Beyond the Cusp

November 14, 2017

Did You Get the Flu Shot This Year?


O.K., I will grant you right off the top that when it comes to things like the flu, colds, sprains, pains and automobiles, men are really immature. Watch a man drool over a Bagatti Veyron and you will understand that automobiles were put there as a measure of our insanity when it comes to some subjects. Flu shots are just another means to be treated nicely but this is different. They should have called this year’s influenza vaccine the, “If you survive this, the flu will be like candy.” We got our flu shot just after noon yesterday and the nurse was spectacular as I never felt the shot. I now know why, the people who made this year’s vaccine used a tiny bore needle, to mask the thrills which were yet to come. The nurse even assured us that this vaccine was like the other modern vaccines and there would be minimal side effects. One has to remember that Physicians and other health care individuals have their own language and minimal pain means, in this case, you will be long gone and feeling so miserable that you will be unable to hunt us down and hold us responsible. It is now three in the morning and I have this overriding desire to find a Turkish Bath and go sit there until my joints move regularly. Normal breathing is another fun item now on my bucket list as for the most part I am gulping down air as best as I am able. The unfortunate part is that I have no words to describe movement other than telling you that typing, something I often enjoy as I get my article into the computer, has become a dreaded, painful, laborious effort which has me praying that the next key can be struck without using any large amount of movement.


I can hear you claiming that I am just a big cry-baby. I am not crying though I must admit the desire is there. The nurse did describe the symptoms we might feel and I believe she played them down considerably. She warned about some degree of stiffness around the area of the injection. Yep, provided you define the area of the injection as anything within two and a half meters of the injection point. She warned that there could be some flu-like symptoms. Some? Try all of them racing up and down my body. We were asked to drink plenty of fluids which had to be just so they could see you wince in pain in public as you followed their advice. This year’s shot is very reminiscent of the flu shots when they first were offered and young children and older adults were advised to seek their physician’s advice as to whether they should take the shot or risk the flu. Back then getting a flu shot was simply getting the flu and if you survived the ordeal, then you were immunized against the flu, that year. The vaccine was presumed to contain only dead or weakened varieties of that year’s flu bug. Getting the shot presumably led to your body manufacturing the specific anti-body for that year’s version of the flu. The design was to assist the body in preparing for the flu virus by introducing weakened and dead flu virus which would allow for your body to strengthen its T-Cells with which to fight the Flu virus. There were two problems with this method. The first would be if the flu virus mutated and the second was the chance that your inoculation might cause the virus to mutate and give you a different variety of the flu so you would be struck twice, once with the vaccine and once when you contracted the flu. Our worst year was the Chinese bird flu where I became infected with a variant of the bird flu which almost cost me my life. I am hoping I will not be having a recurrence of that event.


Flu Shot as I Viewed my Vaccine

Flu Shot as I Viewed my Vaccine


One would think that the scientists could manufacture a T-cell designed specifically to destroy the flu cells which would strike each year. They could grow the template in laboratories and then provide vaccines to the people before the flu struck. We understand that the flu continues to migrate and change its form. That has often been my experience as I almost always become deathly ill with the flu after taking the flu vaccine. My treating physician always gives me the same speech, you body probably got a rare strain of the flu, some variant which the inoculation was not manufactured to treat. Really? I am dead sure that I would never have figured that out on my own. Geee, I sure am glad that the doctor passed both his immunology and pathology classes. The Asian Flu of the late 1960’s was one of my swan-song years. They never did isolate the virus and had placed me in quarantine. When everyone who enters your room puts on two pair of surgical gloves, booted foot wraps, a hood, and a one-piece body suit while having a nurse tape up every opening through which anything might pass, you know that you are sicker than anybody else is in the Isolation Ward. When you watch everyone after leaving your room and remaining in a closed area to take off the outer layer of hospital provided clothes, placing them in a large bag, which was placed in another bag and then into a medium size canister, which was carried off while the person was sprayed with disinfectant, you suspect that whatever you have, nobody wants any part of it. I was told that when my temperature hit 106.8oF that I was placed in an ice-bath and they added ice for close to a full day and I worked at melting the ice. When my fever finally broke, they took it again after not taking it for many hours, as they knew it really did not matter. The temperature that next morning was over 107oF. That was my worst flu and they afterwards tested to see if and how much intelligence I had lost. Children are phenomenal at surviving the ravages of disease unscathed. Fortunately, this flu shot has my breathing clogged up forcing me to gulp air and has every joint in my body aching and about as stiff as can be. If this is the inoculation, I can only imagine what the flu they are protecting me from would be. Perhaps we were lucky that the shot was not more like the picture below as that would have really been a problem. I sure am glad I do not work wherever that shot is being given this year.


Imagine this Flu Shot

Imagine this Flu Shot


That picture is the perfect representation of what most husbands will tell their wives and they are sweet enough to act as if they believe us. I have already found out that all my normal cold remedies, an inhaler, pills, imbuing large quantities of water, analgesic medicine, bed rest which leads to attempting to rise again, fever breaking medicines and just about anything in our medicine cabinet and none of it relieves even one single symptom. The nurse who cheerfully administered the inoculation said we would feel some flu-like symptoms for a few days. One can only wonder how much they laughed during breaks and while sharing stories over their meals. Fortunately, I am well experienced with the medical field, as I have serviced medical equipment in several major hospitals such as Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia, Washington Hospital Center in Washington D.C. and others. Thus, I know that these aches and pains will abate within a couple of days pretty much as we were told. We all got our flu shots yesterday and hope that this year they guessed correctly as that is not always the case. Some years they miss the mark and everyone suffers a flu epidemic and the few and the brave fight and remain on their feet treating the other less fortunate people who come down with an entirely different version of the flu and you have an epidemic on your hands. This epidemic is fought by the few who remain sufficiently capable of treating those who are struck even harder, and have totally different symptoms. When such a strain strikes it takes out virtually the entire population as nobody was immunized against the new strain. Then the medical staff faces the task of immunizing the population which has remained unstruck and treat those who come down with the new strain trying everything they know to save people from an unexpected threat. Let us all pray that does not occur this year and that we are past the worst of the flu for another year.


Beyond the Cusp


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