Saturday, November 13, 2021

Orion and COVID Vaccine #1: They Met!

Heather Withrow
November 13, 2021

Guess who got his Pfizer COVID vaccine injection #1! 

Orion, post-injection and waiting.

 Thank you, Dell Children's and Orion's clinic, for partnering to make this COVID drive vaccine happen a.s.a.p. for 5 to 11-year-old patients like Orion.

Orion's behavioral response just before the COVID vaccine shot for 5 to 11-year-olds leads me to believe he knew a ouchie needle was coming.

I had whisked him out of school in the late a.m. on Friday for a nearby drive-thru vaccine clinic hosted by his (God-sent) comprehensive care clinic*. Filled out the appropriate forms as he crawled out of his carseat and onto my back, feeling the paper and pen as I scrawled my responses. I carried him over to the people giving the vaccine and sat down. I advised a nurse that we'd need 3-4 people to stabilize Orion's limbs and shoulder (he'd injured himself years ago when he jerked away his shoulder when a flu shot syringe needle was still in it).

I lifted Orion's left t-shirt sleeve and he became tense and started making a continuous soft "upset" sound. He intently indicated "drink", using my hand and both his hands (or maybe he could've meant "Mom"?).

I used a "finger" protactile (PT) list (I tap Orion's index finger for item #1 and then tap his middle finger for item #2) for 1st: shot (lifted his left shirt sleeve again) and 2nd: drink (using his PT sign for drink).

Orion (with my hand and his): drink (PT).

I repeated the list.

Orion tried to get away from me, standing up and started taking steps, pulling away from me as if he were a kid who has been skipping, running around for years. It struck me, wondering what if I let go? What if he indeed starts doing that but in reality he'd fall straight down onto the parking lot pavement?

I stood up holding him, his body started to relax again. Staff nearby handed him a tactile toy and he took to it, touching the toy along its length.

It was time. I sat down again with Orion in a "hug" facing me, lifted his t-shirt sleeve. Orion started struggling, including jerking his shoulder backward and forward, I was holding his left lower arm. People closed in to hold Orion still. I closed my eyes for some peace!

All done! Orion vocalized his displeasure and made me rock gently side-to-side for the first part of the post-shot waiting period. I took some selfies that you now see in this post.

As soon as Orion was returned to the classroom and touched food he was going to be able to eat, he was all right! Food is definitely a love of Orion's. 

Orion also had a lung specialist visit the same day but in the afternoon. We do want the flu shot for Orion but this was dropped because there were not enough people at the office to hold Orion to safely get the flu shot. (We'd read that it's OK to get both on the same day and why not deal with symptoms for both shots than two different times with likely the same symptoms of soreness and feeling crummy.) We are watching Orion for symptoms.


I am SO excited for Orion and for us to soon start our own journey to near-normal activities. Our whole family has been and still is very protective of Orion. It's a new feeling... the excitement and the protectiveness, being cautious, calculating and avoiding risks. While going through the list of questions that come before receiving the COVID vaccine, I was asked if Orion had COVID before. I replied, "No."

In my head, thought along the lines of, "Are you kidding?! We worked so hard, gave up so much to protect Orion! We're here now, finally!"

COVID is around to stay, I understand, just like the flu. I am so used to wearing masks including being annoyed by masks but they're worth it. They work! (This is a whole 'nother story that has us true believers of masks that protected Orion in a close-contact situation early last year in which the family quarantined/canceled appointments & in-person school for 2 weeks.) And they hide stuff going on with your face, ha!

Stay well, everyone! Thank you to everyone who helped keep (and continue to keep) Orion, children, and vulnerable members of our communities safe as much as they could during the COVID pandemic.

*I was in love with CCC when clinic staff came in the exam room and offered me some water or coffee. So simple but so... embracing.

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