Thursday, January 10, 2008

Pick Your Poison

So I got a tetanus shot yesterday. "Why not?" I figured; it was offered to me while I was doing a physical and talking with my doctor about finding a specialist for my severe mitral valve prolapse (my God, I'm falling apart...). So I got this shot because it was offered to me, I hadn't had it in a while, and "lockjaw" is perhaps as irrationally terrifying and controlling an argument as "9-11" when faced with such a decision.

So I don't feel good today, and looking online confirms that my symptoms are resemblant of a mild reaction to the tetanus vaccination. Nothing terribly serious compared with some of the examples I've seen online (fully swollen arm?? Crying nonstop for three hours???), but I am not yet sure I feel like going to work. With all the long symptom lists I have to sit through watching medicine commercials, I wonder why doctors aren't legally responsible for explaining the more common symptoms of something like a vaccination when they ask if you want to take it. In fact, that no symptoms were explicitly mentioned to me (I did ask if I would be okay to type at work afterward, and the doctor said I should be fine -- and was right) was a fairly large factor in my decision to get the shot in the first place.

Had I known how I would feel the next day, would I have taken the shot? I don't know, maybe. Or maybe I would wait until a weekend so it wouldn't affect me at work, or wait until I injure myself on a piece of metal (I honestly have never heard of anyone contracting tetanus without such an associated injury, though I'm sure it happens). The point isn't really whether my decision would have been affected, but that I was put in a position to make a decision without sufficient information when sufficient information should be easily provided. I suppose I should have asked what the odds and severity of such a vaccination were, and I certainly will from now on.

It would be unfair of me to criticize this occurrence if the odds of negative symptoms are one in a million and I just got unlucky. However, it seems that negative symptoms to such a vaccination are not uncommon. Okay, so I experienced soreness at the injection site (1 in 4); big deal. But I am also experiencing a mild fever (1 in 4), tiredness or loss of appetite (1 in 10 for either, but I feel both, and somewhat nauseated), and I guess I'm feeling fussiness (1 in 3) since I'm complaining on a blog.

Seriously, fussiness?? Is that even really a "symptom"?

Okay, so it's a moderate deal, I'm going to be late for work today if I even feel like going in at all, but it's worth it because lockjaw is such a big deal with a 10 percent fatality rate even if treated properly. Except that, supposedly, there are less than 100 cases of tetanus and only 5 deaths per year in the United States. And I bet most of those cases involve people who work with sharp tools and machinery day in and day out, farming etc. Now, I'm not a large proponent of internet statistics, and I am certain there are many inaccuracies in the sources I have linked to, or in my own interpretation of them. However, I am not trying to proclaim that tetanus vaccinations should never be given; I am simply claiming that maybe patients should not have to opt in to find out the risks of a vaccination they are about to receive and that such information should be offered up front when there is no immediate threat of such a disease (once again, I had not injured myself on any dirty objects) so the patient can decide whether or not they want something injected into their bloodstream in a more educated manner.

I was going to tie this information-hiding into game design, but I don't feel like typing anymore. Gonna leave that ellipsis as three periods and that dash as two hyphens, and I think you can read the quotes even though I am using the incorrect and ambiguous ascii version. Might fix these things later.

Time to ~_~zzz


Eric said...

Sorry you don't feel well. :(

Tetanus is a myth. Nobody ever gets that shit anyways. I knew a guy who once contracted it during a rusty knife eating contest, but that's about it.

Eric said...

Here buddy, this hitomi PV will make you feel better. It made me feel better. said...

Perhaps the low number of tetanus-related deaths is due to vaccination, though. According to Wikipedia, 300,000 to 500,000 people die of it each year.

eiyukabe said...

That is a very good point, but my main point was that no information was given to me whatsoever when I was offered the shot. I would have loved to know that my odds of getting tetanus increase from 100 in 300 million to whatever, as well as the odds of preventing tetanus after cutting myself on something dirty instead of preemptively. Even if they were made up stats, I would have felt better :).