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The Four Hoarsemen

The well-publicized flu shot shortage sent me into a panic this past week. As an asthmatic, I know that my lungs are my body’s version of the temperamental, cranky, spoiled Diva. I have to keep them happy, or they throw a shoe at me. So I kiss my lung’s behind and get a flu shot most years.

Watching the news and the endless stories about the flu shot shortage got me into gear and on the phone with my allergy and asthma doctor’s office. I was told they were giving out shots on a walk-in only basis and only to asthmatics. The receptionist warned me that they would confirm my diagnosis of asthma by pulling my chart. They must have had people walk-in and fake asthma in an effort to get a shot. I said fine, pull my chart. It is the thickest one ya got! Okay, I didn’t really say that, but I knew I would have no worries regarding my diagnosis. My lungs suck, in both the literal and figurative senses of the word.

So yesterday afternoon, during the designated walk-in time of 1-2:30 pm, I loaded the four little boys in the minivan for a trip to my allergist’s office. Coincidentally, 1-2:30 pm is Prime nap time.

Where are we going? Why? Why are you getting a shot? Are you going to cry? Are you going to say ouch? Are they going to poke you? Can I push the stroller when we get there? No, I want to! No, I want to! No, I want to! Are you going to get a Bugs Bunny bandaid? Are you going to get a Daffy Duck bandaid? I want to push the stroller! No, me!! I want to open the door! No, me! I get to push the elevator button! No, me!!

At this point, a nice middle-aged lady got on the elevator with us and remarked that I brought all my “helpers” with me. She also told me that I-70 was a mess and that she drove over the median, down a grassy hill, and around a fence to get to the building. I thought it was odd that a stranger would admit to another stranger in an elevator that they just broke several traffic laws, but oh well. The flu shot shortage will do that to people. The elevator doors opened and we spilled out into the hallway.”To the left!” I directed my helpers.

The middle-aged woman and I were going to the same office. We both approached the front desk and announced we were there for flu shots. The receptionist was weary…weary of hearing the words “flu shot”. You could just tell. Do you have an asthma diagnosis? Yes, we replied. I need to pull your charts, she warned. Do you need a forklift? I wanted to ask, but didn’t.

We were both cleared for flu shots–and, as lucky lungs would have it–the two last doses in the office! Another shipment would arrive in a few days. I was glad I ignored nap time, and I am sure that the middle-aged off-road warrior was equally relieved that she ignored medians, fences, and landscaping to get to the allergist’s office.

Meanwhile, my four helpers were busy reading issues of Wired magazine, rearranging chairs, pushing poor, poor Joel around in the umbrella stroller like they were re-enacting Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. They discovered the bell on the counter. Ding. Don’t. Ding. Don’t! Ding. Don’t! Ding. Don’t!

The lady with the bald tires and grass wedged in her bumpers went first. She left and said goodbye to the boys on her way out the door. Then it was my turn. I said “hey boys, it’s my turn, let’s go!” thinking that I would get my shot in a normal exam room. But the nurse looked at the boys, looked at me, and said “why don’t we do your shot right here in the waiting room?” Thank God I wasn’t there for a pap smear.

Hey, mommy, are you going to cry? Look, she’s got a HOLE in her arm! It’s BLEEDING! Why don’t you have Bugs Bunny bandaids here? Are you done yet?

Seeing I was done, the boys were outta there, pronto. I said rushed goodbyes to the besieged receptionist (who probably fielded 25 calls from people seeking flu shots while I was there) and the nurse and chased after my helpers, who were already halfway down the hall to the elevator. They argued about who would get to push the buttons, who would push the stroller, and then once on the ground floor they played with the acoustic marvels of the four-story atrium. Even baby Joel got into the act, sending his voice soaring up to the ceiling and back down again.

Tommy fell down a hill covered with patchy grass once we got outside, so he began to cry. Ryley was upset because we weren’t going to go get candy, like Daddy did after his flu shot. Joel was cranky from being in the stroller. Everyone had an opinion about something.

Soon they were asleep in the minivan. The three small Sprites I bought at Sonic (to go with my chocolate cream pie shake I bought to soothe my sore arm) went untouched, sloshing around in the cup holders. All that energy, expended, sent up four stories in an atrium, rang out by the dinging desk bell, my helpers. Left hoarse by so many questions I was happy to answer. No Bugs Bunny bandaid for me. Darn!

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