Watching the frenzy around vaccines has been an emotional experience for me. A lot of people are making assumptions about the private medical decisions of others. I’ve been watching friends “believe science” and discuss bonding over their jabs. And I’ve been watching friends caution that perhaps we should keep an eye on the long term effects of novel therapies and weigh the costs. The most frustrating aspect has been that everyone assumes that I am on their side. That I’m normal enough to have an opinion that is based on political affiliations and not one informed by my status as a medical outlier.
I guarantee you that my feelings on medical procedures are more complex and nuanced than any zeitgeist narrative thanks to being a medical outlier. As I’ve watched worried well and vaccine skeptics look to bond with me (especially those concerned about side effects or long term impacts) I find myself frustrated. It’s not that likely your concerns are mine. The chances that you as a healthy person with maybe a few issues are also a medical outlier in the way I am is unlikely. Like trust me you’d know it. You’d know if you were actually unusual. It doesn’t fucking sneak up on you.
I’m literally outlier. By definition I’m at the fringes. It’s not a surprise when shit goes wrong as weird medical shit tends to let you know. It’s not a vague concern about something that might happen. I’ve got blood work and specialists. I watch my markers like a hawk to see how much we much we push my immune system quarter by quarter.
I want to discuss my decisions for my own safety and what I’ll be doing but it just doesn’t seem, well ironically, safe. Too many people are too polarized and frankly paranoid. Most of you don’t have to worry about the stuff I worry about. It’s just not that likely you are going to experience the kind of autoimmune system cascades that are a real risk for someone like me. It’s a one in a million kind of thing. So equally it’s possible what is very safe for those millions is a risk for me. I wish it weren’t.
So I would ask folks to please take some care with privacy and respect when discussing medical conditions with anyone. Especially if you know they have something complex or long term. Other people’s assumptions about what I can or cannot do makes me feel alone and sad. Don’t let your politics or your fears invade the space of others who may not be so lucky as to have the same choices and opportunities. I promise we really appreciate the empathy and kindness.