A word or two about tetanus shots

Get one. Or at least, call your doctor and find out if you are due for a booster. You will need it anyway, and likely you will really be sure you need one at a most inconvenient time, like 7:30 in the morning when you step on a nail left over from a piece of old furniture you tore apart and dragged out to the trash.  Lucky for me, my day job has a clinic for things like this, but I didn’t know that until I freaked out about how I was going to get this done on top of Ben’s Dr appointment and TKD class.

I’d gotten by without a booster for a few years, even when I thought I probably should have gotten one, like when I scraped my arm on an old piece of drywall bead while stuffing the crap left in my driveway by the drywall guy into a garbage bag. Or the time I was pulling nails out of the privacy fence in the backyard and, first, stabbed myself with one of the nails, then, hit myself in the forehead with the claw-end of the hammer.

Each time something like this happened,  I  got on the Mayo Clinic web site to look up the symptoms of tetanus just to make sure I wasn’t coming down with it. According to Mayo, here are what the symptoms look like:

Common signs and symptoms of tetanus, in order of appearance, are:

  • Spasms and stiffness in your jaw muscles
  • Stiffness of your neck muscles
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Stiffness of your abdominal muscles
  • Painful body spasms, lasting for several minutes, typically triggered by minor occurrences, such as a draft, loud noise, physical touch or light

Weird thing is, I have most of these symptoms all the time.  Stress and a general crappy attitude will do that to a person. But then they add these other symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate

Which could also be mistaken for the symptoms of falling in love—which of course I didn’t have either—so most of the time I got away with avoiding a shot in spite of the fact that tetanus is carried in dirt and animal feces, and out here where I live we have lots of both of those.

But that day, the classic dirty, rusty nail-through-the-shoe-into-the foot scenario happened in my driveway and I had to face the truth. As much as my friends and family would appreciate my jaw to tighten and close permanently, I wasn’t ready to face another hospital bill I couldn’t afford, so I got the shot when I called a friend and she suggested visiting the clinic.

I know when we don’t know what to do, we are supposed to ask ourselves what we would say to our best friend. But trying to take my own advice can sometimes be met with hazards. Thankfully, nothing worse than the flood, the fire, or the storms I’ve faced.  And nothing makes me more thankful than the peace that comes when these events finally subside and I can listen in the stillness. In that listening I usually here something really interesting.

I was facing a particularly difficult personal circumstance recently and found myself whining to God, “Please don’t let this be my life.  Please don’t let this be my life.”  And it took a couple of days, but finally, I heard something back, when he or she said, “Then don’t make this your life.”

And became empowered again to know that some of this is actually within my control, and water in the basement is just some water, and my house didn’t burn to the ground (though I ordered- up a fire escape ladder from Amazon the very next day after it tried to), and I don’t have to worry about lock jaw.  The water in my basement came up with a shop-vac, the firefighters and electricians took care of the burned up outlet, and I got my shot. And one more thing: Sometimes, when I call for help, people who care about me (and even people who don’t know me) will answer.

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