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About two weeks ago my husband Gary and I were in Kenosha, Wisconsin where his office is located. Somewhere along our travels, he or we were exposed to Covid. He was the first to succumb to it. He felt cold symptoms one day and was in bed for the following two. By the third day, I asked that we get tested. His test came back positive, and mine negative.

We needed to get back to North Carolina. Our dog, who was at a friends’ house, was going to run out of food and meds. I put together a plan to drive us down south, get him in bed, and then I’d get the dog.

By the time I arrived back to our home in North Carolina, I started feeling cold symptoms. As I tend to get colds each year around this time, I didn’t think it was anything more. On an intellectual level, I knew that there was a chance it could be Covid, but on a different level I thought it was that annual change of season cold.

We took so many precautions. When I travel, I carry a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol and water, and a supply of sanitizing wipes. All hotel rooms were sanitized before our arrival. On our drive back, we drove with facemasks on. When we got home, I slept on the couch.

That Monday, I awoke feeling a bit out of sorts. I took care of my husband and our pup and headed to Urgent Care for a test. There were no appointments, but I did get scheduled to get tested at five-in-the-evening.

The next morning, I became a statistic. My test came back positive. My feelings were mixed about having a positive result. During my waking hours, I became very introspective about this illness, it’s stigma, and how it gave me a new perspective on what was being shared by the media.

Before I move forward with my personal insights, I’d like to state that I now understand both sides to this controversial issue about vaccinations and masking up. To clarify, I initially had no intention of getting the vaccine. It wasn’t due to any belief in conspiracy theories. My concerns were based on the speed in which the vaccines came to market and that it wasn’t FDA approved at the time, except for emergency use.

I am in a higher risk category as I have auto-immune issues, as well as asthma, so not taking the vaccination put me in the position to have a more severe reaction if I contracted the virus.

When the Delta variant was introduced, Gary, who never tries to persuade me to do anything, gently asked if I would get the vaccination. He was worried for me and would feel better if I’d humor him and agree to getting the injection. My dear friend, also kept “lightly” prodding me to get the vaccine. So, I reluctantly agreed to get the shot, but I told my husband that I’d only take the first shot and so I did. 

We were planning to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary on a Caribbean cruise where we would renew our wedding vows. For me to be able to get on the ship, I had to get that second shot.

As we both regained our health in a small apartment, I began thinking about how fortunate we were to have gotten our vaccines. From the time we got the illness, we were made aware of some people we know who were not vaccinated and who contracted the virus.

The difference between what Gary and I experienced and those who we know got Covid and were not vaccinated were dramatically different. Our symptoms were very mild, neither of us had a fever, and with the exception of a couple of things that are connected to Covid, such as loss of taste and smell, we just slept a lot. Of the people we know who was not vaccinated, one had very high fevers, body aches, and was miserable for about ten days before the fever broke. Another was in bed for over three weeks, with fevers, body aches and most of the variant’s symptoms, unable to leave their bed for most of this time. The third person I heard about, had to be hospitalized and was in the hospital for over two weeks.

This experience has taken my past opinions about getting vaccinated and being masked up to a new level. I believe that everyone has the right to do what they feel is best for themselves. For those who choose not to take the steps available to protect themselves and others from an illness that can and will level you for days, weeks or worse, I implore you to read or reread the information from the scientists, not the media or social media. See if you will still hold strong to your convictions.

Please listen to the CDC, WHO, and all those who are out there communicating about how to protect yourselves and others. The intention and goal of these agencies is to help us help ourselves and by doing that, slowing, or stopping this insidious virus.

There have been many pandemics in this country and the world that were contained by using vaccines that were developed and used as an emergency solution. These vaccines slowed or stopped the spread of these diseases. 

I hope as you read this, that you stayed open to my experience. Based on this experience, I don’t want anyone else to have to go through what I did, which was mild, or worse. I care about you and what happens to you, so please, if you resonate with what I shared, pay if forward, take the vaccine, and let’s come together in unity to get our lives and our economy thriving again.

* I am not a medical expert, so if, due to medical conditions you should not take the vaccine, do as your medical expert advises.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.