Friday, May 8, 2009

When Pigs Fly: Swine Flu Immunization

One of the advantages of getting older is I don’t panic as easily as I did when I was younger. I think it’s a combination of slower reaction time and the reality that I just don’t have as much to lose anymore.

All this media frenzy over the swine flu reminds me of what I consider its culpability in my own brush with death. The ambiguous “its” can refer to swine flu and/or the media.

I was a lot younger in 1976 and so were my children. Eric was 6 and Rob was only four. Swine flu had reared its ugly head, and to protect us from harm, a massive immunization program was implemented. We were warned that since we had no immunity to this deadly virus, all able bodied Americans should be immunized. It sounded almost like our patriotic duty to do so. At the least, it seemed like our parental duty to protect our children.

Jim and I had a disagreement over the immunization.

“I’ll take my chances with the flu,” Jim said. “It sounds like scare tactics to me. Somebody is going to make a whole lot of money out of this.”

“Well, I’m getting the shot. I’d feel just awful if I caught the flu and gave it to the kids,” I argued. I played the guilt card, and asked, “You won’t even do this for the safety of our kids?”

“It’s just a bunch of hogwash,” he said.

My motherly instincts overrode Jim’s common sense, not to mention my own. I should have known that if you drove up in a car, stuck your arm out the window and had someone shoot an untested vaccination in your arm, it couldn’t be good. But I did it. I can’t remember just where the location of the drive-thru shot took place, but I think it might have been a bank.

I was all right for a few days after the immunization for swine flu and I figured life would return to normal. I slept better for a few nights smug in the knowledge that I had done all I could to protect Rob and Eric.

About a week later, I began to develop some rather strange symptoms. I was fatigued and overcome with a general malaise. I barely made it through the day. My arms and legs seemed heavy, my head pounded behind my eyes, and my body ached. I wanted to sleep all the time. I was sure I would shake the mysterious ailment in a few days.

Days passed. Each day I struggled just to function. Then, a few weeks passed. We didn’t have health insurance, and I figured my vague complaints wouldn’t help my doctor figure out what was wrong with me. I remember being so despondent that I held a bottle of pills in my hand and considered taking them all. Instead, I just took a double dose and slept some more.

After six weeks, I began to feel slightly stronger each day and within a couple of months, the mysterious illness vanished without a trace.

I never connected my health issues to the swine flu vaccination, until the dangers of mass immunization began to make headlines. More people died from the immunization than from the swine flu.

I recently read an article in the paper that the swine flu, or the politically correct H1N1 virus, may not be as bad as originally feared. The comforting word was that next fall an immunization may be available for it.

Well, I'll be immunized for swine flu when pigs fly! I’d rather take my chances with the flu. Something tells me I might have a whole lot of immunity.

1 comment:

Cindy Goalder said...

I don't remember the 70's swine flu issue, guess I was too young and carefree to think about back then. I have gotten flu shots for several years. Last year was most painful than in years past but figured she just hit the wrong place. One year I went to Liberty Park in the car parked in a line outside because they had too many lined up indoors.