I may be feeling flu-like and my left arm itches like crazy, but who cares: After nearly a year of aspiring, I have leaped every hurdle on the obstacle course to Shingrix and have received both recommended shingles vaccinations.
It was one of those decisions that is easy to make and hard to implement – kind of like sketching your dream house on a cocktail napkin compared to actually building it.
The madness started with the doctor giving his usual spiel to over-50 patients last fall about the horrors of shingles and extolling the virtues of this new vaccine – of course, it is so much better than the one you already have.
It was an easy sell. I have come down with the shingles once already, despite the shot I already had – a mild case, possibly thanks to the vaccine.
Back then, even though it was a mild case, I had Googled all the bad things that could happen and imagined they were happening to me. I also became a magnet for stories about others who had contracted shingles. I had not collected so many horror stories since my first pregnancy, when I was unlucky enough to be working in a newsroom and privy to every wire story that came in about birth defects.
So I was primed to get this new miracle shot. The problem was, after the doctor’s compelling pitch, he also admitted he had none of this wondrous new vaccine and did not know anyone else who was stocking it – “but call around!”
With that, I got on the waiting list at every pharmacy I could think of and prayed I would get a call. Or not get a call, because the other problem is that side effects can range from nothing, to three days of flu-like symptoms, to, in rare cases, call 911. And what do you do if you’re about to take a trip of a lifetime or are in the middle of a particularly overscheduled week and suddenly get “the call?”
I knew what I would do: I would drive myself crazy trying to do “the right thing.” Take the shot and have to cancel the trip? Take the shot and have to cancel the speech? To make things worse, I would have to drive myself crazy twice, because two to six months after the first shot, there’s a required second shot – and another waiting list.
To be fully prepared for the moment of decision, I checked with friends who had somehow managed to get one or both of these miracle shots and asked about their side effects.
“Arm as big as a baseball,” said one about Shot No. 1, “but I could still function.”
“A kick in the butt, but not for 24 hours,” said another about Shot No. 2.
After months on the waiting list, I got the first call, checked my calendar, and told them I could be there in two days if they could hold it. To my surprise, they agreed.
I am embarrassed to say Shot No. 1 was a yawn despite the request that I stay in the store (and “please feel free to shop”) for 20 minutes in case I had a reaction. My arm – and the rest of me – were fine.
The call for Shot No. 2, two months later, could not have come at a better time. I had sentenced myself to stay home and work on projects for the next two days anyway.
I am still waiting for the “kick in the butt.” Meanwhile, I am strictly following advice not to overexert myself – no exercise or taxing work projects for at least a few days.
You cannot be too careful.
Balancing Act author Pat Snyder is a northwest Columbus resident and life-balance speaker and coach. Find her at PatSnyderOnline.com.