Tetanus and Whooping Cough

I saw my doctor for a physical last week. I was trying to take advantage of my insurance benefits while I still had them, not because I was ill. The nurse asked me when the last time I had a tetanus shot was, as they are supposed to be readministered every ten years. I couldn’t remember, so she looked it up. The last tetanus shot I had was in 1997, so I told her to go ahead and do it.

When she returned with the needle, she told me there was a second vaccine in the syringe. Pertussus (Whooping Cough) is apparently becoming a local issue. Adults don’t realize the vaccine wears off (like tetanus), then contract it and pass it on to children. Many children are never vaccinated against whooping cough, beacuse the parents choose not to. Children are more vulnerable and more likely to die from this infection than adults, and it is one of the most common vaccine-preventable causes of death in the world.

I said ok.

The nurse told me about the side effects: soreness, redness at the site of injection, may last a couple days. No big deal.

I said ok.

She gave me the shot.

The following day my arm hurt so bad. My entire upper arm was throbbing and shooting needles of pain down to my fingers. I could barely lift my arm. I could not lie on that side of my body (putting pressure on my upper arm). The discomfort was much worse than had been implied.

Perhaps now would be a good time to mention how strongly I react to chemicals in my body. The bottle of Advil says take two; I take one. Three glasses of wine, and I’m definitely not driving anywhere. A small palmfull of chocolate covered coffee beans gives me heart palpitations. I’m sure that I am smaller (probably by 50+ pounds) than the “average” test subject for the FDA.

On Saturday, boyfriend and I went to the high school regional basketball finals. The town he lives in, and the one that I grew up with a connection to, has been undefeated so far this season, usually by a margin of 20 or more points. The town they played in the finals are their number one rivals, the town I currently reside in, and the the only team to ever lose by less than ten points. It promised to be an exciting game.

Boyfriend was sitting to my left, and he kept nudging my left shoulder. It hurt every single time. At halftime I made him switch seats with me, telling him to feel free to bruise up the right arm and make them even.

Sunday, I woke up with a runny nose. Today, I woke up with a runny nose and a cough. Perhaps I contracted a cold/flu in that crowded gym on Saturday. But what if I didn’t?

What if I now have the early symptoms of whooping cough?

Boyfriend’s children are among those never vaccinated. My insurance benefits run out this week. This could be bad. Very bad.

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1 Response to “Tetanus and Whooping Cough”


  1. 1 MSeeker2 February 23, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    If it wasn’t for bad luck, you wouldn’t have any at all lady!!! Be well…


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