When queried about my intent to get the flu shot, I delivered an impassioned speech in the teachers' lounge addressing why average adults and children need not. "Flu shots," I announced to the huddled mass before me, "are for the very young, the very old, the weak, the infirm, and the immune compromised. The media works its audience into a salivating frenzy over dangers of the flu and flu shot shortages. In reality, illnesses build the immune systems of healthy people. Besides, that shot doesn't vaccinate against every form of the flu. You could still come down with a case of fever, chills and achy muscles. My family and I do not line up like sheep to the slaughter just because of a news report."
Bleating about my lunacy, and numb to my logic, my coworkers exited the lounge and trotted to the nurse's office for vaccinations.
That very afternoon, my 7 year-old boldly asked the same question.
"We don't get the flu shot," I authoritatively told him, breaking into my soliloquy.
As I finished, he responded, "Oh. Well, I think we should."
"That's why I'm the mom and you're the kid," I answered, "I have better judgment than you."
A few weeks later I lay in bed, lethargic, sweating and freezing, shaking and groaning. My bones ached to the marrow and my temples visibly throbbed.
The next day, when I didn't emerge from my room, my 7 year-old son came and rested beside me, looking into my glassy, bloodshot eyes. "Are you going to die," he asked, seriously, patting my cheek with his cool hand.
"No honey," I mumbled, "I'm not that sick. I'm feeling better already." To reassure him of my returning health, I strained to lift my head from the pillow. Gravity proved stronger than my will, however, and, drained from the effort, I let my cheek sink back into the down and slipped into a fitful slumber.
Seeing me in no position to argue, my brazen child suggested, "Next year, we ought to get the flu shot."
On the third day, in and out of consciousness, only partially aware that anything existed beyond the covers over my head, I felt someone vigilantly watching over me and pulled the blanket away from my face. There stood my 9 year-old son looking furtively from me to somewhere beyond the bedroom door.
"What's wrong," I labored to whisper.
"I feel like someone or something is after me." He burned with fever and paranoid delusions, so I sent him to bed where he immediately succumbed to sleep.
Later, my husband, who also slid under the weather, woke me to say that my dreadful, whiney, moaning noise infringed upon his convalescing.
By the dawning of the fourth day, everyone had developed similar symptoms and retreated to his or her room to wait and see what would become of us in the end.
Then, five days after first contracting the disease, my entire family, pasty white with sunken eyes, barely able to budge, assembled at the kitchen table to spoon my mother's medicinal chicken soup down their gullets. Together, we resolved to survive this thing.
Pushing his luck, my youngest son again brought up the flu shot. "We should go get one next week," he croaked.
"It won't do us any good now," I claimed.
"Mama, it lasts a whole year."
I must have felt worlds better, because I immediately retorted, "There's no guarantee that the shot would have prevented our illness. Consider your immune system exercised. We're all the better for this."
Prescription strength crow is a hard pill to swallow.