I would walk 500 miles….

I saw a post on Facebook. It was from the newspaper from my hometown. It asked if anyone drove a long distance to get a vaccine and if so, why. So I responded that I drove 120 miles to my mom’s house, then another 132 miles roundtrip to get her the vaccine and back. I will have to do it all again in a few weeks. The why? Well, I mentioned how I lost my dad and uncle to the virus and that my mom lives with COPD and I felt like I had no choice but to get her the vaccine regardless of the distance. I didn’t think much more about it until I got a message from a reporter asking me if I would call him. So I did. We chatted for a bit and I told my family’s story. I just assumed that the story was going to be about how difficult it was to find a vaccine appointment in North Eastern Pennsylvania (NEPA).

It wasn’t until Monday morning that my phone started blowing up with messages on FB, text, and Instagram. Apparently, my story was worthy of a cover. I was shocked. I thought we would be a small part of a larger story.

Apparently, losing two family members and being willing to drive over 350 miles to try to prevent the pandemic from taking my mom is newsworthy.

As a patient advocate, I’m all about spreading awareness. As a human who lost two family members to COVID-19, I’m defensive about all things COVID. So seeing my personal story told on a very public form (that I am not in control of like my blog), was a bit unnerving. Especially when I read the horrid comments by antivaxxers, conspiracy theorists, and people who are just plain mean.

Here are some of the top mean-spirited comments:

“Probably the same folks who hoard toilet paper. People should stay in their area.”…..sorry, this is not the Hunger Games. I stayed in my state. I guess this person only shops, eats, and does business within his/her own county.

“I’m glad they got one. But didn’t they take it away from someone in the area that could have gotten it?” …..uh, no. I logged in to the system and was giving locations within 100 miles from my mother’s home. Vaccines are distributed to various sites including private business. We didn’t go to a county vaccination site, we went to a RiteAid.

“The vaccine does not prevent you from getting COVID 19. You still need to wear your mask. If you do get the virus it should be a mild version and your body should be able to fight it off.”……You are correct that we still have to wear masks, but I will trust doctors and science before believing all information posted on FB.

“I would be looking into the ingredients before you people get vaccinated.”….. I did. Way more than you did. We checked all ingredients in both Moderna and Pfizer and made sure my mom didn’t have any allergies to ingredients. We also checked with her doctor.

“They brainwash you to get it!! If your a healthy person all u need Is your immune system!! Enough of the bs!!” …..uh, who’s brainwashed? I’m pretty sure I’m not the one reading a bunch of conspiracy theories.

“There’s not enough scientific research about these vaccines. I feel they’re only going to be a danger.”…..feel free not to get one.

“The injection causes your DNA to mutate, but if you are still living in the Wyoming Valley you have herd immunity (you are already considered a mutant).”…..Ok jokester. Make jokes while my family still grieves.

And my personal favorite: “she has a lot of spare time since she quit the Whitehouse.”……for the record, I was named Kelly Ann Conway way before Kellyanne Conway from the White House. She had to get married to be a Conway, I was born this way.

Again, everyone has the right to their opinion, but it’s amazing how sitting behind a computer makes it easy for people to be mean, thoughtless, and cavalier. I’m willing to bet more than half of the commenters read the headline and not the actual article. I so wanted to hit reply and respond to each and every comment, but I didn’t bother. They are not worth my time. Why am I documenting it here? Because maybe someone will read this and think twice before making a rude or ignorant comment online. I get people having a right to free speech…..but mean speech, trolling, and just being ignorant makes you a sucky person. You may believe the pandemic is a hoax or mind control, but you are wrong. My dad and uncle didn’t deserve what happened to them. You have the choice to pass on the vaccine. You also have a choice not to be a troll. I have the power to ignore rude comments, and I also have the power to try to spread awareness. I can’t predict the future, but I’m certain I took a positive step to help my mom. At the end of the day that is all that is important…..and I would drive 1,000,000 miles to make sure my mother is safe(r) during a global pandemic.

Feel free to read the article here: Some traveling far and wide for COVID-19 vaccinations

Maureen & Kelly Conway.

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Kelly holds masters degrees in both Special Education and Speech-Language Pathology. She works full-time as a speech-language pathologist in both a public school setting and as an adjunct faculty member at a university, in Philadelphia, PA. She specializes in both autism and augmentative/alternative communication and took her skills to Uganda, Africa to start a special needs program for disabled children living in an orphanage in 2011. Kelly began experiencing symptoms of autoimmune arthritis in 1984 (while in her teens) but wasn’t officially diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis until 2001. Her first diagnosis was Sjogren’s syndrome. Eventually her diagnosis was changed to sero-negative RA and now Polyarticular Spondlyoarthropathy. She also manages thyroid disease (resulting from Graves Disease), fibromyalgia, renin-deficient hypertension, and disseminated superficial actinic porokeratosis (DSAP) on a daily basis. Kelly connected with other autoimmune arthritis patients via social media in 2008. She began volunteering with the “Buckle Me UP! Movement”, which evolved into the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) beginning in 2009. Then became a cofounder of IFAA in 2013. She has represented the ACR on Capitol Hill as an Advocate for Arthritis, was a finalist in Wego Health’s Health Activist Hero awards in 2014, and speaks at various healthcare conferences as a patient advocate in the Philadelphia area.

2 thoughts on “I would walk 500 miles….

  1. Try not to worry what these keyboard warriors say. Most people will see wow what a devoted daughter who will stop at nothing to protect her Mum . Some could feeling guilty they don’t that stuff for their family. Or their family wouldn’t do it for them . A lot will look and see the effect it’s had on your family and rethink their options that will happen to someone who reads it . That’s what counts .

    Sent from my iPa >

    Like

  2. Oh my goodness, what a story! I’m so sorry that people were terrible about it. I’d absolutely drive a long way in order to get a vaccine, and I think there are lots of people who would do the same.

    Liked by 1 person

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