A toast to being maskless

The Examiner

It wasn’t as if a decade has passed – more like it had been only a few months since we had seen each other. That’s the definition of good friends.

Events are now labeled as pre-pandemic or post. As odd as it sounds, that’s the reality of our life. We discussed everything but the weather, as there are so many topics to tackle nowadays besides the crazy swing in temperature the Midwest offers. Just to be able to sit at a table with someone other than family seemed surreal. To talk without a mask. To discuss without worry it might be offensive. To eat, drink and be merry – just like the old days, like in 2019 before we knew how much COVID would change our world.

Sandy Turner

I hadn’t realized how much I missed socializing with other couples until I listened to the endless chatter, between bites of good food and drink. Sometimes I forget I’m over the hill and chuckled how the conversation quickly revolved around ailments, surgeries and of course, who has had the COVID vaccine and who hasn’t.

As controversial as the vaccine has become, I can’t help but feel more at ease, conversing without a mask, knowing I’ve had both shots and now being considered fully vaccinated. Whether it’s really going to protect me from getting COVID or not, there’s something to be said about the freedom to take the dang mask off and enjoy a good conversation without the worry someone’s spit is going to land in your mouth and make you sick.

The second vaccine did cause a bit of an issue, but it’s not like they haven’t warned us of the side-effects. I thought I was in the clear, as the day after getting the vaccine had nearly ended, when I suddenly felt as though there was nothing more important than going to bed. I was at a meeting and couldn’t leave quickly enough, only to get home and going straight to bed, still wearing my clothes and jacket. I woke up the next morning feeling completely normal.

Two days after that I broke out with a rash on the side of my neck. My sister was certain it was ringworm (she worked in daycare for decades, so of course she would). I bought ringworm cream, but it turned from a red rash to a purple scaly rash that was radiating pain through my jaw (so then I started thinking I was having a heart attack, dang vaccine was going to kill me off). I spent hours looking at images on the internet and self-diagnosed myself with having a small shingles outbreak.

After comparing notes with my brother, who broke out with shingles after his second vaccine, I’m convinced that’s what is was, and still is, to a certain extent. It’s not completely gone but at least now I can move my jaw without feeling pain.

I still don’t have a strong opinion on whether the vaccines are really the answer and hope my “vaccine passport to freedom” doesn’t reveal more side-effects to come.

Good friends, good food, good times – the perfect recipe for feeling normal again.

Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at sandydownhome@hotmail.com.