Monday, December 28, 2020


Early last week I received a text from Local Hospital, saying that my name had come up in the hospital's mysterious vaccination hierarchy, and gave me a date and time to get my COVID-19 shot.

 It was in a part of Grumpyville that, quite literally, I didn't know existed. I assumed there was going to be a secret password or knock, but it wasn't included in the text.

So, at the appointed time, I drove to the secret site, which turned out to be the parking lot of an abandoned strip mall. The building itself, long-devoid of dollar stores, drive-thru liquor emporiums, porn shops, landscaping companies, and crematoriums, was apparently chosen for its massive parking lot, rather than the building itself.


"Are you shitting me?"

Local Hospital had set up a bizarre array of tents, traffic cones, folding tables & chairs, and outdoor heaters. Realizing that putting up a sign that said "COVID VACCINES HERE!" would bring in hordes of people who'd found it after taking the wrong freeway exit, they simply had signs that said "PRIVATE EVENT." This had the intended effect of making passersby think it was simply a large outdoor wedding, the kind that are commonly held in snow at an empty strip mall in the freezing Midwestern winter.

In fact, it fooled me (and most everyone else) judging by the number of confused people who pulled in and asked the heavily-swathed security guard (I'm pretty sure he had a flask of brandy somewhere on him) if this was where the COVID shots were .

 It was.


"No, it's not a cartel meeting, why do you ask?"


So I pulled up to the first table. At this point there was a sign saying to roll down the driver's side window and leave it down. I suppose this wouldn't matter back in my ancestral home of San Diego, but here in Grumpyville it was a balmy 28°F (-2 C) and there was a mild snowfall. And I'm sitting in this, with my car window open.

I pulled up to the table where another unidentifiable person/biped/android checked my hospital ID, driver's license, and appointment time, asked me if I had an elevated temperature (which really wasn't possible at that point), ran through a list of Coronavirus, SARS, and Ebola symptoms to make sure I didn't have any, then waved me on to the next table. It was kind of like being in the line of boats at the beginning or end of Small World, but without the music. And a lot colder.

At the next table they checked my temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. Like wearing masks, having someone point a gun-shaped thing at my forehead to check my temperature to go anywhere would have seemed entirely bizarre and creepy a year ago, and is now normal.

Finally I pulled up into the vaccine tent itself and stuck my left arm outside the car window. They asked me to put the car in park, as understandably a sudden lurch forward with sharp objects involved was undesirable. It was also the closest I'd been to one of the giant propane heaters, for which I was grateful.

After a minute, a person in some sort of giant Hazmat suit came over with a syringe and asked to verify my name.



"Ibee Grumpy."

"Hey, Ibee! Good to see you, it's me, Kim McBoob, under all this. Haven't seen you in a while."


Kim and I had gone to medical school together a LONG time ago. She went into radiology, then specialized in reading mammograms, and somehow we'd both ended up at the same hospital in Grumpyville.


Dr. Grumpy: "Kim, what are you doing out here?"

Dr. McBoob: "I was bored, no one has been coming in for mammos between the pandemic and holidays, so I volunteered to give shots."

Dr. Grumpy: "When was the last time you gave shots?"

Dr. McBoob: "Before today? Same time you did, back at the Big City VA."


At this point I was more terrified I was going to lose my arm than have a reaction to the vaccine. Dr. McBoob tried to make me feel better by saying...


Dr. McBoob: "Don't worry, they had us watch some Youtube videos on giving injections this morning. Hold on, this will sting a bit..."

Dr. Grumpy: "Aren't you  supposed to swab the site with alcohol first?"

Dr. McBoob: "Oh yeah, you distracted me. Hang on... There ya go! Now you can pull over to area 51, there, where the guy with the blue flag is."

I pulled over to the largest part of the parking lot. The wind had picked up and it had started to snow more. There a fellow gave me, literally, the following instructions:

"You doing okay? Good. Pull into space 27 there, where the lady with the yellow flag is. You'll need to wait 15 minutes. If you feel like you're having a serious allergic reaction, or you're, like, about to stop breathing, please honk your horn and turn on your hazard lights so we can come help you. Also, remember to leave your driver's side window down and the doors unlocked so we can reach you if needed."

Really, he did.

I pulled into space 27, by the lady with the yellow flag. She handed me a paper with the Lot number of my shot and the sentence "If you develop anaphylactic shock please remember to honk your horn and turn on your hazard lights."


"Pardon me, may I borrow your Epipen?"


So there I was. I've received a remarkable scientific breakthrough, and all I can think about is that my arm hurts, it's freezing cold, and snow is blowing into my car through the window I have to keep open. I was wondering, if I did call for help, would a rescuing nurse, doctor, or St. Bernard be more appropriate?



"You the guy who honked? Hello? Hello?"


Maybe I could ask the security guard to borrow his flask. After all, I'd now been vaccinated.

Faced with my bleak prospects for the next 15 minutes, I did what countless previous generations of Americans did in difficult circumstances: I played Toon Blast. Although my fingers were, admittedly, starting to get numb with frostbite.

