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Good health is not for the faint of heart

You should do all you can to ensure good health. Especially when you reach a certain age.


Once you’re over the hill, everything speeds up except your metabolism. Going for your annual physical is like taking your car for an oil change. They always find something wrong.


“I’m afraid your blood sugar is higher than your blood pressure, which is higher than your cholesterol. And you don’t wanna know about your weight.”


So you buckle down, determined to do all you can to improve your health. You start exercising, taking vitamins and minerals, watching your diet and getting to bed before midnight.


You make a special effort to change your way of life, because, well, you really want to hear praise from your general practitioner. You’re determined to get those numbers down by your next visit.


But you can overdo it. I should know. I’m the poster boy for overdoing it.


I started running as a young man with the goal of being fast. I even told myself I was fast.


Then as I aged and became slower, I changed my raison d’etre (pardon my French). I decided that running would be good for my heart and lungs, particularly as I rushed into seniorhood.


So, 29 years after I started running, I had the first of three hip surgeries. So much for running for my health.


On the other hand, my heart was strong as an ox.


Now, once again, my proclivity for overdoing things has revealed itself. But it started out innocently enough.


With the beginning of the winter season coming up, Ginny and I got our COVID-19 booster shots at the end of September. By October, it was time for flu shots and Ginny received hers in mid-October.


A few days later. I was at a pharmacy and saw their sign promoting flu shots. I decided to get mine.


Soon a young man named Samuel took me into a small room adjacent to where they keep the prescriptions. He told me that he, as a pharmacy tech, had recently become qualified to give flu shots. 


However, after studying some papers in his hand, he said, “Your records show you’re behind on your Pneumovax 23 and your T-dap.” The first was to prevent pneumococcal pneumonia. The second is for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.


“And while you’re in here, you could also get your first shingles shot,” Samuel informed me. “But I’m not qualified to give the other shots. The pharmacist will have to do those.”


Enter Stacey. She confirmed what Samuel had told me. I agreed to take all four shots at once. Might as well get them out of the way.


Stacey informed me that the flu shot for seniors is more potent and can have side effects. The same is true for the shingles shot, or Shingrix.


Fully informed, I remained steadfast to do all four. So Stacey placed two little donut-looking circle thingies on both arms. Then she stuck a hypodermic needle in each donut, piercing my skin and injecting the liquids, four shots in all. 


Huh, I thought. That was no big deal. My arms aren’t even sore.


I came out of the little room and found Ginny. “You did what? Are you crazy?”


“I wanted to get it over with,” was my reasoning.


Later at home, I felt the beginning symptoms of the flu. As the evening progressed, my muscles ached and my energy left me.


I went to bed feeling sick like I’d never felt sick before. When I tried to roll over, it took everything in me to move from one side to the other.


In my delirium, I wondered if there was a shot to make this go away. 


“I could have told you,” Ginny said. 


“Well, I called you at the pharmacy for your opinion but you didn’t answer.”


“Oh, I had my phone turned off.”


A couple of days later, I was almost back to normal. By then I was secure in the knowledge that I was protected from the flu, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, pneumonia and shingles.


Oh wait. I still have to get my second shingles shot within two to six months. I guess I’ll plan to get it when I can hole up for a day or two ’til the side effects subside.


At least I can rest assured that hip surgery won’t be collateral damage.

Larry Penkava is a writer for Randolph Hub. Contact: 336-302-2189, larrypenkava@gmail.com.