Yesterday, after receiving a pre-recorded message from the CEO of Kaiser Permanente that H1N1 flu shots would be available to select priority groups (including children) today, I decided to suck it up and take my crew in ASAP to get vaccinated. While I know there's no guarantee that the vaccine will actually prevent us from getting the flu, there have already been confirmed cases at our preschool and church and I figure we need all the help we can get. Additionally, we were scheduled to get our regular flu shots 2 Mondays ago, but 2 of the 3 boys were running fevers and we had to cancel. Which means that we were due for not one, but TWO shots PER KID.
As a veteran mom, I knew this would suck. But honestly, it would have sucked whether we did it today or three weeks from now and in the meantime, we would probably all get the flu(s), so I just needed to do everyone in one fell swoop and have it off my list. I am pretty no-nonsense about shots, probably stemming from the time I was a kid and witnessed a gaggle of nurses literally chasing a screaming kid down the hall at the pediatrician's office trying to pin him down for a shot. My mom took one look at him and told me that if I ever dared to do that, what I got from her when we got home would be far worst than the shot so I'd best just sit there and take it. So I was prepared to take it in more ways than one today.
We picked Cade up from school and headed directly to the doctor's office, hoping to beat the after-school/work rush for the walk-in flu shot clinic. When we arrived, there were already a good 7 or 8 people in line (not including the ones already processed and waiting). Step #1 was to determine immunization eligibility and fill out the necessary paperwork. To Kaiser's credit, they were well-prepared and had a staff person helping customers to pre-fill forms while standing in line. Unfortunately, this individual was unable to deviate from the flu-shot-eligibility script in any way, shape or form and the conversation went like this:
Me: Hi - I'd like to get 4 seasonal flu shots and then 3 H1N1 just for my kids, since I don't fall under the priority guidelines.
Her: Have you looked at the priority guidelines?
Me: Yes - at home.
Her (handing me a sheet of the guidelines): Ok, I'll need you to look at this sheet and confirm that you all meet the criteria guidelines.
Me: Ok, well, it says kids between 6 months and 24 years and my kids are 1, 4, and 5, so they fit.
Her: What about you?
Me: No, I'm older than 24 and I don't have any of these health conditions and I'm not pregnant, so I still don't fit.
Her (eyeing the children): Do they fit?
Me (thinking): Well, they have not aged 19 or more years since we started this conversation, even though it FEELS like they have, so YES, they still fit.
Me (speaking): Yes, they fit.
Her: So you want 3 H1N1 and 4 seasonal?
She handed me a tall stack of paperwork to complete and then directed me to the receptionist's desk, where the receptionist proceeded to confirm about 50 times that I wanted 3 H1N1 and 4 seasonal shots. After a lengthy wait, during which Josh insisted on exploring every inch of the waiting room on his hands and knees and then promptly pooped his pants (forcing a detour to the ladies' room to change him), our name was called at last.
We were shuffled into the cubicle of the poor soul who had the unfortunate designation of Flu Shot Nurse. Even more unfortunate was that she was apparently accustomed to vaccinating nursing home patients on their deathbeds and not energetic young children who grow more and more anxious the longer a shot process takes. The regular pediatric nurses are so quick on the draw that they're in and out before a kid even knows what hit them, but this visiting nurse had all the time in the world.
After she confirmed approximately 56 more times that I wanted 4 seasonal shots and 3 H1N1 (WHAT is so hard about the freaking math, people?! I knew I should've just lied about being pregnant!) she began entering the information into the computer. Very, very slowly. And she messed up a few times, so she had to start over. And then she had to line up band-aids, also very very slowly and without great precision, requiring her to start over with those. Meanwhile, Cade was rapidly approaching ineligibility due to aging out and I was about to score eligibility by going into cardiac arrest right there in the little room.
When it was go time, Cade chickened out and sent Drew to the guillotine first. I was so proud of him - he just took it like a little man (mainly because he was desperate for the M&M prize I had waiting for each boy at the conclusion of shots). When it was Cade's turn, he went BALLISTIC and even had poor Drew crying for him and hiding in a little ball under the chair. Poor Joshie had limited escape options due to his lack of willingness to walk, so he just had to sit there and get stuck in rapid (or as rapidly as the nurse could move) succession. Cade and Drew both actually tried to leave the room at that point - it was pretty hairy by then. All the while, the nurse was dragging her ass and I was hissing, "Just DO it! Just get it over with! Just stick them!"
In the end, everyone left with flu shots and it only cost me chocolate milk and fries and Chick-Fil-A since the lame Capri Suns and M&M snack packs I'd stashed into the diaper bag didn't even BEGIN to make it up to them.