Note: although this is about health choices in retirement years, the story would not be complete without the first couple of paragraphs
I have not been feeling well lately. Not sick mind you, just sore and aggravated. My issues have been minor but they have been driving me crazy. First, I have been having sensitivity on my neck and jaw, and I honestly thought I had an ear infection. Then, the long muscle that goes down the side of the neck (on the same side), was sore and sensitive. My family physician was unable to see me until today, so Saturday I broke down and went to what we fancifully call the "quack shack" (the local walk in clinic).
Again, I went because I thought at least half of my problems were caused by an ear infection and wanted the good drugs. Turns out that I had no ear infection. The clinic doctor noted that he had no explanation for my symptoms. He then noticed a small nodule or lump on the base of my neck and told me that was a lymphnode. Then he told me that my symptoms could be early onset shingles, and sent me home with antibiotics and pain pill prescriptions-the narcotic type. Which, by the way, I did not fill.
Today I went and saw my "regular" doctor. My neck and jaw symptoms were almost negligible, but they had come and gone before. He also saw no reason for the symptoms. He informed me that my tiny nodule lump was NOT a lymph node, just a cyst that needed to be watched to see if it changed and was unrelated or connected to anything else. He reminded me that I had in fact driven from Denver last week and may have driven at an unusual angle. He also said I may have some early onset arthritis in my neck (likely with my family history). He recommended watching, adding ibuprofen, using heat and doing range of motion exercises.
The meat of this post though, is this. We discussed shots and the like-he suggested I wait until after Halloween to have a flu shot. He also told me that he really didn't care if I got the shingles vaccine or not. Mind you, this is a "get your shots and take your meds' kind of guy. While he appreciates my daughter's natural approach and encourages exercise, he's all about modern medicine and it's advantages. Yet he told me it was my choice but it was not something he would demand.
Our discussion included the fact that the vaccine is fifty percent effective at the maximum. The chicken pox vaccine is a live virus, almost fourteen times stronger than the chicken pox. As with any live viruses, especially such a potent one, there can be side effects and symptoms including joint pain, muscle pain and fever. It's interesting to note that the herd immunity phenomena for chicken pox has actually increased the risk for adult vaccines. The disease can apparently be treated as soon as it's diagnosed. And of course, the shot is an average of over $200. Making the cost for my son's meningitis shot look awfully cheap. On the other hand, shingles are darned painful (from what I understand) until treatment is begun, and ten to twenty percent of people develop nerve pain, or postherpetic neuralgia.
So, I'm still looking at this issue. In general, the only shot I have traditionally taken that's not a sure thing is the flu shot-which actually is a sure thing for the strains inoculated for. While I am severely overweight, overall in terms of energy and immune issues, I eat well and stay healthy. So, It's a conundrum. I know the CDC recommends the vaccine for anyone over 60, and I'm now sixty one.
Folks, I would love to hear from you all on this. You don't have to be sixty. Have you thought about this? Had the shot? Talked with your practitioner about this one? What about the pneumonia vaccine? Have you had that one? Will you at some point? I haven't considered it at this point, but I have an adult child who had childhood asthma and smokes (I know, I know). He should probably have it. How do you feel about natural immunity versus vaccinations?
Let me have it, I'm all ears on this one.