What I’ve Been Up to for the past 40 Billion Days.

O.K., let’s see, in the past couple of weeks alone I’ve taken Betty for her COVID vaccination, worried that my 94 year old friend David was dead, went to a drag show in Portugal (yes really during the pandemic I did this) and alarmed a lot of people on Instagram.

Everybody say hi and congratulations to Betty who got her vaccination exactly one week ago. No seriously.  I beg of you to congratulate her.

You see, Betty wasn’t all that interested in getting the vaccine.  Not because she’s opposed to it from a medical perspective, but because it was going to cut into her very strict regiment of waking up, doing nothing for 5 hours, going for a walk around the block, and then doing nothing for another 5 hours. 

I get it. We all have busy lives but the vaccine is something you really want to think about making room for. Since we all knew Betty was not going to take charge of getting the vaccine herself, I was given the job.

This involved calling the hotline to register her.  Our city is currently vaccinating people over 85. Once they get done (they could actually be done now) then the 80 year olds get it and so on until the only people left to be vaccinated will be the ones who recently nursed their children back to health after a bout of whooping cough followed by a pesky case of measles.

No problem. Having grown up during the age of the telethon I can work a phone like I was born to be sweated on by a rapidly fading Jerry Lewis.

I called the hotline like someone who has been using a telephone all her life but the phone did something squirrely.  All I heard were screeching and whirling sounds.  Like the phone line was suffering a nervous breakdown.

It was.

I’m not sure of the exact number of people they had manning the hotlines when the city of Hamilton opened them but I would guess there was one frantic person answering the calls of the approximately 15,000 people over 85 needing an appointment. 

People were having to call over 200 times just to get through to the line. I waited a day until they realized that their current ratio of 1:15,000 was going to mean that most of the people who needed a vaccine were going to die before getting through to the phone line.

I finally got through to the hotline and crossed my fingers that I’d be able to get an appointment that met Betty’s requirements which were as follows: no morning appointments, no weekend appointments, no appointments anywhere that aren’t close to a mall or furniture store for shopping in afterwards, no appointments on Wednesday – that’s visit her friends day, and nothing in the next month or so because she was just too worn out from sitting around doing nothing.

Turns out the phone line was just for registering and no appointment times or days were given. I would have to wait for the clinic to call me with a day and time.

I got that call 3 days later, on a Saturday at 10:30 a.m.  I was asked if she could come for her appointment at 11:30.  It was a morning appointment, on the weekend, and would require that Betty immediately jump, up, get washed, dressed and be by the door for me to pick her up. 

YUP!  That’ll be fine, I said.

The hospital where they were giving the vaccinations wasn’t  near a mall.  It was however right beside a former psychiatric institution which a realtor would list as a “Handsome fixer-upper with great potential for a handy exorcist.”

The former psychiatric hospital known locally as “West 5th.”

I made the call to Betty to let her know today was the day and WASN’T THIS GREAT?!  You can’t often hear a sneer over the phone, but I did.

10 minutes later I was at her door with a couple of brand new level 3 surgical masks in hand. 

After working myself into a froth trying to get Betty excited about this we arrived at the hospital where we were immediately told we had to wear brand new masks that they gave us.

The administrator let us know we could keep our regular masks, we didn’t have to throw them out, we just had to put them in our pockets and put our new ones on.  Which I was glad about because like I said, I pulled out the big guns, the LEVEL 3 SURGICAL MASKS which we had worn for all of 2.5 minutes while we walked from the car to the hospital. I took mine off, put it in my pocket and put the hospital mandated mask on.

At this point Betty stared right into the vaccination helpers eyes, pulled her mask off (all while maintaining eye contact) and chucked it right in the garbage.

O.K. then.

I’m still not sure if that was an act of defiance or just a case of not hearing the woman.

My mask new boinged right off my face when the elastic immediately snapped on it. This was already feeling like an unhealthy start to vaccine day.

Up the elevator, around the corner and down the hall approximately 1.5 km to the vaccination room we went.

I know if I ever set up a vaccination protocol for people old enough risk breaking their jaw after eating a marshmallow soaked in milk I will definitely make sure they have to walk as long as possible to get it. Because that just seems smart. You’re gonna lose half of them on the journey.  More doses for the young and fit.

It was a remarkably quick and efficient process other than the hike. She was registered, we were both given stickers on our hands for some reason, and we were sent to a room with a few nursing stations.

Her sweater sleeve was rolled up, she was jabbed, then we sat in a waiting room for 15 minutes to make sure she didn’t have any adverse effects. Her mood was pretty foul so she seemed fine.

