I will soon be vaccinated, if I’m not already

I received an exciting email today! The NovaVax trial I’m in got their crossover design approved. This means I will get two more injections – dose 1 and 2 of either the placebo or vaccine, whichever I didn’t get already. It will stay blinded so I won’t know which I got the first time around but what it does mean is I will be vaccinated sooner than later! Also if you weren’t aware, the phase III trial in the UK has finished and has shown it’s efficacy to be 89.3% (link).

Screenshot of email, text below

“Dear PREVENT-19 Study Participant:

Novavax is happy to announce that thanks to many volunteers like you, we have completed enrollment in the PREVENT-19 study. We want to thank you for your commitment to participation as without it, we would not be able to progress this very important research into a new COVID-19 vaccine.

We also want to take the opportunity to notify you that the Institutional Review Board (IRB) has approved Novavax’s plan for a blinded crossover. What this means is that all participants will eventually receive the real vaccine. For this to happen, we first need to demonstrate that the vaccine is safe and does prevent COVID-19 disease.  Participants who choose to remain in the study on their blinded treatment. We anticipate that between one to two more months of follow-up will be required to reach that goal. Crossover vaccinations will be planned to follow thereafter.

We thank you for the extremely valuable contribution you are making to research and to society during these trying and challenging times.

Kind Regards,

The Novavax Team”

And ICYMI, here is the post Why I joined the Novavax clinical trial even though it means I have a 33% chance of not getting the vaccine (placebo)

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” – M. Scott Peck

Where I am at these days

Oh boy, I have been busy, busy, busy. I am quite tired today and I hurt my knee by falling on ice yesterday so my schedule (experiments and running) is all sorts of messed up. I need to reevaluate and rearrange so I decided to take it kind of easy today: bare minimum lab work, read, think, analyze data, work on my lecture/committee update, and write this blog post.

I had my second injection visit for the NovaVax study on February 5th. This time I made sure to feel well rested and I felt fine. But later in the evening I did feel quite fatigued so I’m optimistic that I might have gotten the real deal. But who really knows.

I can’t believe March is next week. As is my birthday. Who even knows what I’m doing for my birthday. Usually I’m really excited about it but this year I’m just kind of eh. Although it really can’t be worse than last year. I wanted to go visit Raj again in DC but I won’t be able to take time off because my current cell lines need daily maintenance.

But I’ve been making some solid progress with my research so that’s been fantastic. I have another committee meeting/student workshop on March 22nd so I want to get more data asap but after that I am desperately due for a breather. I also have to prepare for my high school classes which start next Wednesday and my STEM policy lecture which I give March 11th.

I don’t think I vented about this here but on Twitter I complained that I didn’t get a paycheck in January. It’s because my funding source changed and I was appointed as a graduate assistant to my department and new state appointments withhold first paychecks. Well, I was like okay this shit is annoying but whatever let’s not focus on it because I can manage, I have some savings to live off of. And I won’t get into my rant about how this is so inappropriate to do to grad students who often change appointments annually and get paid so little they are paycheck to paycheck. But then I totaled my car and needed to get a new one. And yes, I did get a payout from Geico but that took like a week and a half to get. And as previously mentioned, I tapped into savings because I was a month without pay. So it was a mess. I borrowed some money from my sister and my parents because I could not wait an extra few weeks to get a car – I have to come in daily. All I can say is I am so incredibly appreciative of the privilege that my family has money that I could borrow some to make the down payment on my car and I am aware this is a privilege many of my peers do not. Which goes back to me being annoyed about the university dicking around with our paychecks and just paying us such low wages in general. Anyway, I am now paying my parents back incrementally because of transfer limits on the bank. It’s not a big deal but it is annoying because it is one more thing to think about at the end of the day and I already have too many things to think about. And it got worse because recently I got a final notice letter saying they are canceling my direct deposit because I am duplicated in the system. Well one, I didn’t get any previous notices so how is this final; and two, this sounds like an issue that shouldn’t be that complicated to fix and canceling seems extreme since it seems like a their issue but their resolution is a me issue. But it did get canceled, so I now I am getting paper checks mailed which I hate because it has a slightly longer turnaround and has messed up all my auto payments. But I filled out their forms and I hope it gets fixed for March because I’m sick of dealing with this. At the end of the day, I find that majority of the stress in grad school comes down to money. If they want us to focus more on our research then they need to pay us enough that we don’t have all these other distractions that come with not having enough money. Because those distractions are often and plenty.

Anyway, I am done complaining. Now only the good stuff. Because honestly life has been pretty good lately, even if I now am annoyed about a running hiatus because my right bursa is black and blue and puffy. I got up to ten miles last week which is my longest run of the year!

But look what I got!

Brigid, hedghog curled into a ball with her face and little feet peeking out

Her name is Brigid but I mostly call her urchin. She was born November 15th, 2020 so she’s a little over three months now. I had been discussing getting another pet. I had thought I was going to hold out until my post doc and get a dog but after having Murphy for three weeks over Christmas I realized that this just wasn’t feasible. I won’t have the time for a dog in my post doc. So I was considering getting another hamster but that just didn’t sit right. Anyway, before I got my hamster, Zinc, I had wanted a hedgehog but finding them is actually ridiculously hard. But for some reason, Sunday, February 7th I got this feeling that I should call this local pet store I like and just ask if they had any hedgehogs and well they did! Can you say kismet? So I picked her February 9th! It’s been so nice having a pet again. And in the 2.5 weeks I’ve had her, she has acclimated really well. She is very curious and likes to explore my room, she loves bananas and she also cuddles in bed under the covers with me for Netflix and Quill. And most recently, this weekend she started asking to come out of her cage. ❤

Also look at the flowers my Valentine’s date got me! I don’t think I’ve ever received such a beautiful bouquet before. Actually I don’t think I’ve gotten flowers since high school. I’ve really been enjoying their company. And they came out to see me this past weekend. I really like them and I am pretty sure the feeling is mutual. But for now, I think I am mostly just going to keep them to myself. But I am sure they will come up more in future posts because at this time I don’t really see us stop seeing each other any time soon. 🙂

Gorgeous bouquet of red, white, and pink roses with eucalyptus and other greens

Lastly, I babysat this demon this weekend. How, fucking cute is he? His name is Loki and he is a four month old Australian Shepherd who is having attention-seeking behaviors and puppy biting. This was his first night away from home and he kept me up most of Friday night, I basically was ready to curl up rocking in the corner and cry but I survived. He was much, much better Saturday and Sunday after he realized I wasn’t going to abandon him and he got lots of exercise – we went on some short snowy hikes. He is a very good boy off leash on the trails.

Loki loving the snow

I also had Murphy come over to have a play date/tire him out Saturday because I just do not have puppy energy levels. She was also sick of his puppy shit by the end of the night.

Loki and Murphy posing on the rug at my house

Lastly, I borrowed him again yesterday morning for a little run so he’d sleep for my friend’s lab meeting. He is a very good runner and does not pull on the leash at all.

Loki on the run

I highly suggest normalizing puppy borrowing. It’s all benefits for both you and their owner. You get cute puppy time and the owner gets a break because at the end of the day puppies are very needy babies and that’s a lot to deal with 24/7.