Dave and I went to see our friends at Kaiser Permanente to get our vaccines topped up. Neither of us had had an RSV shot and I needed my second shingles vaccine. I rolled up my sleeve and said “Fill ‘er up!”

“Do you want both the shingles and the RSV today or would you rather space them out?”

Hey. I drove all the way over here. Slam ‘em in there. I told her I rarely have any trouble with immunizations. Worst case, my shoulder might be tender as a Buicked possum, but that doesn’t last.

I don’t even know what RSV is. I used to read everything I could about these viruses when COVID first showed up. They were constantly finding out new information about transmission and what to do to protect yourself. There were daily updates. But I got tired of it all after a few years. When RSV showed up, seemingly out of nowhere as though it was just taking its turn, I went straight to “give me the vaccine” and was done with it.

The shingles vaccine, though, I’d already heard rumors that it can knock you flat for a while, especially that second one.

The problem with vaccine side effects is that I might not recognize them. I rarely have any pain and when I do I go straight to the dark side. So when I went to bed last night with a sore arm—that part made sense—I was fine. But all night long I kept waking up and my arms and legs ached, all over. Which is not normal. I couldn’t get comfortable. There were two possibilities: nocturnal multiple sclerosis, which usually clears up by morning, or I had suddenly come down with a case of being 95 years old. That early-onset nonagenaria is a killer. There was no other explanation. I did develop one arthritic finger practically overnight, so I know these things can happen in a hurry.

Finally I motivated enough to try to get out of bed. The toilet interested me, but it is about fifteen feet away. Halfway there, my body was as sturdy as tapioca. I gave some thought to blooping toward the floor and curling up on the carpet under a blanket. I didn’t have to pee that bad. Somehow, though, I managed to get to the bathroom and did the minimum number of things that needed doing, and retired to a comfy chair.

Which was not comfy, on account of being not near horizontal enough.

Also, my skin hurt. Pretty much the whole envelope. Not all the time, just when it touched something else, like furniture, or clothing, or air.

Also, my hair hurt. This isn’t as much trouble as it could be, because my hair has been falling out rapidly to get the jump on being 95.

I looked it up. The side effects of the RSV vaccine and the shingles vaccine are the same. One especially helpful website featured a simple drawing of a human body, such as you’d see on a bathroom door, with little lines connecting the symptoms with the body. Ergo, “headache” had a line going to the head. “Nausea” had a line going to the midsection. “Diarrhea” had a line to the diarrhea zone, a.k.a. the nethers. Without the helpful visual aid, you might mistake an earache for a stubbed toe.

Like a lot of you, I thought RSV was brand new, just one more affliction for the end times. But apparently RSV, which is short for Respiratory Snickletickle Virus, isn’t new. In fact it was first discovered in 1956, which is pretty close to when I was first discovered. The main difference between RSV and me is I haven’t killed anyone yet. But I’ve got a few years left, and I don’t feel so happy right now.

RSV evidently got ticked off during the COVID pandemic. No one was going anywhere and there weren’t enough people agreeing to host. So once people quit wearing masks and such, RSV blasted out of the gate again demanding to get its propers.

Turns out I did have a fever and that’s probably why I felt 95 years old. It’s worth it. I don’t know about RSV, but shingles is not trifling. Shingles is what you get when your chickenpox virus hides inside your body trying to develop a crocodile for fifty years and then it erupts in reptilian wonder on one side of your body. The crocodile is trying to escape and your skin is the only thing holding it back, but it can put up a pretty good fight before resubmerging.

The reason the vaccine is so troublesome is that it’s trying to slay the chickenpox virus but has no modern weapons at its disposal. You’d like to think your vaccine has been pumped into your arm complete with laser weapons, pew pew pew, but instead it goes in, has a look around, and does that medieval thing where it shoots a barrage of tiny arrows into the air all at once and hopes for the best. And I guess it does a pretty good job of deflating the virus, but you get all those arrows going off in you, you’re going to feel it.

At least that’s what I came up with, but I had a fever.