I spent the time on my phone and Betty spent the time pointing out the decorating she approved of. Also some time was spent with people coming up to us to comment on Betty’s coat.  Betty has a collection of coats that all elicit a response from strangers.

This isn’t her #1 coat by the way, that one is a quilted coat covered in an Asian print of horses that she made. I suspect we’ll either bury her in it or take turns with it once she dies much like  The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, only we’re real sisters and it’s a coat, not pants, and we probably won’t actually wear it.

We made the 15.7 km trek down the hall and headed back to the car . Betty was in a much better mood after it was all over with as you can see in the first photo where she’s standing beside one of the many inanimate objects outside the hospital where people had stuck their (still unexplained) hand stickers.

The next day Betty felt a little tired from her vaccination.

I, on other other hand, was cramped up into a fetal position with an eye twitch until last Tuesday.

It appears as though I’ve overshot this post a bit and we’re nearing in on 1,300 words so the rest of the stories will have to wait until next week. Unless, of course that’s when Betty’s second vaccination shot gets scheduled for.

Have a good remainder of your weekend!




  1. Teresa says:

    Congratulations to Betty, but what about David?

  2. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Ok Girl, ya blew it! I have a couple of friends who took their parent or spouse to St. Joe’s for their shot and managed to score one for themselves as a “caregiver”. Apparently Betty didn’t look decrepit and I’m guessing you didn’t look caring. I plan on hanging around the parking lot to see if I can get me a rental “caretaker?”!

  3. H says:

    Very serious congratulations. My grandmother died yesterday of Covid-19. She was 83 and eligible for her vaccination here in BC next week.

  4. Sue T says:

    You are second only to Dave Barry as a humor writer, and a FANTASTIC daughter to Betty! Wishing her and you all the best getting through the rest of the pandemic!

  5. TucsonPatty says:

    Oh my. They just lowered the age to 55 here in Tucson, and many of my friends and former salon clients have gotten at least the first shot. I’m very proud of Betty, and I hope I can do what I want and when I want when I’m her age! I no longer have any folks I need to help, or to force to get things done, so I guess that’s lucky.
    In all my wisdom, I had wanted to get in on the Moderna vaccine study that was happening here way back in the beginning, but never got the call-back. I kept checking to see if there were any other trials, and finally got the go-ahead for the Johnson & Johnson 2-shot trial. I had the first injection on a Friday, and it was FDA approved for distribution on Monday. 😬 This is a double-blind placebo-controlled study, to see if the second shot helps with the efficacy of the vaccine. The second dose is in two months, so it will be quite a while before I will know if I just received saline injection. I think I probably did, as there was no symptom at all on my arm or otherwise, later.
    Bad timing on my part – but I’ll get the vaccine soon after they finish the study, I assume. I’m doing just fine at home – cleaning up sparkles from a surprise card I received in the mail, which almost made it into my Pi Day pumpkin pie!! 😁😂❤️
    I’m so happy to hear of folks getting their shots.
    Some of my family has decided it is political, and haven’t changed their lives much at all, and do not plan on getting the vaccine. I don’t think there will be any more family reunions after all this, and after Jan 6th.
    I’m glad to hear it is going well in other places.

  6. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Strong work Betty! And I can totally relate to your appointment rules. I don’t do any before noon or after 3pm to avoid the entitled commuters on their way home from T.O. 🙄 although right now the traffic ain’t so bad. While everyone’s drooling over your coat (and it IS drool-worthy), I like/want your silver frog necklace…. so very cool. Take care and be good to your “favourite” daughter eh? 😉

  7. Susan Jacobs says:

    Yay Betty!!!! The first thing I thought when I saw that picture is I LOVE that coat. Looks like something that should be in my closet. Glad you got things taken care of. Now you can worry a bit less Karen.

  8. Other Karen says:

    WOOO HOOOO BETTY! Welcome to the “First Jab” Club! I happily received my first jab this past Saturday as part of the Ontario pharmacy roll-out of vaccinations for people in the 60-64 age category. While waiting out my mandated 15-minutes after the shot, I became aware that a few people hadn’t shown up for their scheduled appointments. I asked if my wait-listed hubby could take advantage of one of those “open” spaces, as he was in the car waiting for me. Sadly, that wasn’t allowed (originally scheduled people may show up later in the day), but hopefully he’ll receive his call soon.

  9. Sabina says:

    Way to go Betty! I admit I was totally against this vaccine last year. I’m not an anti-vaccine person, it was just too new too fast. As time has passed I have had the opportunity to see that its working and the adverse reactions are minimal. Having a husband that works out of a hospital ER who got vaccinated also made me more comfortable getting vaccinated. I got my first dose last week and will have my second at the end of this month. Pretty soon it will be a “remember when…” scenario. So grateful no one I lone and love has suffered from this disease. Thanks for keeping it fun, Karen!

