Vaccine Vexation

*Edit: Added a couple of medical ailments that I forgot to mention in my initial draft (GERD, the fact that I’m still actively breastfeeding).

Just a quick one on my thoughts about the Covid-19 vaccination exercises that are taking place in my country and elsewhere around the world.

We’ve all been through so much in the past year or so that the sudden emergence of vaccines that promise to bring things back under control and back to a normal that we can all comfortably embrace is so tempting. A glimmer of hope that this entire nightmare might possibly end.

But even if, let’s say, things do change, will they turn out to be the way we hope they will?

An Issue of Convenience

I’ll say this upfront. I’m by no means an anti-vaxxer.

My parents gave me all the mandatory childhood vaccinations that were required in Malaysia, and I have done the same for my 2 young kids. In fact, my husband and I went so far as to even get some of the optional vaccinations for our children, wherever we felt it would be beneficial for them and it was within our financial capabilities to do so.

Prior to the emergence of Covid-19, I was even considering taking an annual flu vaccine to boost my immunity towards such viruses as I tend to be susceptible to allergies and the flu fairly often.

So one part of me is just thinking, “There’s a vaccine out. Let’s just get it and then we can stop worrying about Covid-19, just like we did for every other major illness that surfaced in the past and which we now have routine/normal vaccination options available for.”

But I must say that I am a little disturbed by stories and bits and bobs of information that have come to my attention every so often lately.

Well, yes, you shouldn’t believe every single bit of news you read, especially on the Internet. I am an ex-journo, so I am certainly very aware of this as it once determined my ability to perform respectably at my job.

But yet… amidst the rumour mongering and possibly fake news, there seems to be a certain grain of truth to it. And I’m not sure that I’m seeing some of these community concerns/sentiments being addressed adequately.

I do hope our local media will pick up on these things, and actually create content to either quell people’s fears or amplify real issues that require addressing, but I don’t know how much we can count on that happening seeing how other national issues are often reported on around here.

That’s just one part to it.

A Cloud of Confusion

Browsing through incidents and information that are from overseas origins hasn’t been reassuring in the least. It pretty much seems like nearly everyone is just groping about in the dark and not entirely sure of what they are doing, Governments included.

So can anyone actually tell us how worried we should be about getting the vaccine? As in the actual health risks and how likely it is to be a problem, given a particular person’s health history?

I am not a terribly sick individual, but my health is not exactly in pristine condition either.

I have eczema (of the atopic dermatitis variety), which I learned in recent times is actually an auto-immune disease. This has been something that has plagued me as far back in my life as I can remember; sometimes to a lesser degree, and at other times, significantly enough to make me miserable. As a child, I also suffered from asthma, but this is thankfully something I outgrew. (How is that possible even? I don’t really know, but I am grateful that it turned out this way, of course.)

As a child, I underwent surgery for an external growth discovered at the top corner of my head.

While I was working as a journalist, I was once given the wrong vaccination at a company panel clinic. This was a somewhat scary incident. I can’t really recall if I reported this to my employers, but I certainly did not lodge any public complaints/reports (much to my regret, actually). I did suspect that this wrong administration of vaccines contributed to a Carpal Tunnel Syndrome issue I developed not long afterwards, but I am not sure how this can even be proved/disproved.

Also during the course of the above mentioned career, I developed gastric issues and was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

I was unable to have natural births for both my sons. The first time, it was because it was an emergency (nuchal cord). As for the second round, we took the route of a schedule C-section because there was a risk of uterine rupture. (This was brought about because of the removal of a cyst from my uterus wall during my first delivery, which had led to significant thinning at a certain region, hence causing this risk to arise).

I had cysts growing in my uterus in both my pregnancies. The one that grew during my second delivery has been left as is because my gynae is the kind that feels it’s best to leave things alone if they aren’t presently causing any trouble to me.

Post delivery (for my eldest), I developed a visible lump on my throat which turned out to be a thyroglossal cyst. Doctor told me there was a low chance that it would turn cancerous, but that it could be removed if desired. Husband and I decided to leave it be, since I was breastfeeding our first child at the time, and I wasn’t keen on weaning just for this reason. The cyst shrunk in size till it wasn’t visible externally, so it’s been left where it is inside of me till this day.

