Virulent Happiness

It was time.

Not time to watch a television show or make dinner or sing several songs in the key of “E”.  No, it was time to get flu shots.  All of us.

Now, before the anti-vaccination people get all over my case, I’ve made my position clear – I do it.  I have spread out the injections to lessen the toll it takes on little bodies, but I do it.  The alternative is what we dealt with when I was too late to get my daughter, Hannah, the booster shot for Whooping Cough.  Then she caught it and was sick, coughing, hacking, throwing up from the excessive coughing, for months.  That’s just whooping cough.  I imagined what the rest were like, TB, Polio, Mumps, Measles . . . and I immediately made sure they all had their boosters.  That included the meningitis shot for my oldest who was about to head off to college.

So I took the kids to get their shots.  Thimerisol-free ones for the kids and regular ones for me and my oldest.  Not a big deal.

Still, the little ones, the twins, were worried.  Their middle sister was, too, though she wouldn’t admit it.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not the most sympathetic of characters when it comes to this and the kids aren’t always happy about that.  As a little kid I had asthma.  Now, when you hear that today you think “oh, he had asthma.”  When I was a kid, though, the disease wasn’t prevalent at all.  In fact, it was a rarity and I was in pretty bad shape.  The doctor I saw was on the forefront of research for the disease and he had it himself.  He developed treatments and medications himself, too.  So when I was 5-years-old I was in the hospital for testing and they drew blood several times a day and I got shots and I was in a bed in a room I didn’t know.  Years later I made monthly trips to a clinic in South Dakota to get allergy shots.  You’ll notice the plural there, not the singular.

My point here is twofold: one, I’m not overly sympathetic to my kids being scared of the needles, even though I should be.  Second, I’m alive because of modern medicine, vaccines, medications and all of it.  Do I trust doctors and the hospitals and drug companies to do everything right and have my best interests at heart?  No!  But I also pick and choose my people and everyone I associate with carefully so that I do trust them.

But we went to the pharmacy and got our flu shots.  Influenza A and B and H1N1.  Half my workplace has called out sick this week and I decided it was time to ensure my kids weren’t the cause of a sick call.

But it was what happened while we were there that was more important.

Sure, this could have been a painful and disappointing experience but instead we joked around.  In nervous energy the boys were picking on their sister and their older sister was chastising them because it was driving her crazy.  But then she’d poke fun at her sister, too.  We had a gift card to eat at IHOP so we used it . . . and went there smiling.

It was a day like any other from the outside, but since my oldest heads back to college in two days for me it was a chance to spend some time and enjoy ourselves.  We ate, joked, poked fun at each other and nobody remembered the little pinch that hurt their arm a few minutes ago.

When I tucked them all in there were smiles on their faces.  Who knew responsibility could breed happiness like that?

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