The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

I never thought the day would come when I would look forward to a shot. Hold on – let me clarify that. I never thought the day would come when I would look forward to an injection. Shots? Many were the times during the working years when a string of time sucking, worthless meetings would have me looking forward to a healthy shot of Maker’s Mark at day’s end – and I didn’t wait four weeks for a second shot.     

I’ve dreaded injections since my childhood. I went through an annual fit of terror at the approach of my birthday. Not because I didn’t like presents or cake drowning in buttercream, but because my birthday signaled my yearly physical and the possibility of having to get a vaccination.
“Am I going to get a shot?” I asked my mom in fearful tones as we drove to the doctor’s office.
“Am I going to get a shot?” I asked the nurse as she led the way to an exam room that reeked of alcohol (isopropyl – just to clarify).
“Am I going to get a shot?” I asked the doctor the moment he entered the room.
They all managed to dodge the question in ways that would make a senator look like a piker in the arts of deflection and circumvention. The equivocating ended at the conclusion of the exam when the doctor issued his sentence; shot or one year of probation.

Why the terror? Well, they hurt. The polio vaccine was an injection of napalm. God that shit burned. And then there was the whole visual.  Anyone who received an injection in the 1950s certainly remembers the big glass vials that have since been replaced by slim plastic vials. The needles of the day resembled small sections of pointy rebar.

There was the whole preparation thing. Today many of the syringes come dosed and all ready to go. Back in the medieval fifties you got to watch the prep work; drawing the fluid into the club sized syringe, the clearing of air out of the vial, with a “clink-clink” of a fingernail tapping glass and the ejaculation of fluid from the big needle. For a kid it was like watching the executioner sharpening his ax.

Now everyone wants a shot – a COVID shot. Well, almost everyone. I haven’t included the traditional anti-vaxxers, flat earthers and conspiracy theorists. For the rest of us though the COVID shot is the medicinal version of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. I received my golden ticket (the Moderna flavor) this morning. There were no oompa loompas, but plenty of medical personnel giving shots, checking blood pressure, giving post injection instructions and shuttling dosages of that golden serum from a storeroom to the injection room.

I arrived late to the Kaiser Medical Center in Vallejo, where I was stopped at the now common front door checkpoint. This is where everyone is subject to a short interrogation.  I was asked about my current state of health and then asked why I wanted to enter the building. Satisfied that I wasn’t bearing germs or nefarious purposes, the young woman directed me to the second floor, where some conference rooms had been turned into the COVID-19 vaccine injection center.

A second checkpoint was in the second floor hallway where I was asked again about my constitution (as if I’d lied at the first guardhouse or suddenly taken ill between floors) and then registered for my shot. The receptionist asked about my previous reactions to medicines and shots. I resisted the urge to mention that shots scare the shit out of me. You see, I have a policy of not being a wise guy when addressing people who wield needles, scalpels and dental instruments or people who work with people who wield needles, scalpels and dental instruments.

I was handed an official CDC, COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card that has my name, date of birth, date of injection, vaccine manufacturer and lot number. With check in completed, I was directed to a chair in the hallway to wait for my poke.

It was a short wait, not even time enough to open up my Kindle app. I feel for the folks who are sitting in long lines of cars to be jabbed while sitting in the driver’s seat by a curative version of a carhop; would you like a side of onion rings or a root beer float to go with your shot?

I was ushered into one of the conference rooms where I received the injection and then directed back to the hallway to wait to get my appointment for shot number two. This was also the observation period to make sure that I wouldn’t turn into a werewolf or start speaking in tongues. It was a long wait but I wasn’t in any particular hurry. If my throat was going to close down to the size of a pinhole, all the better in a hospital than in my car on Highway 80.

It’s early evening. My arm hurts and I’m continually moving it, as instructed by a nurse friend. I’m not worried about the arm but I am wondering if I’m going to get the more dreaded side effects; fever, nausea, the runs – German Shepherd snout. Earlier in the week my doctor told me her horror story of the side effects she’d suffered, diarrhea being the worst. On my way home I stopped at the store to pick up Jell-O, Gatorade, and bananas just in case I get the squirts.

When I first got back home Cora kept asking me if I was okay, bless her heart. “Are you going to ask me every half hour how I’m doing?”

I’m not particularly worried about long term side effects. I guess that ship has sailed anyway, hasn’t it. I’ve no concerns about turning into a George Soros zombie or getting an unwanted erection every time I pass a 5G tower. I’ve put my faith in science or as Samantha Bee so eloquently put it, “Who are you going to believe? Leading authorities on medical science, or 800 memes on your cousin’s Facebook page?”

