Friday, September 17, 2010

A Shot In The Dark

I knew there would be tears yesterday; that’s expected when you take three little kids to get their flu shots. However, I wasn’t expecting both my mom and I to end up laughing so hard at the kids that we were crying, too. Even looking back, I don’t know how a trip to the pediatrician turned into a Comedy Central special, but it did.

First let me say that I don’t know what the protocol is for telling your kids they’re going to get a shot. Do you warn them a week in advance? A day? How about 15 minutes prior to departure when they ask why they need to get their shoes on? I went with option C because my son, six years old, is a pathological dreader, and the more time he has to worry about something, the worse that thing becomes in his mind. Like if he gets in trouble and I say “I’m gonna tell your dad about this when he gets home,” if that’s twenty minutes from then, he’s a little anxious, but still functioning normally. But, if it’s going to be another five hours before my husband gets home, then my son has his bags packed for the orphanage and a copy of his last will and testament in his hands. Thus the short notice on the flu shot.

Well, I was shocked at the level of frenzy he managed to work himself into in a mere quarter of an hour. The wailing began before I even put the punctuation on the sentence telling him where we were going. By the time I wrangled him into the van, a la goat herder, he was acting crazy enough to qualify for government assistance. And this is the juncture where I should point out that his four year old twin sisters were fine. One of them was smiling and fairly pleased with the opportunity to get out of the house, the embodiment of “no fear”, and the other one was only concerned enough to have a slight chin quiver, but no actual resistance.

Fast forward fifteen ear-piercing minutes and we’re in the waiting room, garnering looks of pity from other patients who are just glad they don’t have whatever my son has, which unbeknownst to them is only a lethal case of trepidation. The nurse came and escorted us to the room in the back where the shots were going to be administered and that whole scene was like something straight out of Dead Man Walking or The Green Mile. Really, if for whatever horrible reason my son is ever sentenced to execution, I’m quite certain his walk to the death chamber won’t be any more terrifying than the 50 foot march he was subjected to yesterday.

Mom and I finally lost it when all three kids were lined up on the table awaiting the executioner. I was signing that release that asks if they’ve been sick in the last two weeks – No. If they’re allergic to chicken or eggs – No, though I’d love to see that validated by my son actually eating eggs. And the last question “Is anyone in the household pregnant?” – No, but, wait, what kind of shot poses a threat if just someone in the house is pregnant? Does the recipient of the shot emit some kind of harmful radiation post-injection? Is that why my son was frightened beyond words? I looked up and saw that my son had his fingers hooked on his bottom jaw, like he was auditioning for a Scooby-Doo movie and screaming like he was engulfed in flames. He wasn’t. He was however about to cause permanent hearing damage for everyone within a ten mile radius. Beside of him sat two little girls, all dressed in pink, swinging their feet back and forth and smiling while protecting their own ears by covering them with their little hands. I never have the video camera when I really need it.

The twins went first. One of them barely whimpered when they injected her because she’s made of tough stuff, possibly oxidized steel and duct tape. But, when they were done and it was Scooby’s turn, he started begging for his life, literally throwing himself on the mercy of the court. In the span of thirty seconds, he said the following: “Can I just come back tomorrow? I won’t do it! Get away from me!” and here’s where it took a dramatic turn “It’ll kill me! I’ll die!” Mom and I, not having access to horse tranquilizers or a straight jacket, had to restrain him with all of our strength while he got the shot. Which, for the record, is not the same as being shot, though he didn’t seem to grasp that.

When we got him off the table, he started limping out of the room. Full-on dead leg hobble, refusing to even set that foot on the ground. His sisters were giggling and racing out to the van. It was hilarious, even the nurse was laughing at that point.

I’m pretty sure I’ll just risk him getting the flu next year, unless a nurse can be dispatched to my home in the middle of night to administer the shot as he’s sleeping. And let me just say, he’s got nothing left in the reaction arsenal for when encounters an actual crisis. Broken bones, masked intruders, plagues of locusts; I won’t know. Because his screams and emotions couldn’t possibly be more potent than when he was six and got a flu shot. And I will be saving this story for when his younger sisters need to pull it out and level future playing fields.

1 comment:

  1. haha, that's great. Next time ask your pediatrician if they do the needle-less flu shot. You sniff it like nasal spray.