The Lifeboats

For the past year, whenever I’ve felt down or frustrated or sad about the strangeness of our current lives, I’ve dreamed of a successful vaccine. A possible saviour from this nightmare. An end to all this madness. As one of the ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’, it feels like all of my hopes for a future without fear and fortresses, is dependent upon the invention of a preventative to the coronavirus. I need it to work. I need it to work. I need it to work.

At times during this pandemic, it has felt like I’ve been living aboard a battered ship in stormy seas. Ripped mast, holey stern, waterlogged engine. Slowly submerging, slowly sinking, slowly going down. Each coronavirus case reported, each life lost, each government mistake, each public rule-breaking, each day of shielding… have felt like winds whipping up the storm, or further waves pummeling my hull. But even on the wettest, windiest, wildest days; the hope of a vaccine has kept me bailing water out of my flooding ship. Even during the most difficult moments; the thought that with a little jab, this too will end, has kept me buoyed and afloat. For the past eleven months, I’ve imagined the vaccine as a lifeboat. A rescue ship. Slowly crossing the treacherous seas towards me, towards us. Our greatest hope for surviving this coronavirus storm. For the past eleven months, as I’ve read every snippet of news on the jab’s progress, I’ve imagined the journey of that orange boat; setting sail, appearing on the horizon, reaching the first sinking ship. For the past eleven months, I’ve hoped and prayed and wished and dreamed about the day it eventually pulls up next to me. Then last week, 329 days since I started shielding, it finally did… I had my first coronavirus vaccine. 🙂 No storm can last forever.

Arranging my vaccine was easy and straight forward. I received both a letter from the NHS asking me to book online at one of their larger vaccination centres, and a text message and follow up call from my GP inviting me to their hub in a neighbouring surgery. I picked the earliest option- Oxford’s Kassam stadium. Over fifty minutes I slowly moved along their conveyor belt. The whole set-up was efficient and felt safe. There was a one-way system in place, seats were well spaced out and cleaned after every use, and everyone was masked (or double-masked) up. At every stage I had to prove who I was, and affirm that I hadn’t got coronavirus symptoms, or been near anyone with the virus. And, there was a brief clinical assessment with a nurse to check suitability and allergies, and confirm my warfarin INR was in range. Finally, the big moment arrived… and was over in seconds- and I didn’t feel a thing! 🙂

I remember the hope when first hearing that researchers all over the world were frantically racing to invent a jab. I remember the excitement when the news reported that the first vaccine trials were underway. I remember the pure joy and happiness when the first scientists reported that their jab worked. Then the second, then the third, then the forth. 🙂 And I remember the solace, when the first folks rolled up their sleeves and got their injections. With each bit of progress, my faith in the future was bolstered. With each step, the weight on my shoulders slowly lifted. With each success, the little fire of optimism inside me, burned brighter. And never more brightly than today. The jab has given me immense comfort and relief and hope. The constant low level fear that has plagued me has lessened. The constant stress of death from neighbours, shop keepers, postmen, doctors, has greatly reduced. Maybe I will survive this respiratory pandemic. Maybe I will get to meet my newborn niece. Maybe I will be able to enter shops and visit houses and play with children and cuddle family and go on adventures again. For months my life has been on pause, on hold, just waiting. But now I am looking forward. Now I can imagine a future. Now there is finally light at the end of the deep dark tunnel. The lifeboats have arrived. 🙂


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