Last year I didn’t get a flu shot and I paid for it. About $1600. That was the cost of a trip to the ER after throwing up for a night, and being unable to rehydrate. It wasn’t My intention to skip the shot, but I wanted to try one of the preservative free flu shots. When the nurses come to the office, they don’t have that. I called My doc, I called around, ultimately never got it to happen and then forgot.
So this year I pushed to make it happen. Lots of people seem to assume that wanting a thimerosol free shot is tantamount to being in the antivax camp. I think vaccines are wonderful. I just happen to have a history of multiple chemical sensitivity. I also have a several year history of managing immediate side effects from the regular shots: flushed, dizzy, strong stinging during the shot, and a lump that won’t quit. It’s enough that I stay on My summer allergy RX until the shot and I take a Benedryl beforehand. If I were honest with the onsite nurses about that, they would definitely refuse to give it to Me at all.
After many gyrations, I found a Walgreens near Me that answered the phone, talked Me thru the options (but repeatedly noted the SMALL AMOUNTS of preservatives which felt like code for “oh please, you are one of THOSE people”), and I got Myself in there despite a rotten day and wanting desperately to go home instead.
Sixteen hundred dollars.
Sixteen hundred dollars.
Save yourself another sixteen hundred fucking dollars.
I got there. Pretty easy peasy. Almost zero line, very little paperwork. No outta pocket. And the dude was even cute enough to want to undress for.
I’m in the little room. He shows Me the box so I can see it sez preservative free. He shows Me the syringe that says it is what the box says it should be. He queries My insistence on the preservative free choice (how did you decide it’s the thimerosol?). I tell him briefly the history, which he appears to accept as adequate reason. Still feel like he’s judging Me a bit but whatever.
I specifically mentioned that the shots have stung Me quite a bit as they go in, so I would like him to count down 1-2-3 so that I can exhale on 3 to manage the pain. I don’t tell him last time I almost cried, but I ain’t kidding around; he can see I’m serious about all this. Breathing out is a solid pain management technique most kinksters know, and I believe is known to nurses too. He agreed that’s what we would do.
And it went down like this:
Wait. What? That didn’t hurt at all. Great!
Yeah, it’s a little technique I use. I go on 1 when people aren’t expecting it.
Now, I was pleased enough at how much less miserable the whole thing was that I didn’t dig in. I celebrated in fact by buying a little treat from
the new neighborhood chocolatier. I went for sushi. And on the way home I bought a baguette. Eventually My arm started to ache and I had some trouble getting to sleep cuz I couldn’t put pressure on the injection site.
When I woke up this morning, My first thought was: that’s battery. What that guy did was non-consensual. I was clearly exercising My patient autonomy. I was behaving like someone who takes ownership of their body. I told him what I needed AND HE AGREED TO DO IT. And then he substituted his judgment for Mine and did exactly what I was clear I didn’t want.
Now it happens that My requirement proved unnecessary. And maybe it hurt less because he did it his way. No way to know. But I keep coming back to: that’s a consent violation. I’m not one to go there fast normally, but I’m hard over this time.
Maybe it’s because he’s male. Maybe it’s because he is male and wearing a white medical coat; I’ve got a history with that. Maybe it’s really not worth complaining about. I really was overall very pleased with the experience. But I’m deeply unhappy about this feeling that a male medical person paternalistically overrode My clearly and specifically negotiated consent.
And it extra annoys Me that it happened so FAST. That it was indeed, a consent violation DESIGNED to be unopposable. It really feels like a violation. Not a huge one, but real nonetheless.