Saturday, November 07, 2009

A Family Outing To Get the H1N1 Swine Flu Shot

Well, all the leaves are down on the ground now.

And this is likely my last post of this year from the back patio deck. But it is really nice out here today. Just a little chilly.

The upside is that I can hear exactly where my faithful black lab Suzie is in the back yard – as she ruffles through the fallen brown and red ground cover of dried leaves.

So here I sit, in an old pair of sweatpants, my super-duper thick white wool sweater I usually reserve for February mornings with my windbreaker over top. And my slippers.

I look ridiculous.

The nice thing about being a married overweight man in my late forties is that I don't really care that much anymore about how I look when I go out in the back yard to have a smoke, drink a coffee, and try to write a headstuffing post.

It's not really that cold out. But I don't care.

I'm sick.

Well, not full blown laying in bed pleading with God to take me now sick – I just don't feel great.

Not since I had the H1N1 flu vaccination last Tuesday.

We all got it. All four of my little family members.

We had been talking about whether to get this shot or not for some time. You likely have been debating it too. My youngest daughter Ashley-Rae is quite susceptible to flues and lung infections – so we knew that no matter what the media was saying – we would be negligent to not get her vaccinated.

And who wants to be negligent?

Several weeks ago I had sent in yet another batch of lab samples off to the Good Doctor – in my now seemingly never-ending battle to watch my health. On Tuesday morning, a call was left on our answering machine from the Good Doctor asking me to please come in to the office to see him that afternoon.

Odd call.

So my lovely wife Darlene called me at the office to inform me.

"He wants to see you this afternoon!" she said.


"I don't know – but I am going with you" – my lovely Registered Nurse with twenty years of medical experience of a fine wife said – quite predictably I might add.

"What about the girls", I asked. "Who will look after them while you and I cart ourselves out to Amherstberg to see the Good Doctor?"

"They will have to come with."

Oh good grief.

We don't do family outings very well.

So I wrote a quick email to my boss that I had to leave early, packed up my stuff and headed home to pick up the family and head out into the county, all the time nervously wondering what the Good Doctor found so important that we all had to go out there on such short notice.

When we got to his little office building – the door was locked.

A few other want-to-be patients were mingling outside the door – waiting their turn to be let in. It turns out the place was packed with patients.

While we waited, the girls ran over to a nearby hill full of leaves and ran up the hill to roll down it through the leaves.

The want-to-be-patients waiting outside with us simply rolled their eyes at the fuss being made by my lovely wife and I sternly trying to inform my lovely daughters – now covered head-to-toe in crumbled leaf particles, mud, and grass stains to please come stand in line and be quiet and still.

It wasn't going to happen.

We don't do family outings very well.

They should make TV shows about families like mine with little girls who don't listen in public and say smart things back to their parents when they try to scold them in front of other people. Not like the TV family shows where the kids are quiet, well behaved, and share loving dialog as they wait in lines to do family things.

You should see how they act at a grocery store.

Finally the door opened up, and a heard of already-been-patients walked out. One was wearing a facemask.

"Oh my."

As we made our way into the waiting room – first applying heavy layers of sterilizing hand wash – we found the place was packed. All the chairs were taken, all the standing areas were being stood in – and so we remained in the hallway.

And the girls started dancing. They started dancing and twirling and spinning and bumping into people and talking back to us as we asked them not to do it anymore.

"What is going on here?"

The nurse behind the counter recognized my lovely wife whom she knows as a fellow a Registered Nurse with twenty years of medical experience, and she quickly ushered us into an empty patient examination room.

The girls hopped up the little examining table and started coloring with crayons on the paper that cover the cushions. Quickly they rolled out fresher paper to continue their own versions of masterpiece artwork on.

The nurse, a fine woman and friend of my lovely wife, simply rolled her eyes.

"Mr. Brill, we are happy to tell you that your tests came back negative and you are as healthy as a horse" said the nice nurse lady.

"Oh very good!" I answered. "But then why …"

The nice nurse lady smiled and turned to the desk, where she uncovered four needles. Darlene picked up one of the three vials adjacent to the needles.

"You have the H1N1 vaccine?"

"Yes", and she explained that the Good Doctor wanted us all to get the shot, especially Ashley-Rae who sat high on his list of little patients since she drew him a nice picture one day and he promised to hang it in the Art Gallery his wife was putting together. That and the fact that she kissed him on the cheek as a thank you.

"There is one here for each of you."

Let me explain. For the last two weeks in Windsor, the news has been full of stories about the long lines of people trying to get in to get the H1N1 vaccine. There was only one clinic held each day at a different location, and not enough vaccine to go around. Many turned away after long hours of waiting in line. Darlene and Ashley-Rae were actually turned away already at one of these clinics.

So there was a sense of relief.

But the girls panicked. They didn't expect to be getting a needle today. Ashley-Rae climbed behind the examining table to hide. Alannah went screaming over into a corner. Screaming so that all the want-to-be-patients still waiting outside the door could hear.

The nice nurse lady rolled up my lovely wife Darlene's sleeve and administered the shot in her bicep area. Then she made me take off my coat and shirt, and administered the next shot in my bicep.

"I didn't feel a thing", I said – half because I didn't, and half to calm down my panic stricken little girls.

"Me either", said my lovely wife Mommy, with eight years of Mommy experience and twenty years medical. "Are you sure you really gave us shots?".

Ashley-Rae climbed out from behind the examining table. I set her on the table and undid her shirt so the nice nurse lady could administer the shot in her little arm.

"I didn't feel it either", said seven years old Ashley-Rae – winking at me as she did so.

" I saw you winking at Daddy", said Alannah still cowering in the corner. "You're trying to trick me!"

I reached over and gently took Alannah's hand, and I set my little drama-queen eight year old daughter on the table – all the while screaming "No, No!" while not putting up any kind of fight. The nice nurse lady secured Alannah's arm, and gave her the shot.

"Hey, that didn't hurt at all?" surmised Alannah.

We all laughed, even the nice nurse lady, just like on one of those TV shows when the final scene is over and the screen is about to fade to black.

As we all gathered our stuff and walked out of the clinic office, we saw the Good Doctor leading want-to-be-patient into an examining room on the other side of the office, he looked over at us leaving and gave my lovely Registered Nurse of a wife with twenty years medical experience and eight years of Mommy experience a thumbs up sign. And he vanished into the other office and closed the door.

I could feel all the eyes of the large throng of still-waiting-want-to-be-patients staring at us loathingly. I looked at one elderly lady sitting there and whispered "sorry" to her. She smiled in that way of trying to be nice but not really accepting my apology.

As I drove my now-inoculated little family of four back to our little town on the edge of Windsor, I got thinking about the experience. Clearly my lovely wife had arranged this somehow with the Good Doctor. But I didn't want to know how. I looked over and said "Thank you".

She merely smiled back.

And back home we drove in the car, the girls fighting in the back seat complaining that "she was looking at me", and "give me back my stuffed monkey" all the way home.

We don't do family outings very well.

But it's good to not live in a sitcom.

And this H1N1 virus is a scary beast. I thought last year it was over blown. But people all around me this year are sick or out of the office not feeling well – much more so than in years past. And I bet next year it gets even scarier. Remember how they used to warn us that the antibiotics we were taking t fight the flu would one day create a super-bug? A real meanie that will be hard to kill!

Well I think those days might be here.

So I am very happy to have a wonderful lovely wife of a Registered Nurse with twenty years of medical experience and eight years of Mommy experience on my side.

Everybody laughs … and fade to black.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

You're a good writer Fred
Pat Rock

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