After about 10 minutes yellow-flag-lady came over and asked me if I was having any trouble breathing. When I said no, she told me I could leave because they needed the parking space for the next person. I was more than happy to be able to roll up my car window and crank the heater up, 

For those of you who are curious, it hurt for about 2 days, longer than the flu shot, but not nearly as bad as the shingles shot.

And I'm still pretty pissed that it hasn't, to date, caused me to develop cool superpowers.



Also, is anyone else pissed off that Cyborg replaced the Martian Manhunter in the JLA reboot?



Squarepantspharmd said...

Ahhhh, reminds me of getting my tb skin test at the local hospital when I was in college. The nurse came in and literally said, "So I've never done this before, we've got new needles that I've heard hurt worse than the old needles, we're also out of the old needles, so you get to be my first with all this." Just makes you feel great all around 👍

scully's mom said...

Your doctor friend wasn’t as good as my random nurse in the seminar room. Barely hurt to get. Now 47 hours later and have yet to feel a twinge of pain. Hope next one goes as well.

Mama Mingo said...

Hilarious! I can only hope that my experience is as interesting as yours. I'm near the bottom of the priority list, being I'm relatively young and not in healthcare or an essential worker. Hope you and your family are healthy and well in 2021.

Anonymous said...

I feel kinda disappointed. Got my 1st vaccine dose this morning. Other than a bit of a wait while the specially hired contract nurses learned how to document in our EMR, it was uneventful. I would have enjoyed a bizarre drive in experience. Would have been fitting with the rest of 2020.

Loren Pechtel said...

You sure live in a doctor-friendly area. My wife isn't on the front lines so she doesn't get any priority here.

a.generic doc said...

Be happy they weren't playing some kind of "It's a Small Small Covid Shot" music. You'd be humming it for days!

Ms. Donna said...

Yea Grumpy. And the JLA has NOTHING on the folks who got this vaccine ready in record time.

It's a small shot, after all.
It's a small shot after all.
It's a small, small shot.

Just in case you needed an earworm.

Anonymous said...

We had to use up the sixth dose out of the vial, so I volunteered to get in ahead of others whose appointments were set up the next day. I complimented the recruit who gave me the painless injection. Of course, there's quite a bit of painless dermis to the deltoid in my case, and we're using 1 in. mosquito proboscises. However, that night I had the most frustrating nightmare (I was back in college and the lacrosse coach had been recruited to teach Chemistry 101, and he wasn't making a lick of sense, and looked like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland to boot, and in my dream my arm ached dreadfully, so badly that I woke after getting quite agitated with an explanation of Grignard's reagent--which I happened to like the first time around.) Turns out I was sleeping on a sheet wrinkle on top of the injection site. Yet, when I poked my arm, there was no pain. Go figure. Thankfully the 28 degrees was outside the building.

Packer said...

My RN Daughter got shot one last week, all the RNs requested they get shot by other RNs after watching the Dr.s throw the dart, they routed other staff to the Dr. so much for Flo Nightingale, she is still snickering

Anonymous said...

Hospital president (who was an RN for some brief moment years ago) gave me mine in a conference room. Actually a quick and relatively painless experience.

jono said...

Got my flu shot under similar conditions a couple of months ago. Shingles a few days before that and it hurt a bit, but way less than shingles, and it was fine in a couple of days. I'll be happy to get the vaccine whenever they let me. Maybe my geezer status will move me up in line just a little.

Anonymous said...

I want my shot right now, but I'm last in line. However, I did notice my state will be offering them to people 50 and older who work at grocery stores, in phase 1, so first. I'm thinking about getting a job in a grocery store so I can get a shot. ;)

Anonymous said...

Giving shots is no big deal. When going through IVF, I received about a one minute injection tutorial. So I supplemented my education with YouTube videos. One of the medications had to be mixed, then injected. I watched that tutorial in a CVS pharmacy waiting for the prescription to be filled because it was accidently omitted from the giant bag of medications I received at the beginning of the cycle. Then my husband had to give me the injection in my back hip/upper butt area in the CVS bathroom because there is about a 15 minute window when the injection must be given and we were at about minute 14.

C said...

I would have just closed the car window.
If they cannot open your car door for you
if you are having anaphylactic shock, what good are they?

glad that you are halfway vaccinated.... some of your neuro patients
are unpredictable and will not be able to cooperate with contact tracing even if they try to do so.

Shash said...

Impatiently waiting for the opportunity to get my shots. I figure it will happen on a steamy July day, at 2:30 PM, with hail and a thunderstorm approaching the empty school lot that was chosen.

Anonymous said...

Happy for you, Dr Grumpy! I was notified Christmas Eve that I was eligible for the vaccine, so I got my COVID shot on Christmas morning- best Christmas present ever! Now I can freak out a little less when my demented patients can't keep their masks on.

Allyson said...

"Long-devoid shops, landscaping companies, and crematoriums" is the funniest part of this whole hilarious entry. Thanks for that.

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