CLIFF’S EDGE: My brief, heavy handed reminder: Get a flu shot


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It’s that time of year again when I either take on a formidable head cold—or I don’t.

Last weekend I did, and it was a memorable one, short in duration, but long in symptoms. It served as an exhausting reminder that I have yet to get my annual flu shot. I’ll take care of that soon, of course.

Disease has always been a somewhat hit-or-miss affair with me.

For example, I missed whooping cough through my entire childhood, then got it the night of my junior prom in high school. My popularity among all classmates took a hit that night and a budding relationship with my date for the evening ended abruptly.

Then there was my relationship with measles. I can remember being told somewhere along the line that you only get measles once. I got them three times between the ages of 4 and 8, approximately.

As the family told it, I came down with them each time during our annual Christmas-holiday train trip between Klamath Falls, Ore., where my dad was a high-school teacher, and my grandparents’ fruit and vegetable farm near Eugene.

My mother often made note of that on Christmases since then, usually prompting my dad to note that we’d received no threats of lawsuits either from the railroad or any of our fellow passengers, which was surprising since each such incident created a certain amount of stir through the train.

Then with great foreboding came the mumps in my 30th year. The three children who had come into our family by that time – at least the two who were old enough to understand that late late affliction – were astonished.

Another significant factor contributing to this disjointed medical history, I believe, was my mother’s being a career-long registered nurse diligently treating the ills of others, whether in a doctor’s office or community hospital. I suspect her constantly being alert to the symptoms of others conditioned me to willingly accept them whenever they came around.

Through grade school, so far as I know, I was the only kid in town whose mother kept penicillin in the refrigerator at home right next to the orange juice. In those years at the first sound of a cough out would come the needle and down would go my pants for a well-administered shot.

As penicillin went out of vogue, I envisioned myself as a proving ground for its successors in the treating of colds and related maladies.

For certain, when I coughed in our house, it was an honest cough. Honest, though perhaps out of synch with prescribed medical timetables.

Flu shot, right. I’ll get one.

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