Vaccinations? Inoculations? In Britain we also call them ‘jabs’. For the flu, for measles, for cholera and tuberculosis and other travel reasons. I once had one for shingles, a few days before it actually developed. And two days ago our brilliant NHS gave me the first of the two jabs for the coronavirus. This is how it happened
Today is Friday. Out of the blue on Monday the phone rang. It was the ‘Care Navigator’ from my local doctor’s surgery. Care Navigator? Our brilliant NHS can be oh-so-inventive in its new titles. But Andrew was good: friendly, precise, efficient.
Did I want the first jab two days later, in Lord’s Cricket Ground, just over a mile away? Yes certainly. Would I like it done inside a building or outside in the fresh air? Outside please, resisting the temptation to query the term ‘fresh’ for London air. OK, here are some time slots so which would you like? 12.30 says I. Fine, in a few seconds you’ll get your sms confirmation. And in a few seconds there it was, all done; and then he added I’d be getting the Oxford/AstraZenica type. All good. Thank you Andrew.
How to get there? Taxi? Car? Bus? On foot? I was still staying with Tim, and still am though the electrician says he’ll finish today so probably I’ll return to my own flat tomorrow. We discussed it and decided we’d avoid vehicles. Thus, a walk to Lord’s and back, but with a possible wait in a queue it would be too much for me. How about getting a wheelchair?
Does DP want to be wheeled anywhere in a wheelchair? No he darned well doesn’t! Does he think he can walk for more than two miles there and back and also stand in a queue? Regrettably, no. Would he like some exercise? Yes he would. Is a wheelchair the compromise answer? OK, OK, I’ve come to terms with so many things of late, so let’s give it a try.
So I emailed my local residents’ association, the one I used to run in my own area of London, asking if anyone could loan me a wheelchair for a few hours on Wednesday. Within a few minutes an offer came in: someone in the next street had a brand new one, unused, and she’d willingly loan it to me for the day. Other wheelchair offers arrived, and also offers from a doctor and a lawyer both of whom said they were fully vaccinated and would willingly drive me. Great response. But we took the wheelchair.
So on Wednesday morning Tim collected it and brought it back to his flat and we got ready. Then, about 10 minutes before setting off, a parcel arrived. It was the hard collar designed to keep my head up, trying to counteract the recent head-drop due to the weakening of the neck muscles. That was lucky.
We decided I’d conserve energy by saving most of the walking for the return trip, so off we started. A sight! A grumpy me being pushed along the street in the wheelchair, muffled up in overcoat, scarf, neck brace, mask, flat cap, and wielding a walking stick to deter idiot members of the public from coming too close. Actually, no need for that last bit.
It took 25 minutes, very pleasant through the quiet side streets and along the canal and canal boats in Little Venice, with me doing some walking on the longer inclines.
Got to The Grace Gate at Lord’s at 12.15 and showed the sms to the security people. I found it surprising that the sms was the only ID required, but it was clearly enough for them and for the nurses. There was no queue so we were immediately let in and were seated in an open-sided covered area a few yards from the gate. Three others were there, each with carer or relative and suitably distanced. After a few minutes I was called, and we walked just 15 paces to two chairs in the porch of the building next to the gatehouse. A nurse asked a few questions, did the jab, and that was it. There were others around – security people and various helpers. All were polite and very cheerful. I was impressed. My nurse said she didn’t know London at all: she was up from Cornwall! Was this an example of NHS deployment of resources, I wondered? If so, well done.
And back. Same route. I did more walking. Still some wheelchair manoeuvres. Got back a bit tired but pleased it was done and that it had been an adventure – alas, nothing compared with previous adventures in my life but given the circumstances it had been an effort, it had been a bit risky, and it had been fun, so let’s call it an adventure.
We all have different experiences regarding jabs, I suppose. I can’t remember ever having a reaction to one, and so far there’s no reaction to this one either. This coronavirus jab was, for me, less of a sting than flu jabs or other sorts, and a neighbour has said the same, so I’d hope it will be pretty easy for others too.
On Wednesday another phone call came in. The NHS will be providing me with my very own wheelchair! Oh joy! Er … well, perhaps not actual joy but certainly ‘Thank you’.
Tonight I think I’ll watch ‘The Lady in the Van’. Need to get some tips on wheelchair techniques.