Here’s another shot in the arm


(Since so much has been discussed about getting a simple COVID vaccine shot, good or bad, I rescued this old column to share my needle experiences.)

“He’s going to need allergy shots once a week,” said the doctor. I was sitting in the waiting room and overheard the horrible news. 

For months mom dragged me to the doctor’s office for my weekly allergy inoculation. I remember kicking and screaming for the nurse to “wait a minute… wait a minute… I’ve got something to tell you… please!” 
After the first postponement the nurse caught on to my charade. She swabbed my fanny with alcohol and plunged in the needle. I put up a good fight though. It took two nurses to hold me down and I was only 7-years-old. It turned me against getting shots.
I just got my COVID booster shot last week and will certainly look forward to getting my flu shot in a couple of weeks during my semi-annual doctor visit.   I would rather have the shot than the flu. That’s no contest.  

Our baby boomer age group got more shots than Carter’s got liver pills. We had shots for smallpox, diphtheria, polio, tetanus, whooping cough, typhoid and more. In school they scratched our forearms to see if we had TB. Kids walked around with scabby smallpox inoculation scars on their arms. If you were sick the doc was there with a willing thumb on the old glass syringe.
During my tour of Army duty shots were given with a pump-like gun that sprayed vaccine into your skin under high pressure. They said it wouldn’t hurt. Many new inductees passed out after their shots. Some of the guys walked out of the clinic with bloody arms scaring the heck out of us waiting to go in.
On my way to Korea we lined up outside the infirmary at Ft. Lewis, Washington. We noticed soldiers coming out the back door with both arms held out from their body. We waited in line nervously shuffling our feet. Soon it was my turn. I got three shots in each arm. Ouch… Ouch…. Ouch…twice! It hurt. My arms seemed to be floating out from my body. I was full of vaccine for every kind of jungle rot on the planet.
On reaching my duty base at Camp Red Cloud, Korea my fellow grunts in our newspaper office kidded us new arrivals. They kept saying we would remember one shot everyone got on entering Korea. It was the infamous “gamma globulin” shot.  
Later in the day we were ordered to report to the infirmary for a physical and, you guessed it, more shots. 
“Doc, that’s okay. I got all my shots back in Ft. Lewis. Wait a minute I’ve got something to tell you,” I pleaded. It didn’t work.  Just then the male military nurse, who was obviously a draftee and hated his job but loved giving injections, plunged two more shots into my still sore arm. He then told me to pull my britches down. 
“What for,” I said.
“To get this. It’s too long and the needle is too big to give it to you in the arm,” as he smiled holding up the biggest and longest needle in the history of medicine. “This is the gamma globulin shot soldier. Bend over and hurry.”
The viscosity of the gamma globulin, which looked like clear Elmer’s glue, needed a long and large needle to get into the body.  That precluded an arm injection and the next target was naturally a fleshy buttock. Mine.
I reluctantly lowered my uniform britches. I had about enough of some wise PFC giving me orders but he had the needle. He told me to relax. Instead of the fleshy buttock he delivered the painful needle into my lower back area just above the fleshy buttock. Whoa…baby…. that don’tfeel so good. And besides that, it took longer than usual to pump the clear Elmer’s glue stuff into my body. Finally, the ordeal was over. And yes, the guys back in the office were right. I won’t forget that shot.  
Today, I don’t mind getting shots. It’s nothing compared to what the Army gave us. I’ll settle for a flu shot anytime.


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