ENTRY: Friday 1/8/21 10:30am
Questioning the vaccine? Good for you. Ask questions. Get informed. Here’s my personal experience.

December 19, I received my first of two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Then, family came to visit us after Christmas.

Saturday, January 2, my wife Jaci woke up with a cough. I took her to Care Now, where she was diagnosed with COVID-19, as was everyone else that we were with.

I didn’t have any symptoms, but I got tested before returning to work at the hospital so I wouldn’t spread it to my work family. I tested negative!

I haven’t worn a mask around anyone in my home since getting vaccinated, and I’ve continued my daily living as normal. For the record, I still feel great.

Jaci, on the other hand, is on Day 7 since contracting COVID-19, and feels absolutely terrible.

I believe this is a testament to what the vaccine can do. I get my second dose tomorrow and I am so grateful.

ENTRY: Saturday 1/9/21 10:20am

2nd vaccination completed! I have a vaccine record card to add to my ID stack.

I am experiencing some side effects. I had a sore arm today and a really bad headache, but nothing Tylenol didn’t fix.

A nurse's Covid-19 vaccination card from the CDC proving she has been vaccinated

ENTRY: Sunday 1/10/21 7:12 pm

32 hours post-vaccine.

Last night I was up at 2:30 am with chills, and my arm really hurt at the injection site. I took Advil and was able to go back to sleep. Today, I rotated Advil and Tylenol and feel fine.

Jaci is on Day 9 of COVID-19. She’s really sick. Extreme lethargy, body aches, headache. I’ve never seen her this sick before. Took her to the ER yesterday. She was “not sick enough” to get admitted. Not old enough, obese or have a chronic underlying condition that would allow for her to have any antibody therapy. So we’re left on our own. Frustrating. I’m pushing fluids and had to help her stand up today. I got coverage to stay home with her tomorrow morning and someone is dropping off dinner tomorrow night.

Tomorrow I’ll be calling our Primary Care Physician (PCP) again to see if they have access to an outpatient infusion center, where she might be able to get the investigational monoclonal antibody therapy bamlanivimab.

I’m so worried about Jaci; the fear of what could happen if she gets worse is consuming me.

I’m also worried about people who don’t have the same resources we do- who might try to get treatment, get turned away for lack of hospital resources, and never go back. What about people who have no one to advocate for them or don’t understand what’s happening?

ENTRY: Tuesday 1/12/21 11:34am

Update on my side-effects: none. I’m fine.

But Jaci…

We tried several hospitals to get her treated, but, as I wrote before, she doesn’t “qualify”. Her brother’s doctor said that if we could get her there, they would treat her.

We drove five hours to see this doctor. He was in disbelief that she wasn’t able to get any help at home, and said she’s pretty sick. Doesn’t like the way her lungs sound. We start five days of Remdesivir infusions at 11:45. All our family, friends, and I are praying for complete healing.

ENTRY: Wednesday 1/13/21 12:52pm

Update on my side-effects: none. I’m still fine.

Update on Jaci’s second infusion: Jaci is really starting to feel better.

After the first infusion, we could tell she was improving, engaging in conversations and starting to move around. Today, she is even better. I’m pulling for the crackling in her lungs to heal before her next infusion tomorrow.

We are unimaginably grateful to all who have reached out to offer love and support during this time. As Jaci’s brothers say, she’s too hardheaded to stay down. She’s the backbone of our family and the better half of me.

ENTRY: Friday 1/15/21 10:41am

Yesterday was my birthday. It’s hard to celebrate normally when nothing else is normal, but the messages that poured in all day filled my heart with gratitude.

Update on my side-effects: none. I’m still fine.

Update on Jaci’s fourth infusion: I just heard from Jaci and her lungs sound better. She isn’t sleeping well at night but is feeling better. Chest isn’t hurting as bad.

Tomorrow morning is her last infusion and we will be heading home. She plans to go back to work next week. I know, I know, but she won’t listen!

“GUEST ENTRY” by Jaci Chasteen: Saturday 1/16/21 9:01pm

It’s good to be home! COVID-19 officially kicked (is still thumping) my butt. Although educated about the virus, I honestly had no idea how hard it would be.

