inessential by Brent Simmons

I’m Still Living with the Longterm Effects of a Disease that Now Has a Vaccine

I was in third grade when I got a severe case of chicken pox. This was in the days before there was a vaccine for it. When I returned to school, I found I couldn’t read the blackboard anymore, and I had to get glasses.

My eyesight kept getting worse in the years since, and it’s the worst that I know of among friends and family. With my contacts out, I can’t see my feet. I could trip over anything on the floor because I can’t actually see that far away.

I wear contacts instead of glasses because of the lack of peripheral vision. (These days I wear contacts and reading glasses when I’m at my computer or reading.)

I wish there had been a vaccine! I would have gladly had the better life with only normally impaired vision instead of extremely impaired.

Let me tell you how it was almost worse, though

We lived at the bottom of a quarter-mile-long hill. When it snowed, everyone parked their cars at the top of the hill, next to the highway.

I don’t remember the blizzard of ’78 at all because that’s when I had chicken pox. I had it so bad that it wasn’t just on my outside: it was inside. Eventually I couldn’t keep anything down — even the smallest sip of water would make me throw up.

But could I go to the hospital? My parents would have had to bundle me up, put me on a sled, and pull me up that hill, in the cold wind, with the road covered in deep snow, to get me to the car, to get me to the hospital. Would I have survived the trip? Unknown. I was weak and severely dehydrated. (I’ve never been as sick since. Not nearly.)

Long story short — we didn’t have to attempt the trip once I was able to hold down some cherry Jello. 🐣

But was this all better than getting a vaccine would have been? I could have died, and I’m still living with the effects. In a heartbeat I’d swap that experience for having had the vaccine.

When it’s your turn — it’ll be mine in a couple weeks — get the coronavirus vaccine! Don’t let this thing kill you or fuck you up forever.