A Medical Booster…….


What silly person would schedule their yearly medical check up for the day  after the Thanksgiving break????

As the nurse adjusted and balanced the sliding weights on the 80 year old scales I said that I was absolutely positive those last 10 pounds only arrived between Thursday and Sunday!

As my blood was filling a couple of vials I suggested that we probably should take a few points off my cholesterol  when the results come back too!

The only reading I did not try to correct or excuse was my blood pressure which was a very acceptable 112/75 .  I think the nurse made a mistake – though she did it a second time after saying that it was “faint” and “perhaps it hasn’t woken up yet”.   (my reading is normally much higher as I suffer white coat syndrome).

As I was about to escape for another 12 months the doctor noticed that there was no record of my having had a Tetanus shot here – ( I’d had one in Australia in 2000 as a requirement to getting my visa & Green card).

So  after I’d  been jabbed in my right arm (I was told “protocol” dictates they do the right) they gave me an information sheet with all the risks associated with the vaccine.  The vaccine I was given is called Tdap as it protects against the trio Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (whooping cough).

The first bullet:  Anyone who has had a previous life-threatening allergic reaction after a dose of (the) vaccine should not get Tdap.

The second bullet: Anyone who went into a coma or had a long seizure within 7 days after a dose of DTP or DTAP should not get Tdap.

Those things seem like something you should be asked before the jab!!                 Then there are a list of Mild ProblemsModerate Problems and  Severe Problems along with the chances of each happening like: Headache (4 in 10);  nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (1 in 5).

Now those things might put some people off having the shot but I had Whooping Cough in 1989 (as an adult) and it was a truly horrible disease –  in fact it also gave me a severe headache, nausea and vomiting along with ruptured blood vessels in my eyes and debilitating muscle spasms in my neck and shoulders and left me with an inability to drink icy cold drinks.

I don’t have any experience with Tetanus but I’d rather avoid the whole lock jaw thing.   And Diphtheria lesions look just nasty!

So I will put up with the incredibly sore upper arm and shoulder I have tonight!



49 responses

  1. Aw, girlfriend!! Take care of yourself – hugs to you for such an awful experience. I think that allergic reactions are rare and also in a hospital they know what to do if someone has one. They are painful, though. I like to tell the story of when I was bitten in the spine by a dog (I was 11) and I ended up with nerve damage in my right arm – the nurse gave me the shot in my left arm and by the time I got home I had to hold my favorite fiction book open with my elbows because both my arms were so sore, LOL!!

    That’s interesting about icy cold drinks, Emjay. I had whooping cough as a baby and maybe by coincidence, I cannot drink cold beverages AT ALL. Do you know what causes the reaction? I wonder if that’s what happened to me!

    You’re right, though, tetanus is a horrible disease and not always survivable. At least it’s only once every 7 to 10 years we need one.

    • Oh your hospital story made me laugh – though I shouldn’t have as I’m sure that was an awful experience. I hope the nerve damage in your right arm gradually repaired itself.

      I was 32 years old when I had whooping cough and up until then had enjoyed smoothies, icy drinks, frozen margaritas etc….. since the illness I’ve been unable to drink anything icy cold without having a huge coughing fit – for a couple of years afterwards I would have the whoop sound as I struggled to get air.

      • LOL yes you can laugh, my mom and I always do. I was at my Grandma’s at the time and Mom thought it was funny that when I called her, of course she was horrified and she asked me if I was upset, I said, “yes, now I have to come home, don’t I?” LOL!! When Mom told me no, you can stay the full visit with Grandma, I was happy!

        I agree with what HG said about vaccines – it’s always good to study the bad side but I only had whooping cough because my mom had declined the vaccine for me out of fear about the side effects. I was only 3 months old and it was pretty serious.

  2. Tetnus shots can make your arm really sore. I recently saw some video of a child with whooping cough and it looked truly horrible.

    You’d think they’d go over the risks with you BEfore the shot though.

    • Yes I was surprised that the nurse just handed me the sheet at the same time as she was prepping my arm! When we have the ‘flu shot at work the nurse goes through everything and we sign the form to say we understand before she sticks it in!

