Tag Archives: health

So. Much. Sanitizer.

Remember last year when it was virtually impossible to get hand sanitizer? You couldn’t order it online, you couldn’t order it for an in-store pickup, and stores that had it were limiting how many of those tiny bottles each customer could buy? Breweries and distilleries were stepping in to supplement the supply, but it still wasn’t enough.

I mean, I don’t like to leave my camera visible in the car when I park, but for a while, I was more worried about leaving a two-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer where it could be seen.

Heck, when I found an 8-ounce bottle at Target in May 2020, I snapped a photo to send it home!

Holding a bottle of hand sanitizer in front of a store shelf with a sign saying that customers are limited to one bottle each due to high demand.

Times have changed.

Factory lines got up to speed after a few months. We bought extra to make sure we wouldn’t run out. Then we learned that Covid spreads more by sharing air than by touching surfaces. And a third of the population convinced themselves it wasn’t a problem, while half to two thirds of the population have gotten at least partly vaccinated against it. And after a year with multiple waves of cases, the rates are currently waaaaaay down in California.

And we’re all so tired of it all.

And we don’t need as much hand sanitizer as we thought we were going to a year ago.

This is the same store this week. Four rolling shelf units and at least one section of the wall shelving. Full.

Shelves and shelves and rolling carts full of hand sanitizer bottles.

So, um, anybody want to buy some hand sanitizer?

Double-Shot

We’ve both received the second dose of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine! Same location and keep-you-moving procedure as the first dose, in and out within a half hour.

Scan from the manga Cells at Work showing a man in a White Blood Cell cap shouting "Antigen sighted!" and violently slashing something with a knife.Like many people seem to, we got stronger side effects after the second dose than the first. She got fatigue and a fever, I also got loopiness, chills, and a headache. I imagined my immune system looking at the new batch of spike proteins, saying, “What, this again? That’s it, let’s bring out the big guns and make sure it Never. Comes. Back.”

Oh, and my brain decided to launch into a migraine aura around the time the chills hit, but I don’t think that was related. 🤷

But both of us were mostly recovered within 24 hours and back to normal within 48. (Well, my arm’s still sore, but I don’t really count that.) And a day or two of mild “illness” that you can schedule and you know won’t kill you is a heck of a lot better than a surprise attack by the actual coronavirus making you spend weeks in bed with the option of a hospital stay, chronic illness, or dying gasping for breath, watching your loved ones say goodbye to you over video chat because they can’t visit you in person safely.

And passing it along to someone else before you even know you’ve been infected, so they have to go through it all too.

The cost/benefit analysis is pretty clear.

Still a couple of weeks to go for our systems to completely lock in on it, but we should be able to relax a bit around the end of the month.

That would certainly be nice!

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

We have both gotten the first dose of the Moderna vaccine against Covid!

*whew!*

The kid can’t get vaccinated until the <16 safety and efficacy data comes back, but he’s still young enough that he’s at a lot less risk to begin with, and having all the adults around him vaccinated will let us all get a lot closer to “normal” life outside the home soon. (Whatever “normal” is these days.)

Smooth Scheduling (No, Really!)

After hearing horror stories from people in earlier tiers and different states, I was really expecting to have trouble setting up appointments. I figured it was going to be like trying to get tickets for Comic-Con. Or worse: like trying to get a hotel room for Comic-Con. Broken websites, or only finding appointments three weeks out, or only finding appointments on the other side of the county, or starting to schedule an appointment and having it disappear in the middle of registering. I bookmarked all the pharmacy Covid-19 pages ahead of time just in case the state or county websites crashed and burned.

Fortunately we were both in UCLA Health’s system, because they’re running a well-oiled machine.

The day before general eligibility opened up, just as I was starting to freak out about how long it would take to get appointments, UCLA Health sent out an email to their patients saying to just schedule an appointment through MyChart. We picked the nearest location (about half an hour away), she got an appointment for the first day, and I got one for a few days later.

We could have scheduled for the same time, but we wanted to stagger our shots just in case we both got knocked out by side effects. Gotta have at least one functional adult around!

Getting (the) Shot

The location we both went to is a regular medical office, not a megasite. They don’t have outdoor lines or giant waiting areas, and they don’t have separate entrances and exits, and the hallways are kind of squirrely. But they minimize bottlenecks and keep you moving quickly so you aren’t sharing airspace with anyone for longer than a couple of minutes.