  10. Travis McNeil says:

    Congratulations to Betty for getting her first Covid-19 shot. I just hope that her second shot brings us a post at least half as entertaining as this one. Good job all.

  11. Kristina Zack says:

    Congratulations to her! Also, that is a totally bitchin’ coat. I am so happy that my folks are both fully vaccinated. I’ve also had my first dose (over 50 farmer). Didn’t realize that I was holding my breath for the last year, but apparently I was.

  12. Cee says:

    Way to go both of you! I’ve booked my Mom and her main squeeze for their vaccines. I will be so relieved when they are more protected. But I’ll still be reminding them to take care.
    It’s been hard to get them to practice social distancing. Hopefully soon I won’t have to bug them anymore because our communities will be safe again :)
    Betty’s coat is fabulous!!! Can we please see a picture of her #1 coat. It’s hard to imagine one more cool. Another request, please update us on David, you have me concerned.

  13. dawn says:

    betty’s arms are BUFF!

  14. Anita says:

    What a saga! I too love Betty’s coat. A fabulous garment for a fabulous woman! I’m guessing Texas may actually be doing something right? At least the Methodist Hospital system is. Tomorrow Harris County opens vaccines for 50+ (Monday will also be my 53 birthday). last week I got a text from my Dr. with a link to register for an appt this week. I get my first shot on Thursday :) And, it’s out here in suburbia. I don’t have to drive 45 minutes to get to a stadium parking lot, or figure out how to navigate the massive medical center area. I’m pretty happy right now. I hope Hamilton reorganizes things so you can get your shot quickly and easily too.

  15. Karen S says:

    Karen, you are a generous genius to share Betty with us, and PLEASE share a photo of the nbr 1 coat!!!! Yup, there will be issues getting everyone vaccinated, but at least we are lucky enough to be getting there……..as someone who worked in a call center for many years, please everyone remember, it’s not the call takers fault that the system can be difficult to navigate…

    • Karen says:

      When I finally got through I asked the woman on the other end how her day had been and if people had been nice and she said everyone was very nice. Which I was shocked by, lol. ~ karen!

  16. Mary W says:

    Betty is looking good! Her coat is amazing and I admire her personality shining bright for all the world to see.. I’m happy to report my second shot was given two weeks ago and now the whole family is feeling freer. My daughter kept worrying that she was going to kill me since she went out to get groceries – until Walmart started on-line ordering and drive through pick up! The best part of my shot was it was a drive through! Had to park for 15 minutes after-just in case. Great post today! Everyone needs to get the vax and it helps when people spread their experience. You are the BEST.

  17. Gretchen says:

    I, too, was going to comment on Betty’s coat! I LOVE it! And please, please, please do show us the Asian horse print coat! I’m dying to see it.
    By the way, well done on getting her in for her vaccination! You win the daughter-of-the-year prize. ;)
    Thanks for keeping our spirits up in EVER so many ways!
    You’re just the best.

  18. Laura Hardwick says:

    She matched her sweater with her coat….awesome. It almost makes me miss winters. Um well not really. We had a week of it here in Texas and that’s enough. But she looks grand.
    And I take my 85 yr old mom to get her vaccine this week. After many many sigh many hours of trying to get her appt. So sad for the folks who don’t have family to work the system.
    Cheers to you both. For leading the way. And being stickered.

  19. Anne MacKay says:

    Betty, I am so glad that you are one step closer to being Covid-proofed … and the chance to sit around doing nothing with others. You know, hanging out with other people to enjoy a gin and tonic, a great movie, smoking them at poker, checking out new coats.
    By the way, GORGEOUS coat and sweater – so chic! You look like one of the gals from that blog Advanced Style.
    Karen, well done. Gotta love a feisty mom – what would we do with a boring mother?!

  20. Carol says:

    Haha! The comments are almost as fun as the story! Congratulations Betty and good for you, Karen. She’s lucky to have you to manage this for her. I’m sure she brings you a lot of joy as well, if not… at least fodder for a great story! Like everyone else, hoping to hear about David soon. He might need you to help him get vaccinated!

  21. Joan Fowler says:

    Betty’s lifestyle is one I am familiar with. I am certain we could be “besties”. Retirement allows for a lengthy night’s sleep, a good two hours to pour over the morning’s blogs while enjoying my thermos of coffee – a mug never keeps the coffee hot enough and lukewarm coffee is just wrong – and through persistent conditioning of my doctor, chiropractor, dentist and physiotherapist, they know not to schedule any appointments before the sun starts it’s descent in the sky. Old age has to have some perks.

