Just Shoot Me

Thursday, March 6th, 2008, 7:40 pm

After my late run in the Mookie last night I was still sleepy when Ernie woke me at 7. After I fed, watered, and threatened him I couldn’t resist crawling back under the covers. So I didn’t officially get up until 9:30 and after doing some work I didn’t get out the door until just after noon. I had to drive Oakland to get a bunch of inoculations before I go to Vietnam. I can’t say that I was all that enthusiastic about driving across town–to Oakland, no less–just so I could get shards of metal stuck into my flesh. And thinking about it in those terms didn’t help my mood much.

But it had to be done so off I went. Silly me forgot that the Boulevard of the Allies is closed, meaning I had to follow a detour that took me through the Squirrel Hill Tunnels, loop around in Swissvale, and then back through the Tunnel. Nice. And then of course it’s easier to park your car on the Moon than in Oakland, but I ducked in the lot at Magee-Women’s Hospital and acted like I was a proud papa-to-be. Not that anyone cared that I parked there and didn’t go into the hospital. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you.

The health department location I went to provides immunizations as well as serving as an STD clinic. "AVOID EYE CONTACT!! AVOID EYE CONTACT!!" I told myself as, pure of mind as well as body, I strode with confidence through the lobby. I pressed the elevator button seventeen or eighteen times before it opened and after I lurched inside was whisked to the third floor. The facilities there are about what you’d expect from a county health center–scuffed floors, antiquated furniture, yellowed posters on the wall. But everyone I dealt with there was professional, courteous and extremely helpful. I’ve found the same thing to be true at both my local post offices–every time I go there I get fantastic service. So much for that stereotype.

I filled out my forms, and then found to my dismay that the health center didn’t accept debit/credit cards–cash or check, please. So it wasn’t a total customer service joy. I ran out to an ATM, ran back (eyes on the floor, eyes on the floor!), and settled into a chair to read a bit and wait for my meeting with the needle. Of course Oakland is home to the University of PIttsburgh and so there were quite a few college kids waiting as well. A pretty girl came in with her boyfriend after getting bit on the calf by a dog. She wanted to know if she need rabies shots…I’m sure she was happy to hear that the answer was no. Another young couple had to get oodles of inoculations before a trip to Africa. They were going to Zanzibar, Tanzania…now that’s exotic.

I really don’t hate getting shots these days–after my spider and poison ivy encounters I’ve learned that sometimes a doctor holding a needle is the least of your worries. But when my name was called and I was ushered into the small treatment room I saw three syringes sitting there on the counter. Great. The nurse and I made small talk about my trip, and after I pushed up my sleeve she swabbed me and gave me the first shot without fanfare.

Barely felt it. I mean, I barely felt anything. Got the tetanus one next…pffft. Didn’t hurt. We switched arms for the polio booster, and this one shocked me. Not because it hurt, but because I felt NOTHING. No pain, no pressure, zilch. Needle went in, needle came out, I didn’t feel a thing. In fact, removing the band-aids she put over each injection site hurt more than the shots themselves. And both my arms are a tiny bit sore. But all-in-all, a piece of cake.

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