I don’t know whether it’s the flu shot that I’ve been militarily compelled to take every year of my adult life or the West African-East African-Native American-European immune system that’s responsible, but I’ve rarely caught one of the variations of the flu.
This year, it keeps trying to catch me, but my system keeps fighting it off. I took my shot a couple of weeks ago, my first year of voluntary compliance. Unlike many, I have never caught the “flu” immediately after the arm stab. I only got sick in two (consecutive) years with the causes being very apparent.
Three years ago, when the vaccine was delayed until late in the flu season and I hadn’t received the shot yet, I got hit.
Then, two years ago, my sister and my then three-year-old niece came to visit from Albuquerque. My sister had entered her daughter—a future Miss America for sure—into a kiddie talent show held here, so I went with them to the proceedings. In this manner, I was exposed to hundreds of rug-rats—no doubt carrying all manner of contagion--and was, for only the second time in my life, abed for days. (Niece won in her category, however.)
Kids are dangerous.
My last career in the Air Force was as an immunization technician. Here’s the rule: large male patients are the worst babies about getting stuck. Female patients, especially those who have given birth, roll up their sleeves and say, “hey, let’s get this over with so I can get back to work.” Here's the other rule: if you thought you were going to faint and you were over five feet two inches and weighed more than one hundred pounds, you’d better sit down because I like my spinal column better than I like you.
One guy always had to sit down and have someone—a woman, preferably—hold his hand whenever he got shot. He’d cover his eyes with the other hand. A light-skinned black man, he would turn fire-truck red as soon as the needle hit his arm. He was gorgeous, however, so I didn’t mind holding his hand. I would do my best not to laugh at the poor thing.
MORE: How do I handle receiving shots? Okay, as long as I don’t look at what they’re doing and as long as they’re quick about it. Get in and get the flock out.
It’s the drawing of blood that bothers me.
Being very dark of skin and small of blood vessel, I always request the most experienced lab technician. There have been a couple of amateurs that have had to dig around in the crook of my arm(s) for a vein. Once, I came away from the experience with tears coming from my eyes and an arm resembling that of a heroin addict. Needless to say, giving blood isn’t high on my list of helping the unfortunate. I’ll give money, thanks.