Thumbs Up For Our Rite To Bare Arms

Photo Credit: engin akyurt/Unsplash

“It’s about solidarity,” we agreed , while waiting the requisite fifteen minutes after my second shot, last week. The Latino man in the next chair (probably a boomer, like us, though hard to tell for sure with a mask) gave us a thumbs up and we responded in kind. In that room it was all about arms, not job status or fame or success or ethnicity or station in life. All over America, all over the world, we’re quietly battling this wildfire, together.

We’re participating in a worldwide rite, our rite to bare arms.

A rite can be defined as a religious or other solemn ceremony or act. A ritual is the performing of a task in such a way that elevates it for the participants involved. A rite consists of a ritual, or several rituals, that mark an important milestone in a participant’s life.

This moment is a milestone in everyone’s life. None of us on earth has ever been through this before.

There are points of connection like “Where were you when JFK was shot?” or when 9/11 happened, but the world community shares this one. The end of World War II may be the most recent event that was nearly the same. Before that, World War I and the 1918 pandemic.

Maybe your first vaccination in school felt similar, where your whole local cohort was going through the same thing and you had to talk about it. Perhaps telling your spouse or friend about a medical procedure you had felt similar. But this is all of us. Even those who are vaccine-resistant have to deal with it.

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad I didn’t miss this.

Photo Credit:Diana Polekhina/Unsplash

There are a few of us, ten percent or more, who have an extra steep hill to climb because we’re needle-phobes. Until recently, maybe the last twenty years, I had to deal with trypanophobia, or fear of injections. I passed out more than once because of same, until I learned to admit it, before the shot, and ask to sit or lie down.

It can involve the thought, sight, smells surrounding or pain from getting them and can trigger the vagus nerve, which widens blood vessels, slows heart rate, and drops blood pressure.

Needles were one of my childhood fears, of which I had many. They also included elevators, trains, Saint Bernard dogs, robots, and daddy longlegs. I remember one time sitting on the picnic table in a rest area and feeling what I thought was a daddy longleg crawling on my head and I got hysterical only to find out it was pine needles from the tree overhead.

I don’t know the provenance of all these childhood fears, I can only guess. I associated needles with the smell of the alcohol swabs.

I’m not afraid of most of those things any more. St. Bernards, check. Trains, check. Robots, check. Daddy longlegs, check. Elevators and subways are sketchier but usually fine. But fear of needles lasted much longer. I’m guessing my surgeries back in 2004 inured me to it somewhat, since I was forced to deal with a lot of needles then. I’m not sure how I managed to be an EMT for a few years.

I’ve had a good many shots since then, with no ill effects, including these two vaccinations. There are people who will seek to avoid them, though, and all medical care, because of this deep-seated and irrational phobia. I get it.

Whatever weights we are all dragging to these vaccine sites, thumbs up to all of us for doing it anyway.



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