Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Swine Flu? Not with these kids. Hopefully.

Getting the Swine flu vaccine for my kids?

Done and done.

I have checked it off my list with much exuberance and much flair. Picture me whooshing a check mark sign through the air.

That's how happy I am that my kids have gotten the vaccine.

The whole ordeal was only fraught with only the tiniest hint of drama. You know, because that's how I roll. I brings the drama where I goes. Yes, I complain that I can't handle all the drama in my life, but I think that I secretly like it a little bit. Drama and I are kind of buds. But shhhh...don't tell anyone.

So Sunday afternoon, at about 4:05, my friend and wonderful neighbor Kirsten called me and said, "Do you guys still need the swine flu vaccine? Because we just left the high school, and they're doing vaccines there. There was no one there, and we were in and out in about 10 minutes. It was so easy! You should go!"

You guys, let me tell you. I can get this family out the door fast. But seriously. This was like Road Runner from Bugs Bunny fast. All I heard Kirsten say was, "Swine flu vaccine...only took 10 minutes...no people there...go," and I was off and running like my legs were on fire. Charlie was resting on the family room couch watching the Disney Channel, wearing just a pair of boxers and a t-shirt. (Boys, why do you hate pants so much? What do you have against them?) I quickly ran to his bedroom, grabbed a pair of blue sweat pants, leaned over the upstairs railing and threw them down to him, and said, "HURRY UP! WE GOTTA GO! LET'S MOVE IT PEOPLE! GO GO GO!"

"Where are we going Mom?" asked Charlie.

Oh crap. How am I going to motivate them to move their little butts fast? "Hey kids! It's shot time!" was not going to work.

"We have to go to the high school. They have a swine flu vaccine, and I want you guys to get it so you don't get sick. But it's the Flu Mist one and not the shot, so let's go really quickly!"

I had no idea if they had the Flu Mist or not. I lied directly to their little faces. But I needed their butts in their car seats. Like ASAP. And they liked the Flu Mist when they got it for their regular flu shot because it was painless. If the shot was the only thing available when I got there, I would just cross that bridge when I came to it. And by "crossing that bridge," I mean that it would somehow involve us bribing them with McDonald's milkshakes immediately following said shots.

Henry was playing Lego, and he ran to his car seat. Check. Charlie threw on his pants and shoes and ambled over to the minivan. Check. Annabel was sound asleep, taking a peaceful nap, and I literally ripped her out of her crib, popped her Crocs on her feet, and put her in her car seat, as she gave me a sweet little, "Huh? Mom, why you gotta bust into my sleepytime?" face. Check.

Bill and George were at Home Depot buying a patch for the bedroom wall, (see yesterday's blog entry for the details on that) and I called him as I rolled down the driveway and said out of breath, "Quick!...(pant)...Kirsten called...(pant)...meet me at the high school...(pant)...and get Swine Flu vaccine...(pant) for the kids...(pant)"

All four kids ready.

"Mom, doesn't the speed limit say 25?" Charlie chirped as I drove 35...okay...45...to the high school, which is about a mile from our house.

Sheesh. These kids and their number-reading skills. That'll be enough of that.

I just had a feeling that the clinic would be closing soon, and I wanted to get them there in time.

As I pulled into the parking lot of the high school, which is about ten times larger than the Mall of America, (could these brand-new public high schools be any bigger?) I finally found the right parking lot.

My heart dropped a bit as I saw the county health workers putting coolers and chairs into their cars.

Too late.

But still determined.

I pulled my car up to a thirtysomething guy who had a county health badge on, and I asked him dejectedly, "Is this clinic all done for the day?"

"Yes ma'am. But we'll be doing another one soon."

Ma'am? Ma'am? I did not bring my grandmother with me. I know my hair is in a haphazard ponytail, and I'm in my ultra-sexy (read: frumpy) sweatsuit, but there will be none of that. Ma'am indeed.

Unless he had the "goods". Then he can call me "Mister" for all I care.

"Oh! I'm so mad that I missed it! Did you run out of shots today?" I asked, still out of breath.

Need I mention that I kind of curled my lip in a cute little pout? Seriously. I was flirting with the health care worker. Alas, my feminine wiles and charms were lost on this poor soul who just wanted to get home after a long day of sticking screaming kids in their arms and up their noses.

He answered, "No, we still have shots left over, but you'll have to come to the next clinic."

I was thisclose to asking him if he would just stick my kids in the arms right there in the parking lot. But people, although I may be harried and desperate, I still have my dignity.