I have been battling with a persistent toenail fungus issue over the past 4-5 years. It flared up during both MCO periods, such that I had to seek medical attention. I was prescribed both topical and oral meds, which most times did not work. Finally, a laser treatment helped to cure the problem. But now I have areas on my toe skin that are extremely sensitive and have been unable to heal up until now. My toenails have also yet to resume growing normally.

Oh, and of course, this is something that should not go unmentioned… I am still breastfeeding my youngest son, who is under 2 years of age.

With these things all forming part of my medical history, can anyone tell me truthfully what are the odds that I may suffer a decline in my quality of life from a Covid-19 vaccine? I haven’t yet caught the virus after it being in existence for a year or so, and I don’t really head out in public much.

What if I don’t take the vaccine? Does it significantly harm myself and others?

Which doctor should I consult in order to get my answers? I do not have a regular one that I visit, although I have seen quite a few for all the health issues I mentioned above.

Drawing a Conclusion

All these being considered, I would say that I hesitate to step forward and take a vaccine that may possibly aggravate auto-immune responses in my body. I have had enough unusual circumstances happen to me over the course of my lifetime, and I don’t need more. Perhaps these seem trivial compared to things that others endure, but I would say I’d like to keep it at the level that it’s currently at.

So, in a gist, I am NOT registering to take a Covid-19 vaccine at the moment. It does not mean I will refuse one in the future though.

It all depends on whether I feel a considerable degree of confidence in what is being offered. Right now I do not.

I think this post is long enough as it is and I don’t wish to delve into the finer details of why I am not convinced nor confident about the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines that are currently in use across the globe. (But of course, if you were to request for it, dear Reader, I would certainly consider having a deeper conversation about it to a certain extent. I am by no means keen on a debate though, so for that sort of thing, do direct your gaze elsewhere around the Web.)

I have also been urging loved ones closest to me to consider (or to revisit, if they have already pondered over it) delaying their registration and/or receipt of this vaccine. I am rather concerned on the repercussions it may have on them (regardless of whether their health has issues as mine had, but especially if they are of the older demographic).

As a whole, I do not think it is healthy for anyone (authorities especially) to try and coerce others to take this vaccine. Everyone should be given the space and freedom to process the available information and situation around them and to decide things in a manner that they feel comfortable with.

I am all for freedom of choice here within reason (e.g if someone is actually contagious and their refusal to seek medical help or comply with local laws will have an impact others in the community, then of course, it might be a different story).

In particular, I am not at all pleased with how some people are shaming or ridiculing others who have views that are different from their own. Many anti-vaxxers out there tend to give off such vibes, but I think it is not just them that are the problem here. We should all respect the decisions of others, and try to see things from their perspective, as should be the case in all life’s issues.

And that, ladies and gents, is where I’m at in my view of the whole Covid-19 vaccination issue.

I’m going to take my leave here. I need to pay a visit to the toilet. And chores beckon while day breaks.

Circumstances

There are those of us who slip through crowds a little easier than others. I am one of those people.

I say this matter-of-factly, and not because I lack self esteem. It’s just the way things are. There isn’t anything particularly outstanding about me. I accept that this is the way things are.

For this same reason, I feel people in my life tend to take me for granted. Perhaps I don’t seem as important to them as the next person. Personally, I think I feel rather deeply for the people I relate to, and do my utter best to love and care for them. But perhaps that hasn’t been enough for some.

I figure maybe it’s because I’m just too ordinary and they can’t see me as anyone special or outstanding in their social circle.

Well, I can forgive strangers or acquaintances for not appreciating me for who I am. It’s family though that I find hard to reconcile. It’s baffling to realise how I am not really valued as I thought I would be, given how much shared life experiences I had lived through with such a person.

But it’s inevitable, I guess, because you can’t really force others to like you. They might do things for you out of obligation, but if there isn’t really genuine emotions involved, you can’t exactly engineer it for them. And over time, it shows.

