A pediatric nurse shouldn’t have neck tattoos, black fingernails, lip piercings, or anything else that makes her appear sad, recently paroled, or Goth. I was already nervous; my son Silas was nervous, and then Ms. Front-Row-at-Marilyn-Manson, RN scoots in the door yawning. “Oh, sorry, long day so far. You’re here for a Polio vaccine today?” I’m a conflict avoider, so didn’t ask if this particular shot required its administrator to be alert. I nodded, smiled, and shrugged off the ample evidence that she’d been up all night training ferrets with a warlock.
Silas could sense that I was uneasy and added some “oh h-to the-hell-no” of his own. I held him on my lap while Anne Rice pushed up his sleeve and cleaned his arm with an alcohol swab. I quizzed him about the contents of a painting on the wall as she uncorked the needle, but just as she plunged it into his arm he went all HULK ANGRY on me and busted loose from my hold; his arm flew into the air, nurse Jackie recoiled, the needle popped out, and a liquid rope of Polio juice shot into the air…and landed directly onto my eyeball.
“It’s cool that some of that went into my eye, right?” “What did?” she asked. “The Polio that was in the needle.” I answered. “It went in your eye?” “Yes, directly into my eye. Is that OK?” “Well, the problem is, I don’t know how much of it I got into your son, but since it’s probably not a good idea to give him another dose, we’ll just cross our fingers that it was enough.” Cool! A superstitious medical professional. I figured I’d do one better than crossing my fingers, by chanting a few extra mantras to my Swamp Lord. I knew everything would be fine with him; we weren’t planning on moving to a remote African village where eradicated diseases still exist. I was more concerned about all the viral sauce in my eye. “So, it’s totally fine that I got it in my eye?” I asked again. “Well, how much went in your eye?” “I felt it splash,” I answered. “Should be fine. It’s a dead virus, so I can’t think of any way it could be dangerous. I mean you wouldn’t want to drink a bottle of it or anything, but a little splash in your eye shouldn’t do any harm.”
Clearly, it would be a mistake to carelessly guzzle a whole bottle of the Polio vaccine (I’m fairly certain it doesn’t come in “bottles”). I cant imagine doing that unless I was really drunk. I understand it’s a dead virus, and therefore incapable of making me sick, but I’m a hypochondriac and fully aware that dead viruses come back to life as virus zombies which are way worse than regular human zombies. I planned on spending the next few weeks obsessively googling Polio symptoms until I developed the first ever case of psychosomatic Zombie Polio.
The next weekend I dragged the whole family to visit FDR’s house in Hyde Park, NY. I wanted us all to get a little taste of what it might be like to live in a house where daddy has Polio. I’m happy to announce, though, that it’s been three years and besides generalized fatigue, I have no other symptoms. Fingers crossed!