Sunday, September 6, 2015

Healthy - Happy - and only mildly irrirated

The phone rang - shrilly, as it always seems to do.  I do not know why, with all our advanced technology, we cannot seem to invent a less annoying ring.  After all, my mobile phone allows me to choose from among numerous jaunty little ditties, but the landline still sounds too much like a dental drill.  

It was the local pharmacy, the one closest to our house, calling to let my husband know that his flu shot was available.  He should "please come in as soon as possible" and they would be waiting for him with a smile ... and a needle, obviously.

Further, in recognition of his advanced ... er, eh, that is, at this season of his life, they would graciously set aside for him a "high dose" flu shot.  Well, bless their little pointy heads.

Not my idea of an appealing invitation; but still I was bemused.  Only a few years ago ,we used to call ahead to schedule flu shots with the doctor.  That call - from us to them - was treated with a patience that seemed a little strained; but I always tried to bear in mind that at this season of the year they were probably getting about a kajillion such calls every hour.
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When flu shots first became readily available, I bravely stuck my arm out to be jabbed and felt pretty virtuous being so proactive.(Sure it is routine - but for someone who is needle-phobic it is the equivalent of putting my arm into a steel trap.... well, almost.)

There was a bit of a problem, though, back in the day.  They were using live viruses and for the hyper-sensitive types it could produce mild, "flu-like", symptoms.  Maybe ... perhaps.

Baloney!  About twenty-four hours after taking that first flu injection, I began to ache all over, ran a fever for two days, and generally felt miserable for about three or four days.  So I prudently avoided flu-shots for years.  Fool me once, shame on you - fool me twice, shame on me. Uh, huh.
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That was, of course, a few decades ago and they haven't used live viruses in flu vaccines since the first Bush was in the White House.

Then came the era, wherein I was working for a health care company and they stronnnnggly encouraged (read: put the pressure on you and your supervisor, if you dawdled on this) every one who worked there to get their flu shot!  Sooner rather than later - as in now - today. And no appointment was necessary. Alright, already.

At the time, the *LOC and I were members of the largest HMO in California, and no, they were not the evil spawn of Satan.  We got excellent care there for over twenty years.  No complaints at all.

Well, except for the teeny-tiny little thing about getting a flu shot.  First, it was true that there were no appointments - you simply lined up around a building the size of an ocean liner, and slowly shuffled forward until you reached an interior hallway.  There, it turned out, was also a line, which extended up one hallway and down another, until you had circumnavigated the entire building from the inside.

While lapping the perimeter, they had cunningly set up various "stations" where you could a) fill out questionnaires about your health status, b) disclose whether you had ever experienced a "negative reaction to a flu shot" - oh, just wait until I reached a live human being - and c) peruse cheery little reminders that unless you had both a photo ID and your insurance card, you would not, they deeply regretted to have to inform you, be eligible to receive your very own jab. 
Well, darn.

I could not help but wonder whether some people were so thrilled to obtain their very own pin prick, that they were dressing up, disguised as someone else, and going through the line more than once?  Really?  Photo ID?
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One year the nurse said to me, "You sure look different in person than in that photo."

I didn't know whether to thank her or smack her.

Another year, after a quick and nearly painless poke, the nurse commented, "Oh, so you're a bleeder. Guess we'd better use a little bigger band aid."  (Thank you?)

On another occasion a male nurse asked if I was ok, as I limped forward to take my turn.

I nearly responded, "Well, not too bad considering I just spent the last hour and fifteen minutes standing around on a concrete sidewalk, waiting for the privilege of making your acquaintance. No, you dolt, my feet hurt!"

But I refrained.
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Thus, you can only imagine my surprise, nay, my utter astonishment that no longer must one line up, fill out forms, and take a number.  One does not even have to bother to call ahead. Au contraire, they will initiate said call and charmingly induce you to come on down to where they will be waiting for you.

There was only one small glitch - the *LOC had already gotten his shot two days earlier.  At that very same place!

Guess their left-hand doesn't know what their right-hand is doing.  So believe you me, when I go down there this week to get my flu shot, I am going to be watching them.  They might try to give me a shot in both arms - just to be on the safe side.
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Hope no one jabs you in the wrong spot this week.  Until next time, I'll be the one in line right behind you~ Marsha
(*Lovable Old Coot)                                         


  1. What a flu shot saga in your post. My dh and I don't get those flu shots.

  2. We just go to our local pharmacist these days. Never had to line up for flu shots at all thank goodness. Although I was laughing as I read your description, I can sympathise. Couldn't do that at all these days. Bit early for flu shots isn't it?

  3. I'm a needlephobe, so though I was chuckling at your words today, part of me was cringing inside!!

    Thanks for always adding a little levity to my day!


  4. Thanks for the laughs! I can relate to some of that. In our place, I'm the one who is assigned to give the flu shot to all the residents and the staff. No long lines though! I can't say I'm looking forward to it. It makes for a busy week!

  5. An amusing story. I can't believe the lining up you had to do at one time. When I was working a medical team came to the school and jabbed us in our lunch hour. Now we have to make an appointment with the doctor. This winter there was a blunder and there was not enough of the new vaccine available for everyone. Most of us got the old one which still works for most strains of flu but not the latest. Consequently there has been a flu epidemic in Brisbane. So far we have escaped although TOH is fighting off the beginnings of something at the moment. Its a bit scary when medical institutions make mistakes, whether it is wanting to prick you twice or whether it is not having the latest vaccine.