Before I knew what was happening I was fighting!
(At least my immune system was)

This weekend my body was pushed to the edge! I got my second dose of the Moderna COVID Vaccine on Saturday (February 20, 2021) and my body did not love it. To be clear, I was expecting my body's reaction to this dose would be a little rougher, but I did not know exactly what to expect. I am writing this as part of my newsletter, more to share my experience than to set your expectations or to encourage you to or discourage you from getting the COVD vaccine. We are all different and will all respond a little differently to these vaccines.

For those who don't know, I wear an Oura ring to help to track my sleep. I have been wearing it for a little over a year now. It not only tracks my sleep, but is able to measure my resting heart rate (RHR), heart rate variability (HRV), body temperature, and respiratory rate. ALL of these measurements were significantly impacted on the night following my second dose.

My first dose of the Moderna vaccine was administered on Friday, January 22. I specifically chose a Friday because I expected some level of soreness following this dose and didn't want it to interfere with my ability to treat patients the next day. To be honest, I didn't even consider the second dose in making this decision. Nearly everyone that I spoke to about the first dose, had experienced soreness in their arm the following day, but few other side effects. 

After getting the initial dose, I felt pretty good for several hours. However, I did develop soreness in my left shoulder within a couple of hours. It was just that though. Just sore. I described it as feeling like I had done shoulder raises on my left arm only for about an hour. No pain, just soreness. That night I slept well, other than any time I tried to lay on my left side. And when I woke up in the morning I looked at the metrics on my Oura ring. I didn't sleep all that well, which was most likely my fault because I didn't go to bed early enough. At the time my HR sensor on my ring was malfunctioning (I have since had it replaced under warranty), so I do not have accurate numbers regarding my RHR or HRV but I can see my respiratory rate and my temperature. Both were only slightly elevated from the norm at that time, which suggests that those increases were likely insignificant.

Between my first dose and my second dose, I spoke with quite a few people who had already had their second dose. I wanted to pick their brains a bit so that I would know what to expect. Their responses ran the gamut. I spoke with one woman who felt completely fine the day after her second dose (she did tell me that she used Advil and Nyquil though) and I spoke with one man who told me that he did not feel like himself for "a couple of days." Knowing that I am a relatively healthy guy, I fully expected to recover pretty quickly from the second dose.

Carol had her second dose administered on February 10. She was under the weather the following day but seemed to be back to normal by the day after that. So to be honest that was my expectation. To be honest, I wasn't too far off, but I wanted to give you a little glimpse into my experience.

I received my second dose just before noon, and I had soreness in the left shoulder again within a couple of hours, but no other significant symptoms. Knowing that most of the people that I spoke to had a more significant reaction to this dose, I decided to go to bed early. I climbed into my bed at around 10, and read for a couple of minutes before my book hit me in the face and told me to go to sleep.

THIS is the time when things seemed to get a little crazy.

Carol came to bed about an hour after I fell asleep. I wasn't sleeping soundly when she came into the room, I stirred and woke up enough to ask her to turn up the thermostat (something that I don't think I have ever done) but I was freezing. My goal was to sleep as long as possible that night to allow my body to fight while I rested. I specifically recall waking up several times throughout the night and sleeping very restlessly throughout the night. At 8:20, I finally dragged myself out of bed. (And that is exactly what it felt like...)

Upon waking up the following morning I immediately checked my Oura ring data and what I found was pretty amazing. My body was fighting all night! My average resting heart rate prior to the second dose was typically 55-60 beats per min, but the night following the second dose it was 79 beats per minute and my RHR was between 80-100 BPM from 2AM until I woke up. 80 BPM is typically where I am with a brisk walk... As if the impact on the RHR wasn't enough, my body temperature was 3.8 degrees higher than what has been typical for me over the past year. 3.8 degrees! That means I was most likely running a temperature of about 102 degrees. If I didn't have the ring I would not have known that I was fighting that hard. I knew that I didn't sleep well, but now I had data to back that feeling up. 

Look at that RHR from 2:00-8:00...

I was burning up and panting like I was running a marathon!

Upon waking up the following morning, I debated whether I should be taking some medication. Should I be taking Advil or Aleve? If I am considering meds then you know that I was not feeling well... I have read some people suggest that it is fine to take meds and will have little to no effect on the vaccine's effectiveness, but some have suggested that it may impact the effectiveness. So I decided that if I could deal with the symptoms, then I would avoid taking anything. 

Upon waking up on Sunday morning, I felt like I was "50-60% of normal." I had a mild headache, some fatigue, and just a general sense of malaise, but nothing more than that. I didn't want to do anything though. I was glad that I was not seeing patients that day! So what did I do? I just sat still ALL DAY! I mean I did NOTHING! Carol was a rock star and took care of me and the girls all day. Could I have done a little more during the day? Probably. If I needed to, but I didn't need to, and I had a day of patients the next day. I took it easy all day in hopes that I would be ready for work on Monday morning. And I was! I woke up on Monday morning with a little headache, which felt to me like I was a little dehydrated. I was moving a little slower in the morning but picked up the pace as the day went on. I woke up on Tuesday feeling 99% of normal.

As a matter of precaution, I have not been training (other than mobility work) this week, and plan to resume normal life again next week!  

Sorry that this one is so long, but I really wanted to share my experience with you.

If you have any questions about my experience feel free to reply to this email and I will be happy to answer any questions that you have.   


Movement is my medicine,

Dr. William "Chip" Bleam

Dr. William "Chip" Bleam


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