How My Diabetes and I Handled My Second COVID Vaccine

Last week, I received my second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Dose number two was definitely different compared to dose number one.

Hanging out in CVS after my second dose. Don’t mind my cheeky shoe – from this angle, my footwear looks sassy, but it’s supposed to say “oh” (the other shoe says “hey”)

How so? Let me start by going over the fatigue I felt. It started to hit me around 9 P.M. on Tuesday evening, several hours after I received my shot. I just felt sleepier than I normally do at that time, and as a result, I went to bed as early as I could.

I woke up a few times in the middle of the night because of the pain that I felt radiating throughout my upper arm. I couldn’t believe how sore it felt! In fact, the site was so tender that sleeping on the left side of my body was a no-go – I didn’t want to do anything to increase the ache in my arm. Other than that, the only other disrupter to my sleep was feeling a little chillier than usual, though that was quickly fixed with the addition of another blanket.

So that was how I fared overnight. What about the morning? I slept later than usual, only rousing to turn off my alarm and drink a bottle of water (I’d heard that staying hydrated would help). I got out of bed around 10:15 A.M., only because I couldn’t sleep anymore and wanted to try to get some work done. But when I stood up for the first time, I recognized that my body was achy, like it was trying to recover from an intense workout I’d done the day before. It was nothing too terrible, but definitely noticeable.

I ate a small breakfast and logged onto my work computer, convinced that I could power through my soreness and grogginess and work the rest of the day. Boy, was I wrong. By the time I got out a meeting that went from 12:30-1:30, I was incredibly tired. Pressure had built in my head and behind my eyes to the point that they were very heavy, and I was so cold that two blankets and a cup of tea were doing nothing to warm me up. My mom (bless her) retrieved a heating pad for me which helped me get warm enough to comfortably fall asleep and take my first nap of the day.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was a cycle of waking up, trying to get out of bed, realizing I was too fatigued to do anything other than lay around, and either succumbing to more sleep or snuggling with my puppy and my parents’ dog. By the time I went to bed (for real) that night, I was starting to wonder whether I’d wake up feeling the same, or if my symptoms would subside come morning.

And guess what? I was 100% back to normal the next day! The moment I opened my eyes, I knew that I was back in commission. The only side effect I still felt was soreness in my upper arm, but even that went away about 48 hours or so after I got the shot.

The very best part (besides being fully vaccinated, of course) is that my blood sugars were not seemingly impacted by the vaccine. Maybe they ran slightly higher than usual, but I’d chalk that up to my lack of movement throughout the day rather than blame it on the shot (I wasn’t feeling well enough to go on my daily walk or do my exercise circuit; that, coupled with laying around all day, meant that I’d run a little high whether or not I’d just been vaccinated).

So yeah, I was mentally and physically tired the day after I got my vaccine, and my arm was a bit sore. Those side effects were more than worth it. Now that I’ve received both doses of the Moderna vaccine, I’ll continue to mask up and practice social distancing in public, but I’ll also now gather with fully vaccinated family members and friends to make up for lost time…and do so with far less anxiety and fear now that we’re all more protected.

How My T1D and I Handled My First COVID Vaccine

Imagine my surprise when I went to write about today’s new blog post on my Instagram account and swiftly realized…I didn’t have a new post! Life’s busy and as a result, I’ve fallen a bit behind my blogging schedule.

Luckily, I have the day off from work today, so I’m able to whip up a quick post on something that people might be wondering about: How did my diabetes and I fare after receiving dose 1 of 2 of a COVID vaccine?

I am officially halfway there on the vaccine front.

I’m going to rapid-fire this one and sum it all up with some bullet points:

  • I got the Moderna vaccine
  • I felt 0 pain when I was injected – in fact, I didn’t feel anything and was surprised when the nurse told me I was all set
  • I had to wait 15 minutes after the dose was administered to make sure I didn’t experience any type of reaction
  • I had no reaction whatsoever
  • About 18 hours after I got the vaccine, I noticed some slight pain around the site
  • I could not see any marks around the site – no redness, no apparent injection location
  • The pain was only noticeable when I was changing my clothes
  • My blood sugar within the first 24 hours was mostly fine (I wasn’t eating super healthy so any high blood sugars can be blamed on my poor diet)
  • My blood sugar was fine 48 hours later, leading me to believe that the vaccine had 0 impact on my blood sugar levels (I had somewhat anticipated elevated blood sugar levels because my mother, who also got the Moderna vaccine, said her levels were higher 2-3 days later post-vaccine)
  • I felt absolutely normal! I got the vaccine three full days ago as of this writing and I can’t say that I’ve noticed anything different

That was my experience; remember, all people with diabetes (and without diabetes) are different and may experience different things. If you have any questions after reading this post, I highly recommend reading this post from Beyond Type 1 that tells you what you want to know about the vaccines. And here’s my little disclaimer to talk to your doctor about any concerns you have.