As I got my second shot appointment I was admonished to take good care of my official CDC, COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card (I sort of wish it had Doctor Fauci’s signature on it). My understanding is that it’s going to be a sort of auxiliary passport if I want to fly overseas. It’s reminiscent of my childhood when flying to Europe required proof of a smallpox vaccination. That vaccination left a more permanent form of proof; a dime sized scar at the injection site.

I’ve put my official CDC, COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card where I keep other valuables; a wooden box with some baseball cards, my passport, a fishing license, gift cards from Bass Pro Shop and AMC theatres, some silver dollars and old love letters from Cora and a couple of old girlfriends.

18 thoughts on “First Shot

  1. Hettie D. says:


    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you Hettie!

  2. eden baylee says:

    Whoop! You got the shot, and you live to write about it!

    Unlike you, I’m completely unafraid of shots. High pain tolerance, no fear of blood, and a general morbid curiosity of needles.

    Happy you got jabbed, Paul. Hope any ill effects can be easily dulled by a shot of Maker’s Mark.


    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you Eden.
      My needle tolerance has improved since I went on blood thinners and have to get a blood draw done every month or so.
      You should have seen it when I first started blood thinners. I had to give myself shots of Lovenox in my abdomen for a week. It was a twice a day drama.

      1. eden baylee says:

        Yikes! Having blood drawn has always been an ordeal for me, but even more so for the care worker(s). Blame it on my invisible veins. I wrote about it in a post some years back about being gang-poked!

        Hope you’re good and healthy now as you await your second shot.

        1. Paulie says:

          My wife is the same. She comes out of a blood draw with a massive bruise. I have veins like ropes.
          I did have one episode in which I walked into the lab and saw a phlebotomist who looked like a heavyweight wrestler with gigantic hands. I sat down, closed my eyes and waited to bleed out. Turned out he had the softest touch. Didn’t know he’d done the deed until he told me.

  3. Jane Fritz says:

    Wow, congrats, Paulie! And … a couple of old girlfriends??!!

    1. Paulie says:

      Thanks Jane.
      Yeah, don’t tell my wife. I’m trying to keep it a secret. 😉

      1. Jane Fritz says:

        😂😂 Not to worry. You’re secret’s safe with me!

        1. Paulie says:

          You’re the best.

  4. Steve johnson says:

    The real question is: where is this drive thru vaccination line that offers the root beer floats? I want that medical plan!

    1. Paulie says:

      That’s the A&W medical plan. The catch is you get your injection from a high school girl on roller skates.

  5. We are part of a lottery system in our county, registered 2 weeks ago. All counties are different and if you so choose you can register in an many as you want. Which in its self only adds to the frustration and is time consuming for the workers who are making the calls. Officials have finally announced only residents are eligible after numerous people have flown in “On Vacation” to get their shots. Why it takes our government officials so long to figure it all out is crazy. They certainly have had plenty of time. Plus all nursing home residents still have not been vaccinated. The paper this morning said only 39% of assisted living facilities had begun vaccinations.

    1. Paulie says:

      Good morning Carolyn
      I heard about the vax vacations to Florida and was thunderstruck. I’m hoping that the Biden Admin. will get a better handle on this. The previous guy didn’t seem to be interested.
      In California they are asking retired nurses to come back just to give shots but it seems to me thare are so many other options; dentists, veterinarians, EMTs, military personnel with medical occupation specialties. There are recording and admin functions that go along with giving the shots; military and qualified retirees.
      I lucked into getting on the list before Kaiser closed off the 65 – 75 year olds.
      Right now I don’t feel any different then when I got my flu shot.
      Wishing you the best.

  6. I can’t wait! Registration is next Monday. Vermont is on top of the Q&A issue–No point in staying up ’till one minute after midnight to jump the line later in the day. Pfizer vaccine here–we can compare notes!
    No needle nausea here–I gave enough of them to my 4 legged patients over the years.

    1. Paulie says:

      My terror has pretty much subsided with age. I have to get a blood draw every month or so, so I’ve gotten more accustomed to needles. That said a good phlebotomist can do his/her work and you don’t even realize it.

  7. IV WORDS says:

    Well done, man. Shots have never bothered me – in fact, I like to watch the needle to in – but one of my daughters is terrified of them. All in all, I think it’s a healthy fear. One should be concerned about being stabbed for anything, regardless of how big the blade is. Anyway, Kudos.

    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you. That concern is sort of behind my policy of not pissing off medicos who wield sharp objects and drills.
      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

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