I am a big chicken when it comes to medical issues. My medical fears are really quite ironic since I was raised the daughter of a family physician. I have been around health care my entire life. In fact, when I was growing up, I worked at my father’s family practice and later was a registrar at a local emergency room. Yet, even though I have seen and heard so much throughout the years related to health, I am still the biggest coward when it comes to shots, medical procedures, and even picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy. I am the patient who needs to throw away the informational inserts that tell you all of the possible side effects and outcomes of taking the medicine. My medical anxiety gets me so worked up that I actually believe I am the 1 or 2 percent of the population who will have a very rare reaction. I convince myself of this.
So it was no surprise last month when I freaked out after reading in the newspaper that there were several deaths as a result of the outbreak of the flu in our area. Now, what you should also know is that two years ago, near the END of flu season, I contracted the H1N1 and was sick for two weeks! My Dad told me I was his only patient that year to get the flu so late in the season. Once the flu hit the news media again this year, I panicked because I did not get the flu shot in October when everyone else did, nor did I have the children vaccinated. This wasn’t on purpose. I just didn’t think about it until the flu story hit the news. Once I started hearing all the dreadful stories in the news, I immediately decided that we needed to get in to the doctor to get vaccinated. The other big story in the news that week was the snow storm that was quickly approaching our area. There were warnings that people were not to be out on the roads and that the storm would be very dangerous. I had to weigh the options and make a decision as to which scenario would be worse, contracting the flu or being out in the storm. So, I called all of the local pharmacies to find out where I could find the flu shot only to be told that most were sold out except for Target which had the Flu Mist available. I made my husband drive the entire family in the snow and cold to get our Flu Mist. Once we got there and were checked in, my children voted that I should go first. Of course, there was no line since we were one of the very few people in the store. The pharmacist was very nice and informative and very quickly stuck a vial of liquid up both of my nostrils. It was a very odd feeling as the liquid shot up my nose and then came dripping back out. The entire procedure was painless and over in less than 30 seconds. It was my anxiety that got the best of me. As soon as I was done, my daughter stepped up and I began to think to myself, “I now have several strains of live flu virus floating around my body.” Suddenly, my hands became very clammy, the back of my neck was sweaty and I felt extremely nauseous. My head was dizzy and I really thought I was going to pass out. I sat down on a bench nearby and continued to feel more and more nauseated. I kept thinking, “This is it. I am the one percent of the population having a reaction.” My daughter came over with a bottle of water and I told her to get the pharmacist. The pharmacist, Marty, came over and assured me that I was fine. He said, “Ma’am I get the flu shot every year, and no matter how many times I get it, I always get nervous and feel like I am going to throw up. You are fine and nothing bad is going to happen.” As he continued to calm me, I did start to feel better. He was such a kind man. By this time, my children and husband were laughing at me. They thought I was crazy to almost pass out. I didn’t even have a shot. Needless to say, that evening after I went home, I ate a good meal, felt perfectly normal, and didn’t have any kind of negative reaction.
This past weekend, I happened to be back at Target and I stopped by the pharmacy to see Marty. I thanked him once again for being so kind to me. I even tried to buy him a cup of coffee but he told me that pharmacists are not allowed to accept gifts. Oh well, I just greatly appreciated his kindness during my very embarrassing moment. Sometimes, I think God plants the right people to be with you at the right times. That day, he truly did earn his money.
Yes, next year I will get the Flu Mist again, but I will not wait until flu season is in full swing in the middle of a snow storm. I have learned my lesson. I will start early and do the right thing to protect my family. Simply put, God gives us medicine for a reason! I have to trust He knows what he is doing.