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Health

How the 5280 Staff Reacted to the COVID-19 Vaccine’s Symptoms

Spoiler alert: Not well. But with more Colorado vaccination sites opening to everyone, by reading our recovery diaries, you’ll know how to prepare for the possible symptoms.

On Wednesday, April 21, the 5280 office went dark. Not literally (we’re all working remotely right now). And not permanently (business is going just fine, thank you). The day before, most of the editorial staff received its second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. While we were hopeful that we’d remain productive as the vaccine’s symptoms set in over the course of the next day or so, the inoculation, well, it knocked us the f@*& out. Productivity ground to a halt.

Colorado has opened vaccines to the general public and three vaccination centers no longer require appointments. To help you better prepare for the symptoms you might face, some of our staffers created a log of before, during, and after vaxxing. While the former two were different for everyone, the latter was the same for all of us: Sheer jubilation at the fact that, after a year of this, we’re vaccinated, baby!

Angela Ufheil, Associate Editor

Tuesday, April 20

3 p.m. Directly after getting the shot, I feel great. 

7 p.m. A surge of energy swells into downright hyperactivity. My mom told me the best way to avoid a sore arm is to move it a lot, so I turn on Spotify’s Disco Fever playlist and dance while baking chocolate chip cookies with my partner.

Wednesday, April 21

9 a.m. Other than a slight headache and mild stiffness, I feel pretty good. My stomach is also a little off, but I attribute that to the sheer mass of cookies I ate the night before. No regrets.

10 a.m. Answering emails like a champ. Side effects who?

12:13 p.m. I get in my car to go to the chiropractor.

12:19 p.m. I realize I have made a terrible mistake.

12:30 p.m. Exhausted by the 30-foot walk from my car to the office and feeling very cold, I struggle to carry on a coherent conversation with my chiropractor. When I lay on my left arm (the one I got the shot in), I almost pass out. For the first time ever, disco has failed me.

1 p.m. Disconcertingly, I don’t remember the drive back to my apartment. My head is pounding, my eyelids hurt, and the chills have gotten worse. I take a nap, and my cat, Potato, tries to warm me by sleeping on my face. It’s not comfortable, but I’m too tired to move her.

5:50 p.m. I wake up, pleased that Potato didn’t suffocate me in my sleep. My headache feels much better, but most of my soreness seems to have migrated to my left armpit, which is weird. 

6:30 p.m. I valiantly send some emails using only my right hand.

7:30 p.m. My partner arrives, ostensibly to keep me company but really to eat more of the cookies we baked (fair). I complain about my armpit and returning stomach pain and use my powers as “the sick one” to demand that we binge the sitcom Everything’s Gonna Be Okay.

10 p.m. I am exhausted and my head hurts again but I still do a full skincare routine before falling asleep.

Thursday, April 22

9 a.m. I’m a little tired and my arm still aches, but otherwise, just very happy to be vaccinated. 

Robert Sanchez, Senior Staff Writer

Wednesday, April 21 

Noon: I just woke up. That’s how I’m doing.

1:18 p.m.: I am growing facial hair for the first time. I could not grow facial hair before Wednesday.

Senior staff writer Robert Sanchez’s blossoming facial garden, fertilized by Moderna. Photo by Robert Sanchez.

Jessica LaRusso, Managing Editor

Tuesday, April 20

2:30 p.m.: Injection successful!

2:35 p.m.: Shoot. Should I have taken a selfie?

5 p.m.: I decide I’m fine to play my racquetball league match. I meet my opponent; he looks very young and fit. Maybe I am feeling a little fatigued after all.

5:45 p.m.: I lose. Yeah, I’m definitely getting sick.

9:45 p.m.: I feel exhausted and vaguely sore, desperate to lay down and get some sleep. But, I have a three-month-old, so none of this is unusual.

Wednesday, April 21

Midnight: Is it cold in here? I’m freezing but don’t have the energy to get up and grab another blanket.

2:45 a.m.: Between the body aches and chills, I’ve pretty much been up all night. The baby starts crying and wakes my husband too. I force myself out of bed to make a bottle, but I don’t trust myself to hold him; too dizzy. I hand it off to Dad and grab Tylenol, Advil, Tums (couldn’t hurt, right?), an afghan, and a thermometer: 102 degrees. At least now there’s proof I’m not faking illness to get out of diaper duty.

5:45 a.m.: The baby is up again. I’m drenched in sweat and my fever has broken—but I roll over, groaning for good measure, and let my husband handle the kiddo.

8:30 a.m.: As it’s only my third day back from maternity leave, I figure I better try to get up and at least appear to be working.

9:30 a.m.: A flood of Slacks from my colleagues saying that they’re too sick to work convinces me it’s OK to join them in heading back to bed, where I alternate napping and cleaning out my inbox—until the wooziness wears off around 3.