Some things may have happened because of absentmindedness and you can forgive those. But when a pattern emerges, and there are no other plausible explanations for it, you can’t help but conclude that these things are deliberate. That a lack of concern or kindness really does mean what you think: That a particular person does not care for you a single bit.

In the past, I would probably question for days on end why something I said or did was not appreciated or reciprocated. Or I might analyse repeatedly conversations or a series of events to try and pinpoint what exactly went wrong.

Well, maybe I should just stop trying to do all of that. And just accept for a fact that sometimes in life, there will be people who will not quite like you, and that’s their choice to make. It could be something I did/said or it might just be because of who I am. However, it’s just as likely that it’s because the person concerned is fussy or jealous or some other negative emotion that I have no control over.

Whatever the case may be, I think I should just let it go and not fret over it.

Because my life should not be dependent on how well liked I am. There are so many other things worth focussing energy and effort on.

Let me dwell on those things instead.

Grit & Grace

It’s a rainy afternoon today in the fair city of Petaling Jaya. My thoughts are set on a grocery run that I hope to take off for some time soon.

For now, though, I am unable to move anywhere. Seated on my lap, his eyes closed in dreamy slumber, is my youngest son, suckling at my breasts. It’s his favourite nap time routine.

Beside me, my half eaten lunch. Chicken bones I have yet to chew around. A small clump of rice that I cannot yet finish, because I want to fetch some extra chicken to eat with it. Which is in the kitchen, unfortunately, and not where I am (in the dining hall).

My eldest son in asleep too, in his own bed. He would never willingly concede to a nap on most days, but I guess being back at school for the first day after a week long break has probably winded him sufficiently that he cannot resist a shuteye.

My husband is just around the corner, literally, seated with a laptop of his own, absorbed in some work meeting or another in a room we call our study. (But which looks far from it, and more like a store room or junkyard.)

This is how our Monday is going so far. It isn’t too bad. But it isn’t anything out of the ordinary.

I suppose that’s good though, seeing how things have been far from normal for the longest time. For the past year or more, to put it in more certain terms.

So mundane, normal, ordinary… it all sounds great right now. Much better than what we had endured in recent times.

While I’m stuck here a moment longer, let me just talk to you awhile, dear Reader.

I’m not entirely sure what I should say, but it’s just that it’s always nice to talk to someone. Honestly, I feel like I’m ambling about, floating somewhere in the middle of the ocean… soaring mid-flight across the sky… not knowing where I am headed to, yet feeling the need to keep in motion.

As I tidy up the last bits of my current editing project with an overseas author, I wonder about my career prospects. Given that my husband has returned to full time employment once more, and he will probably eventually no longer call the home his office, I find myself slowly but surely becoming the sole adult/parent at home.

Home with the kids.

It’s what I signed up for, nearly 6 years ago, when we had our first son and I decided to quit my job as a journalist with The Star, one of our nation’s largest English newspapers.

Somehow, I still managed to keep a freelance writing career alive afterwards, despite being homebound since then. But I’m not so sure if I can perform such a feat with two to care for now.

Will I have to give it up? Or will I just move on to some other form of income generation that suits my current lifestyle with the boys more?

I don’t know yet.

Just awhile ago, I read an article about Elisabeth Elliot that a friend had sent me lately. From it, I took heart in the realisation that the labour of love that we perform on the homefront does count, and is worthwhile, even from the standpoint of our faith. I certainly hope I will not fail in this aspect. To be a good mother, wife and woman (in general) before God.

Not sure where this road will take me, but I’m okay with it. I am not questioning the twists and turns I navigated before because back then, I was sure of the steps I took. God had provided His assurances to me and I accepted them.

I do believe that He will do so for the path before me too, but it hasn’t happened up till this point. I guess waiting is all there is to do.

And shuffling about with the chores too, no doubt.

It’s turned stormy out there by now, but I’ll be on my way out soon.

Thanks for the chat. I’ll be sure to return when I can with more tidbits.

Easter

I truly wanted to write something personal and significant today because it’s Easter. But I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile to say.