  22. Librarian Nancy says:

    Congratulations Miss Betty and Karen too! I have an appointment to get my first shot next week. I live in Chicago and they keep changing the rules about who can go where to get the vaccine so I understand your frustration with trying to register and get an appointment.

  23. Tawnya says:

    Congratulations Miss Betty, hope you all stay safe & well!

  24. Joline says:

    Way to go Betty!!!
    We’re in the same boat now and rowing to better times!
    Love the coat also!!!
    Here in North Carolina, I kept my own mask and stayed in my car and a nurse gave me the shot. I just pulled the car up a little ways then waited 15 mins. It would have been better for you to do the same?
    Love you both and love the stories!!!

  25. Lacey says:

    You’re a good daughter, Karen.
    And doesn’t Betty looks MARVELOUS in her purples and prints? Purple = Royalty, Betty is Royalty, thus Queen Betty >> long live the Queen!

  26. Naomi says:

    Hi Betty,
    Congratulations on getting your vaccine! Stay healthy 💕

  27. Kat Bat says:

    I managed to hold on to a shred of composure until “if I ever set up a vaccination protocol for people old enough risk breaking their jaw after eating a marshmallow soaked in milk…”, then I lost it. Excuse me, I have to go change my diaper now. BTW, would you come to Arizona and take me to get my vaccinations? I don’t have a cute coat (cuz, you know, Arizona), but I could get one. GREAT STORY — thank you for making my day!

    • Karen says:

      I”m there for you. Just make sure the vaccination appointment is in the middle of a psychiatric hospital that’s across the road from an even older, completely terrifying psychiatric hospital. With no malls nearby. ~ karen!

  28. Eleni says:

    Congratulations. Such an investment in her health! And so stylish when doing so.

  29. Donald Koerner says:

    Congrats Betty! Wait,What? Portugal? Drag? I’m waiting with bated breath.
    This expression literally means “holding one’s breath” so please tell us soon , I’m starting to turn blue.

    • Karen says:

      That’s interesting, because Blue is a colour that will feature prominently in the drag story! ~ karen

    • Sandy says:

      My mom always said “with a worm on my tongue”, I still think that is hilarious. But when I say it out in the general public no one ever gets it. They just look at me like I have a bird on my head.

  30. Robert says:

    Congratulations Betty! And yes, a nice coat indeed – looks like a good coat for bone chilling Saskatchewan- but that was last month – it was t-shirt weather here yesterday!

    As for taking your mum for her vaccination – good on you Karen. Although we haven’t made any appointments for anyone, we have driven some seniors who don’t drive for their appointments.

    As for getting our own vaccinations, Saskatchewan has learned from other jurisdictions of what not to do (like crashing the on-line registration website after two seconds of opening) . The 80+‘s were dealt with quickly – so quick in fact that on Saturday (after four days) they dropped it to 76+ on Saturday to register for an appointment. We figure that by next weekend we’ll have a shot (pun intended) at getting registered!

    Let’s hope that once vaccinated – people will keep their guard up and not run off hugging people. Patience is a virtue for a while yet.

  31. Melissa says:

    Wait, Hamilton? Did I know that before now? I used to do CANUSA as a kid, so I’ve been to your fair city… but somehow missed West 5th while I was there.

    Congrats to Betty. That pic of her next to the sticker pole is pure gold!

  32. Penny says:

    I have had my first jab at a vaccination centre here in the UK. Wow, I never thought I would say this, but for once, I am glad I’m not in Canada!
    Old farts like me (over 60) got a letter with a link to a website, a really user-friendly, idiot-proof on, and registration is quick and easy for your first appointment… and it even calculates the date for the second! I’m easily impressed, I know, but I was so grateful for that! I hate being stuck on hold, sweet of you to do it for your lovely mum.

    • KathC says:

      It’s not all of Canada – In Quebec, my mom got a letter with a website address and phone number to arrange an appointment. It took about three minutes. Her appointment is next Saturday. She already has her outfit picked out.

  33. Cathy Prince says:

    Betty noticed the Conrad Furey artwork there too, eh? Made it worth the hike – almost.
    My 94 yr old Father-in-law opted to climb down two flights of stairs with his white cane rather than walk all the way to that elevator a second time. What in heavens name were they thinking when they set that up? Good thing there were 423 people to show us which way to go, or we would still be there .

    • Karen says:

      Ha!! So you’re familiar with the setup. We walked down the stairs on the way out too, but only one floor. We got off on the wrong floor from the elevator and looked around bemused, then headed down the stairs. ~ karen!