  1. They screen everyone on the way in with the usual symptom questions and a temperature check.
  2. When someone’s ready at the front office, they send you in to check your ID, confirm whether you’re there for the first or second dose, hand you the information sheets and send you down the hallway.
  3. At each intersection, they have someone to direct you through the maze until you reach an exam room.
  4. One person is waiting for you in the exam room. They double check your name and which dose you’re there for, then give you the shot and the CDC-issued paper card indicating which vaccine you received and when it was.
  5. Then they send you down another hall where someone directs you to one of the chairs scattered throughout the halls to wait out the 15 minutes.
  6. Rather than try to keep track of everyone, they just ask you to set a 15-minute timer on your phone and you can leave if you’re still feeling OK at the end.
  7. They also ask if you have the MyChart app on your phone. If you do, you can sign in and there’s already a button to schedule your follow-up for the second dose. If not, or if you run into problems with the app, they’ll schedule it for you.

The whole process is fast. Each of us was in and out within half an hour. Including parking the car.

Side Effects

The shot itself was relatively painless, but we both developed sore arms after a couple of hours. More than a flu shot, less than a tetanus shot. Mine cleared up after two days, while Katie’s lasted a little longer. We also both experienced fatigue starting around the same time as the soreness. Hers was milder — she described it as more just wanting to be left alone than actually being tired — but I was wiped out for the evening and most of the next day.

A bit unpleasant, sure, but nowhere near as bad (or as long) as actually getting Covid-19!

With any luck the second dose will go as smoothly. Update: The process was smooth, but the side effects were stronger.

Four Covid Tests

I’ve gone through or seen four different Covid-19 testing procedures over the past year, not counting the ones I’ve only read about. (You remember, the early days of the pandemic when they were still trying to make enough tests, and weren’t sure just how easily transmissible it was, so they had people wearing haz-mat suits and passing the test kit to the patient on the end of a long pole.)

The first Covid-19 test I took was in July 2020. I was coughing and registered a fever, so I went to an urgent care. Masks and distancing were standard by then. I signed in at the door, then waited in the car until they called me on my phone. They led me into one of the exam rooms, asked me the screening questions, then handed me a nasal swab to administer it myself.

The second Covid-19 test I took, at the end of September, was in the emergency room. I was there for an unrelated health problem, but if you’ve got someone who’s going to be in the ER for a while (and let’s be honest, if you have to go to the ER, you’re going to be there for a while), you have to check. They basically just stuck the cotton swab up my nose while I was sitting on a gurney in the hallway. To be fair, I was pretty out of it by that point.

The third Covid-19 test I took was at a drive-through pharmacy window. I didn’t have any symptoms, but I’d been potentially exposed. I made an appointment ahead of time and drove up to the window. This was the kind of window with an extending drawer that they normally use to trade your payment for your medication. They passed a plastic bin out with the swab kit, instructions, and a collection vial. I did the swab myself, put it in the vial, then put the vial back in the bin to return it.

The fourth test isn’t one I took myself, but I was at an urgent care last week for another issue and got to see how they were handling it. They were screening everyone at the door to the building. If you were there for Covid-19 testing, you wouldn’t even set foot in the building. You’d wait on the sidewalk or in your car, and when they were ready, a nurse would come out and meet you with the test kit. I don’t know whether the nurses or patients were performing the nasal swab, but I thought doing it all outside (this is Southern California in spring, so YMMV) was a good way to minimize transmission.

Virtual Waiting Room

Waiting at home for a link to a video call is, in some ways, better than waiting at the doctor’s office. You’re home, after all! You can use your most comfortable chair. You don’t have to worry about getting sick from other people in the waiting room. You know where the bathroom is, you can bring your coffee in, you have all your own reading material.

But….

There’s always that nagging suspicion that the email with the conference link has been lost, and they’ve been waiting for you to connect for the last 10 minutes and will just move onto the next patient.

Which I’ve had happen.

Over the last few months we’ve dealt with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, several in-browser apps and at least one app that couldn’t figure out landscape orientation. Between school and health, we’ve had some setups where we log into an account and the system connects you to the right person, some where each meeting has its own code, and some where a week’s worth of classes will use the same code. Some send the code or URL by email, some by text message, some through a portal. A lot of them send it out right at appointment time.

None of them just, you know, call on the app when they’re ready.

I actually had to reschedule one appointment after checking in. The front office called me on the phone to do the check-in, and at the end they asked if I knew how to get onto their portal to get the Zoom link. I logged in, and waited…and waited…and waited… No new messages, and nothing in the appointment info about how to connect, only that it would be sent in a message. By the time I called back, they’d marked me as a no-show. It turned out they’d sent the link buried in a message (in their portal, of course), back when I’d made the appointment. “But it says you read this message!” Yeah…not recently.

I’ve got to wonder — if someone who does tech for a living has trouble keeping up with this stuff, how hard is it for people who aren’t used to it?