Note: Our Cathy is serving up a great post this morning. For those of you who are not familiar with the sitcom Alice, Kiss My Grits became a catchphrase spoken by Flo, the lovable, straightforward waitress who predated Flo from Progressive. We Italian Americans might say, "Kiss my polenta!" :)
By Cathy Jameson
Ronan had 4 follow-up appointments on Friday. I knew it would be a long day for both of us, so I prepared some thoughts ahead of time for the providers we’d be seeing. I am usually able to answer every question asked of me about his health and am complimented on how much I can add to the complex medical conversations his providers and I have. I hesitated, though, when a question asked was directed at me. That part of the conversation had started with Ronan, but then…
“Has Ronan had his flu shot?” the specialists asked.
I gave her the same answer I gave the nurse when we’d arrived, “No, he had a reaction to that one.”
A look of shock fell over her.
She asked, “So none this year?”
“We don’t do them anymore,” I answered.
After a short pause the doctor asked me pointedly, “Well, have you had yours then?”
I quickly replied, “I don’t do them either.”
“You don’t? Just...don’t?” The doctor’s response was polite enough but the tone and the strange look on her face told me that my reply was not the one she expected. She looked as if she was about to lecture me, but I stayed composed as she looked me up and down and confidently told her, “I do not.”
I could tell that that answer didn’t satisfy her. I was ready to give her one of several responses if she pressed for more information. Taking another moment to formulate her thoughts, she opened her mouth, closed it and then refocused on why we were all sitting in the exam room: on Ronan.
It was his appointment, not mine.
The doctor got back to assessing Ronan and what brought us to her clinic. I could tell that she was still baffled and thinking about us lacking those flu shots she must assume everyone gets. I wanted to assure her that neither of us had the flu, that we didn’t have other diseases, and that we both posed no risk to her health nor anyone else’s for that matter. The fact that she, like so many other medical providers now, asked if I had a flu shot still made me cringe as she spoke, but I was ready with a comeback if needed.
No, and kiss my grits.
Years ago, we’d be asked if we had “a flu shot” not have you had “your shot”. I know it can be hard for some to wiggle out of the conversation when someone else is suggesting a flu shot belongs to them. But when it comes to our family’s history, we’ll never feel like those are something we should have or possess. I’ve joked in the past with my kids that the nurse needs to put the pronouns away and to stop labeling a vaccine as “my shot” or “your shot”. I was ready to tell this doctor exactly that had she persisted.
Thankfully, she did not.
This was a new doctor for Ronan. It was also a new specialty for him, too. I’ve always hoped that we could leave one of the several specialty clinics I take Ronan to, but with how complicated his needs are, we add them. I’m glad for the help we received today, especially since I don’t know enough about his latest diagnosis. I’m most grateful that, even though I haven’t learned everything about her field yet, I at least got to establish to the doctor that I, Ronan’s Mom, knows enough to say no...no, thank you...and not ever to one thing that the mainstream medical world thinks we all have to have. Flu shots? No, we don’t want them. And no, we won’t get them. End of story.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.