I’m not going to lie. Those baby shots were brutal, man, brutal.

There were five of them in all, and each had its own needle. For some reason, I thought multiple shots these days were given by one those Star Trek-type needles; you know … multiple needles on one head, requiring only one actual shot, or maybe no needles at all.

I knew it wasn’t going to duplicate the show’s pain-free process, but I still thought medicine had taken a few steps forward since the first time I got these shots, mostly back in the 1950s. The 1950s, people. Everything was black and white and I had to wear a shirt and tie to go to the doctor, who wore his own shirt and tie and, more often than not, smoked at least one unfiltered, British cigarette during each visit.

I’ll give you this — the size and shape of the needles have changed. Back in the day, the needles were metal and big. I guess they’re still metal, but now they’re really tiny — a big plus.

I looked around for post-inoculation lollipops as soon as I hit the clinic. None. Well, OK, maybe they’re in the room where you get the actual shots, I thought. None there, either.

Still, I have learned during my journey with cancer that irritating anyone who is about to perform any procedure on your person is not a good idea.


So, I was very nice to the women who were doing the sticking, although I don’t think I should be calling it sticking. But, inoculating seems like a pretty serious medical term to me, and I generally avoid using serious medical terms. Besides, sticking seemed more like what it was.

As the nurses got ready to do their part, I realized there was going to be more to this than I’d thought. And don’t go calling me a baby about this. I was all by myself, and I couldn’t see a post-shot treat anywhere on the horizon.

“How do you want these?” asked the woman who seemed to be the ringleader.

I had no idea what she meant and hoped not to sound too stupid when I answered, in all seriousness, “Painlessly.”

Well, the stupid boat had sailed with me on it and when she smiled like I had been joking, I smiled, too. “Good one, huh nurse? Heh, heh.”

“Heh heh. Yeah. Cute, but I meant how many shots do you want in each arm?”


With that, the chances of my getting through this without being a complete big baby took a big hit. How do you answer a question like that? I couldn’t. I didn’t, so she tried to help.

“You can have five in one arm, or we can split them up. Maybe two and three.”

I meant to say “Fine,” but it came out kinda like “Flgmyphm.” But that was good enough for her. Up went the sleeves on each arm, the area was swabbed, and stick, stick, stick, stick, stick. And they hurt, people. I was stuck five times with five different needles containing five different things that generated five different sensations, though pain seemed to be a constant. I may have cried “Ow” more than once, and maybe a little louder with each succeeding shot.

Fine. Lollipop time. Prior to the actual experience, I had just wanted one because … because I wanted one. Now, though, I knew I had earned one. But the nurses offered me … nothing. Not one thing to say to the world, “How brave you were,” or “Good job. We’ll tell your wife what a good job you did.” Nothing. I was going to take names, but then I remembered that I have to have another round of baby shots in about three months; most likely from the same people. So, I was nice.

Besides, within a few minutes, I was unable to lift either of my arms very far from my side, bringing to mind one more reason for not liking shots in the first place.

Oh, I know you’re probably thinking: “Little babies get these all the time, you know, and they don’t take on so.”

Really? Well, let’s review that situation. Those babies are coddled by their mothers, kept feeling secure and safe, probably wrapped in a blanket. And when it’s all over, they get to take a nap. I, on the other hand, got no hugs, no blanket, no nap.

Yeah. Babies are brave. I get it. But couldn’t a fella just get a lollipop?

Jim Arnold is a former copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. To read more about his journey through cancer, visit his blog, findingthepony.blogspot.com.

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