Taking a shot at good health

Face it, folks. There are, in today’s world, some things we Americans are just going to have to get used to, whether we like them or not:

Arriving at the airport three hours early

People from other countries portraying our historical icons in movies (Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, MLK Jr. and Scarlett O’Hara, just to name a few.)

Steve Harvey hosting every freakin’ show on television.

Judging by my experiences throughout last month, there may soon be one other thing we all will have to get used to – constantly receiving shots to prevent, mitigate or alleviate certain illnesses or conditions.

In consecutive weeks, I received in my arm a flu shot, a covid-19 booster shot and a shingles shot.

And on the fourth week he rested, right?


Nope. On the fourth week of the month I was back in Ol’ Sawbones’ office giving a blood sample to prep for a medical procedure men need periodically after turning 50. It’s a procedure that will make you wish it was your arm that was being stuck.

Yep. In each of the four full weeks of November, I was poked, jabbed and prodded.

It truly was the November of my arm's discontent.

Rather than whinin’ and yinin’ and cryin' about government intrusion or an erosion of my constitutional rights or even taking Dr. Fauci’s name in vain - (vein?) – all I did was say “Thank you, God, for medical science and all of its myriad advances.”

I am miffed (the harshest word my editor allowed me to use but not the one I really wanted to use) at people who think that covid-19, for instance, is some grand government or corporate conspiracy to inject and infect them and lull them to sleep while Big Biz and Big Guv take over the world.

Considering that more ballots routinely were cast for American Idol winners than for president of the country, I’d say that that somnambulistic ship has already sailed, docked and is fixing to pick up even more passengers on its return trip.

I recently lunched – suitably socially distanced, of course – in Durham with a pharmaceutical scientist. Over brisket and hushpuppies, I asked him how long it took for scientists to come up with the cure that ended the 1918 pandemic - and did people poo-poo it because they thought the vaccine was developed too quickly to be safe or because “no gubmint is going to tell me what to do with my own body”?

His answer? They never came up with a cure. In essence, the disease ran its course because the people who got it either died or developed immunity to it.

Easy-peasy, right?

Sure, if you think 20 to 50 million deaths worldwide – including nearly 700,000 Americans – is an acceptable death count.

The main weapons to fight the pandemic 103 years ago were masks - which citizens apparently wore without storming the Bastille - and shuttering businesses and schools. Staggering the hours businesses opened so that the streets weren't crowded was also tried.

People didn’t have free, unfettered access to a life-saving vaccine the way we do now. (Okay, it’s somewhat “fettered”: woe unto anyone trying to make a vaccine appointment without access to a computer and advanced knowledge of how to use it.)

My dad has been receiving a shot at Walter Reed National Medical Center every three months for about the past 20 years to treat some condition, but I have never heard him utter a single complaint about it. Of course, being a Korean War and Vietnam War vet, he is from a generation that didn’t have internet experts calling them “sheeple” for following doctors’ advice.

If getting jabbed in the arm once every three months or even every week will keep me as energetic and cool as he is, all I can say - to paraphrase The Kingfish - is “Stick me, Miss Blue.”

Come to think of it, I’d probably take a shot every day if they ever come up with one to keep me from involuntarily turning my truck into the Krispy Kreme parking lot every time I see that red Hot Now sign lit up.

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Meet Barry Saunders

For over 20 years, Barry was a columnist for The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. He also wrote for other publications, such as the Atlanta Constitution and the Richmond County Daily Journal. Often described as powerfully honest and illustratively funny, Barry's writing is both loved and hated by readers- sometimes simultaneously.  

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Want more? Get your own copy of one of Barry's published books featuring reader favorites (and not so favorites) from his years writing columns for The News & Observer. Titled "Do Unto Others...And then Run" and "...And The Horse You Rode In On Saunders!", they're full of guaranteed entertainment. 

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