  34. Grammy says:

    I got my first “shot” about ten days ago, and they gave me a card that says my second appointment is April Fool’s Day. Okay.

    I’m so glad you mentioned Betty’s coat. I love that coat. Seriously. That is a truly fabulous coat. Tell Betty I’m jealous.

    As for the people leaving their hand stickers on the post outside the vaccination clinic, that’s cool. First, because it looks cheerful and we haven’t had a lot to be cheerful about for the past year, but also because it’s like what dogs do at fenceposts — letting every other member of their community know “I was here!”

    • Karen says:

      LOL! Yep, we were there, marked our spots and wandered away. The garbage cans were covered in stickers! Good luck with your next appointment! ~ karen

  35. Susan Mercurio says:

    The first thing I noticed in Betty’s photo was her coat! I loved it too.

    And I think she’s fascinating, not petulant or self-indulgent. Some people!

  36. Mandy says:

    Yay Betty
    I dressed up in sequins and took my own disco ball for mine

    The vaccination lady said I was ‘memorable’ 😂

  37. Laurie says:

    Yay Betty! Taking my Dad on Thursday.

  38. ecoteri says:

    um. Thanks for the Betty information. I am glad my 91 year old mom is simply arranging her own Vaccine, I can’t keep up to her. I think she is arranging to have the people come to her building, actually. We have other things to concern us these days.
    but, Karen
    Tell us about David, please?

  39. Nicole says:

    Who is Betty?

  40. Renee Strange says:

    I love the door mat, just wish it wasn’t made of coco fiber, they really don’t hold up more than a year. My mom was batshit crazy too.

  41. Nancy says:

    Congratulations on getting your vaccine!!!
    And I love your coat!

  42. Melissa O'Leary says:

    Congratulations, Betty. Your ahead of the game.

    I can’t believe they are only at the 80 year old mark. I’m only 65 and have received both shots. This happened in Idaho which is not known for its progressive health care. Of course it may be explained by all the anti-vaccers. More for the rest of us.

    You “done good” Karen. I hope you are still alive when it comes your time for your vaccination.

  43. Keith says:

    Karen, you’re a saint. I have no patience for illogic, petulant behaviour. I don’t care how old or young you are. Self indulgence is almost always unnecessary and always in my case not indulged. Good for you for caring for your friend.

    • Marilyn Meagher says:

      I’m pretty sure she was being sarcastic. Betty is her Mom! And I’m also pretty sure Betty had her fair share of illogic,petulant , behaviour when Karen was young. It’s called HUMOUR Keith, you should try it. Indulge yourself, just this once.

      • Janet says:

        Marilyn…perfectly stated…thank you for speaking my mind! ;-)

        • Karen ( a different Karen, it was a very popular name back then) says:

          Well said Marilyn….and hey Keith, Betty is Karen’s Mom…but maybe you read this article early in the morning, on a weekend, before you had walked around the block, and hadn’t managed to get out to a mall for awhile?

    • Nancy Ann says:

      Keith, you’re a jerk. Betty is Karen’s mom. I hope you’re kinder to your mom than you sound.

      • Karen says:

        O.K. It’s alright. Everybody calm down, take a deep breath and be nice to Keith. ~ karen!

        • Nancy Ann says:

          Being nice to Keith is so far down on my to-do list I don’t think I’ll ever find it; he should be more like Robert. Now there’s a nice guy!

  44. Carol Halliwell says:

    My husband can register here (in BC) on March 22nd so that means I will be on the phone for ever on hold because he won’t have the patience. I wish they had set it up so that we could register online but they must think because we’ve waited this long for the vaccine we are very tolerant. NOT!

    • Martina says:

      Ha! You’ll be lucky to be put on hold. I tried to make an appointment for both my over 90 folks and rather than being placed on hold was told to try again later (this is of course, after listening to all the options…lol) Twenty tries later I was finally on hold and was told my wait time would be approx 8 minutes. 38 minutes later I finally got an agent who spoke so softly (and no,I’m not deaf) that I constantly had to ask her to speak up. I gave my email address four times and spelled it out every time and still did not ever receive my confirmation. I’ll be taking my parents for their vaccines tomorrow! Can hardly wait for the day I can try to make my own appointment…:))
      Good luck with your appointment!!

      • Carol Halliwell says:

        Oh my gosh, thanks for the ‘heads up’. I’m really looking forward to March 22nd now! Too bad we can’t make our own appointments at the same time!

        • Martina says:

          I know, I’m sort of hoping that they say, well since you’re here…
          Anyway, I sincerely hope that your phone appointment goes better than mine. Good luck!

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