Tuesday, October 13, 2009

'I've got a fever, and the only prescription is...'

NOT A FLU SHOT.

Ok. I don't have a fever and I'm not sick. Neither is my wife. But it's only October and the Regular Flu Season is just setting its eyes on us susceptible diabetics. Not to mention all the worry out there about the ever-looming Swine Flu... Plus, two of my co-workers are out sick today and several others I associate with for work are also down under the weather somewhere.

This comes about a week after the panic-stricken schools in Central Indiana sent as many kids home as possible, even those who weren't obviously sick, and thereby infected the rest of the human population outside the school walls. (Thanks, kiddies, thanks.)

So, the question arises: Do I need a flu shot this year? If so, am I going to get one?

It's a topic I mull each year, and typically reach the same conclusion (at least for a majority of years in the past decade): No. There isn't a need.

No, this isn't proven. It's simply my journalist-inspired skeptism of anything that claims to be good for you. Really, I'm taking the lead on this from Mel Gibson from the movie Conspiracy Theories, which also coincides with my fascination of anything Julia Roberts... But, I digress.

Back to the flu shot dilemma. I didn't get one last year, but did the year before. It's scattered before then, and mostly since turning 18 and the decision-making was left mostly up to me. In the college years, I went with the doc's recommendations and usually got them and only slacked a few times. But in the past five, since departing beloved Michigan and moving to Indianapolis, I haven't embraced consistency.

For one, the notion of injecting a virus, whether it be alive or dead, doesn't bode well in my mind. (Injections are the dead versions; the nasal spray versions apparently have live strains). Images of Aliens and all those zombie and Outbreak-type movies come to mind. Right, if I'm someone with a weaker-than-normal immune system and I'm trying to avoid getting sick, the first thing I want to do is inject a live and kicking virus into my blood and give it the means to grow.... Sure. Sounds great.

But practically, aside from the groundless fears and conspiracy theories, there's debate about all of this and the pros and cons of vaccinations in general. So I do wonder... In the years I haven't gotten the shots, I can't say I've been struck down because of any illness, let alone the flu. Those times I was sidelines because of illness can be attributed to diabetes (mis)management, dental nightmares, and other non-flu reasons. If there's no need, why bother? I'm sure my family doc and endo can sing the reasons, and that's not necessarily something to ignore. So, I may lean in the direction of getting one this year.

Of course, part of that decision comes as we navigate the Swine Flu Carnival Ride taking its toll throughout the nation. My wife tells me that two of her co-workers' family members have come down with it, and so it might be worthwhile to consider this. The research goes on. A root canal is coming early Wednesday, and so in prepping I am hopped up on antibiotics 4 times a day until gone - likely a week or so. The doc's office nurse hasn't yet returned my call asking about this wrinkle, and whether it should delay and flu shot receipt, but we'll see.

Hopefully, no illness will surface this season. Then again, if it does, I can always fall back on my movie quotes: "I've got a fever, and the only prescription is MORE COWBELL."

(Thanks for the healthy tip, Bruce Dickinson - it beats any shot, and the laughter may be a better remedy than anything else. With the help of Vitamin C, of course!)

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