Normally, after the
attacks on Paris last weekend, I’d be writing another column in
opposition to bringing Islamic Syrian refugees to the U.S., and
probably mentioning the Democratic debate in which the three
candidates, even after the Paris attacks, still want to join
President Obama in welcoming them as France did.
But what else can one say?
The Paris massacre certainly wasn’t a surprise, though its
inevitability came earlier than expected. I watched television all
weekend, CNN and then the Democratic debate; couldn’t do much else
because my right arm was disabled from my flu shot.
This is the reason I
missed writing a column last week; I couldn’t type. But I was
already planning this week’s column, in which I am going to warn you
about another under-the-radar healthcare scandal.
My experience with our
local healthcare system has been excellent over the years. Today’s
column is a general warning about the flu shot, which I got at a
medical clinic on Oct. 30 after making an appointment online.
I did notice that the two
young technicians giving the shot weren’t paying attention to the
patient, just talking to each other, but I’m sure other older women
have had that experience; at a certain age we disappear as people. I
was going to complain to the office, but unfortunately did not —
until I woke up a week later with the most intense pain that I have
ever had, in my right arm, climbing up into my neck.
I know that some people
have a “sore arm” from the shot the next day; but this was much more
than “sore.” My first line of action was to see my trusted
chiropractor, Dr. Dennis O’Connor, who asked where the pain
originated. I told him “right there, where I got the flu shot,” and
he said, “ah.” He said some shots are being given too high, and when
my partner, Chip, went online, we learned that he is exactly right —
but none of the other doctors or nurses I called over the weekend,
looking for treatment, knew anything about this.
sheet I was handed after I got the shot — from the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control
(CDC) — warned about possible “minor problems, like soreness,
redness, etc.” I’ve never had these. But farther down the page, it
warns that “some people get severe pain in the shoulder and have
difficulty moving the arm where a shot was given. This happens very
Didn't say what to do
about it. But for the first time in my life, I went to my doctor
specifically to ask for pain medication; I got just enough oxycodone
for the weekend, over which Chip did more online research.
It’s called “SIRVA”
— shoulder injury related to vaccine administration. Not a problem
with the vaccine itself, but, because vaccines can be controversial,
apparently the CDC or vaccine salesmen don’t want this information
to get out, lest people stop getting the flu shot they pitch and
sell every year.
Quietly, the federal
government has increased its program that compensates people hurt by
vaccinations — from how the shot is given by people who are not
properly trained. One nurse I talked with said she was shocked when
she moved here to work and learned that almost anyone is allowed to
give the shots she was trained to give in nursing school.
Another nurse told me he
and others were surprised this month when they suddenly received a
memo urging them to make sure they gave shots properly — after the
years these professionals had been giving them with no problems.
Yes, follow the money.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal
article, since 2011, the government has paid about $18 million
to 112 SIRVA victims “... other cases are pending, as there is an
increased awareness by attorneys that ... SIRVA generally is caused
by an injection improperly shot too high in the arm ... this can
injure the musculoskeletal structures of the shoulder, such as
tendons, ligaments or bursa, causing sudden shoulder pain.”
That would be
“excruciating” shoulder pain, attorneys... but suing is only fun
when someone gets punished. You should know that the victims are
paid by a “trust fund set up to shield vaccine manufacturers from
Chip also found a WBZ
investigation that aired Feb. 20, “Are
Vaccines Causing Shoulder Injuries?” by Chris McKinnon, who
learned that the “results can mean months or years of debilitating
pain,” causing patients to take powerful medications like ...
Sorry I missed the show
that night. I’d have learned what I am telling you now: If you get
the flu shot, make sure the technician is trained, that he/she is
paying attention, find out ahead of time where that proper muscle is
on your (and your children’s) arms.
My doctor is recommending
that I see an orthopedic specialist, and that may mean some physical
therapy. So far, along with the short-term opioid, which I traded
for Tylenol or Advil (with food), except for one oxycodone at
bedtime, the thing that helped the most was the “T-Relief”
homeopathic pain relief cream recommended by Dr. O’Connor, who was
the only person who immediately recognized the problem. He said
T-Relief would help if there was bruising, which there eventually
was; most of my upper arm and shoulder turned purple.
I had “Biofreeze”
from my friend Mark: it helped ease the muscle pain in my neck and
down the rest of my arm to my wrist; the roll-on version isn’t
So, along with the sling
my general practitioner gave me for “no more than three days,” and
the relaxation inspired by the need to sit still and watch
television, bearing witness to the Decline and Fall of Western
Civilization, I am healed enough this week to type a warning column
for you if you get flu shots.
Oh, one more thing: As my
bruising started to fade, I read an
article in the Globe about new research showing that “flu shots
are probably not a good idea every year, that every four or five
years is enough.”
NOW they tell us.
Barbara Anderson of
Marblehead is a weekly columnist for the Salem News and
Eagle-Tribune Publishing Company.