I’m glad that I got my first vaccine and that it was a hassle- and pain-free experience. I’m looking forward to getting dose number 2 at the end of April and will be sure to recap what it’s like then. In the meantime, I’m happy to continue masking up and practicing social distancing – after all, we’re in this together, and just because I got one vaccine doesn’t mean that I can’t do my part to help protect others.

How I Did My Part to Help Prioritize All Types of Diabetes as it Pertains to COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout in My State

Across social media, I keep seeing the same type of photo pop in my feeds that sparks jealousy, triumph, fear, confusion, and hope all at once: the COVID-19 vaccine selfie, fondly referred to as the “vaxxie”.

I’m beyond happy that dozens of family members and friends have received the vaccine. It makes me feel good to know that they’re doing their part to help protect themselves and others, and it’s wonderful to know that the vaccine is being distributed to some extent.

However, I take issue with part of the distribution plan in my state.

Using my voice to hopefully change/improve the rollout of the vaccine in MA felt good.

In Massachusetts, COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been chaotic, to put it mildly.

It’s probably similar in many states, but the part that I find most frustrating is the fact that people with type 1 diabetes (and seemingly no other co-morbidity) are being lumped together with the last group of individuals to be vaccinated.

My endocrinologist confirmed this for me the other day during my virtual appointment: “Why is it [presumably her computer system] showing you in phase 3? You should be in phase 2…” I nodded vigorously and we talked for a few minutes about how disconcerting the whole vaccine rollout plan is. I explained to her that the Massachusetts chapter of #insulin4all was coming up with language to email to local representatives to implore them to do everything possible to prioritize vaccination for all people with diabetes, and a couple days later, I got my chance to do just that.

I looked up my local and state representatives with a quick Google search and emailed three individuals who are in positions to revise public guidance regarding COVID vaccinations. As soon as I hit “send”, I felt this amazing sense of empowerment – it felt good to do something about an issue that I’m very passionate about.

While I wish that I could do more to ensure change, I do feel a sense of pride that I tried to do something by using my voice. It represented the first (but certainly not the last) time that I plan on contacting legislators to help improve diabetes care, management, and accessibility of supplies – not just for myself, but for all people living with diabetes.

A Postponed Physical and the Resulting Questions

“Molly, we’re calling to inform you that your 10 A.M. appointment for this Thursday has been canceled. We still aren’t taking patients in the office and we won’t be rescheduling you until April. Please give us a call back so we can set up a new appointment time.”

I listened to the voicemail twice before it sank in that my primary care doctor’s office was calling me to postpone my annual physical.

Why, exactly, did it get postponed? And how do I feel about it?

My doctor’s office called me two days before I was scheduled to come in…leaving me to also wonder why such short notice of the cancellation?

Well, I can only theorize the answer to the first question. I’m certain that my doctor’s office is absolutely overwhelmed with phone calls and appointments…and they’ve probably been like that for the past year or so. I’m guessing that they’re only keeping appointments with higher-priority patients that absolutely need to be seen…someone like me, a pretty healthy (discounting my diabetes) and younger individual, is likely not very high on the list of patients they want to see. Plus, even though I know they’re doing virtual appointments for medical questions as they come up, there probably is no purpose in doing a virtual physical because there’s only so much they can do via video call. So I get the postponement, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.

My annual physical is the doctor’s appointment for me, the one that I have each year that I know won’t be a total waste of time. Each year, I get my blood work and urinalysis completed at this appointment, as well as an EKG to monitor my heart. I also get to go over any general health concerns I have with my PCP, who is very thorough when explaining things to me. During this particular visit, I’d hoped to talk about (what I believe to be) the stress-induced hives I’ve experienced in the last month, but now it sounds like I won’t have the chance to do that until April.

But I’m also wondering…when I go to the appointment in April, will I receive my COVID vaccine then, too?

I messaged the doctor’s office to find out and learned…nothing helpful:

I believe by that time you should qualify for the vaccine so you should be able to get it. This of course depends on if the state has given us the vaccine. We will know soon about that and will be sending information to all our patients. 

Uhh…according to the multi-phase vaccine plan outlined by the state of Massachusetts, I should be eligible for the vaccine prior to April. (But quite frankly, the whole phase plan has been a bit of a hot mess. I’m just glad to have 2 out of 4 immediate family members vaccinated at this point.) And the “if” there? Definitely unsettling.

I have so many questions: Can they postpone again in April? When will they be able to tell us more information about the vaccine? Do they think that it’s safer to wait in April because there will hopefully be more vaccinated individuals overall then? Or are they actually worried about vaccine distribution and don’t want to clue anyone into that?

So I feel not-so-awesome about having to wait three more months to check in with my PCP. I take my overall health very seriously, not just my diabetes. One thing has everything to do with the other. However, I do have a virtual appointment with my endocrinologist in a few weeks…maybe that will be the health check-in that I’m desiring?

I’m not banking on it, but I’m hopeful.