My first flu shot

23 Dec

I have such a great big brother.  He came by this morning to get his flu shot from my mom but he agreed to let me give it to him instead!  I don’t know whose idea it was.. maybe his.

I was a little nervous but just pretended it was no big deal.  I’ve always had a big discomfort around needles that sends creepers up my spine every time I see an uncapped syringe.  It helped that I told Andrew it might take a little a while and he didn’t mind.  I didn’t tell him it might hurt more than usual, but I’m sure he figured.  I watched my mom give a shot to Andrew’s girlfriend, and then it was my turn.  We took some practice shots with the cap on, just getting the motions down right.  Wipe with the alcohol swab.  Stretch the skin.  Pinky on the shoulder to steady the hand.  Pop in the needle – “Bok!  Bok!  “Bok!  Just like that”, my mom advised me, miming the wrist action in poking in the needle.  Pull out the plunger slightly to check for blood (don’t want to inject into a blood vessel, better into the muscle).  Then ease in the vaccine, and pull out the needle.  Easy peasy.

My mom was going to prepare the needle but Andrew insisted I do as much as possible.  There was a tiny bubble in the vial of the needle that I couldn’t get out and I was concerned about sending in an air embolis to my brother and killing him with a flu shot (i.e. your typical med student moment where one’s textbook knowledge reveals one’s lack of understanding the relative importance of things and one’s inexperience in clinical realities shines).  My mom took a look and said it was “insignificant” but she still flicked it out like a pro.

Andrew’s girlfriend took some pictures (again, Andrew’s suggestion) as my mom, Andrew and I hammed it up for the camera with shot poses.  I was kind of nervous still, but the two of them were breaking the tension.  Finally I was looking at Andrew’s freshly swabbed and shiny skin, the point of the needle pointing at the slope of his deltoid.  I had nothing left to do but Bok! in the needle.  I hesitated then unconsciously thought to pretend like this is no big deal and it’s easy, and suddenly it felt that way.  The needle went in and I felt a slight give and pop as the skin broke.  My mom suggested I push the needle in a bit further so I did and it slid in quite easily.  I adjusted my other hand so I could use the plunger, and the needle slid a milimeter or two out.  I was surprised how easily it was sliding in and out.

I had asked my mom ahead of time what it was that made taking needles painful.  She said it’s when the needle is pushed in and is slid horizontally, parallel to the surface of the skin, which leads to more broken nerve endings.

I pushed in the vaccine (which I know from experience is the most painful part) and then it was done.  I quickly slid the needle out and a red blob of blood quickly replaced it.  Some gauze on it and that was it!

Andrew was impressed, saying it was a pretty good job and didn’t hurt at all.  I was shaky afterwards but so happy — it was even kind of fun!  The pop of the skin is like popping bubble wrap.

In the pictures everyone looks relaxed and jokey, while I look a little gaunt and stiff.  My chin is pressed to my chest, my neck stretching back as if my body is trying to get closer to the needle and shoulder, but my brain is still trying to get away.

My second needle given, my first flu shot, and now a little less scared of needles!

A vaccination in action

Just finished.

Post vax dim sum - curry squid, leechee/goji berry jellies (shaped as fish), and yes a hello kitty mango pudding with condensed milk.


Whutchu sayin'

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