A low-productivity week, in many ways. A low-enjoyment week, too. The proximate cause? A shingles vaccine shot, part two.
I had the single-shot, pretty much side-effects-free version six years ago when I clocked 60. Offering about 50% protection, it didn’t prevent me from having a memorable-in-the-worst-sense attack, but my doctor believed that it likely reduced its severity.
So when she recommended the new vaccine — now offering closer to 90% protection — it was an easy decision for me. Of course I was in. Let’s not let that happen again.
In late September I confidently walked into my doctor’s office with the vaccine, part one. The first inkling of something being off was how much the shot hurt. Ow! And damn! Aggrieved, I rubbed my arm, but worse was to come. Two weeks of worse.
Severe lumbar pain, in a spot where my usual back problems don’t usually manifest. Nausea. Fatigue. Lethargy. Headaches. It was, I figured at the time, much like having a low-severity shingles attack, sans the blisters.
But the two weeks eventually passed, as did the two months until my next shot was scheduled. This time I was ready for the pain of the injection itself — sort of — but mostly I was anxious about the other side effects. Would I have dreadful back pain again? Nausea? Fatigue? Lethargy? Headaches?
No, no, yes, yes, and yes — plus a 24-hour bout of what could have passed for true influenza: aches all over, chills, and sleep disruptions.
Now, just a few days later, the side effects have cleared — Hurray! — leaving a few observations in their wake.
First, my initial attenuated shingles attack and my short-lived dark night of the flu were tiny indications of what it’s like to suffer with a painful and unfixable condition: the merest breath of a hint. Based on that, I can’t know what I’d decide for myself with respect to medically assisted dying under the right/wrong circumstances, and I sure don’t want to judge anyone else’s decision.
Second, I’m in awe of people who do hang on, and who also hang onto themselves as people and some joie de vivre while suffering from, dying from, painful and unfixable conditions.
Third, I sure hope that I’m on the right side of that 90/10 split.