Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Shingles Vaccine Wow II

Holy mackerel, did that shot make me sick! If the extortionate price doesn’t make you sick, by golly, the vaccine itself sure will.

Growing up on the shore of the Persian Gulf, about as third-world as you could get in the 1950s, I enjoyed a lot of shots. Every malign disease known to prey on personkind was endemic in Arabia, and Americans living there had to take shot after shot after shot after shot. Every six months, I was hauled down to the hated clinic for yet another round of jabs: typhus, typhoid, cholera, tetanus, diphtheria, smallpox, whooping cough… They didn’t have polio shots yet, so whenever there was an outbreak, every kid in camp was dragged down to a portable and stuck with a vialful of gamma globulin — and lemme tellya, that stuff hurt! Of the routine shots, though, typhoid and cholera were probably the most painful.

But none of them hold a candle, for lengthy acute aftereffects, to this accursed Shingrix concoction. Holy shit!

Administering it is actually not very painful. But shortly after it’s been pumped into a muscle, your arm starts to hurt magnificently. This spreads up your neck, across your shoulders and back, down into your legs. Before long every muscle in your body aches. And your head? Wow, what a headache!

Unfortunately, I can’t take aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen. So these little aches and pains are just something I get to enjoy.

Hardly slept at all last night. I probably fell asleep for about an hour around 1 or 2 a.m., and that was it.

Then this morning I had to get up, climb in the car, and traipse across the city to the dermatologist’s office, south of Sun City(!!). At 9 a.m., the rush hour is still on…so that was jolly fun. Really, I shouldn’t have been driving the car at all, that’s how sick I was. BUT…I managed to shoehorn myself in to the doctor’s schedule  this a.m. to have them look at a recrudescence of this damn thing on my hand. They insist it’s not growing back and that it’s healing up. Yeah. Right.

Soaking in a hot bath for awhile helped some — which was surprising, since the stuff made me feel like I had a fever of 110 and I thought what was needed was cool water. But it’s damn cold in the house — we’re having some kind of a cold snap — and I just couldn’t force myself to stand in a cold shower. Surprisingly, the hot water helped.

That notwithstanding, I still hurt from stem to stern by the time I had to roll out the door.

God, how I hate driving in this city! It’s just like Southern California now: mile on endless mile of bumper-to-bumper, aggressive traffic through tracts of ticky-tacky housing and shoddy strip malls. And wherever you’re going, you can’t get there from here without an endless trek. Horrible place!

Especially when you feel like hell… 😀

To get out of the ’hood, I had to pull an “Arizona turn.” That’s when you dart out in front of traffic bearing down on you from the left, floor it to keep from getting hit, veer into the center turn lane, and make a Uie. This was the only way I could turn west on Gangbanger’s Way this morning. Ultimately, I had to do two Arizona turns: one to get out of the clinic’s parking lot and turn east to come home.

You wonder why I insist on a six-banger? Yeah.

All that notwithstanding, I was happy to be able to get a vaccine that at least has (heh!) a shot at providing some protection from shingles.

Shingles is decidedly not an ailment you want to enjoy.

Some years ago, I met a woman in Portal, a little dump in the Chiricahua Mountains. The Chiricahuas host a research station run by the American Museum of Natural History. It’s quite a place, and it attracts droves of high-powered scientists. These folks arrive there and fall in love with the place. The Chiricahuas form what is known locally as a “sky island”: with its own ecology, the area looks much like Bali Hai.

As a result, a number of very high-octane scientists take up temporary residence in Portal, and some of them retire there. This woman and her husband were among those who decided to retire. They built a home in a beautiful little canyon and took up bird-watching.

Shortly after they arrived there, she came down with shingles. A bad case of it. By the time I met her, she’d had it for two years, and it wasn’t getting any better. It had wrapped itself around her torso, so that she could not breathe or move without constant pain. About all she could do was huddle on the sofa, trying to stay still. She was, in effect, crippled.

At that time, there was no immunization for shingles. If you’d had chicken pox and you were pushing old age, you had a good chance of getting it. In fact, one in three older Americans get shingles. Some, obviously, are not as severe as her case. But…there’s no way of knowing who is going to get a crippling vase of it and who is gonna get off light.

I remember looking at that lady and thinking, holy shit! whatever you do, DON’T GET OLD!

Well. The alternative is fairly drastic, and so far I haven’t felt inclined to take advantage of it.

So even though the present episode was a passing miserable moment, and even though I’m really pissed that something so important to public health should be priced exorbitantly and not covered by Medicare D, I’m really, really glad to live in a time where the shot is available.