For those of you who doubt it, please don’t. Socially distance, wear a mask and be careful. You are not invincible. For me, it did NOT just feel like the flu.

For those of you who believe in it, don’t let your guard down. Please know that we were very careful. Even if you’ve gotten the vaccine, you could still contract this. I assure you, it’s worse than you think.

I’m not “out of the woods” yet, but I am 100% better than I was 5 days ago. I remember telling Erin on Monday that my body was shutting down. I honestly wasn’t sure I could endure any more.

After driving 5 hours to get treatment with Remdesivir, my body took it well and the overall pain has subsided greatly. However, I am still very sore, congested and exhausted. Sleeping is a thing of the past. The insomnia is real. I was told today before I left the hospital that I may not feel normal for weeks to come. This evening, I helped put Christmas decor away and was winded after 30 mins of just wrapping ornaments and packing totes.

Meanwhile, this whole experience has humbled me with deep love and gratitude.

Erin Chasteen and I are pushing through another really tough few pages in our book of life together. She has taken perfect care of me, our kids, our home and our life.

Justin and Amy Hill, along with my perfect niece and nephew, took us in for 5 days, without hesitation, while they were also not 100% yet and trying to recover from COVID-19 (and Christmas).

Grace Thomas took care of our dogs and home while we were out of town. We never worried once.

So many loved ones have reached out, texted, called, sent food, cried with us and prayed these past 14 days. Words can’t express how much this support has meant to us.

ENTRY: Tuesday 1/19/21

We will continue to update this journal. In the meantime, please read on, as our stories are not the only ones. COVID-19 stories are sadly everywhere, but here are a few links:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Updates
My COVID-19 Story: Emily Jackson
I am not invincible: My COVID-19 story
Debilitating Fever, Isolation, Fear, Guilt: My “Mild” COVID-19 Case Felt Anything but Mild

And here are some case studies- all friends of mine who have also been vaccinated:

Age: 47
Underlying Conditions: 1
Vaccine Manufacturer: Moderna

“After receiving the first vaccine, I experienced no symptoms the first 12 hours. After that, my shoulder felt a slightly sore at the injection site, similar to pain you might feel one day after a shoulder workout. On day two, the pain was a little more intense and spread to the front of my shoulder as well. I did have a strange pulsating pain around one collarbone that was uncomfortable and lasted about one hour. Three days post injection, my arm was slightly sore, but barely noticeable.”

Age: 72
Underlying Conditions: 1
Vaccine Manufacturer: Moderna

“My arm was a little sore the day I received the injection. I did not feel any pain after that. Now I am relieved and optimistic and feel fortunate to have received it so early.”

Age: 73
Underlying Conditions: 1
Vaccine Manufacturer: Moderna

“I was really looking forward to it, and happy about process even though it took a long time. It was a much more organized than what I experienced in the 50’s. The soreness lasted for less than an hour and felt like a typical injection. Three days later, I woke up with a severe headache and had difficulty swallowing. It lasted a few hours and then disappeared. No symptoms occurred after that.”

Age: 66
Underlying Conditions: 1
Vaccine Manufacturer: Moderna

“I didn’t have any issues with the vaccine. There was some minor soreness, but it wasn’t a big deal. Two other people in my family had it as well and had a similar experience as me.”

Age: 38
Underlying Conditions: 2
Vaccine Manufacturer: Moderna

“The whole experience took less than 30 minutes, including the 15 minute observation window which was mandatory. I left with a CDC card that showed the date of my first vaccination and the appointment for my second one. The nurse told me this card would be mandatory to get my second shot and to take a picture of it on my phone just in case. My arm was sore within a few hours of the injection, especially when I lifted it. The soreness lasted two to three days and was barely noticeable after that.”

Hearing a lot of rhetoric and just want to see some facts? Here are some common COVID-19 vaccine myths busted and broken down with real information:

Debunking Common Myths About COVID-19 Vaccines
8 Common COVID-19 Vaccine Myths Explained

Thank you again to our friends, family, and kind strangers who are keeping my family in your thoughts and prayers.

The best thing you can do is share this blog with someone who trusts you.

Let’s spread information- not COVID-19.

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