Thursday, November 10, 2005

take your flu shot and stick it

So after writing about expectations, dying, grief... here's something a little more innocuous:

a.k.a. the flu shot.

I've never had one before this year. When I get sick, which isn't often, I trust my home remedies of rest, lots of water, oregano oil and a few hot toddies. But for the first time in my life I have a 'family doctor' and she is an intimidating woman with a Czech accent and a no-nonsense face. She pointed out that while I may be healthy enough to fight off a flu, I could infect others around me. "You must think about the public good," she said and my socialist heart fluttered.

So I let her assistant prod my left arm, swab it with alcohol then plunge a needle into the muscle.

"Will I get flu symptoms?" I asked.
"Oh no. This won't even hurt. You won't feel a thing."

Hmm. For the record - that night I had a fever and felt quite flu-ish: chills, lethargy, no appetite, etc. My arm, which hurt when she jabbed it, ached the rest of the day and into night. And here's the real good part - two weeks later - it still hurts! I'm not kidding (and I'm not a wimp either, well, not really). I can still tell exactly where she jabbed me and there is a nagging discomfort in the muscle.

Did you know there is mercury in the flu shot? Maybe next time I'll just break a thermometre and suck on that for awhile.

Ok, I'm being a bit dramatic. But for anyone out there debating the flu shot this year - don't let the avian flu panic infect you. Even World Health Organization officials admit the best we can do is wash our hands. (I love these reports: doom! doom! death! millions infected!!!... prevention? well, wash your hands.)

You may have elderly or frail people in your life you want to protect by immunizing yourself. That's great. All for the public good I am. But let's keep things honest at least.

The flu shot is not painless.
The flu shot does not guarantee you won't get sick - it may even make you sick.

So the next time my steely doctor and her jabbering assistant try talking me into getting shot for the greater public good I'll tell them just where they can put that needle.... yeah, you know.

Well, okay... probably I'll just roll up my sleeve like a good girl and grit my teeth. Then go home and make a hot toddy and put an ice pack on my arm.

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