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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"You may experience a slight soreness in your arm"

"Sometimes it can cause mild fever and slight muscle aches."

For "slight soreness", read, "hot, hard, throbbing, painful lump, two inches in diameter, which takes days to go down"*.

For "mild fever and slight muscle aches", read, "shivering uncontrollably for 48 hours to the point where your teeth rattle together; curled up in bed round a hot water bottle; painfully aware of every joint in your body".

"It can't cause flu". I know this. You tell me this every year. I know that what the flu jab causes isn't actually flu. But - after seven years of the bloody things - I also know that what it causes isn't slight soreness and a mild fever, either.

I am not a hypochondriac and I am not - over this, at any rate - a drama queen. I know why I need to have a flu jab, and I accept that it makes sense to have one, despite what it always does to me. All I ask is that you don't insult my intelligence by pretending that the side-effects I experience are mild.

The Editor

*There doesn't seem to be any way of avoiding making that sound as though I am talking about something even less savoury than an inflamed injection site. Believe me, I tried.


Blogger Dame Honoria Glossop said...

I so agree, I had mine on Wednesday :(

Next year, when the nurse says "Which arm d'you want it in?", I'm going to reply "Yours."

7:09 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

My acupuncturist said she'd never seen me looking so ill. Which was encouraging.

And I was shivering so much, she draped a towel over the exposed bits in an attempt to keep me warm. Bless!

7:32 pm  
Blogger the queen said...

Might you be allergic to raw egg whites? I am, and the one time I forgot and got the flu shot, I wanted to die. I don't know why they use raw eggs to create the flu shot, given how many people are allergic to the whites.

7:32 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

No, I don't think so.

In fact, when I was younger and my skin was commensurately more greasy, I used to use egg white as a face mask.

And it doesn't feel like an allergic response: to be honest, it feels like an abbreviated version of flu. But they all swear blind that it can't be that.

It just hacks me off that I have to allow for 48 hours of feeling like death warmed up every autumn because I'm diabetic so getting the real flu would be very dangerous. As if diabetes isn't quite enough of a pain in the bum in the first place...

7:40 pm  
Blogger Katie said...

I got offered a flu jab for the first time ever this year. (Admittedly it is the first time I have had an actually GP in about 6 years, but still.)

I said no, and have spent the last few weeks wondering if I should have said yes. (It not being actually dangerous if I get the flu, just significantly more impressive than if most people get the flu.)

I am now extremely glad I said no.

NB: Having blood taken the other day, a proper blood nurse who spends all day every day taking blood out of people at hospital, asked me if I had an arm preference. I said "The one I don't hold my walking stick in, please."

He said, with no hint of irony, "What a great idea!" as if it was the first time anyone had every suggested this method before.

*tears hair*

8:43 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Ah, now, to be fair - which I rarely am, if I'm honest - the majority of people get no ill effects whatseoever from their flu jabs.

My mother - who has never been known to succumb to any side-effects from anything - feels perfectly ok after hers. Never turns a hair.

And I know they're a good thing, and I know that the last thing the NHS wants to do is to frighten people off having them.

I would just like to see some recognition from the medics that flu jabs do affect a small minority of patients quite seriously.

And that, despite that, most of those patients will have sufficient wit to recognise that the flu jab is a necessary evil.

Little annoys me more than the tacit assumption that all patients are too dim to understand the implications of their treatment and should therefore be treated like five-year-old children.

Doctors don't have a monopoly on intelligence. In fact, some of them...

.. er, no. No, I won't go there. Not right now.

10:08 pm  
Blogger laughingattheslut said...

I do not suffer as much from the flu shot as all of that, but I do know not to get one unless I have a couple of days with nothing to do.

So I will not be getting one for at least another week or so.

I also have a friend who cannot get the flu shot because of the egg white problem. That's too bad because she is really into the whole germ phobia thing, and she should really have one. She's thinking of asking for the nose spray that they give to kids.

The way I understand it, the flu shot really only guarantees that you won't get three kinds of flu. Someone guesses which three are most likely to be a problem, and those go into the shot. Next year, there might be a different shot against different strains. Still, the shot would help against most flu viruses. But it wouldn't save you from the bird flu and such as that. It's probably too different from the stuff in the shot.

12:29 am  
Blogger The Goldfish said...

I've had the offering this week and like Katie, this has reassured me that I did the right thing. My old GP always put it bluntly, "If you get flu, you could be completely laid up for six weeks, but if your immune system takes umbridge with the jab, you could be completely laid up for six weeks."

However, of course, there are those of us that flu would make very ill and those of who for whom flu is a deadly danger...

I also opted out the meningitis when it was offered a few years back, and decided to avoid young people as a precaution. ;-)

6:55 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Good heavens! You seem to have encountered possibly the only GP in the country who is aware - and/or who is prepared to admit - that the flu jab can make you feel absolutely wretched!!

7:03 pm  
Blogger Melbamae said...

If it is any consolation Lady Bracknell, Mr. Melbamae has nearly identical symptoms as you do. Every. Single. Year.

My condolences for the misery you endured.

6:27 am  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Not that I would wish any increase in ill-health on Mr Melbamae, but I must confess that it is reassuring to hear that it's not just me!!!

10:06 pm  

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