Swine Flu Speakeasy

November 20, 2009

As a pregnant person officially at “high risk” for swine flu (this is a bit thrilling; I’ve never done any of the other fun things, such as IV drugs, that would put me at “high risk” for anything), I am the lucky recipient of an H1N1 immunization organized by my ob-gyn’s office.

They had some sub rosa arrangement with a local rheumatologist; we were to go to the specified address between 9 and noon on a given day and were given no additional information (indeed, we were explicitly told that under no circumstances were we to attempt to call the rheumatologist). I’m surprised they didn’t give us some special knock to use.

The office was buried in the back of a wooded office park. I got there a bit before 9 and there was already something of a stampede happening; pregnant bellies in various stages of development were emerging from behind trees at a surprisingly rapid clip and making a beeline for suite 1-C.

One woman was a trim, twitchy greyhound sort in a track jacket and leggings. She maneuvered her way to near the front of the line, having dodged some of her more lumbering cohorts, and was the very first one immunized and out the door (I have my suspicions that she may not have been with child at all but merely eager to avoid the inevitable loss of productivity resulting from a bout of H1N1).

The waiting room was belly-to-belly, packed with women who were barely pregnant, women who were in what appeared to be the very final hours of pregnancy, overextended women wielding both full bellies and full strollers.

There was also one unfortunate man who had apparently not gotten the memo that this particular morning was Momfest 2009 at the rheumatologist’s office. He settled into a chair and looked around in bewildered fashion at the way the room was filling up, thought about gallantly giving up his seat but quickly became overwhelmed at the number of plausible options to offer it to, and buried himself in his magazine until he was called and ushered into a back room.

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