A couple of weeks ago, I took my daughter to get her flu shot at our local, private clinic. They have those come-one, come-all express days, where you stand in a line, fill out a yellow sheet claiming crazy things like you’ve never been severely ill after the flu shot, you’re not allergic to eggs and you’ve never had Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Of course, I mark “no” on all and never give the list a second thought. Guillain-Barre has got to be pretty rare, right?
My daughter had a cold, so the nurse recommended I wait until it subsided. Rather than go home shot-less after waiting in line, I decided to get my flu shot. It wouldn’t hurt to have my daughter watch, to lessen her fear, I thought.
The next day, while talking to one of my friends, I asked if she had gone to get her flu shot yet. She said, “Oh, no, my husband’s aunt and so-and-so’s Dad (couldn’t hear exactly who she said because my heart was pounding too loud) both got Guillain-Barre after getting the flu shot. We got the shots the year before, but decided it was a bad idea after that.”
This was a perfectly innocent response that any sane person wouldn’t give a second thought to. Typically, the discussion would transition to another topic, instead of settling cozily into the person’s brain and chomping away at it…slowly. Well, the thought sat like a tapeworm in my mind.
This is one of those cases, where you mention an odd stomach cramp to someone and they tell you a horror story about how their friend went to the doctor for stomach cramps, they did a CT scan and they ended up with terminal, stomach cancer. The kind of story that ends with, “you should really get that checked out.” You go home, guzzle a glass of wine and contemplate what the eulogy will be like at your funeral. Okay, maybe that’s just me.
Or, one of those cases where you’re about to board a small, 30-seat plane, you mention that you’re terrified of small planes and the stranger next to you shares the story of a recent plane crash that had no survivors. Only, this time, I couldn’t turn back. I already had the flu shot and my husband repeatedly informed me that I’m certifiably nuts for even worrying about it. And, that no one else would dive so deeply into hypochondria after that conversation.
Two weeks passed and I finally realized that my toes were not going numb, so it was time to get my daughter’s flu shot. She had no cold. She had no fever. We probably only had a small three-day, healthy window, due to her petri dish…uh, I mean, preschool.
I wanted to prepare her, so I announced that after piano we would go to get her flu shot and then come home and have chocolate chip muffins. She of course responded the exact opposite of my prediction. “Yay! I’m going to get a flu shot! I’m going to get a Band-Aid! Yay!”
No, she’s not a masochist. She’s obsessed with Band-Aids and wanted to show it to her dad after he came home. I was convinced that she had no idea what she was getting herself into, but I figured I would go with it because it involved no kicking, screaming, dragging or further bribing.
After piano, we went to the doctor’s office, filled out the yellow sheet that revived my fear of the Guillain-Barre Syndrome as I checked the box. The image of my husband defining me as certifiable set me straight. My daughter getting a shot is worse than getting an IV put in me and the nurse missing five times. Watching my Babyface go through pain is far worse than anything that could be inflicted on me.
The nurse took us into an exam room. The syringe sat on the counter waiting to pierce a loud cry out of my daughter. She sat on my lap, as I rolled up her sleeve. I held her arm in place, in case she moved quickly. Before I could even turn away, the nurse said, “okay, all done.”
Huh? There was no cry. She didn’t even budge. “Yay! Look at my Band-Aid, Mommy. Mommy, I’m The Brave One. Mommy, I’m The Brave One. I didn’t cry like that other big girl outside. I don’t need to get it in my nose (Tamiflu), like that really big girl outside. She was a crybaby. I’m The Brave One!”
All afternoon, she kept her sleeve rolled up and smiled every time she looked at the Band-Aid. We even had to do a Skype call with Daddy, so she could show it off. She loves Band-Aids and I’m pretty sure we’re going to have to fight tooth and nail to take this one off. After all, it’s a reminder that she’s The Brave One.