The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that nearly 20 percent of Americans get the flu each year. More than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized every year and between 3,000 and 50,000 deaths occur due to flu. There is a good chance that these statistics would improve dramatically if more people got a flu shot.
I should get a flu shot. I called my doctor last week to arrange one and some blood work going into flu season. My appointment was Monday morning. As everyone knows when you have blood work done you need to fast from the night before. Unfortunately for me, I am an early riser and I got up around 5:00 AM. Nothing special about that, but my doctor’s appointment wasn’t till 9:00 AM. So I had a minimum four hour wait before I could expect to get any food into me.
I brought questions to ask the doctor about a possibly broken finger, a new drug I was taking as well as something recommended by Dr. Oz on TV. I made up a questions list on my iPhone to bring with me.
I arrived at 8:30 hoping I might get in earlier. No such luck. At 9:15 I was still waiting. This was a potentially stressful situation for me. Last year, I would have been stressing about the delay and fretting over the time I had wasted arriving early, etc. However, I refused to succumb to the stress. I reasoned that I had taken a chance coming early. I gambled and lost. Fair enough. Not the first time that has happened and surely not the last. Nothing to fret over. On the bright side, I had brought a really good book and enjoyed reading it. (If you are a dog lover, I highly recommend The Other Side of the Leash by Patricia B McConnell Ph.D. Superb read!)
My appointed hour arrived at 9:45 and I was ushered in. The nurse took my vital signs: Blood Pressure: 119/59; Pulse 50; Weight 155, I guess I was wearing about 5 pounds of clothes.
My doctor came in after a short wait and we got down to business. I showed her my left little finger which is crooked and painful. I told her that I feared I had broken it, but hadn’t a clue when it happened. I just had pain there for over a month and it was crooked. She examined it and said it wasn’t a break just more of the arthritis which plagued other parts of my two hands. I guess that was good news as I didn’t have to have a splint or rebreak or something done to my finger. We went down my list of queries and she dealt with them in order. I had no earthshaking changes to make in my life. Good news. Now for the blood work. But, wait, she looked at the computer and said that we had done blood work in June. So, no need for fresh work now as everything had been in order then. I actually laughed out loud as I had now been fasting for six hours FOR NOTHING! The nurse came in and gave me my shot and sent me on my way. Fortunately, I had brought along a Honey Stinger waffle for an energy boost which I truly needed at this point. I wrote up Honey Stingers last December.
I live about a mile from the hospital and set off on my walk home. On the way I thought it might be pleasant to stop at a cafe that has opened recently and enjoy a breakfast out, something like eggs over easy with pork sausages and rye toast. As a retired guy I don’t have a lot of meals out, so this was particularly appealing to me. The cafe was just a block out of my way on the route home. So I took the little detour and got there around 11:30 AM. I had now been up for 6-1/2 hours with only a 160 calorie Honey Stinger waffle for sustenance. I was dying for those eggs and sausages. However, yet another setback. I arrived at the cafe only to see a line out the door. This was not typical at all. I had arrived at 11:30 on other mornings and was able to be seated immediately. What was going on? Ah, yes. The Chicago Marathon was run Sunday. These were folks who had stayed over to enjoy my fair city an additional day. Chicago’s gain; my loss. I headed home.
Once again, this could have been very stressful, but I realized that I had certainly known about the Marathon. I just hadn’t put two and two together to come up with folks staying in town another day. Also, the breakfast place is just off Michigan Avenue where many tourists stayed in hotels. My fault. I headed home vaccinated and a bit tired from the morning.
If you take anything from my experience I hope you will see that you don’t need to be stressed by external events, you can ride them out. Also, make a list of things you want to know about so you will get the most out of your doctor visit. Please do get a flu shot. I took a course from The Great Courses entitled “Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-Being at Any Age.” The professor stated that for people over 65 influenza is the most common preventable cause of death. Additionally, vaccinations in adults could prevent about 80% of all influenza deaths. Finally, if you have something new and different occurring in your body tell your doctor about it. Getting out in front of disease can keep you alive longer. It puts the odds of being healthy way in your favor.