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Barmy Blue's Bland Blog

Looking For a Needle in Not a Haystack

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Alternative title "How Hard Is It To Get Stabbed In The Arm?" but I worried that might cause problems. "A Wild Needle Chase" equally so.
I got my second vaccination at last and let me tell you it sure was a hoot and a half. Why is it never simple for me?
But Blue aren't you 30 something shouldn't you be done by now? I most of the 30 somethings I know are done. Yeah well things were a bit slow and I had additional problems when my time came.

My first vaccination, which I may have already mentioned so highlights only with maybe a little of my after thoughts, was a beast to book. I looked online, did the whole thing with putting in my NHS number and for quite a few days or so I couldn't get anything local. The nearest place was a stadium that I had no idea about and some obscure pharmacies. Eventually some spots come up at a large pharmacy in the shopping district (does district sound too grand for it? Well I'm sticking with it now) and I think to myself Yes. That is the perfect situation. I've been there before. It's a large pharmacy so there'll be a dedicated space I'm sure and I/we can do any shopping we might want to do. I haven't been down there since last March maybe two weeks before my birthday (because lockdown was the week before my birthday thereabouts) so when the time came I was actually really nervous but I'm a little ahead of myself. The website wasn't super clear. I booked my first appointment day and time. Great. And then to book my second. Well darn I can't find the same place for 8 weeks time. No surprise since I had to check every day and even multiple times a day to get my first appointment. So I'll just leave it be. My first is booked and I'll book the second nearer the time. But I did worry. Shouldn't there have been some sort of confirmation? Did I make a mistake? Trying to "manage [my] booking" doesn't reveal a booking at all. I look it up, how it's supposed to be. Not much help but I'm supposed to get a text or something. So I call my GP surgery and give them my phone number (I've been reluctant to do so. Shockingly, unlike the rest of the world it seems, I don't live on my phone. It's not easy since it's an old phone and not a fancy "smart" phone I use quotation marks for sarcasm or something similar. I don't really want a phone smarter than me, that's how the machines would rise up, but mostly I don't like the whole tracking and hacking possibilities. It really creeps me out. Also I don't answer unknown numbers). So I give them my number. I do get a text. I can't remember what it was now but it calmed me a little so I interpreted it as at least partly positive.
So when my time came I figured I'd go anyway, even though I was getting more and more sure that it wasn't actually booked. Some places have been known to call people in early to use up the vaccines they had for the day, a kind of come on first come first served at the end of the day kind of thing. So I hoped that even if I had made a mistake they might still give me a jab (I've changed to jab to reduce characters), even if I had to wait all day. And even if they couldn't maybe they could tell me what I did wrong. So I went out with what I needed, got to the pharmacy and found my way to the corner it was all happening. I've been anticipating this for around 2 weeks. Okay this is it. I spoke to the human greeting/checking people in and explained everything. He said I didn't have a booking, they couldn't do walk-ins and if I was having problems to call 119 (which I thought was just to BOOK by phone since NOTHING in the letter said I could also use it for enquiries). So I left disappointed. Walked home. Curled up in my room and cried for a while. There had been a lot of emotions built up. Struggle, anticipation, expectation, a heck of a lot of different anxieties and then crushing disappointment.

Later I tried again. No confirmation or something. So I stayed up (it was the morning of course) and called the number. Had to wait a while. That's perfectly understandable. I spoke to a helpful chap. He checked if I had a booking confirmed. I definitely did not. Said I could book by phone (my preferred place wasn't available online so I doubted he could do it by phone) and explained that you have to book BOTH appointments at the same time for it to confirm. What a dumb idea. No one KNOWS where they'll be in 8-12 weeks time. But I get the logic behind it. It does make sense. People forget or think just one will do and stuff. I just wish it had been clearly stated on the website at the start rather than merely suggested.
So I had to wait and keep checking. Finally I got a new appointment about 3 weeks later. The first at the same place, the second booked for the first place I could get. I put them 11 weeks apart so I had wiggle room to re-book closer to home nearer the time. I got my first jab and the human greeting people, when I told her my struggle, said she'd had the same problem with the booking system. So I wasn't completely stupid after all.

