Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Getting the shot

Yesterday I got the H1N1 vaccination, previously discussed here. I hadn't had any shots since traveling about 25 years ago, and wasn't really looking forward to the poke, but as it turned out, that part was fine..

I will digress for a moment: health care/medical insurance in this province is completely free. Just get a health care card by showing proof of residence, and voilá, you're in the system. I had to get a health card in order to get a vaccination. I needed to get one anyway, but due to an application which had to be downloaded, printed, filled out and sent in, a broken printer, procrastination about getting a new one hooked up due to a case of acute (but not terminal) technophobia, which came at a time of psychological fray... this process was all delayed for awhile. Suffice it to say that my BC coverage lapsed, and I was actually, officially, uninsured for a few weeks. I won't go into how that felt.. let me just say I was glad when that little Sask card arrived in the mail, early December.

There were a series of vaccination clinics downtown, where I live, but for one reason or another, mostly my own disorganization, I missed them all. On Dec 22 there was one scheduled according to the internet, but when I got to it, it wasn't at the mall a few blocks away - it had been moved to the Public Health office, out of prairie winter walking range, where the Weyburn Mental Hospital used to stand before it was completely razed. (I've always thought it odd to call leveling a building down to the ground "razing" it, but that's a different topic for another day.)

Yesterday the clinic was open for H1N1 vaccination, and my mother agreed to drive me over. It was cold and snowing. The clinic is a few miles away. There are no buses in Weyburn. There are taxis, but because I'm not working for a living right now, I've learned how to be cheap.

It was typical Weyburn, a waiting room full of people, smiling and quietly chatting, a couple bored and antsy young children, only one nurse, I was told, in absolutely no hurry apparently, therefore a long wait. There was a long-ish form with a blank for me to write in my new health card number to complete, only three people ahead of me, but it seemed that each shot took a good 15 minutes. I fumed quietly to myself, thinking of how much of my life was getting sucked away sitting there, how in Vancouver this whole process would have been way more streamlined and way more people would have been processed much more quickly and the receptionist would automatically have filled out the health number to lessen the chance of error. I thought of my mother sitting outside in the cold, in a warm car, but still.. Finally I went out and told her it was going to be at least another 45 minutes. To my surprise, she wasn't fussed at all. I was the one fussed.

When it came my turn, I was given a nod by the receptionist who was wearing a cool, hightech headset thingie, through which she communicated to people not in the room. I walked down a long long hallway as directed, turned right to walk down another hallway, and entered a large room, empty of people except the nurse. What a laid-back place, I fumed silently to myself. The nurse collected my form and asked if I had ever had any reactions to any shots. I told her that the only reaction I'd ever had was a swollen, hot, red upper arm that had lasted a week, from a typhoid shot long ago.

Eventually I got my jab, and realized that the hold-up was that the nurse loved to chitchat with her patients after. I expect that what she was really doing was keeping people talking so she could scan them for reactions or something. There was certainly a great deal more focused attention than I remember from 25 years ago..

The shot itself was swift and relatively painless. Today I have a sore arm, but only at skin level - I can move my arm anyway I like. I feel fine. No Guillain-Barré, so ordinary genes must have made my peripheral nervous system. I have done my part for herd immunity.

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