Zig Zag Mennos

I’ve been a little less on-the-ball with posting lately. I’ve been preoccupied with attempting to solve the riddle of vaccine-hesitant Mennonites. I KNOW. I KNOW. I KNOW. It’s impossible. We are such a riddle wrapped in a flower dress inside an enigma. 

Sunday morning. I awoke to a heavy pressure on my chest. A boulder, its full weight right on my heart.
I opened my eyes. Nothing was there, apart from the sense that something was deeply wrong.
Then I remembered.
A mix of sorrow, disappointment, devastation, misunderstanding has kept me company over the last few days and it has way too much to do with the pandemic and what could possibly end it: vaccines.
Humans are tricky.
Mennonites are cagey.
Just when you think we’re gonna zig, we zag.
Also this.
I may have at one point texted “FIGHT ME” to a sibling, anticipating a bonding fight chock-full of communication.
Hot tip, turns out the world does not need that kind of shit right now.
Upon reflection, this feeling is remorse.
My impulse has proven to be a poor one and it has actually damaged other people’s relationships too.
I don’t know how to fix it.
I have screwed up and I lament.
I lament this pressure everyone has been under for far too long.
I lament the divisiveness.
I lament my own poor decisions and fighty nature.
And yet, and yet, and yet…

Just let me talk about the vaccine for a hot second here.

How the heck did I end up pro-vax? AS A MENNONITE EVEN. (If I even am one. Confusing.)

You know, I think it might’ve begun when my body broke itself down.

Three years ago, on the cusp of my 40th birthday, I descended into a full-blown full-body puffball of excruciating pain.

I staggered into my Rheumatologist’s office for the first time, pretty much ready to die if I’m being honest.

She looked me in the eye and told me that this was a clear-cut case of Rheumatoid Arthritis and flares like this meant my joints were being destroyed by my immune system. This steadily accumulating damage could not be undone. Was it important to me to stop the flares?

Oh yes! I’ll do anything!

Flares are agonizing. They feel like your bones are in the process of breaking. (I suppose it’s because they are. At the joint.)

She told me the flares can be stopped by taking certain medications which are, quite frankly, poison. She outright called the meds poison. Then asked if I wished to continue. I did.

She described them me and the terrible things each one might do to me. Scary stuff. I remember risk of blindness being one of the side effects. I’m pretty sure they also hurt my organs.

I saw that she was not being sarcastic. These meds are very bad and when people with RA google their meds they generally stop taking them.

But this poison stops the flares.

It was a matter of weighing the pros and cons. What’s the one thing that steals my quality of life? RA. I’ll do anything to fight it so I can move mostly pain-free and extend the use of all my body’s joints to hopefully somewhat match my lifespan. So I faithfully take poisonous meds. It’s been several years now. The poison meds have given me my life back.

So maybe because of my RA-scenario, I’m primed to be very receptive to COVID-19 vaccination even with possible side-effects, scary ingredients, and whatnot. Risks are nothing new to me. I just want to avoid the bad thing (pandemic killing lots of people… and the economy… and our collective mental health) and help the community move past this by getting my body to recognize and fight COVID-19 and not spread it to other people.

Also, I trust my doctor. My doctor with years and years of medical education. My doctor who listened to me when I felt like an idiot telling her that my wrist puffed up in random agony (doesn’t that sound like a stupid story? I was so embarrassed to even talk about it). But she listened, and referred me to a Rheumatologist who accurately diagnosed me and helped me regain my mobility. My doctor who now, alongside the vast majority of their fellow physicians, is begging the community to be vaccinated.

And I know the community is listening to those medical professionals. Perhaps not always in gangs or in droves, but daring lone-wolves are stepping out, taking a deep breath, getting that first dose of immunization. To me that is so beautiful and generous.

Or maybe selfish!

I mean, there are lotta benefits to be had re: vaccination. Not giving the Delta Variant a host, not accidentally killing grandma, and maybe most selfishly of all, that sweet sweet immunization card that makes a bit of summertime travel possible, and more convenient.

(Pretty sure I did it for the selfish reason so I won’t judge anyone else’s motives.)

Next time imma post about cemeteries I promise.