That was my first. Now to the fun of my second.

Getting nearer to the time I thought about changing it. I did look into it. But I delayed and then decided I also needed to go to the opticians (they're in completely different towns. I really need to move to a closer one now I'm not at school anymore but I'm a loyal person and I hate change as you know). I was having problems with my glasses and was 2 months overdue my yearly eye test (I wanted to get new frames this year since these have changed over the years) and I didn't want to have them together or something. So I decided to book the optician first then book jab around that. I left it too late and the only slot was the week after next. Okay then. Onto the jab.
I go online. I check it all out. My original choice seems pretty open now, not a struggle for spaces. You can look at available times before changing but it worried me. It doesn't show all the times. Just [Day] - AM - available PM - available but not HOW available. I wasn't sure how well it was calibrated. Is it a good chunk of spaces or could it be something like just one space? And there have been issues with the tracking and booking systems so what if there's a flaw somewhere? I can't look at times without cancelling my existing appointment. So I decide not to risk it. I have an appointment and I don't want to risk it so I won't fiddle with anything. Of course if I'd known I was going to do that I'd have made it 8 weeks without wiggle room. Turns out that's exactly what I should have done.

So. Vaccination day number 2 comes around. Yay. I've checked directions (Mum is driving me) and it's not so scary now I've had it once before (I hadn't had any kind of injection since my last vaccination at school about 15 or so years ago. Oh no. Hang on. I lie. I had a blood test somewhere in my early/mid 20's but that is slightly different, one is a vein and the other is a muscle. And the blood test was worse because it was both arms, vein finding issues, so both arms ACHED).
So yay. Vaccination day is here. I made a "fidget bracelet", it's a big bead on smaller beads on elastic so you can move the big bead all around, in anticipation of it. I can also spin it and it makes a pleasing noise. It was a real comfort to me.
I got there. Mum wasn't sure she could park so let me out and went to find a street to park in.

I'm suspicious but remain hopeful. It's too quiet. It's smaller so maybe they haven't booked as many? But there's no one sitting around waiting after (like you're supposed to in case of side effects).
I struggle with my mask. The damned ribbon knotted up (I have a collection of home made ones from a pattern online. Wire at the nose bridge so my glasses don't steam and tied with a ribbon so my ears don't hurt and it can be adjusted as needed. They work great as far as I know so they're the only ones I've used when we go shopping).

I go in. Go up to the receptionist and ask as politely as I can when you can't see my face. I have my letter (I wrote all appointments and booking number on it so it was all I needed so I could just hand over my information to be checked in rather than trying to be heard through masks).
She's sorry but they cancelled appointments about a week and a half ago.
What the hell do I do? I've only got 1 week to fix this. Can I do that? The world is crashing down again (for context I've been annoyingly low for about 2 days, since my last post in fact, and only perked up in the morning after watching a bunch of House clips online. It cheered me somehow). I was only just happy again. WHY?

Oh. Um. Okay.
She gives me the address of a nearby pharmacy taking walk-ins and offering my vaccine (You can't have a different one, you have to continue with the one you were first given). She gives me the name and the postcode but tells me that the address they have is wrong but the postcode IS correct, which is why that's all she gives me. Okay. A bit weird. But okay.
I come out disappointed and have to wait in the sun for mum to come along. I'm angry. I know what will happen. She'll see me out early and, with hope, be all smiley and say "have you been done already?" and I'll have to tell her no and try not to be too harsh about it. It's not her fault. Maybe not all together but different parts of the NHS definitely have all my contact information. My address. My home number. My mobile number. My email. There is no way that they were unable to contact me. Unless maybe they tried to call home once and the last dialed was quickly replaced with one of those scam call centers from India (We've checked the area code) but even if that were the case who calls once, gets no answer and doesn't call again if it's important? To be fair no system is perfect and people ALWAYS fall through the cracks. Maybe I needed to check "manage [my] booking" But still. I'm pissed.

