Even though we only lived in California for four years, it seems we crammed a lot of activity into them.  We saw just about everything there was to see in the Bay Area, had our second child, they both then had chicken pox and of course I had the flu.  It was then that I had one of my most embarrassing experiences and got my first and only ride in an ambulance. Plus, I learned to never, ever miss an opportunity for a flu shot.

At the time, I thought that flu shots were only for the elderly but that turned out to be old news.  So it was that I ended up feeling poorly one morning.  I felt really, really poorly actually but I was working in the defense industry and at the time, Lockheed was laying people off whenever they could.  It had become institutionalized.  I had an appointment to meet with our new manager (who wanted to meet everyone who reported to him) and I wanted to make sure he knew who I was.  He certainly did remember me ever after that day.

I drove to work with some difficulty; I had a bout of dizziness about halfway along the Lawrence Expressway and I was running the air conditioner even though it was the middle of winter.  After I got to my desk, I realized very soon that I was not going to make it.  The dizzy spells were hitting me every so often and I could feel the fever spiking up.  In fact, I decided that I should not drive home and called Mel at her office to ask her to come get me.  She agreed and I hung up the phone.  I then had a pretty severe dizzy spell and thought to myself that it would feel really good to lay down on the floor and go downstairs to await Mel in a few minutes.  And so I laid down under my desk.  At least that’s how I remember it.  My office mate remembers it differently.

To hear her tell it, I hung up the phone and collapsed onto the floor.  She called 911 and came over to help me out to whatever extent she could which was not much.  I don’t remember much besides some fragments of conversation:  “I called and told them we have a man down”, “ambulance is rolling…”,   “they’re here…”  The next thing I recall is an EMT asking me my name.  My tie was gone.  I had an oxygen thing around my head and sort of in my nose.  I told him my name.  He then wanted to know why I was on the floor.  I told him that it was voluntary but my cubicle mates told him otherwise.  The other EMT was checking my blood pressure and making unintelligible comments into his radio. 

The EMT asked me if I had felt nauseous.  I said “No” but then had to change my mind – perhaps due to the power of suggestion.  I rolled over, retched a bit, and went back to my spread-eagle pose.  That apparently was a decision factor to the EMTs and they began to get me onto that rolling EMT bed thing.  I didn’t want to go; everybody in the office was there staring at me.  I tried to make them understand that I was feeling a lot better and could probably walk out under my own power but they told me that was an effect of the oxygen and that no way was I going to walk or drive.

Finally we rolled to the freight elevator and went downstairs.  On the way I asked my friend Rick to call Melissa and update her, I gave him the number, and then we were gone.  There was more unintelligible garble from the radio as we rolled into the ambulance and went over to the medical facility at Lockheed which apparently is not uncommon at large facilities where they build big things.  I briefly saw a doctor there who told me conclusively that I had the flu and I was to go home immediately.  I waited there for awhile until Mel drove up. 

That was on a Monday and I did not wake up voluntarily for the next five days.  At one point, Mel discovered an infestation of ants in the kitchen and that, coupled with having to single-mom it with Evan, pushed her over the line.  She got me up to clear the cabinets and spray while she was at work.  I vaguely remember staggering around the kitchen in a dizzy haze dealing with ants and then falling back into the bed.

I have never missed a flu shot since then and it’s not really because I felt so bad – it is to a large extend due to the superficial reason that I do not want to risk any more really embarrassing episodes at the office.  I guess any reason to maintain good health is a good one, no matter how superficial.

I almost couldn’t show up back at work but of course, by that time, everybody had forgotten about it unless reminded.  The janitor who showed up to clean up the aftermath even said “Ah, that was nothing.  I’ve seen a lot worse.”  But I still haven’t ever missed a flu shot since then.

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