It would not be good to let the day go by without writing something though, because whatever gift of prose I have would not have ever come to anything if not for Jesus.

So here I am with my humble offering: A poem.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written one of these. In many ways, I’m still pretty shy to release them for public consumption. But it’s a special day. Which calls for a tribute, even if it is in my own quirky way.

Here goes…

***

Empty
A heart overwhelmed by its very own
Web of inexpressible aches
Again
And yet again, it comes
Every tide of disappointment
A rising wall
Dark and dreary
Skies, seas of looming ominous depths
Of what origin is this hopelessness
Of what end is this futile, aimless life

Full
Heave-ho
Burdens unbearable
Yet indispensable
Every step heavy, uncertain
Eyes downcast
Confusion aplenty
Distraught and devoid of meaning
How to lift this load
Or find a place of solace
Rest for a weary soul

Untold, unseen
Alone
Surrounded
Running aground
Faith unfounded?

Oh but stop
Silence.
Listen.

A rumble
Rustle
Glimmer
Crack, rip
Open

|| A victor | We have a winner ||

Empty
Assailed no more
Doubt a distant memory
Death be gone

He is not here
He is risen

Full
Songs of the saints
Tell these stories
Of unending, unrelenting
Love, grace, mercy
Joy
Peace

Where
Oh where
You are
Here

Near

My heart
Oh my
This light, this life
Unrestrained
No more ashamed
What blame?
Take it

You are
I am

Yours

***

Thank You Jesus for this life. There is still much I do not understand. But I am grateful for what You have done for me. I have not forgotten, and never will.

In Your name I pray. Amen.

A Song to Sing, A Story to Tell

I’ve said it before, and I still believe it’s true: The hardest stories to tell are those that are your own. Yet those are the ones worth sharing.

As a writer, I find it terribly disheartening and am somewhat ashamed that I have not been able to share more with you than I have done here in this blog, dear Reader. By right, given the fact that writing is the bread and butter of my career, it ought to come to me naturally to be able to regale you with captivating tales and anecdotes from my life, both past and present.

But alas, this is not happening. Or even in the occasions where it had, to a certain degree, it did not occur as often as I’d like.

I tell myself that I should aim to blog at least one post a day. And yet, up till now, this has not really happened. It’s a really funny thing actually.

There will be times where I’m bubbling full of ideas of things to write. And there there are those moments where I just can’t think of anything worthwhile to say, or even when a topic does come to mind, I hesitate because… well, everything from self censorship to doubts about the relevance/popularity of the subject matter will come up.

Whenever I do manage to hash out some kind of post (like I probably will in this instance), I will suddenly feel a surge of motivation and ideas to write about. But then I will stop myself and tell myself that I’ve already just written something out, perhaps I should leave those new thoughts or topics to another day.

Then, of course, another day comes, and I end up not writing.

There are also all these problems I have when it comes to relaying true stories.

I worry about the repercussions of talking about others in my writing. I sort of expect that someone will be offended somehow, and that the whole writing exercise will end up with negative outcomes rather than the uplifting impact I am always hoping it will bring.

I fret over getting facts straight, remembering and recording things correctly. Because maybe, like how it often is in real life, the people around me will challenge me and say that I didn’t actually hear or see what I said I did. Or that I got it wrong, that wasn’t what they meant or what they had said.

So, in the end, nothing gets written in the way of honouring my life journey or sharing with you potentially useful or intriguing stories.

I really should think less.

But if I do, what I do end up writing might end up being careless and pointless.

Well, my thoughts are back on writing memoirs and sharing anecdotes again lately. That’s mainly because I’m working on an editing project at the moment, and it’s for a non-fiction book where the author is retelling true stories from his life.

So as I’ve been sifting through chapters, paragraphs and sentences, I am also pondering how to tell my own stories. Hopefully I gain some insight from this author on what I could possibly do to publish something on my own life.

I really should start somewhere, dear Reader. Would you tell me how I should proceed?

I really do have a lot to say. I just don’t know what is the best way to bring it all out to the surface.

Well, let’s talk again really soon. I will try my hardest to fish out something for you for starters.