  3. LOL at the weight and cholesterol levels: yes, they should have taken into account that it was right after Thanksgiving, when most of us have eaten and drank things in amounts we don’t normally do. I once made the mistake of going in for a cholesterol check after Christmas, during which I must have drank a gallon of eggnog and a ton of sugar cookies. Not only were my levels off the charts for my age group, but my blood sugar was in the diabetic range. I got a stern talking to by both the doctor and the nurse even after I tried to explain why I was all fat and sugary.

    But you are smart to get your vaccinations: in California there’s been this movement against vaccinations by so-called alternative medicine practitioners, and as a result they’re seeing a recurrence of polio, scarlet fever, whooping cough and German measles in the schools. The schools can’t ban children who haven’t been vaccinated, but they are getting tougher by sending home those who haven’t had their shots and who show the first signs of illness. If I was a teacher in the public school system, I’d be worried about coming down with those diseases myself.

    • Yes it is a shame to be seeing diseases, that had basically been eradicated, making a comeback. All students attending school (Public & Private) in DC have to present proof of “appropriate immunizations” by the first day of school as an entry requirement. I’m not sure what happens if you are fundamentally opposed to vaccinating your child – homeschool?

  4. I don’t know about the vaccine bit. Perhaps we are over doing it? But of course, better to be safe than sorry.
    LOL on the cholesterol and weight. If you were a Hindu in India, you should never have a medical examination between October and January because we have one festival every fortnight, every Hindu festival, if you weren’t aware already, dedicated to gastronomic pleasures. No wonder, after the festival in January, we go into a high carb coma, to emerge next October again !

  5. I had the booster earlier this year – the last time I had a tetanus shot was when I was 6, so I guessed it was about time. I always get my needles in my left arm as I am right handed. Never had any issues with my selection. Didn’t get as sore a the flu shot!

    • Yeah, I’ve never had anyone tell me I couldn’t have it in my left arm before (where I always get them too). I felt like a pin cushion going to work with the jab in my right arm and the blood drawn hole in my left!

  6. I find it interesting that protocol tells them to use the right arm. I give tetanus boosters all the time in the ED, and have never been told to use only the right arm. We tend to use the arm that does not have the injury on it…
    And yes, you are supposed to get that handout prior to getting the injection! They did the same thing to me after I got my required chicken pox vax (and yes, I had it as a child as well…)
    Hope all your blood work comes out well. and NICE job on the BP!

    • Yes – I think it makes perfect sense to inject the uninjured arm. My shot is so high up my arm that it’s near where all the damage was done when I broke my arm/shoulder in February. Last night it felt just as tight and immobile as it did when I had limited range of motion in my rotator cuff. Yeah I’m pretty pleased about the BP!

  7. Ugh – I hate getting vaccines. I tend to fall down on the side of those people who believe vaccines aren’t all that good for you.

    However – having said that, I have grown up in a world largely free of dangerous and deadly childhood diseases. This is because of vaccines. It wasn’t until I made a friend who has to live half of his day in an iron lung (I couldn’t believe they still use those things) because of polio that I turned back around on the concept of vaccines.

    I hope your arm feels better soon!

    • I’m surprised that they have not made advancements to the iron lung – or maybe I’m surprised that they produced something so long ago that has not needed improving to still be efficient. My arm feels not nearly as stiff today.

      • I don’t know – maybe it is a new improved version. Or maybe it’s just that my friend (who’s a couple of decades older than me and had polio as a kid) is just used to using it and chooses to continue…?

        Glad your arm is feeling better. I’m thinking I’m due for my tetanus shot. I don’t know that I’d get the combination vaccine though.

        I keep thinking about that right arm protocol thing, wondering if it has to do with being on the side of the body furthest away from the heart… ?

    • LOL the leaflets that come with some medications here are like booklets! There are so many things that *might* happen. I don’t like the ones that say you have to stay upright for some length of time after taking it – it makes me laugh because it’s usually been something that I’ve needed for some disease that’s knocked me flat!

  8. Holy crap.
    Yes, avoiding whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria is a very good thing to be able to do.
    I need to get a rejab on my whooping cough. It’s really flared up around here in the last couple of years.

    • Yes many of the “old fashioned” diseases are re-emerging and our old childhood vaccines are wearing off. As I’m commuting with the masses it’s probably wise to get whatever vaccines are being offered. It can be disconcerting being squashed in a rail car with dozens of coughing people!

