COVID has affected everyone in many ways. How do we negotiate our own best self-care through this? Certainly, with distancing, mask wearing and hand-washing at a minimum. Now that vaccines are available, I’m all in, and this is why I’m looking forward to getting the vaccine.
As a vegetarian for over 50 years and an organic farmer for 20 years, I value my health and am thoughtful about what I put in and on my body. I also have a very active lifestyle. Now that I live in Asheville, I hike these mountains every day! I also like taking epic journeys every year or, at minimum, every other year. This means walking or bicycling across countries. (In 2019, I bicycled the Continental Divide for 2,310 miles. This fall, I plan on bicycling the Green Velo through Poland and then the Danube from Budapest to its source in Germany).
Why do I mention this? It feeds my soul, and I’m attached to this lifestyle. While I feel I’m invincible, and I pay attention to what I can control, like my diet, I also recognize there are things out of my control. At the beginning of COVID, I was very cavalier and thought, “No big deal if I get this: I have a very healthy immune system, and I will be one of the 80% who doesn’t need hospitalization.” As time went on, I read about long-term effects of COVID. What? It doesn’t just go away? They estimate 30% are affected with long-term damage to lungs, heart or mental health. I’m OK with getting sick and getting over it; I’m not OK with long-term health issues.
This is where I had to stop and take a self-inventory of my beliefs. One of the best articles I read many years ago was about a man who hiked all the national parks and monuments in the U.S. and nothing bad ever happened to him like getting lost. He explained it with the most profound statement: “Never be so goal-oriented that you lose sight of your rationality.” What a powerful statement! What does this mean? Being an outdoor adventurist who travels solo, I like reading outdoor adventure stories and survival stories. Reading through the lens of that powerful statement, one realizes that life-and-death mistakes are made when one becomes so attached to their goal that they will push on, in spite of big red flags and subtle nagging intuition, to their death.
I’m one of those people who would never consider a flu shot, and the only thing I stock is low-dose aspirin, just in case. I don’t take any medications and believe local and organic food is my best medicine. Confronting my invincible “I’m healthy” hubris, I have to admit there are things I can’t control, and it would be hard to forgive myself if I was so attached to my anti-establishment stance that I lose sight of my best self-care. The ingredients in the vaccine are published. The concept of the vaccine is similar to homeopathic remedies: the hair-of-the-dog treatment. Am I willing to ingest a foreign substance today that will give some protection against a possible long-term debilitating health issue? My risk assessment for myself is yes. COVID is fast spreading. It is mutating. There is the risk I could get COVID and the risk I could have lingering effects.
By now, we all know someone who was affected by COVID, and some of those are tragic. While I can’t control what looks like a risky, big, worldwide pandemic that keeps coming back in waves, I can make a decision accessing risk with self-protection. I’m getting the vaccine.
— Gabriele Marewski