Vaccination blues

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Last year, the thin needle neared my bared arm as the nurse cooed and whispered to me as if I were a child, “This won’t hurt a bit.”

Sure enough, no pain was felt and in fact, I didn’t even know she had finished injecting me with the vaccine. I waited around for a quarter hour in case of an allergic reaction. The clocked ticked so slowly that I thought I had some kind of slow-motion reaction. But no, it was just that there wasn’t any second hand on the big clock on the wall of the store, where I got caught trying to avoid my annual flu shot by crafty nurses. Other brave men lined up behind me as they waited for the same symptoms to show up. After 15 minutes, we were allowed to go as no one was foaming at the mouth or had broken into a feverish sweat. Later on though, my arm felt like it was hit with a hot iron and I couldn’t even lift my hand to use a bingo dabber. I was useless.

Several months later, I came down with a terrible flu that lasted for days. For a while, I thought I was rabid because of all the infected foxes and dogs, but nope, it was just the flu. I’m a brave man, but not when it comes to skull-pounding headaches, aching bones that hurt every time I changed TV channel, and noises that sounded like the aftermath of a sonic boom. Not to mention the blurry vision that even clean glasses could help peer through the fog in my brain and the consistent coughing that tired my chest and stomach muscles.

Later in the spring, I got another flu-like cold that I couldn’t shake. I was away at camp and couldn’t get any treatment. When I finally flew back home, I headed to the clinic, where I was immediately given two types of antibiotics, cough suppressants, headache pills and two types of puffers. A week later, I was cured. Ahhh, the taste of fresh air, the odours that I couldn’t smell before, all my senses were back in working order. Food finally looked appealing enough to consume without heading to the washroom.

Thinking back, I wished that I could have had a hit of good old tamarac juice, a natural cure for many ailments. I learnt this on one of my many forays into the wild hinterland of the north, filming with the great videographer Neil Diamond. I worked as the soundman, mechanic, driver, pyrotechnics, special-effects generator and just about everything else, except for calling out “Cut!” I was down with a nasty cough that just wouldn’t go away and it started affecting my high level of performance, which was constantly demanded of me by the finger-pointing director. Since we were working on a segment that dealt with natural medicines that came from the land, I became the patient too. Two tablespoons of tamarac juice and 15 minutes later, I was cured, never having a cold or flu for many years afterwards.

This fall, during the time that the flu shots were being given to just about everyone, I missed my chance to get my annual injection. Today, I’ve got one mean SOB man flu. This one didn’t creep up on me or take its time to settle in and ravage my system. This time it hit me within a few hours, quickly turning into a full-blown body ache and jackhammer brain pain that intensified with every cough. I’m wondering if I will make it through this time without having to be medevaced out with the “Legionnaires SARS swine avian” flu. Perhaps a sample of my blood might be used for the next production for weapons of mass destruction or better still as the ultimate base for inoculating the world and making it disease-free. Flu shot or no flu shot, I shall sneeze on and use up every tissue in town until I get my tamarac juice cure again.

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