Shingle Shield Hoisted

December 3rd, 2010 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

fowlChicken pox? Shingles? WTF?

Fairly under orders from my uxorial unit, I pressed the shingles vaccine to its fulfillment today. In real speak, I got the long-overdue shot.

I’ve only known one person who had shingles. Surely there have been others, but only one fessed up. It was many years ago in Greek class, six semesters with only six students and Prof. Ott. We were relatively intimate or at least casual by our three-times-a-week meetings on the quaint and townhouse scaled horseshoe on the old campus of the University of South Carolina. Our studies lent themselves to object lessons and our professor had many applicable tales to impress the lessons of classics into our memories.

Among other texts of mythology and history, we translated the Iliad and Odyssey. Many of these led Prof. Ott to discourses on life in general and her experiences in particular. As well as her recounting visits to Athens and other classic-related sites, she mentioned shingles several times. She had it and was plain that the itching and burning and other recurrent, prolonged symptoms were dreadful. In the end, shingles attacks as so many of her experiences led her to focus her attention on matters Greek and philosophic. Nonetheless, she hoped that none of us ever got the incurable curse.

While still incurable, shingles are now preventable…so doctors would have us believe. My wife is also a believer, having read of the wonders of the vaccine.

It is pertinent in our times, as the viral disease can appear in anyone who has had chicken pox and even those who have never had the disease but been inoculated against it. That’s most of us. Moreover, between one and four percent of healthy folk get it, a rate that basically triples as we age, peaking about retirement age. As a result, docs now recommend that anyone over 60 get the vaccine, apparently so we don’t suffer to the end.

That seemed simple enough, until the swine-flu syndrome kicked in. My wife’s regular doc gave her the shot last year and suggested she tell other boomers to do the same. Well eventually, I asked my internist and fell into the whirlpool of medical fads.

As with swine flu, yes, the medical literature was virtually unanimous. This was a necessary shot. In turn that meant that every FP, GP and internal medical sort fell into line. It naturally followed as with swine flu that there were a lot more willing patients than drug.

I have been on a waiting list for half a year. The docs and nurses would check. Yup, I was on the list. Nope, they had no idea when they’d get vaccine.

Well, today I was by for a routine check and asked afterward. This was not the first the crew at Harvard Vanguard had heard of this. They weren’t too jaded to kick in though. They confirmed on the database that I was in queue. Then after 10 minutes of calling around, one nurse found that they happened to have received 80 doses that very afternoon. I chilled for half an hour before a vial could be set aside and another half for it to travel from ground floor up one level and end up in my arm.

Of course, I had to sign the usual vaccine waiver that any side-effects were just too damned bad. Plus, I got the dreadful Center for Disease Control flyer on how awful shingles are and what God-awful reactions might occur from the vaccine.

My reward was from the injecting nurse. She explained that it was one of the few vaccines that they gave subcutaneously — into body fat in the arm.

I dutifully pushed up my right shirt sleeve and she went to work. She seemed to be spending a long time pinching and pushing with her fingers. Finally she said, “You have some muscle mass. I’ve having a hard time finding any fat to use.”

Well, I have fat elsewhere, but that was a pleasant artifact from a medical visit.

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One Response

  1. Charlie Talbert says:

    I had a mild case of the shingles seven years ago, and it was bad, sort of like a hangover lasting a week, with itching. I would have gotten the vaccine if I’d known about it. The good news is that shingles rarely strikes twice.

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