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Flu Shot

Posted May 09 2009 10:03pm

The discussion with Dr TL about how Australia is not prepared for pandemic action plan and how GP clinics are the hot spot for catching viruses made me seriously consider about taking flu shot. He had advised me to get it done in March, but I couldn’t make up my mind.

As you know, getting a flu shot is not so simple for person with ME/CFS. Many support organisations’ website advice against it. Since government is not giving any information regarding to ME/CFS to doctors, even my wonderful GP wasn’t aware of the risk.

The best I could do was to search on the web about the issue of flu vaccination and people with ME/CFS. I’m sorry but I’m not going to give you the link to every article I read. I would prefer you do your own research and consult with your own doctor based on your condition since it is classified as “controversial”.

From what I read, these are my understandings;

  • Even within physicians and clinicians, there are divided opinions about flu shot and ME/CFS.
  • More physician advice against the flu shot for those who developed acute onset of ME/CFS after virus infection.
  • Some physician advice caution for those who are at early stage of ME/CFS.
  • For people with ME/CFS who have higher risk of catching flu virus are advised to consider the vaccination. The examples of higher risk factor are; a) occupation like healthcare providers, teachers and people who contact with large number of people, b) family and living situation such as if your family has contact with public or you have carer who cares other chronically ill people, and so on, and c) how prone you are to catch flu and how severely you suffer from it.

Then, I wanted to know what would be the worst case scenario when flu vaccination went wrong for me…

  • The longer and severe flare up.
  • Have flare up, but antibody doesn’t form.

I decided to give it a try at least once and see how my body react. My ME/CFS is not an acute onset from virus infection. I’m not at early stage of the condition. Although I have flu-like symptoms or virus infection like symptoms every now and then, I don’t consider it as severe. Since I’ve never done this before, I cannot rely on past experience for possible outcome.

On Wednesday, before my medical appointment, I went to Chemist and asked about the flu vaccination while filling my prescription. They asked me what kind of vaccination I was after. Ooops! It was already sounding complicated for me. They quickly explained that there was Tamiflu and other kind. Then, they explained further that Tamiflu was out of stock anyway. It is controlled by government due to Swine Flu or H1N1 Flu. I was going to tell them that I would talk to Dr TL first, but the pharmacist quickly handed me the vaccination in a special bag which had my name on, and explained I had to come back with the prescription from Dr TL. Since I’m a long term customer and also they work close with Dr TL, they just made things easy for me. He also gave me a list of scripts needed to be renewed.

Getting the actual shot was funny.

Since I’ve never done this before, I didn’t know what was expected. He told me that I had to show him my shoulder, but it was more like upper arm he needed to see. My clumsy attempt of showing shoulder felt like I was seducing him… With the suggestion from him and his promise of closing his eyes, I ended up taking the sleeve off. I asked him if it hurts. He cheekily answered that he doesn’t feel anything. Well, as you know…, I was asking about his patients’ reaction. The other day, a lady went into other doctor’s office with the vaccine. And she screamed “Ohhh. Ouch!” You know I needed to prepare my mind for the pain.

He sterilised my shoulder. He looked at me and laughed. Then, told me to put my hand next to my body and relax. It was done very quickly. He asked how it was. And I honestly told him that I didn’t feel a thing. He held the cotton on the spot to make sure it wasn’t bleeding. I thought I was supposed to hold it and he was going to put bandage on it. But it wasn’t necessary. It wasn’t like drawing blood for pathology.

Since I touched the cotton, my nervous mind thought I shouldn’t touch him. So I didn’t shake his hand for good bye…

Later that night, I felt I was very tired. It is very rare for me to feel tired, although I’m always fatigued and exhausted. The funny phenomenon I experienced was that I felt I was very drunk. My balance wasn’t good that day. But during the night, my balance was having serious problem as if I’m intoxicated by alcohol. I could laugh at myself for being drunk without having a sip of red wine. How economical I am…

Next morning, I temporarily lost voice. My dogs didn’t care if they hear me or not, as long as I was looking at them. Or, they enjoyed not hearing me telling them what to do.

This is probably something I shouldn’t have done, but I cleaned my house… It was more struggle than usual. My energy lasted only very short. I needed to have lots of rest while cleaning. It had to be done even slower than usual. And my muscle and joints were already aching while I was cleaning.

Then, the payback in the following day was much worse than usual cleaning payback. Fatigue level was near maximum, which means near paralysis. And muscle pains were near maximum. Every muscle ached as if I run a marathon without preparation, warming up and cooling down. My axillary glands (arm pit) were aching as well.

This payback is lasting longer. So I assumed the flu shot has something to do with it. I had chest pain, which scared me but nothing serious. I had occasional tight chest and dypsnia, which is common without the flu shot.

So, I am assuming that the flu shot hasn’t really caused serious problem for me. If things go okay during this winter, I will get it done next year again. Now I know what would happen, I will be more prepared.

It was good that I didn’t have Saturday medical appointment as I’m still in payback or in mini flare up. Maybe Dr TL though I should stay home since I mentioned the possible flare up from the flu shot.

Posted in Doctors, ME/CFS Tagged: Flu Shot
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