  9. Doctors! uuggghhh! I hate to go to the doctor for anything. I usually feel way worse when I leave than I did when I got there. My blood pressure was really good before the kids moved in, I would be afraid to have it checked now! lol Glad you are getting a nod of approval!

    • When I had 3 days off work with a really bad cold recently someone said “why don’t you see if your doctor can squeeze you in?” I laughed and said that my doctor wouldn’t know who I was as I only go once a year for an annual checkup. If it was a bone injury though I’m pretty sure my Orthopedist would remember me LOL – I’ve seen more of him than I have of any other medical person.

  10. Ick! Vaccines! As a kid I had to get them in half doses because I’d get a high fever after them. Even now I still feel like crap and have a slight fever after them.

    Glad you survived the visit to the doctor. I dread going as well.

  11. LOL at least you had an excuse for all the things that might have been off. None of that would have been possible if the check up would have been at some other time.
    Hmmmmh…. vaccine…. I can’t remember when I had the last one. I think there’s a fine line here. There are definitely some things that should be considered as bad enough and get the shot – others I think are just a hype. Didn’t get a vaccine against the oh so raging swine flu – and am alive. Also in the future I will not shoot up a vaccine where the producer doesn’t dare to stand for the side effects and that has been cooked up hastily because there might be possibly eventually a teeny tiny chance for ….

    • Yeah the swine flu was a lot of hype here – on the news every night as though it was going to wipe out the population. I think the H1N1 vaccination is part of the ‘flu shot vaccination now – at least it was in the one that my company organized for employees.

    • Whooping cough is more dangerous in little kids than in adults. I remember ringing my doctor in the middle of the night from the steam filled bathroom and asking “Are you sure no adult ever died from this?” I laugh now but I wasn’t then 🙂 Apparently the effectiveness of the whooping cough vaccine we are given as children wears off and as the disease is now re-emerging more adults are contracting it. Also, apparently having had the disease does not give long term immunity against getting it again.

      • A guy I work with had whooping cough last year. Finally when he was literally passing out on the floor at work from coughing so much they made him stay home a few days and they made all of us go on antibiotics so we wouldn’t all catch it, too. It took him forever to get over it.

        • @ Lauri – poor guy! I know how he felt. I had a brand new baby (5 weeks) and was dealing with all this terrible coughing and side effects. I was on massive doses of codeine to quell the cough and because I was breast feeding it went through to the Princess – the Childrens’ Hospital and Poisons Centre assured me that it would do her no long term harm but it would make her sleep really well!!! Poor little mite was probably suffering withdrawal by the time I got off the codeine! And yes, everyone around me was on antibiotics too (plus they doped the poor little Princess up with her full WC vaccinations to protect her from getting it).

  12. My friend had whooping cough when she was just a baby. :S The neighbors reported her parents for potential child abuse because of how much she cried. I never want to experience whooping cough, or the other too either.

    • Poor little baby – and poor parents! My first son cried constantly for the first 6 months of his life – luckily we lived next door to a nursing home so the residents probably couldn’t hear him!! 🙂

  13. Blech!

    We call those DPT here. I forget the youth age but then you HAD to get them around age 14 (booster) or you weren’t allowed to enroll in hs (9-12 grades).

    I’ve had a couple T since then due to injuries (stepping on nails, etc.). I don’t think I’ve ever had a reaction to those but a simple rx of penicillin when I was about 5 sent me into seizures! No more penicillin for this one.

    I’m so FAT right now. Didn’t help that a couple of coworkers told me I’m “looking flabby.”

    Yeah. I know. Two injuries will do that to you. Grrr.

    • That’s incredibly insensitive of your coworkers to say you look “flabby”! You have to have recommended vaccinations up to date to be admitted to DC schools – for all grades. Not sure about VA or MD.. I’m allergic to penicillin also and to sulfa drugs – luckily I rarely get sick enough to need antibiotics!

  14. My goodness. The caveats are enough to scare you to death. Glad you got through it all. I felt very virtuous when I finally caved and got myself a flu shot at the local Walgreens.

    • My workplace provides free flu shots every year so I always take advantage of them – it helps that they come to me as I probably wouldn’t make much of an effort to actually go somewhere for one. I hope you don’t get the flu now LOL 🙂

  15. Yes, I always thought it was funny that they handed me this sheaf of small print information to look over and sign–as they are jabbing my kid with six needles. Like I’m really going to ask them to stop and let me read the fine print at that point!

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