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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Flu Shot Choice?

This morning, I got my flu shot.  My neighborhood community center was holding a free flu clinic from 9 AM to 3 PM.  Because this was a publicly-advertised free flu clinic, I knew I had to get there early.  I went to a similar flu clinic last year and got there an hour before the shots started, and I was #50-something in line.  So, today I got there at 7:30 AM and was #11 in line.  Sweet! 

The wait in line was like riding on an airplane.  I tried to awkwardly make small talk with the gentleman next to me.  We discussed our jobs, allergies, and wondered if they were actually going to give us numbers or follow the already-huge line.  Eventually, a lady came by with scrap pieces of paper with numbers written on them and tore off #11 for me.  I chuckled with the gentleman next to me, "Now I feel like I'm somebody.  I have a number!"  He laughed, too, then we filled out a form on a clipboard.  Name, DOB, address, and on the back a list of questions like "Have you ever had a reaction to a vaccine?", "Do you have any long-term health problems like . . . [blah blah blah], diabetes, [blah blah blah]."  And at the bottom, it said, "Just because you answered 'yes' to any of these questions doesn't mean you won't get the shot, you just may have to wait." 

Wait?!  I got here at ferning 7:30 AM, and now just because I have diabetes I may have to wait longer?!  I worried about it for a split-second, but by then they were calling numbers.  It was then that I kind of had an ironic thought:  The lobby of the community center was easily packed with over 200 people, all of them waiting to get the flu shot.  What are the chances that someone in that room already had the flu and was exposing everyone around them to it.  The vaccine takes up to 2 weeks to take full effect, but we could all be sick right now and not know it.  I smiled at the irony. 

"Numbers 11 through 20, come forward."  I grabbed my form, little number strip, and my coffee mug (I wasn't waiting until after 9 AM for coffee) and headed to the little room.  I gave my form to the community center worker, got in line, and unbuttoned my sweater for the nurse to put it in my arm.  The nurse motioned me to sit in the chair.  I sat down, she looked at my form and gave it to the nurse behind the table.  "Whew," I thought, "no more waiting."  She took out the needle and began to swab my arm.  I turned my head and closed my eyes.  Even though I've had diabetes for almost 4 years, I still don't like needles unless I'm the one handling it.  I clinched when I felt the needle pierce my skin, then it was out, then I got a bandaid.  "There you go," she said.  "Thanks." 

This was right before they started calling numbers.  Madness!

I'm vaccinated!  The thought is a little comforting, even with all the stuff "they" say about vaccines.  I've heard and read several people talking about this issue, and they all make great points.  The problem is, I really don't feel I have a choice in the matter.  Regardless of what exactly is in the vaccine, I really can't afford to get the flu. 

(The first flu season following my diagnosis, I had the flu.  I didn't realize that's what I had until it was over it and I was explaining my "cold symptoms" to someone.  But all the signs were there:  faucet for a nose, fever, muscle aches, no appetite, and BGs cruising in the 300s.  I was in grad school, trying to finish up a hefty homework assignment.  If I was sick, I ignored the fact in order to get my assignment done.  I had to force myself to drink some chocolate meal drinks just so I could get some nutrition in me.  When I was in class, I could barely sit still because my lower back ached so much.  No doubt now, I had the flu.  Looking back on it , I was very irresponsible.  Not only was I putting my health at risk, but also my coworkers and classmates.  I had to learn to take a day off when I was sick, something I wasn't used to pre-D being the ambitious student I was.) 

I'm not going to judge anyone's decision on whether to get the flu shot or not, but I just personally feel with my already compromised immune system that I can't take the risk.  And growing up with a mom who was an immunization director has helped me stay informed.  This shot was the combined shot, including the vaccine for H1N1.  I feel that the shot is safe with no risks of any weirdness or turning into a piggie.  *oink oink*  Being sick with diabetes just makes things too complicated and scary.  In the game of diabetes, defense and preplanning is the key.  So next year, I'll roll up my sleeve, turn my head, and close my eyes, just as bravely as I did today. 


  1. Hey - after over 40 years of diabetes - I still HATE needles. I cringe more tho' when I have to give one to others (tho' I'm faster then a speeding bullet - they don't even know I've done it) - or watching someone give it to themselves (I cringe).
    I have been getting a flu shot every year since they first came out - never had flu since. Our flu shot vaccines here in my province of Quebec don't become available to those over 65 or with chronic conditions until Nov (last year I had to wait until Dec for my H1N1 shot). Speaking with an RN they are surprised that USA residents are getting their vaccines so early. All I know is, now not only do vaccines help prevent the current flu virus that is hitting the world, but if taken early like you just had done (Sep/Oct), it also is good for heart protection - so the vaccine has two advantages for us :)

    The year I was diagnosed in 1968 - I'd had a bout of chicken pox. Wonder if due to our immune system being down, we just got picked on again with contracting diabetes? Hmmm.

  2. I had a horrible experience getting my first A1C bloodwork, so I've always looked away when I get bloodwork done now. (I was 6, they tried that "numbing" cream which didn't work, couldn't find a vien..stabbed me about 8 times to get blood..this before the small "butterfly" needles!). I think most diabetics look away, haha.

    As for the Flu Shot..I've had the flu about 3 or 4 times my whole life, but I haven't had the shot since I was about 4 (when they think the diabetes was triggered) and that year I ended up in the hospital even after getting the shot because I was so sick. Since then, I have not had the shot and none of my family has had the flu more than a couple times. A lot of people I know get the shot, then end up getting sick. I choose not to because I think my immune system is STRONGER from not having the shot. When I have had the flu, it's lasted a max of two days and I'm better again..whereas people I know are out for a week with it. But that's just me, if you are more comfortable getting the shot, great! :)

  3. Oh and I also didn't get the H1N1 shot because I didn't believe in it. A few of my co-workers had it/their families' also did, but I didn't catch it. I had tamiflu just in case, but I never had to use it.

  4. Can I tell you a secret?...I'm too scared to get a flu shot :-(

  5. Really Nerdy April - you're scared? I know for myself, it's just something I do every year. I rarely get sick, think I get hit with a bad cold every 5 years (can't remember last time). Just my luck writing this out - I get sick this winter \\^^//
    I know my Mum reacted badly to the flu shot - they say it was something to do with eggs in the serum of something like that (maybe there's someone reading this who has more "technical/medical" knowledge then I do on this). It caused her to go to ER, she couldn't breath. She's never had it since, but my Dad (he's 80) does. Except for usual old age things, they are fit as horses, rarely get sick. Maybe it's in my genes as well (I wear Levis when I can afford them )


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DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, nurse, certified diabetes educator (CDE) or any medical professional of any kind. (But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express!) Therefore, please do not use any of my postings as medical fact. I am simply a blogger expressing my highs and lows (pun intended) with diabetes. For changes in your medication, exercise regiment, or diet please consult a qualified physician.

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My name is Holly and I live in north Alabama with my hubby, two cats, and a dog.