lip and try to erase elevator scenes from horror movies and prank videos that flash in my mind like a PowerPoint presentation.

Has everyone left the building but Elvis? I wonder. Of course not, because most people would take the elevator down to the lobby, I reason. What if people are pushing the button for the elevator and wondering why it doesn’t come to their floor? Surely, someone hears the alarm. And then, my imagination takes over. I am lying on my side on the floor. Both feet are propped against the side of the car. I wedge my fingers into the space between the door panels and, while pushing with my feet, begin pulling the doors apart with all my might. I soon dismiss the crazy thought and look up to see if there is a camera in the car. I don’t see one, but I think if there is a camera, they will know that I’m trapped and send someone to get me out of here. Then, did I feel the elevator jerk?

The door opens about half an inch. I breathe a sigh of relief, stand in front of the doors and prepare to exit. But the doors don’t open any further. Moving forward, I lean my face close enough to the gap to see if I can spot anyone, but not so close that the doors will snag my nose and lips if they suddenly close. I don’t see a soul. Dare I place my fingers in the space and try to pull the doors open? Nah. What if my fingers get crushed? As I reach toward the alarm bell, the doors fling open, and I rush out of there like the devil is chasing me. While exiting the building, I pass a security officer entering the facility. He is accompanying a stooped-over elderly lady using a walker and shuffling along at a snail’s pace. That explains why he didn’t hear the alarm; I tell myself. He was outside.

That was the first, and hopefully the last time I get stuck in an elevator.

A couple of days ago, a friend I told about my incident said that he had the same misfortune. While my confinement had lasted about 8 minutes (it seemed much longer), he said that he was trapped for over an hour. He was working late that night. There was no one else in the 12-story office building. He tried everything he could think of to force open the doors or get the elevator moving before using the emergency telephone to summon help. Men don’t yield to defeat as quickly as some women. It’s the machismo factor.

He said that when the elevator began moving, it suddenly dropped two floors before stopping again. Then, he said, knowing that help was on the way, he sat down and waited. He was trapped for nearly 90 minutes before the building engineer and others arrived and freed him.

Had our experiences been reversed, I’d have been a basket case claustrophobic by the time help arrived.


The Second Time Around, It Ain’t a Song

In February, when I penned “Take the Shot – Or Not,” I was indecisive and disinclined to get the COVID  vaccination. My understanding of historical experiments and distrust of injections remains. However, like numerous others, I yielded to the pleading and the guidance of the CDC, the president, and medical professionals. My reaction to the first and especially the second vaccine reinforces the thought that lives in the attic of my mind – I am a human guinea pig.

Days before being vaccinated, I mentally prepared myself. I had to. I am trypanophobic. In layperson’s terms, that means scared as hell of needles.

I keep on top of reports about the vaccine, am aware of the possible side effects, and can recite pro-vac rhetoric like verse one of the Negro National Anthem.

“Every individual is different. Some people have no side effects,” the experts say. “Others have some reaction for a few days after receiving the second shot. It is a normal sign that the body is building protection. The reaction should go away after a few days,” they say. Yada, yada, yada. I know at least two people who had side effects not listed on the V-Safe datasheet I received when I got my shot.

Days before vac one, I began having nightmares about a nation of disfigured mutants roaming the streets—shades of the creatures in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video.

Bad dreams aside, I told myself that I would not have any side effects. It’s a simple issue of mind over matter. Wrong!

I decided to journal my experience, detailing my reaction from the first shot that I received on April 16 until a few days after the second shot on May 14.

First shot – Day 1

I arrive at the health center at my appointed time, 9:45 a.m., and am surprised that everything is well organized. Before administering the shot of Moderna vaccine, the nurse asks me which arm I prefer for the injection. “Left-arm.” I say. Although I am putting on a brave front, I am second-guessing my decision to take the shot. Why am I here? I ask myself. What possessed me to do this?

The nurse picks up a needle from a small table nearby and then turns toward me. As I roll up my short sleeve, I look at her. I look at the needle and little bottle in her hands. I look away. She swabs my arm near the shoulder and then squeezes it before sticking me. “You’re done,” She says. It must be her technique, I think. I hardly felt it. I am in and out of there in about 30 minutes. At home, I feel mild pain at the injection site and shrug it off, but then the ache gets intense and lasts about an hour. I also feel tired and nap on and off throughout the day. Drugged, I think before drifting into one doze.

Day 2 – The left arm is still a little sore, but the sting is bearable.

Day 3 – I am feeling fatigued and napping a lot. Something new has developed. Intermittent pain crops up in various places in my left arm between my shoulder and the wrist. The best way I can describe it is that it feels like the flash of pain you get when someone pinches you hard, and instead of immediately letting go of your skin, the person holds your flesh for several seconds before releasing it. I began calling it pinch-pain.

Day 4 – Still feeling occasional pinch-pain, only now it isn’t just in my left arm. It is ping-ponging throughout my body. It pings in one place, disappears, and then reappears someplace else. Ping! An ache near my elbow. Now gone. Ping! At my wrist. Gone. Ping! Pinch-pain in my left bicep. The pinch-pain is traveling and attacking a moving target – me.

Day 5 – I awaken between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m. The fatty area beneath my left arm close to my breast feels hot and achy. It is so painful that I go and get the ice pack from the freezer and apply it to the feverish area. This should not be happening, I tell myself. The underarm ache eases only to be replaced later that day with occasional muscle and joint pain. It is here and there:  left knee, right elbow, even the right side of my neck. Overall, I feel blah today, not just physically but mentally, too.

