Tuesday, December 4, 2012

This Year, I Chose to Have a Flu Shot


       It may sound strange, but even as a nurse, I have never had a flu shot.  I arranged for those in my family to have flu shots, if they had a chronic medical issue, and I have arranged for some of them to get a pneumovax vaccine, and a meningococcal vaccine when they reach teen years.  I have some autoimmune issues, and for myself I have come to believe that my immune system will take care of anything that comes its way.  In the past, I have been of the opinion that a flu shot might furthur arm my hyperactive immune system and move it on from a lesser autoimmune dyscrasia to a full blown Lupus.   This may be more emotional reaction on my part, but no physician has challenged me on it, so long as I have kept up on tetanus boosters.
              This year, I was not so sure.  Having had multiple episodes of atrial fibrillation which appear to have been brought on by asthma, it doesn't seem quite so sharp to "take my chances" with the flu.  Some of the colder Midwestern states already have multiple patients hospitalized with influenza this year, when they normally have just one or two at this time, and so this looks like it might be a bad year for influenza.  I tossed this around and finally decided that I would arrange to have an influenza shot.  I went down to our country pharmacist and filled out the paperwork.  I'm not allergic to eggs or any of the vaccine components. I don't take steroids, cancer chemotherapy, and I am not presently ill.  No one in my family is receiving steroids, chemotherapy or anything else.  I signed the paperwork and gave him my insurance card.  Happily, there was no additional money due.  My insurance covered the injection.  I felt him clean the area with an alcohol swab, but I did not feel the injection itself at all.   I felt his swabbing the area again, when he was finished.  I remained another ten or fifteen minutes in the immunization area to make sure I had no allergic reaction.  Then, I went about my day.   A couple of days later, I noticed the area itches a little, and that there is a quarter sized lump where I received this.  This response is within normal limits for this type of injection.
               Funny how Daniel made it all through his life without any flu shots and without anything other than routine immunizations. He didn't have the flu when he passed.  He had dental check-ups but somehow escaped ever having any of his teeth filled.  I don't know whether to lament the experiences he missed while he was here, or to breathe a sigh of relief that his time on Earth was better than it is for so many of us.
              So, I did it. I protected myself as well as I could for this year's predicted influenza.  Please give some thought this year as to whether this is a good year for you to get an influenza shot too.   I have been lucky and had fairly mild flus in the past, for the most part, but influenza does kill people every year, and they are not always people with chronic medical issues.  It takes time for all of us to develop some antibodies in response to the injection, so earlier is better.  Give it some thought.   Although not everyone should get one, many people really should.  If you need one, then get it.  I promise, it's not all that bad.

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