Sunday, January 17, 2010

No Lollipop for You

Dr. Schreiber of San Augustine giving a typhoi...
Have you ever had one of those days when you wish you could run away and join a circus? Or run off anywhere and do anything besides what you're supposed to? Throw responsibility to the wind and be a ski bum, beach bum, or just sit around on your bum. Today has been like that. I got up late because I've been trying to overcome the aftereffects of my H1N1 vaccination.

Say that too loudly and it's like shouting "fire" in a crowded theater. Before you know it, everyone is up in arms. Vaccination bad, flu good. And this, despite the fact that in modern history, vaccines have contributed mightily to the control of serious illness. When was the last time you heard of someone having polio? Or small pox? These diseases didn't just wear out their welcome.

In any case, I received the killed vaccine, which renders it highly unlikely that I've had a mini version of swine flu. Instead, it was probably an overreaction by my own immune system. When we receive a vaccination into the muscle, it slowly gets absorbed into circulation, introducing our white blood cells to viral antigens (bits and pieces of the virus) so they can recognize the real thing when it comes along. Once in a while, absorption occurs rapidly enough that white blood cells presume we're under viral attack. "Warning, warning, Will Robinson, alien approaching."

The internal sirens having gone off, various chemicals are released, resulting in head and muscle aches, malaise (the blahs), we feel crummy for a couple of days, and then it all goes away. As irritating as it is, it sure beats the flu. The worst part of it, though, hasn't been the reaction. Nor was it the news that I'd have to get an injection, though that was bad enough, especially after I did my best to negotiate with the nurse (I hate shots and she wasn't interested in a bribe). No, the worst part of it all was, after rolling up my sleeve and being as brave as I could, I didn't even get a lollipop. Darn.

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