Monday, November 9, 2009

Chemo Pity at the Flu Clinic

The Wake County H1N1 flu clinic in Fuquay-Varina was scheduled to open at 9:00AM. I pulled up at 8:15AM and there was already a long line of people. I parked on the street and jumped into the line as quickly as I could. I seemed to be the only adult there without children. The kids were running around playing, and the parents were mostly chatting. I was standing with some very nice people, which is good, because we were together for almost two hours.

It was sunny and beautiful, and I ended up bringing my winter coat back to my car because I did not need it.

I had deliberatly worn a baseball cap instead of my wig, because I wanted it to be obvious that I was really in the high risk category. (Who in their right mind would shave her head just to bluff her way into an early flu shot?) In addition, I had brought along my asthma inhaler with official prescription sticker, in case I needed to further convince them to give me the shot. I am a ridiculous worrier.

For an hour and ten minutes, the line did not move at all. After that, we made slow but steady progress toward the building. We could not see the door from where we were, and I was reminded of being in line outside the Vatican Museum in Rome, thinking that when we finally got around the corner, we would be near the door -- only to find that when we got around the corner, the door was still nowhere in sight.

After about an hour and forty minutes, we had come within sight of the door; at that point, I guess-timated that it would take at least another forty five minutes till I was actually getting the shot. A nurse was working her way down the line, explaining the difference between the mist (live virus for healthy people) and the shot (dead virus for high risk people).

One of the moms said she was surprised that her five-year-old daughter had begged for the shot instead of the mist; she just could not deal with the idea of having something squirted up her nose. (That led to a funny conversation about dogs getting the kennel cough vaccine squirted up their noses, and what is the chance they are really giving kennel cough vaccines in there?) I said that I had to get the shot.

The nurse took a look at me with my bald head (not really hidden by my baseball cap) and asked if I was getting chemo. She suggested that I make sure that I did not end up getting my shot right next to someone who was getting the mist, because the mist could easily disperse in my direction and make me sick. She said that I ought to wear a mask just to be safe and she went back into the building to get me one.

Ten minutes later, the nurse came back with a mask for me, but she said that they had decided to pull me out of the line and give me the shot right away! They didn't think it was a good idea for me to be in line for so long or to be anywhere near the mist. Also, there were apparently a lot of people who showed up sick and germy, and they didn't want me exposed. (Don't worry, the people closest to me all seemed very healthy.)

This was awesome! Chemo pity at its best!

I said goodbye to my new pals, put on the mask, and slipped in a side door. From what I could see, it was pretty crowded in there. I was handed over to another nurse who led me away to the quiet side of the building, gave me the shot, and then brought me out the back door so I didn't even have to walk past the long line on my way back to my car.

Gosh, this was just an excellent experience!

I'll tell you, I have been pretty worried about the swine flu and the availability of the vaccine. I figure that with my asthma and the chemo, I was really high risk.

So one more time, let's do the happy dance!


omerandpat said...

We are so very happy that you got your shot.
Love ya,
Mom and Dad

Ned Charpentier said...

Talk about VIP. God had you on the list at Club Vaccine :)