Day 6 – I am not my usual, perky self. I’ve been in a state of high anxiety since I got that shot nearly a week ago. To what do I attribute my now daily, familiar discomfort and the fact that I’ve been napping most days like Rip Van Winkle? I frequently find myself humming the tune of that old song by The Enchantments applying it to my body, “Something strange is happening. You don’t belong to me anymore.”

Day 7 – My body still feels foreign. I have a low tolerance for pain, and I start berating myself, asking why I went against my better judgment and took the shot? So, the current president and vice president got the injection on national TV. I love them and pray for them daily, but how do I know what, if anything, was injected into their arms? Might it have just been a stunt to lure the public to participate in the vaccine drive? I don’t mean to sound like a conspiracy theorist Republican, but how do I know that we are all – regardless of race or ethnicity – not unknowingly participating in some secret government study that will come to light years from now?

My antenna rises every time I hear a report that includes “we are studying vaccinated people…to see how long the vaccination last or when it wears off…to learn whether the vaccines work against emerging variants…when or if additional shots might be needed by people who have already had two.” The studies continue. The questions remain unanswered, and my anxiety level continues to rise.

One week to the day since my vaccination. I take no comfort in hearing news reports like the one this morning about a woman who died two weeks after taking the shot. Granted, she took the J&J vaccine, but there have also been reports of some deaths following the Pfizer and Moderna shots.

Throughout this process, I’ve been participating in the V-Safe (smartphone-based) after vaccination health checker. Via text, participants provide a daily update on how we are feeling. From a checklist of questions, we are to indicate if symptoms we feel are “mild, moderate, or severe.” I think they should include a “downright lousy” category because that’s how I’ve felt most of the time since being vaccinated. I pride myself on not being a pill popper, but my resistance is wearing down.

Day 9 – Last night, I had aches and pains all over my body. Again. WTF? I did not sign-up for this.

Day 10 – This afternoon, I ate two clementines, and both arms started itching mercilessly. I thought I was about to break out in hives. I often eat citrus fruit and have never been allergic to it, so what’s up with this strange development?

Day 11 – This morning I work up feeling like a Wakandan warrior. No pinch-pains. No blues. I feel like myself again. Wakanda forever! Then, darn! Here it is, afternoon, and the ache is back again in my upper left arm.

Day 12 – It is a dozen days since my first shot. The pain has subsided. Shhh, I must not think that out loud, but low energy and sleepiness hang on. A few more weeks to go before shot two. I think I’ll stop journaling about these episodes until then.


Friday, May 14, 2021 – My anxiety level is off the charts. I almost change my mind about going back for the second vac, but I do it. As I take a seat beside the table, the administering nurse greets me and asks me how I am doing. “Nervous,” I say truthfully. “You will be okay,” she says. Easy for you to say. I think.

I remove my jacket, revealing my sleeveless arm. She tries to calm and humor me by engaging in pleasant conversation while preparing the needle. Before swabbing my arm, she asks, “Do you want someone to hold your hand?”

I say no thanks, but I’m thinking, is she for real?

“I’m serious.” She says as if reading my mind. “I can get someone if it will make you feel more relaxed.”

“No,” I say, “I’m good.” In addition to the nursing staff, at least 25 other masked people are seated at two additional vaccine stations and in chairs that are socially distanced around the waiting room and in the 15-minute recovery area. Periodically someone walks around the room and disinfects the empty chairs. There is no way that I, a grown-ass woman, will act like a big baby and have someone hold my hand in front of all of these people.

I know the process only takes a nanosecond, but as she prepares the needle, I am thinking about making a run for it until the mind reader says, “Sit still, please. Don’t move your arm.” I look away. Then she says, “Ready?” Before I can answer, she sticks me. I am not exaggerating when I say that the second injection hurt five times more than the first. She bandages the spot where she jabbed me. As she is capping the needle, she whispers, “There now. Do you want a lollipop?” I crack up laughing, and she laughs, too. Some folks seated nearby look at us to see what’s so funny.

Seven hours later, my arm is hurting like the dickens, and there is a slight metallic taste in my mouth. But I smile when I think about the lollipop question. I flex my arm periodically throughout the evening, hoping that bending and extending it at the elbow and doing wrist rotations will ease the pain. It only helps a little.

Day 2 – I had a terrible, sleepless night of tossing and turning. Trying to rest on my left side was impossible because it hurt whenever I rolled over on that arm. After dozing intermittently, I awake in the morning with every muscle, nook, and cranny in my body feeling like I have been run over by a bus. I take the V-Safe datasheet from the nightstand and read it to see if there are any instructions on what to do when you feel like you have one foot in the grave. Exercise is one of the things listed. It takes every ounce of energy I can muster to pull myself out of bed and then to work out for an hour. I do cardio, stationary biking, and stretching. After I finish exercising, I say to heck with my anti-pill attitude, and surrendering to my pain, I take an Advil. Soon, on a scale of one to ten, with one being the worse pain and ten being total relief, I’ve ascended to eight. Advil is doing its job.

Day 3 – I wake up feeling good. I work out again. This time I skip the painkiller.

Day 4 – Hmm, no, ill effects this morning either.

Today is a week and a day since shot two. Right now, I’m feeling back to normal. I hope that what my daughter refers to as my vaccine hangover has finally ended and I am back on the wagon. I am not ashamed to admit that for a while, it had me down for the count. This warrior may whine, but she doesn’t go easily.