The opportunity came to get my H1N1 shot..... much to my relief.
I started into the season with panic, at one point finding myself in tears because I was unable to get it... I was not among their definition of risk groups. Than, all the talk about shortages and my doctors office saying they would not be vaccinating the general public until early December, so I became resigned to not getting it, telling myself its blown all out of proportion and I won't get vaccinated. I didn't freak out about SARS. I wandered the city and the casino without a care in the world feeling invincible. It won't touch me.
But with H1N1 the first report of a child dying, suddenly, in the car as her parents drove her to the hospital, shocked me. It got my attention. She was 9 years old and had been to emerg once and was sent home with 'the flu', being told there was nothing to be concerned about and to follow all the standard flu rules. Rest, plenty of fluids etc. etc. I forget what brought about the families return trip to the hospital but the little girl tells her father from the back seat that her heart hurts. and she dies. Just like that...... she dies. I read that and felt sick to my stomach.
Later, days or weeks later, it is a 13 year old hockey player. Young healthy, thought to be on the mend. He dies while taking a bath.
My son Liam is 13 years old. That was when the panic set in. I called my doctors office in an attempt to get him the shot. We have spent many winter nights in emerg as he gasped breath. The doctor on call often used vaporised Ephinephrine with a cool mist to open his airways. He has not had a bout of this in 4 years but I worried and wanted him to get the shot soon as possible.
I tried a family friend who is a Doctor, but his office had not received theirs yet. So I waited. And calmed down. I had decided we would not get it afterall.
Then the word came that the shots were now being offered to the general public. I raced over there after work and was in and out in under 20 minutes. No huge line up. 15 minutes of that time was waiting to see if I suffered any of the side effects. I felt instantly relaxed.
Now, to get my youngest son Liam and my daughter Miranda over there. I picked him up at his friends, because he had skipped out of Karate and I got her from work and over we went. Liam whined the whole time about how he hates needles and begged me to not make him get it pleeeaaaase.... The line was longer now so we had to sit a while. That's when my brain clicked in and I started to think about what I was doing. Side effects? I was not concerned about that so much. I am not, and my kids are not allergic to any of the ingredients. The levels of the metals present in the vaccine are lower than in the smoke we breath while walking around every day and in the foods we eat. I have no concerns there. But then the radio show Miranda told me about where this guy spoke about the vaccine being a conspiracy, the governments way of killing off a large part of the population, squeezed its way inside my head.
I looked at my son, who was still trying to get me to give up on the idea, and thought. Am I unknowingly sending my son to death??? Is there some truth in what this guy was spouting? I am drawn out of my unpleasant train of thought by Miranda telling me about a video her boyfriends friend showed her about a woman who had the original vaccine back in the 70's ??? and what it did to her. It did something unusual to her brain where now she could no longer walk normally. Her forward walk was awkward, arms flailing and clumsy. Her speech was garbled. BUT... and this is the weird part... she can walk and run BACKWARDS fluidly, and speak with no difficulty.
Miranda than texts her boyfriend and says "what if I end up like the wobbly lady?" I think they now call her. And he texts back " I will run with you." Tears well up in my eyes as she tells me this. Then her name is called and off she goes.
Soon Liam's name is called and he rushes off to the station he was directed to. I am close behind. Is it my imagination or is he actually, at 13 years of age, flirting with the young nurse who is giggling, GIGGLING in response to what he says. She asks him, after going over the required check list of what to notify the patient of before they get their shot. "Do you have any questions before I give you the vaccine?' He smiles and says" can I leave before you do? She giggles again and he smiles. He pulls his arm out of his shirt, she gives him his shot and instructs us to sit down, ONLY after another nurse goes over her check list of what to watch out for.
We join my daughter again.
Liam pulls out his phone and notes the time and tells us when it will be exactly 15 minutes. Miranda talks about the ingredients in the vaccine because she noted that even though the ask you "are you allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccine?" they do not tell you what the ingredients are. So she asks. 15 minutes can be a long time when you just want to get home after a long day, and even longer when you have a 13 year old counting it down minute by minute. I listen to them both and gaze at the people as they file in now. The line getting longer and longer. into the hallway. I watch a woman arrive with a cooler, which I assume is more vaccine and it must be because she hands it over to another woman wearing the orange safety vest like the others with this group. I look at the attractive blond taking information from new arrivals, and entering them via computer into the system. Then my brain does what it did early and I wonder again. Does that blond know she is involved in a conspiracy that is supposed to kill off a large part of our population? Is she entering our names and assorted other information into some database so they can later monitor how successful it was and somewhere a signal is set off when one of us enters the emergency room in what will prove to be a vain attempt to keep ourselves from dying from whatever was REALLY in the vaccine.
Then I think. If it was really about killing some of us off, wouldn't they ask us questions about our employment? Whether we are on welfare etc. Do we have a criminal record? Then depending on our answers, the next person who gets the info sent via cyberspace at the next station notifies the nurse with a computer at the final station of this process, what vaccine to administer. The real one, or the one to kill us off in the future.
But they don't ask that. Cause if it WAS a conspiracy. then all that would already be IN the system. Our names flagged by the government if we are to be eliminated. Don't they already pretty much know everything about us. they gather it every year in our income tax forms. When we apply for unemployment. A mortgage, a loan. As long as we owe them money we are safe. Welfare and UIC recipients, maybe not so safe.
I think I'm safe. I think my daughter is safe, and my son. He's just a kid. Not any burden to society. He has not been in any trouble with the police. And contrary to how he presents himself has been deemed as being of superior intelligence. They might see him as useful in the future so I figure he's safe and I relax again.
Whew. I am exhausted and want to go home. Liam announces that time is up and we gather our coats and head out the door. I see my Big boss and his lovely wife who I chatted with in my hairdressers at length one day before I knew who she was and think, " You are both safe too."
We head to the car and home.
Thursday my knees hurt terribly as I walked down stairs.
Friday they hurt worse and my brain heads off to that scary place. I search the Internet to see if its related. Maybe I WASN'T safe afterall.
Today they hurt less and I breath a BIG sigh of relief.