Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's Different When You're Elderly Like Me

In my life so far, I have traveled a lot, and thus have received a ton of travel vaccinations. I've always done just fine. Sure, the first yellow fever shot left a small lesion, and the old Hep A preventative, gamma globulin, burned going into my hip*, but I was always just fine with shots. As a kid, I don't remember feeling funny at all after shots, and trust me, I would have remembered. I hated shots.**

So four years ago when I went in for a routine physical prior to starting a new nanny job, and the nurse asked if I needed a tetanus booster, I didn't hesitate to say yes, and assumed that it would be no big deal. The next day, I had very little range of motion in my arm, and it hurt to move it at all. It was not the easy procedure I remembered, where the worst part was the stick of the needle.

Still, walking into the travel doctor's office yesterday, I didn't really think much about the possibility of adverse effects of another shot I'd had as a child, the MMR. I mean, come on, that's a sissy shot! It probably won't even hurt! Well. I was wrong. Not only did the liquid (er, gel? It was thick...) sting and then burn as it went in, all too slowly, but later the injection site still hurt, and after I worked out (because of course I worked out--these are just simple vaccinations, right?), I couldn't move my arm enough to put my bag in the backseat of the car whilst sitting in the driver's seat. Around bedtime, I felt strangely cold. I fell into fitful sleep hugging the part of a heating pad that was not draped over the injection site. I woke up some time later so hot I would have joined the Polar Bear Club to get some relief. Instead, I threw the blankets off and finally admitted that I needed some medication. With ibuprofen down the hatch and a few crackers munched silently in the dark living room to soften the medicated punch, I fell asleep again, sort of. I woke up this morning determined to go to work. And there's where I go from kind of stupid to just plain delusional.

You see, my Wednesday job is to watch three children, one of whom is three, the second of whom is two-and-a-half, the third of whom is seventeen months old. I skipped the ibuprofen (you are shaking your head at me, I know), put on something cute but machine washable, and popped into Starbucks on my way to work. "Coffee will do it," I thought, "since the worst of it is over now." I'm not sure what kind of crack I was smoking, but I proceeded to plunge downhill fast as the cries of MINE and STOP IT! and MYTURN! IT'S MYTURN! became more and more shrill. It was a relief to put everyone in their own chair for lunch, but then a punch to the gut to realize that I had two more hours until everyone would be napping. I tried drawing out the meal. I attempted to take them outside for some fun. I only made things worse. Finally, I rifled through the medicine cabinet and swallowed some ibuprofen. The relief took longer than it took to clean up the play area and get everyone into bed. Idiocy strikes again. I was never so happy to be done with my workday.

Never.

I have also never been so happy to be sitting at home in my pajamas, waiting for sleep to come.

But first, I am going to take some ibuprofen because I am a girl who learns from her mistakes. But please remind me of that next time I decide to get a vaccination.

*Oh, come on, medical professionals, we all know that if I have to pull my pants down to get the injection, that is NOT my hip.
**I'm really not into anything painful. I can be a bit more stoic about it now, but as a child I was a Class A Wimp. See also: not playing volleyball because it hurts my delicate forearms and giving up on catching a baseball because it stung my palm through the mitt.

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