And back alley drug deals that involve Swine Flu vaccines are where I draw the line.

Well, not really. Who am I kidding? Just say the word and I'm all, "Hey kids! Roll up those sleeves!"

I opened my mouth to beg, but I snapped out of it and instead asked him when the next clinic would take place.

"Not sure. Just check the internet."

The internet? Never heard of it.

I sensed that someone was trying to get rid of the Crazy Minivan Mom.

I called Bill and told him to meet me at home instead.

Now I know how all those loony parents felt like back in the '80s when they were trying to get Cabbage Patch Dolls for their kids. Long lines and shortages. Doing anything to get the goods for their kids.

Chew on that analogy for a little while. I know I'm farfetched sometimes, but connecting Cabbage Patch dolls from the 1980s to Swine Flu vaccines from 2009? That's quite the stretch. Even for me.

I know there is controversy over this vaccine. I have read as much as I can about it. I know the pros and the cons. I'm not telling people what to do for their own kids. I just know that I wanted it for my kids. Plenty of people are surviving the Swine Flu. But I trust my doctors, and the medical community in general, even if they don't have all the definitive answers. The risks are too great. Besides, I would hate myself for exactly forever plus one day if I could get the vaccine for my kids, decided against it, and one of them and was hospitalized with Swine Flu, and even worse, died of it.

We hate making these tough decisions as parents. But we try our best.

And hope for the best.

My mother-in-law is undergoing chemo and thus has a compromised immune system. I can't promise her that my kids won't get her sick, but at least now I can promise that they won't infect her with Swine Flu. The kids can now also hang with their brand-new cousin Maxwell with much less fear. So far, they have only been able to meet him through the glass storm door at Aunt Cettie's house. It's like he's the boy in the bubble.

George said, "So now we don't have to wash our hands all the time?"

Um, no George. We're still scrubbing those mitts regularly.

The part of this story where we actually end up getting the shot was particularly easy and drama-free. Kind of. Like I said, I brings the drama where I goes.

Yesterday after school I took them to a clinic downtown at the local science center. I filled their bellies with McDonald's before heading down there, and prepared for a long wait. Needless to say, I was daunted by the sight of HUNDREDS of people. HUNDREDS.

The workers led us through a maze and I thought to myself, "Huh. This isn't so bad." Not so bad, that is, until we got to a huge, empty exhibit hall and followed the ropes. It was like Disney World. But without the fun rides and Mickey Mouse. But with the long lines. And when we reached the end of the line, the kids didn't get to hop on Thunder Mountain Railroad.

But surprisingly, that line moved quite rapidly. We really never stopped walking the whole time. As a parent, I was impressed. I was very impressed in my children's behavior, because there were so many people and things to look at that my kids didn't have time to get bored and whine. I was also impressed with the whole process. The staff was very helpful.

Thank you, Columbus Health Department, for being so organized and helping to make a stressful experience into a painless one. Well, except for the shot part.

And of course, all my kids qualified for the Flu Mist. Except for...drumroll...George. (He got a bunch of booster vaccines at his 5-year checkup two weeks ago, and they didn't think it was safe to also inject him with the Flu Mist.) Did you read my entry a few days ago about how George feels about medicine, and especially shots? You can refresh your memory here.

George was fine until we got to the vaccine room with nurses sitting at long tables, ready to administer vaccines, and then he clamped his arms around my left thigh with a firm hug and started trembling. Then he proceeded to wail.

He still thought he was getting the Flu Mist at this point. I had left out the little detail that he was getting a shot. Is there ever a good time to tell your kid that he's getting a shot? Especially my George?


"It's okay sweetie. Mommy is here, and I'll hold you the whole time. But sweetie, they have to do a shot on you instead."

Suddenly the Flu Mist nose thingy was looking better to him.


How quickly he changed his mind.

Annabel started crying. And so did about five other kids nearby who suddenly realized, thanks to George, that scary things happened in this room.

I held him in my lap facing forward, hugged him in a vice grip, another nurse held his legs so he couldn't kick and get away, and another nurse stuck him in the arm with the needle.

George wailed like a banshee the entire time. Poor guy.

When it was all over, his banshee-scream quieted to a dull cry. Then it disappeared altogether as he decided that he had bragging rights over his brothers. Tough guys get shots and live to tell about it. "Babies get the Flu Mist up their noses," he told them.

I'm staying out of this one.

I'm just glad this ordeal is done.

Until the next drama.

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