My Valentine Gift

covid-19This past Valentine’s day was unsurpassed. I was allowed to try and book a covid-19 vaccine appointment on-line on the city and the state-run sites. It would be the best Valentine’s gift ever (and for me that is special because my middle name is Valentine- yes, it’s true). I even began to imagine being able to travel again, maybe going back to see my friends in glorious and gorgeous Italy, one day soon. I got up extra early and offered for my dogter, Dea, to sleep in but she was up with me ready to play. At 8 A.M., the site officially opened to those who have comorbidities, and I was at the ready, my first needed cup of coffee in hand.

I went on one site after the other and they all said “no appointments available. Please try later.”  Oh no, despair so early, I thought. Then I found a site that took me to the Javits Center in NYC for available appointments. I was in luck or so I thought. I went to the appropriate site but it hadn’t been updated at 8 AM or even at 8:30 to include my group (comorbidity) so I couldn’t even attempt to try. I paced all over my apartment, upset at the system. I saw there was a phone number and tried that. I was on hold for a long time before a representative said, “sorry we can’t help you with the Javits Center appointments. Let me see if there are any appointments at the public hospitals.” I waited with baited breath. “Sorry, there are no appointments available,” she said.

Back to the site for The Javits Center and voila, my group with comorbidities was finally added.  I tried about 35 times in the next hour, refreshing the system over and over and answering the basic questions time after time. It always said,” system too busy, try again later.”

Around 3 P.M. eager to try again I got a different notice saying I was now placed on a virtual line for 60 minutes and to not close the browser or I will lose my place in this virtual line. Dea and I scurried out for her walk and when we returned the clock showed 22 minutes. I was excited for the clock to get to zero allowing me to make a vaccine appointment. At ten minutes, the site collapsed on me.  OMG, it all went away and I had to try to get in again. I surprisingly did get back on and the clock started at 55 minutes on a virtual hold line again. I waited with Dea on my lap, petting her incessantly to help calm me. The clock got down to zero minutes and there was another screen that said press to continue. I did. It didn’t.

I pressed continue consistently for over five minutes and nothing got me to an appointment so I reluctantly gave up. Ready to scream with disappointment I had to let it go for a while. Around 8 PM, after a glass of red wine, I tried again, for the heck of it.  This time there was no virtual hold line. Maybe, maybe, maybe! I held my breath. The system took me right to where one makes an appointment. Oh, happy day!

There was the longest form I had ever seen with question after question. The system tried to time me out a few times as I struggled to get any appointment. The screen showed numerous available appointments for a few weeks from now but each time I clicked on any time that said available, the system immediately told me “this appointment is no longer available. Try again.” I worked as fast as I could for another 20 minutes to find a time that would allow me to book it and then finally, in five weeks, I found a time for an approved appointment. I took Dea into my arms as we danced to an imaginary song.

Exhausted from this ordeal I put all my attention onto petting Dea and playing with her for a while with a squeaky toy and in the middle of a squeaky toy throw,  something made me think to check the portal of the hospital where I have a comorbidity. When I went to the portal, my eyes popped and my heart beat wildly. The hospital had sent an email that morning asking me if I wanted to get the covid-19 vaccine there? Yes, yes, yes, I did, I screeched! All I had to do was answer a few basic questions and then I could choose the date and time.

My appointment is coming up this Sunday. I feel blessed and fortunate to be able to get the vaccine even though it is because of a serious comorbidity. But for now, I allow myself the treat of fantasizing about a vacation back to my old home, Rome, where I had lived many years ago and where I still have friends, even if it’s a year or two from now. I am permitting myself to remember the mouthwatering Italian food that one day I will be able to eat again, especially the impeccably made fettucine con funghi porcini, perfectly al dente with always the right amount of oil, the freshest porcini mushrooms and pepperoncino (hot red dried peppers) Plus, for the first time in a year I have the courage to dream about life getting somewhat back to normal in NYC. Soon life will be different and better for me, Dea and hopefully the world.

1 reply
  1. Gita
    Gita says:

    As I read Alison’s vivid recount of trying to obtain a vaccine appointment, I found myself reliving my own anxious experience! I was reminded of how this was (perhaps) harder than “trying-out for a Broadway Play.” It was an over-the-top relief, in actually securing a date and time (that didn’t suddenly vanish, before your eyes)! Alison’s experience is not only extremely accurate, so is her sense of humor! It felt great to laugh again!

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