Mum brought the satnav just in case she got lost (it's very old though so struggles at times. He can do the regular stuff but working out where he is without a planned route is insane). Stupidly I let mum put it in. She did it wrong because he didn't know where he was. It said it was 4 minutes away so we had a go and mum thought she had an idea where it was. She kind of did but kind of didn't. This has happened before. That's why the satnav (his name is Tim. It'll be quicker). We get lost. I vent a bit more. Then figure out why we're wandering. Try to fix it by planning an A to B route from the previous postcode. But I forgot one VERY important detail. They're both INCREDIBLY long roads and we don't have a "house" number so just go with 1. It wasn't 1. Add 100 more to it and you'd be close. It says about 8 minutes away. So we try again. But I'm doubtful and in two minds about it. She must be too. We can piss about with Tim and maybe find it because we must be close (We were. So close but still so far) or go home and look it up online, get a better idea, full address and see what the shop front looks like (I like to actually see the location I'm looking for before I go). We go one way. Nope. We go another. Nope. Are we going home now? I think so but she goes down another way. Huh? Okay she's sure she knows where we might be going. Okay. There's a lot of traffic and we're both fed up. We go down a high-street. Lots of pharmacies but not the one we're after. Eventually we decided screw it turn round and go home. What a waste of time. We should've just gone home right away because it's getting late. They might not take me now if we do find it.

I look it up. We were very close. Just a road or two away at some points. I Google map it so I can see the route and work out that we were going down the wrong high-street. If we'd just turned left before that last high-street we'd have come to another one where it was. I also found that there are two walk-in pharmacies closer buy they weren't doing my vaccine. They close around 6 (it was actually 6:30). It's around 5. We could make it if traffic is kind. I COULD still be vaccinated the day I planned (my other option was to book a vaccination for as soon as possible and hope I could get it before the end of next week because the window is 8-12 weeks, though somewhere did also say 6-10 weeks earlier so it was all very confusing to start with).
We double check the route. Okay let's go. The poor old dog is very confused by all this coming and going.
We took the most direct route. It's a busy main road so traffic is crawling at times.
Fiddling with my little bracelet helps to calm me. I like the noise.
We get there at last. It's a main road so, as before, Mum has to let me out and find somewhere to park. It's a very small pharmacy that has been cleared out to just chairs so it can't function as ANYTHING else but a vaccination center. To be honest, compared to my first one with a bunch of chairs and screens to divide and multiple people doing vaccinations to THIS makes it look kind of sketchy (think about it. This whole thing is perfect cover for a mass murdering psychopath). But I'm not going to complain. What's my alternative?

So I go in, it's empty (of clients), and explain to the human by the door. He checks my details and I wait. Seriously the storefront is empty. The stabbing is done in a little back room with only 1 door. I wait. I get invited in after a bit. I explain again. Hand over my information. Computer stuff done. Sleeve up. Needle in. Now sit and wait 15 minutes playing with my bracelet listening to Enter Sandman (I did that for my first one but played with a keyring squishy because I didn't have my bracelet then). And it's done and I can relax now (assuming nothing weird happens like they really are serial killers or something. The likelihood is low). My arm aches. I stretch it now and then. It helps. If it sits too long the ache happens more. It was the same last time but last time I'd been exercising it a little in the month before because I thought a slightly stronger muscle would help. I don't know if it did but it was better for me overall than what I was doing before, which was nothing. This time it was only about a week or so before the jab but still.

So. At last it's all done and I shouldn't need to worry until possible boosters come around. Why is it never easy for me?

Updated 09-18-2021 at 11:40 PM by Bluebiird