The Nocturnists: Sharing my Story as a Nurse and Mom in a Pandemic

The Nocturnists is a podcast that has done incredible work documenting the experiences of healthcare workers from many angles, and in current times capturing this phenomenal moment in history as we endure this COVID pandemic.

I had the opportunity to reflect on the early days of the pandemic as we all began to realize that this coronavirus was to be taken very, very seriously. What was it that made me realize it wasn’t like other coronaviruses I’ve seen in our ICU? My sharing in Stories from a Pandemic: Part II – Episode 7: Remembering a Pandemic starts at 5:57.

In the next Episode 8: A Call to Arms, I share about what it was like to be a pediatric ICU nurse, a new (and overwhelmed) homeschooling mother to two young elementary age children, and a wife of a health inspector before – and then just after – the vaccine finally becomes available. What was it like to go from hoping for the best with only external protection, to finally having some internal protection on board? My sharing in this episode starts at 18:19.

We are living in such crucial moments in history, and as intensely stressful as they have been, I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful for the vaccine. I am grateful we have ways to share our stories.

COVID Vaccine: Dose #1

We are living the most wild time in recent history with this COVID pandemic, so I find it important to document our experience as nurses. Here are my reflections on the day of, and day immediately following, receiving dose #1 of the COVID vaccine.

Saturday, December 19, 2020: I received the first dose of the COVID vaccine at my hospital at 0630 before my shift started at 0700. This was written later that morning.


Who could’ve imagined a year like this. We are still in dark, dark times. Just last night I broke down and cried out “I quit!!” re: all things about this madness. But I didn’t mean it. I’m just worn down like we’re all worn down – by a mean virus, awful politics, heartache and anxiety. I grieve that we have lost so many lives to date. It didn’t have to be this way and I grieve that deeply.

But still His mercies are new every morning. The sun rises, hope comes. So I got up in the darkness to get to my 6:30am vaccine appointment on time before my work shift. And this smile is one of deep gratitude for the scientists and workers and yes even the politicians who cut through the red tape and all the bickering to get this vaccine to us.

It didn’t hurt at all. 2.5 hrs in and I feel great, just the most negligible soreness in my arm, but I’m roaming the ICU as Resource Nurse with a grateful confidence that I finally have some protection on board, and more is coming with the second dose. I understand the fears, I do. But let me be your “guinea pig,” I don’t mind. I will be so happy to be a living and grateful example of the relief we can all begin to find from this awful virus. We can rise up in the darkness. We can. The sun rises, and hope comes.

Sunday, December 20, 2020 11:30AM

A day and some change after receiving the 1st dose of the vaccine:

– Arm soreness is mostly gone, some tenderness at the injection site remains. *I will say that after I got the shot yesterday morning, the arm soreness increased throughout the course of the day, to about a level 4/10 for me which is more than I’ve experienced with other vaccines, but I was still fully functional at work.

– Maybe (?) some mild body aches but I’ve been carrying a lot of stress in tense shoulders for weeks so it’s really indistinguishable from my usual.

– Otherwise normal.

I will not sugar coat any side effects I feel, particularly after the 2nd dose when I fully expect to feel worse for a couple days. People deserve a fully informed choice about this vaccine, but they also then need to face up to hard realities of the risks of opting out of it when it becomes available to them, which I will speak up about in future posts.

For now, it is time for hope, and I am glad to be the public’s guinea pig.