Available vaccination has drastically changed my marriage.
I jumped at the opportunity to receive my vaccine and felt empowered like I was doing my part to push society toward some sense of normalcy. My husband and I were on a rare date when I found out that he didn’t want to be vaccinated. He reasoned that he didn’t feel comfortable: he was a healthy adult with no underlying issues. I was upset and did not agree with his decision, but he was respectful.
A few weeks later, I received a phone call from my mom. She had classic sinus infection symptoms and was about to be seen by her doctor. I said, “Ha, hope you don’t have Covid,” knowing she was fully vaccinated and was, I believed at the time, much less likely to get the virus. An hour later, she called me in tears—covid positive. My astonishment turned to fear as I realized that my son and I had been with her just 36 hours prior. It only took a day before my son showed symptoms. The Delta variant had officially taken over my household.
Over the next few weeks, both of my sons tested positive. Then my husband. At first, I wasn’t overly concerned, especially since my boys had mild symptoms, but fear took root as my husband’s health declined. He ran a fever of 102-103, and every time the Advil and Tylenol regiment wore off he would shake uncontrollably. He was vomiting, coughing, and was barely able to walk to the bathroom. A few weeks after my son first tested positive, my husband called me at work. “I can’t breathe. I need to go to the hospital.”
We sat in the ER for hours waiting, him shaking, holding a “sick bucket” beside me. I had never seen my capable, strong husband so weak. It was difficult to witness. Once he was seen, he was given a lung scan, and the results were horrifying. His lungs were full of white infection. He was wheeled back to a specific “hazardous” room, and a nurse came in dressed in full-blown PPE to administer the antibody treatment, along with other medications. Thankfully, he could go home late that night, but his visit had made a lasting impression: I never wanted to witness anything like that again.
My husband recovered after a few weeks. The hospital had also sent him home with an incentive spirometer to build up his lungs and instructed us to get a pulse oximeter to make sure his oxygen levels stayed up. Selfishly, while he recovered, I struggled. Taking care of both him and our boys, while also keeping up with general mom expectations, was difficult. I couldn’t help but feel resentment toward him and his choice. Many of my family members got sick from exposure to my mom. My mother, stepdad, grandma, and uncle had also tested positive but were also fully vaccinated. Everyone else, even my 86-year-old grandmother, experienced sinus infection symptoms that lasted a few days. No one’s experience came close to my husband’s. I took several tests during this time and consistently tested negative. My very healthy young husband was, in my opinion, lucky to be alive. I felt grateful but beyond exhausted and anxious. I cried every time I had to go home, knowing what responsibilities awaited me.
After recovering, I mentioned finding out when he could get vaccinated. I was absolutely shocked by his answer. “I’m not going to get vaccinated.” was his response. I could not believe it. Had he not been sicker than he ever had been before? Had he not seen with his own eyes that those of us who had been vaccinated were okay and that he had not been? How could he possibly believe the vaccine wasn’t worth it? I was absolutely floored.
We spent the next several months going through the motions. I begged, I threatened, I pleaded, and I negotiated. In November, his parents both tested positive. His mom has COPD and is unvaccinated. She was on oxygen at home for months. After seeing his mom so sick, I thought for sure he would change his perspective, but he did not. He finally agreed to do what our doctor recommended: get the vaccine. He had to wait since he had already had Covid but said he would get vaccinated as soon as he was able. I could breathe again. However, he told me he had changed his mind when the time came.
It has been three months since his final refusal. I would never have imagined that we would be here, deeply torn about medical issues. We have always followed the direction of our doctors. There have been instances where we have been unsure about the next steps medically (none life-threatening) and have always done what medical professionals suggested. He tells me he understands, but he isn’t comfortable with this scenario. We are currently in marriage counseling and have made an effort to spend more time together to strengthen our relationship. I love him and cannot imagine life without him, but I know this issue isn’t going away.
Our children are seven and four, and we will have to determine if they will be vaccinated at some point. I still battle resentment for the month-long hell we endured, and every time someone feels sick, panic rises within me. Knowing that this all could have been prevented is difficult. He fears that in time there will be drastic side effects. However, I would rather have him now than worry about what could happen later. The fact he is willing to go through it all again leaves a sick feeling in my stomach. I don’t know what the future holds, but I will do everything I can to make us better. The pandemic changed our marriage completely, and I don’t believe we will ever be the same.