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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Sunnybrook

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The COVID-19 Vaccine & This Doc's Best Day Ever

Dr. Chris Hill, Emergency Department Physician, after getting his COVID vaccine

Written by Dr. Chris Hill, UnityPoint Health Emergency Medicine Physician

With the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine, and having recently been administered my first dose, I want to share a recap of a portion of the memories and thoughts that came over me.

Early in the pandemic, I was scared.

Scared to go to work. Scared for my health and that of my friends and coworkers.

As the months progressed, I was worried. Worried for our community and my patients. I was concerned about the stability of the broader health care apparatus to handle surges of very ill patients.

I’ve also been sad sometimes. I have often thought about one patient who asked me, “Am I going to die from this?” as I placed them on high flow nasal cannula oxygen. I didn’t know what to say. I was hopeful but honest.

I was truly affected days later, however, when I read the patient’s name in the obituaries. This was just one of the many patients and/or their families that have touched me. I’m a thick-skinned emergency physician, but somehow, this has been different than the tragedy and trauma I’ve learned to cope with throughout my career.

I was frightened as I followed my parents’ health day-to-day, as they each experienced COVID-19. Thankfully, they recovered with only mild lasting effects.

I have been angry at times at this disease, the global response and the disruption to so many lives and to our social environment.

I’ve been anxious, and I’ve been hopeful and optimistic at times, too, particularly on the “outside,” as I tried to bring encouragement and hope to others.

Today, I received my COVID-19 vaccine. I was cheerful and grateful. The pharmacist who administered the vaccine to me will forever be one of my angels on earth. Oddly, as I got to my vehicle to leave, I shed a tear for the first time since the pandemic began – the happy type of tears.

I thought about my new-found confident anticipation and excitement that soon (within months), I can hug my mom and dad, my grandmothers, my sisters and nephews, my close friends and (eventually) patients and their families who often need it most.

I was joyful. I felt triumphant in a way that one experiences only a few times in life. I really can’t put it into words, but I see the light at the end of this dark tunnel. I see the promise of a better tomorrow.

What a blessed day. A new chapter. A fresh start. A new reality.