Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Shot

Disclaimer: I love med school, and I take it very seriously. I've also got a sense of humor (or so I'd like to think). Just wanted to make sure no one misreads the tone of these posts or anything...

Anyway, today I glimpsed the most coveted commodity in America. A drug in short supply, high demand, limited quantity. Two cc's of a clear liquid that looks more like water than a lifesaver (well, a week saver). I mean, really. A week is valuable. Who wants to be sick and miserable for seven days?

I was shadowing a pediatrician in Oakland who "has connections," and somehow ended up with 500 doses of the H1N1 vaccine. I'm the meek, powerless med student who follows him all over the place, making conversation with kids and parents and people who think I'm an actual doctor because I have a stethoscope around my neck. I like talking to patients, though. When a little girl told me she wanted to be a doctor when she grows up, I don't think I stopped smiling for the rest of the day.

But back to the shots. It seemed like every single resident of North Oakland got that shot today - the kids, the parents, the administrative staff, the pharmacists down the street, even some guy who looked like he'd walked off the neighborhood basketball court. But not me. No, according to the California Health Department (ie. God), med students are disposable. No shots for us. We aren't "high risk" enough.

The pediatrician, bless his heart, probably would have given me one if I had asked. But then I started babbling about my last shot, during which I passed out and woke up crying. This was a year ago (yes, I'm 26. I know what you're thinking. I get it). And yes, I'm aware of my career choice. I understand the problem here.

But today I would have slipped that doctor some serious cash (ten bucks, at least) for that H1N1 shot. I've never wanted anything so badly in my life. I don't want the Swine Flu. I don't want chills, fever, nausea, a week from hell. And don't listen to the hype about "negative side effects." The only negative side effect is the 1.3 second pinch you feel in your arm.

So that was my day. I never got the shot, and I'll probably get the flu, and I'll be thinking about this day when I'm sprawled out on my couch with ginger ale and a pissed-off roommate.

If I haven't convinced you to get the vaccine, then that's fine. I'll get your dose one of these days. And when I do, I'll come back here and talk about the day I passed out, cried, and lost my dignity. I'm probably worse than your four-year-old, and I'm okay with that. We all have our weaknesses.

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