Weekend house visit: crazy snake-pipes + vaccine!!!

We have arrived at an exciting stage of new-house building: the crazy snake-pipes that will heat our future apartment are in! Now, I already thought that the concept of under-floor heating was pretty cool: we have it at the apartment we are renting now, and it makes going barefoot in winter very cozy, not to mention getting out of the shower. The bathmats are always toasty! How delightful is that?

But! This week, the pipes that will allow said toasty under-floor magic are in, and just look at them! How crazy is that?! I can’t even figure out what they look like – very organized snake-worms? Some sort of video game racetrack? Who knows, but I am sure glad we witnessed this delightful stage of house building before they cover them up. Meanwhile, the brick walls have also been covered up in plaster… it’s almost unrecognizeable compared to the bare brick walls and weird grey gravelly stuff that was on the floor before!

Also there are wires spewing comically from all of the house’s orifices, as if it was vomiting, or perhaps it hadn’t trimmed its beard. I had kind of figured it would be pretty fun to watch the house transform before our very eyes, but… to be honest, I had not imagined it would be *this* fun.

In other news… I got my first dose of the vaccine on Monday! Aghhhhhh!!! I cannot adequately convey my excitement, relief, delight, gratefulness… just a freaking sea of emotions over here. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Italian government, for including lowly Red Cross volunteers among the healthcare workers to whom the first wave of vaccines was allotted. I am beyond excited about how different it will be to go on a “sospetto Covid” call and not feel, even under all my layers of PPE, that clenching in my stomach that says ‘what if this time I get it after all? What if I’m one of the ones whose oxygen saturation plummets on the 10th day and they can’t save me?

Anyway. So, this whole process was not without angst, despite our province’s top notch organization (I say unironically – it really was splendidly organized). I originally received a text message scheduling my vaccine for January 8th – truly among the first wave! So grateful! Thank you amazingly much, Italy! Tragic problem: I was away that week and had no way of getting back in time. Frantic calls to boyfriend (who actually works for the Red Cross and had already received his first shot in late December); frantic messages to our medical director, who sanguinely told me to just cancel the appointment and they would reschedule it later. (Me: But then they will think I’m a crazy anti-vaxxer, undeserving of this precious shot! Her: it’s just a computer system. I doubt it has the advanced cognition necessary to assume anything about your motives. Relax, child.)

She promised I would be plopped right back on the list for the next wave of healthcare workers to be vaccinated. Plot twist: then they ran out of doses and put scheduling first doses on hold, to save up enough to administer already-scheduled second doses. Angst! Disaster! Regret! I am never travelling out of town again! Bah! They always say that must gnashing of teeth ensued in these sorts of situations, and I’m honestly not totally sure what that means, but I’m sure I was doing that, too. I really wanted that vaccine! In retrospect, I was disproportionately upset about this, but I think it was having an appointment right there on my phone, that precious vaccine practically in my hands (or in my arm, I suppose) and then having to give it up, that really got to me.

Anyway, my boyfriend being a resourceful fellow and also long-time friends with lots of the emergency nursing staff in our town, thanks to being an ambulance driver, mentioned my distraught and teeth-gnashing state to some of his nurse friends, and one of them mentioned that the vaccine site was usually looking for last-minute people to take the end-of-day doses leftover from no-shows. (Who are these no-shows?!!) So she got me on that list, and on the very day my boyfriend got his second dose, we got a call at 6pm and zipped right over! The vaccine site here is in the fairground pavilions (is that even what they’re called? I don’t know, it’s these huge industrial-looking buildings where usually they have fairs), with a very clearly demarcated pathway to follow, a long double row of little tents for the actual vaccinating, and a veritable army of folding chairs for people to do their 15-minute wait in, patrolled by emergency nursing staff and an ambulance to whiz you away should you show any signs of a bad reaction. (To date, none in our town, apparently.)

This whole edifice was basically empty when I got there, due to being the (extremely grateful, nearly to the point of tears) end-of-day last-minute dose taker, but I could see how it was set up for maximum efficiency. I tip my hat to the organizational staff of our town – it was magnificent to see, and I was nearly in tears of joy at how well it was being managed, and at the fact that I was finally getting my very own first dose! I really wanted to take a moment to cry about it and perhaps have a photo taken when they were actually giving the dose, but I was too shy – the doctor and nurse who did mine were the only ones left in the whole tent village in there, and I’m sure they wanted to just go home, without an overwrought American begging them to document the moment. It’s documented in my mind, though. After so many months of tension, of never letting go of that back of mind what-if… I think I will remember that moment for a damn long time.

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