When it comes to shots, I am a large baby trapped in a 28 year olds body. Days before a scheduled appointment, I imagine the painful prick of the needle entering my skin over and over again. I can almost feel the aching throb in my arm and the uselessness of its dexterity. I remember asking my mother once when I was a little girl if they gave her shots when she gave birth to me. She said yes but that she was glad for the shot by the time the doctors offered it. Horrified, I let her know that thanks to this new information, I would never get pregnant. Please think about this for a moment. To younger me, getting a shot was worse than forcibly pushing an infant through my vaginal cavity. Clearly, I was a naive and misguided little soul. Shout out to my mom for not laughing me out of the room for that one.
I have feared needles for as long as I can remember and the fact that I would need shots to travel to Ghana terrified me. Google searches insisted I get Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hep A, Hep B, Meningitis, Tetanus, Rabies?! Wait what!?! I stopped self prescribing shortly after because my mind drifted to rabid elephants and things took a dark turn.
I trudged into the Adult Immunization Center with feelings of regret and despair, similar to a morning-after in Vegas. I filled out forms slowly, hoping that my lethargic movements would forfeit the appointment and I simply would not have enough time to be poked with sharp metal. Unfortunately for me, the office was as efficient as a Japanese car factory and soon I was sitting in front of a perky doctor describing my personal history of risky behaviors. On the outside I was doing well, smiling genially and answering all of the doctor’s questions. The real me scanned the small space for the needle that was going to violate me 6 ways til sunday. After a long warning about bleeding out of orifices and other horrors too terrible to be mentioned, we agreed I would need three shots, all of which were going in my left arm. I had plans to go to a cheese making class that evening and I did not need two gimp arms when adding cream to Mozzarella cheese curds.
The doctor starts prepping her station, pulling small jars of mystery diseases to be injected into my perfectly healthy body. In a moment of blind panic, I stuck a blue raspberry lollipop in my mouth like a mischievous four year old at a carnival. Sadly, the lolly did not bring me as much comfort as I would have liked. I debated between backing out of traveling altogether or lying about getting my vaccines. Heck, no one would notice!
(This selfie is right around rock bottom. Please note the wallowing self-pity in my eyes.)
As the doctor disinfects my arm, my heart starts pounding like Channing Tatum just walked in the room. Sweat pools into my cleavage like the Hoover Dam. (Ladies you KNOW what I’m talking about.) I beg the Doctor to talk to me, tell me anything to distract me from the inevitable. She asks me what I had for lunch and shoves the first needle into my arm so effortlessly that I turned to ask her if she started. Before my neck has finished this 45 degree turn she shoves the second and then the third needle in shaking the skin. In open-mouth bewilderment, I can only utter “you’re a shot ninja” before she’s done wiping me down and bandaging me up. I am so amazed that this process is already over that I want to kiss her on the mouth and tell her she’s pretty. Lucky for her, I hold back for I am still chewing the remnants of a blue lolly. Unsure of what just happened, I stumble excitedly out of the clinic like a blind person who saw a rainbow for the first time. Thanks to this experience, I am not only immune to all diseases*, but I will never again fear shots the same way I did before. It was a pleasant reminder that sweating the small stuff is an incredible waste of time.
Life Discovery Lesson #2: Anticipation is often times far worse than reality.
* This is a gross exaggeration.