Image: Chiricahua hoodoos: By Zereshk – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Author: funny

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  1. Hmmm…Think I’ll pass. Having had the “pleasure” of having shingles recently I will say it is no picnic. And even though I continue to have “shingles like symptoms” (Dear Doctor’s words not mine) I think I will just let my body work this out with the virus. Which is what DD said in so many words. As for the cost and Medicare not providing coverage… makes no sense…. This isn’t covered… But I’m pretty sure one can get coverage for Viagra. Was chatting the other day with a gal about the “shingles vaccine” , She said she inquired but the cost was $225 for both shots. She went on to explain she couldn’t afford it as she lives off Social Security of $1000 a month. So she would just “live” with the shingles which “visits” her every year or so….Sad…

    • Well, and I _think_ what they’re doing is telling you it’s $XXX for “both” shots when they really mean “each” shot. That’s a function of the illiteracy of the American public, I reckon — not a deliberate ploy to lure you into spending a whole lot more than you would if you understood what they were trying to say.

      When you realize that 1 in 3 older Americans — one website said one in 2 over a certain age — come down with this unpleasant, debilitating disease, you see that shingles is a major health problem. Presumably because it mostly affects the elderly, a despised group in our culture, we think it’s OK to rip people off for the shot.

      At any rate, the side effects passed rather quickly. Now to see if it actually works to fend off the disease…

  2. Sounds like no fun. Hopefully the worst is past and you feel better soon.

    On a side note, I totally distrust dermatologists, so I’ll be interested to see what ends up coming about from your difference of opinion regarding their diagnosis.

    • Yeah…dermatology was, as far as I can tell, the first area of practice that was actively, consciously turned into a profit-making industry, to the disadvantage of patients. I’ve met dermatologists who have done very good things for me. But I’ve also met some who have tried to high-pressure me into unnecessary and possibly even harmful procedures.

      {chortle!} In that department, a couple years ago one who’s closer to my house suggested, when asked if he would freeze a brown spot off my face (an easy procedure that my great old now-retired doc would do without hesitation), the guy actually told me I needed to get a FACE PEEL to have that done. No….don’t think so… It reflects the current status: in pursuit of profit, the practice of dermatology has been turned into a kind of cosmetology. They’re no longer so much in the business of treating injury and disease as in the youth-and-beauty industry.

      This new dermatologist pointed me in the direction of an OTC product that she said would do the job. And I see that their patients pretty uniformly are people who visibly have something wrong with them…so I suppose that’s a good sign.

      • I’m with MB on dermatologists and their practices. DW had a “growth” removed from the her cheek. The DR. said he could freeze it off. And said there would be no problem & no scarring. Well there was scarring AND it came back….which resulted in the need for a “minor surgery” with “major cost”. And despite assurances there was additional scarring. WHICH the DR. offered to refer DW to his “friend” who was a “plastic surgeon” to correct the scarring….”if it bothered her”…. I agree with MB….be vigilante.

      • “If it bothered her.” Uh huh. Why would it bother a person to be presented with the opportunity to take on the sobriquet of “Scarface”? Happy day! Now, with this excellent qualification, she could take up bootlegging and bank robbery as a new career…

        I do think some docs are a little too optimistic about the sunny prospects of freezing things off. To say there would be no scarring is…well, absurd on the face of it. I will say that as this thing on my hand heals, I’m surprised at how unobtrusive it is…but that’s only because my hands and arms have so many brown spots, I look like a leopard. It just blends right in! 😀 She said it would probably leave a slightly reddish or brownish spot.

        It must be difficult for ethical doctors to assess when to leave something alone on an elderly patient. My guess is, a fair amount of Stuff That Happens would either just sit there harmlessly or not kill you before you kicked off with some other ailment. You’d have two unholy pressures on you: one, the profit motive (if it doesn’t HARM the patient — other hand inconveniencing her — and you can collect umpty-umpteen berjillion bucks for some “minor” procedure, why not?); and the other, demands from the patient to perform various unnecessary procedures that will neither help nor harm. Like the brown spot on my face, f’r example. An extra layer of makeup covers it to perfection…why do I need a “procedure” for it? But I’m sure if I made enough noise to enough doctors, sooner or later I’d find one who would do it.

  3. My experience with the vaccine was very different than yours. The charge at the pharmacy was $141.70 for the shot, and my insurance picked up most of it. I only paid $14.17 for it. I also did not have any side effects from it.

    The only glitch I faced was just getting the damn thing. I went to my local CVS and was told that they didn’t have any of the vaccine so I had to go to a different CVS. So, I went to the second store another day and was told they had no one to administer the vaccine and to come back another day. On the third attempt I was told that, yes, they had someone to administer it that day, but that I wasn’t old enough. I said I wanted the Shingrix vaccine, which is approved for people 50 and over (I’m 51), and the pharmacy assistant said the pharmacist would not do it because I had to be at least 60. I was pretty pissed that I’d made three trips to the pharmacy and still had no vaccine. So, I sent a tweet to CVS. They followed up with me via a phone call, set the record straight with the pharmacy, and I was finally able to get the first shot. I’ll go for the final shot next month.