Spencer Campbell, Features Editor

Tuesday, April 20

Noon: Why does the scene at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park remind me of I Am Legend?

9 p.m.: After a busy afternoon at work, I completely forget about the shot until rolling onto my left arm in bed. I’ve come this far without any symptoms—I’m good, right?

Wednesday, April 21

2:15 a.m.: Jesus, why did I drink so much? My head is an electric current, my mouth is sticky and dry, and I’m shaking like the Monforts in an elevator full of Rockies fans. Wait—I didn’t have a drop of booze. I haven’t been in this much agony since the Christmas party in 2015.

3:47 a.m.: Can’t sleep. Head pounding.

4:23 a.m.: Can’t sleep. Head pounding.

5:53 a.m.: Can’t sleep. Head pounding.

7:30 a.m.: Make my pregnant wife get out of bed and drive to the store to buy Tylenol. 

10 a.m.: To stop my shaking, my pregnant wife wraps me in several blankets and calls me her “little purrito.” I am too incapacitated to defend myself. 

1:15 p.m.: Reece’s Blizzard (which I had to have delivered because my pregnant wife says “enough is enough”) seems to soothe my symptoms. Could also be the fourth Tylenol. 

4 p.m.: What if these symptoms never go away? What if this is my life now?

8:15 p.m.: Eighth Tylenol of the day and bed.

Thursday, April 22

6:12 a.m.: Fever? Gone. Headache? Gone. Personal stench? Considerable, according to my pregnant wife. Thankfully, the only medicine I need for that is a shower.  

Shane Monaghan, Digital Associate Editor

Tuesday, April 20

1:30 p.m.: Pretty anxious to get the second shot. I didn’t feel great after the first dose a few weeks ago—I had a fever, chills, and a headache—but the pharmacist administering the vaccine tells me that might mean my symptoms won’t be as bad this time around. Even if she just said that to ease my anxiety, it makes me feel a little better. 

6 p.m.: Feeling fine. I purchased tickets to go to a Rockies game tonight with a few friends. It doesn’t seem like any sort of symptoms are going to keep me from Coors Field. 

11 p.m.: As I head to bed, I think, Hey, maybe the pharmacist was right. I feel OK

Wednesday, April 21

7 a.m.: Oh, no. My head hurts. My whole body aches. I have three blankets on me, but I wish I had three more, because the chills that I have make me think I’ll never be warm again.  

9 a.m.: I open my work computer to inform my coworkers that a sick day will be my fate. My message to them includes a bad joke, which I found out later no one understood and left them somewhat concerned for my well being. 

Noon: I have a few work calls to make this afternoon, so I get out of bed to take a shower. The scalding hot water helps break my fever and I start to feel a little better. I am able to make some phone calls and I start thinking that the worst of it has passed. 

3 p.m.: Lol, I feel awful again. Back to bed. 

8 p.m.: I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I am not going to start feeling better today. No point in prolonging the misery anymore, so I head to bed. 

Thursday, April 22

7 a.m.: Hallelujah. After close to 11 hours of sleep, I feel so much better. 

Lindsey B. King, Deputy Editor

Tuesday, April 20

1:30 p.m.: Send text to family members telling them I’m about to get my second dose; am careful to include those who don’t seem interested in getting vaccinated.

2:30 p.m.: Shot in arm.

6 p.m.: Hypochondria sets in. Is my head hurting? Are my ears ringing? Is wanting to eat raw cookie dough a known side effect?

10 p.m.: I’m invincible! Go to bed feeling super-human.

Wednesday, April 21

2:30 a.m.: Wake up having sweated through my T-shirt, but don’t have a fever. Feel OK except that I’m, you know, awake at 2:30 a.m. trying to find dry pajamas in the dark.

8:30 a.m.: Dear God, why?!? Headache in the area that I would describe as my brain stem. Temporarily worried my ability to breathe and swallow will be compromised. My entire body aches, but it feels like someone with boxing gloves took particular issue with my kidneys. My skin is tender.

9 a.m.: Zoom meeting. I hate everyone in all the small boxes even though they’re very nice and tell me I’m “tough” because I didn’t beg out of the meeting.

10:30 a.m.: Try to write. Can’t focus. I think the ringing in my ears is actually real. Imaginary pugilist has now attacked my upper back and knees, which seems like a low blow.

6:14 p.m.: Spike a low-grade fever of 100.6.

11 p.m.: Still achy. Bedtime.

Thursday, April 22

2 a.m.: Wake up, having sweated through pajamas. Not happy.

3 a.m.: Wake up, having sweated through pajamas. Getting angry.

4 a.m.: Wake up. Again. New PJs. Again. Really pissed.

8:30 a.m.: Wake up with nothing but a still slightly sore left arm and a realization that in 14 days I’ll officially be 94.5 percent immune from COVID-19. Immediately experience anxiety about newfound freedom.

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