J&J One and Done

by | Mar 14, 2021 | Stories

A Rollercoaster Ride


This story is more somber and not so much “injected” with a little humor as I usually try to include.

My journey started a year ago, along with almost everyone else on this planet.  The Covid-19 virus exploded as we were embarking on our 20th Anniversary celebration Panama Canal Cruise March 7, 2020.  We had such a dilemma.  Should we go?  Should we stay?  Could we cancel and get a refund?  We decided to go, and you will find other cruise related stories on this site.

Fast forward past the bumpy road to vaccine development months that followed.  To mask or not mask?  To quarantine or not quarantine?  To isolate or not isolate?  Thanksgiving with family or not?  Christmas gatherings or not?  All the usual concerns.  I will disregard the political portion of this journey.

Vaccines arrive!  There is mention and some concern about allergic reactions to the vaccines.  I am a two-time survivor of anaphylactic reactions to food and medication.  Now what?  The risk is low; but I am not wanting to add myself to the rare statistics and frankly, I am scared.

My research expedition began.  I had lots of questions.  I did lots of reading.  I considered Mayo Clinic a credible resource and they were administering the Pfizer to their staff.  My daughter, Heather, received Pfizer through her University of Minnesota health care employer.  Scott got his two shots of Moderna vaccine with no difficulties. Friends were being vaccinated and I was feeling ostracized without vaccine protection.  I understand the disheartening effects on mental wellness resulting from isolation And exclusion.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was tagging along but touted as the one with fewer allergic responses.  My I/I (Irish Intuition) told me this was the best approach for me.  I spoke with two pharmacists and two primary care physicians before proceeding.  Finding a provider for this late to the market and more scarce vaccine was another “trip.”  The vaccine registration process for all brands seemed chaotic, understaffed, and unorganized.  I am omitting any political commentary here, too.

I did it! I mastered the challenging logistics of getting registered and secured a Johnson & Johnson appointment in Pensacola, Fl for Sunday March 14, 2021 @ 11:15 a.m.  It was a 10+ hour drive from our Naples, Florida location on March 13th arriving later than anticipated due to traffic, road construction, accidents, and rubber necks.

Arriving after dark is never ideal.  The campground was about 20 miles on a country 2-lane road without lighting from Pensacola.  Our campground reservation paperwork was waiting for us in the dark when we found the office—closed.  How were we going to know which direction to drive in the dimly lit campground to find site G10?  A nice lady came out of her camper to help us overcome that obstacle.  Watch out for the old fogey on his golf cart without lights.  Scott got us hooked up while I pulled a gourmet meal of pre-cooked chicken, potato salad, and those yummy Hawaiian dinner rolls from the fridge.  Dang, I’m a good cook 😉

After a semi-sleep night, we are up to calm my nerves (ha!) about getting the vaccine today.  I wanted to arrive early to check in one last time with the pharmacist about my allergies and the J&J ingredients and make sure our watches were in sync with the local time due to the Daylight Savings time change.  After that, we drove to the Emergency entrance of the Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital about two blocks away from the vaccine site.  Fortunately, our motorhome fits underneath the porte-cochere (that’s for you Jim—you know who you are) because the ambulance was leaving on a run.  Scott and I both re-read and refreshed ourselves on my epi pen instructions.  He will have both injectors in his pocket.  One cannot be too careful or over prepared.

Everything seems to be in order and the final countdown to appointment time began.  I was wearing my “good luck” necklace from Kayla.  I do not mean to sound morbid; but I did send a quick “I love you” message to my girls. Heather and I started texting and she was sure I was late or missed my appointment.  I assured her I had not, and we continued to banter about the time.  Daylight savings time was part of the equation and we could not reconcile her Minnesota time being the same as our Florida time until we realized that there is a small portion of Florida that is confusingly on Central Standard Time.  Phew!  That was a bit of a scare on the final stretch of my journey.

While waiting for the big vaccination moment, I met a woman from Minneapolis who arrived two hours early for hers from Punta Gorda due to allergy concerns.  She had also consulted with others prior to making her decision to receive the J&J.  Ironically, she retired from Health Partners, one of the major health care providers in Minnesota.  I spent most of my working career at Hennepin Health Care System, another large health care provider not far from where she worked.  It is a small world.

Finally, the vaccine wizard arrives and unceremoniously and anticlimactically my mission was accomplished!  One and done as they say!  What a roller coaster ride it has been to get my Johnson & Johnson (aka Janssen) Covid Vaccination today!  Just like almost everyone else on the planet, I hope life will begin to normalize.  I want to see and enjoy my family and friends more comfortably and even somewhat gregariously again.

3/15/21 Addendum:  Feeling fine.  Absolutely no side effects, not even a sore arm.  How lucky am I.  It’s a God Wink for sure!  It took another 10 hours on the road in our Covid Bubble RV and to get back to our Naples Nest.

10/25/21 Update:  Received my J & J Booster (2nd shot)  at Mayo Clinic, as did Scott for his Moderna (3rd shot).  Happy to report we had absolutely NO side effects. 


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Based out of Champlin, Minnesota. Serving and Welcoming Creativity and Humor 

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