Monday, November 13, 2006

When The Flu Flew Out The Flue

So, what torturous maladies have I recently inflicted on my poor children in the interest of public health and their own well being during this flu season? That’s right, it’s flu shot day here at our house, and I and the brood trekked down to our local Kaiser, a communistic healthcare program if there ever was one, and stood in the soup line for our annual poke in the to the masses.

No, you can’t just tell your weary-eyed children that you plan to give them a shot, and you can’t even say the word “S-H-O-T” in front of Natalie without her bursting into tears and a tirade on how she’d rather skim down a metal playground slide at noon in 100-degree weather buck naked than get a flu shot in the arm. The ruse began early. We started the day at the bookstore, where nary a word about shots was mentioned, so much so, that we avoided the cannonball section (not to mention the mixed drinks books) and concentrated on listening to StoryTime, a weekly read-along hosted by one of the Barnes and Noble’s staff members. Last week, she declared us “regulars,” which is not unlike a group of people calling out “Norm!” when you walk in the room.

Today’s keynote speaker was Arthur, a round-headed something-er-rather (aardvark perhaps) who is a children’s book character of some kind. He bound on stage… excuse me, it was clearly a woman in the suit, and if they had a “comment/suggestion” box, I would note that they should use a less busty woman to play the role of a children’s character. I could understand it if it was Maisy or Blue (from Blue’s Clues), but really.

Not surprisingly, Matty decided he’d had enough of Arthur, and he gave me the international symbol for “I want to leave this place now.” He pooped. Great, well, despite the occasional grunt, he was quiet about it at least. Why does he always download some software at the bookstore; I get it every time. Right then, Natalie decided that seeing a giant aardvark in real life wasn’t as much fun as she thought it was going to be and wanted to leave as well (After all, according to the ABC website: “Arthur is an 8 year old aardvark who guides us through energetic, emotional stories about growing up” and we are hardly their demographic. Plus, she too had to go to the bathroom.

With both of them taken care of (I changed Matty in the truck), I looked at my watch. It was 10:45, and the flu shots were given out until 11:30, so we had some time to kill and I needed to sweeten the pot a little. I suggested, with uncharacteristic enthusiasm I was sure she was going to see right through, that we go get a purple balloon at the Party Store. Natalie’s eyes brightened, and I suddenly felt bad for setting her up for a big fall. Matthew not so much, as he doesn’t know what’s coming, and seeing the medical building doesn’t yet strike fear in his heart as it does Natalie’s.

Balloon in hand, I got everyone back in the truck, and I broke out the Tylenol bottles, infant for him toddler for her. Kara gave me explicit instructions to give them their dosages right before we went for the shots, and I didn’t want to forget, so I wrote their names and how much on the bottle.

The jig was up. As I doled out Natalie’s portion into a spoon, she asked, “Daddy, why are you giving us this?” She was on to me, and since I didn’t want to lie to them when that lie would be obviously not true minutes later, I had to tell them. At first, Natalie was okay with it. She said she wanted to go home, and I told her that if she was a big girl, we could come back to Target and pick out a treat…anything she wanted (After saying that, I feared she would pick this, something we saw a couple of weeks ago).

Once inside Kaiser, it didn’t initially go well. She knew what we were in for, and she wasn’t going to have any of it, no doctor was going to stick her in the arm, not without a fight at least. I had to pick her up and have the “bravery” talk, to which she didn’t immediately subscribe, and it was nice to hear that sisterly love goes flying out the window and she would sooner throw her brother under the wheels of a truck than take one for the team. “Matthew goes first,” became her motto. “Make Matthew go first.”

And he did go first. I thought he would explode into fits of tears—who wants a needle in the leg—but, surprisingly, he took it like a man: He cried out once and then got over it. All the while, Natalie’s backing towards the door, small steps in the hopes that I wouldn’t notice her duck out, but when it became her turn, she poured on the waterworks. I held her, and she cried over and over, “I want to go home now. I want mommy.”

It was over in a blink of an eye. She got a little band aid and a big red sticker that says “Flu Fighter” on it, and at least her manners weren’t in pain because she said, “thank you,” through the tears.

By the time we were back in the truck, I was extolling her with all kinds of praises, how brave she had been, how much of a big girl she was and how proud I was of her, but she felt a little better when I told her that Matthew has to come back for another shot in a month but she was done for the whole year.

I asked her if she wanted to go back to Target and pick out anything she wanted as a treat, In a small voice, she answered, “No.”

Do you want to go to Wendy’s and get some chicken nuggets and orange slices. “No.”

I looked back and she had pulled her right arm into her shirt sleeve and had it resting across her stomach like a sling. Eyes red, nose dripping, mouth turned down.

“What would you like Natalie?” I asked her. “If you could have anything at all, what would it be?”

She thought for a moment and then replied… nay, demanded but still in that hurt voice of sadness and pain, “Vanilla ice cream from Old Mac Donald’s,” which McDonald’s. Easy enough, ice cream before lunch… Father of the Year, here I come. I managed to convince her to also get some chick McNuggets, but she ate the ice cream on the way home.

Forty minutes later, everyone passed out, Gnat on the couch and Matty in his crib, and when I came down stairs almost four hours later, Natalie had fallen off the couch—still asleep mind you—and was laying in a heap on the floor. By then Matthew had woken up and was terrorizing the toy section of the bonus room (lead picture) while we watched “To Have and Have Not.”

It was a nice afternoon, so much so, that I wish flu shots were everyday. And, you may be wondering, but no, I didn't get one for myself...I'm not going to have some doctor stick me in the arm!

For additional reading material apt to this subject, check out this book I read last year. Long winded, but Barry tells quite the tale of desperation and illness.

1 comment:

Le Anne said...

Ryan, I like the new look of your page.
Le Anne


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