Friday, March 26, 2021

Andy Young: A shot in the arm

By Andy Young

Special to The Windham Eagle

Until recently I had never voluntarily submitted to taking a flu shot. When it comes to health, I’m “old school.” Why fix what’s not broken? Or in this case, why inject a foreign substance into a perfectly functional body? But the major reason for my avoidance of inoculations is an exceptionally strong aversion to being poked with sharp objects.

I like needles the same way Superman likes Kryptonite, dogs like fleas, or 1970s-era Red Sox fans liked George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson.

I dislike getting shots more than John Madden hates flying, more than mice loathe cats, and even more than pediatricians detest a wriggling, thrashing, hysterically shrieking child they’re attempting to supply with a tetanus shot after said cherub had, earlier the same day, stepped on a rusty nail.

Which reminds me, I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to the late Dr. Forris B. Chick, my sainted mother, and Dr. Chick’s nurse (who very likely is also no longer with us) for going berserk one day in 1966 (or thereabouts), when it took the three of them to subdue me long enough to stick me with an antidote to death by lockjaw. I truly regret my unseemly conduct, particularly since even after the debacle that saw me trash the good doctor’s examination room, not to mention embarrass, frustrate, and most likely enrage all of the above-specified adults, I was still given a lollipop afterward.

Since then, life experience has taught me that my needlephobia (which according to isn’t a word, even though it ought to be) doesn’t make me even remotely unique. Reluctance to getting jabbed is normal; people who actually enjoy getting hypodermic needles stuck in their veins are the ones we ought to worry about.

A brief Peace Corps stint in Central America earned me a whole battery of needle-supplied inoculations, including several which were painfully delivered in areas other than the arm. But by the time I reached my early 30s, I knew for certain that a 6-foot-2-inch man trembling, flinching, and weeping like a baby prior to getting a shot was both inappropriate and undignified, or at least not as appropriate and dignified as it had been when I was doing it in my late 20s.

I still don’t like getting shots, but since most reputable epidemiologists agree that a good part of the solution to the current international pandemic is herd immunity, I’ve long since decided to take one (or in this case two, since I couldn’t get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine) for the team.

I got my first dosage last week. The whole process took less than 45 minutes, and when it was over I found myself feeling somewhere between uplifted and exhilarated. At the facility where the shots were being given, every one of the dozen or so volunteers I encountered while going through the process radiated a palpable cheerfulness.  I honestly didn’t even feel the needle go in when I got my injection. When I got home and my son asked me about the process, I truthfully told him that every single person I had encountered there was smiling. It was only later I realized that each of those helpful, buoyant, and upbeat folks whose smiles I had “seen” had been wearing a mask at the time!

The tiny bruise that appeared on my arm the following morning was gone by the afternoon. Bottom line: getting my first Covid injection was as non-traumatic as a shot in the arm can be. I do have one tiny complaint, though.

No one gave me a lollipop. <

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