Vaso-vagal madness

Sunday was rough.

I went to the MinuteClinic at CVS (my boyfriend took me up there so I could get a quick checkup for something minor and get a scrip) and saw that they had flu shots. Goody, I thought, signing myself and my boyfriend up. I’ve been pretty concerned, mainly for him, because he tends to get whatever is going around and while I might get a cold or whatever, I never get the flu. But, nevertheless, they had flu shots and we have health insurance, so why take chances?

There were a ton of sick kids with flu-ish symptoms at the clinic. We didn’t want to stand around them (I feel like he is especially prone to catching stuff) but, what can you do, really? I got my flu shot and I was fine. My boyfriend got his and immediately had an allergic reaction. The nurse practitioner called 911. They took him to the hospital and I drove along. I was scared, but it was only after I read up on what happened that I felt guilty and totally petrified.

What was I thinking encouraging him to get a flu shot at the MinuteClinic? Actually, what was I doing encouraging anyone to do anything I didn’t know anything about, really? I didn’t even fully understand that flu shot, and I didn’t understand my boyfriend’s medical history other than he does get sick. He’s just prone to catching whatever is contagious. I kept thinking about all the things I should have done: Demanded him to see a physician. Demanded that he get a full wellness check-up from a physician prior to getting services at a Minute Clinic. I don’t know. I feel bad. I have this strong sense there was a right way to make sure he was well and healthy, and I didn’t help him do that.

The ER doctor said they thought he’d had a vaso-vagal reaction. After he was discharged, and we came home, he was fine. I was slightly freaking out that he was downplaying how he felt, because he’s very easygoing.

Some crazy blogger (who happens to be a physician, but is prone to sounding like he’s throwing a Obama-is-a-socialist tantrum when he posts) was ranting against the general trend of healthcare services being offered by NPs and PAs. He specifically mentioned than if a nurse practitioner gave a flu shot, she wouldn’t know what to do in case of a vagal reaction, whereas he would be in a facility that would be equipped to prepare for this kind of reaction.

The whole thing has got me a little turned around. I like NPs. I think they are smart and knowledgeable and I thought the MinuteClinic was a great convenience. And I would still firmly hold onto that belief, if I had been by myself and my loved one hadn’t had a vaso-vagal reaction there. But what bothers me is that when I was getting my flu shot, she told me to sit in the waiting room for 20 minutes afterwards and report any allergic reaction, upon where she’d give me an ephedrine shot. It sounded like if there was a problem, there would be a quick and routine solution. No mention of having to call the EMTs or going to the ER. After my boyfriend started having a reaction, the nurse at the MinuteClinic (the non-NP) said, “It can’t be the flu shot. It must have been something else. I’ve been giving the shot since 10 am.” I was just standing there watching the NP monitor my boyfriend’s vitals, with big eyes. I didn’t want to start wondering what it wasn’t and I was scared. Later, when I realized what she was saying and why, I resented that. It was like she wanted to be reassured it wasn’t her fault. All I wanted them to do was treat him for what it was and it terrified me that they didn’t know. They were acting pretty afraid themselves. That didn’t help me. I appreciated their help and how they called 911 and didn’t listen to either of us being confused about why it was necessary to go to the ER. That we weren’t totally terrified the moment he had the reaction scares me.

I may still go to the MinuteClinic for services, but there is no way I would ever encourage anyone else to go. I also think my boyfriend should have been really good about going to the doctor generally and since he really isn’t, I should have demanded he go and get a physical, and let the docs there vaccinate him. I’m worried about him. My poor guy.


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