Monday, January 07, 2008

On being one less

Okay, so we can thank the Associated Press for the groundbreaking news that getting a shot hurts sometimes.

Much to the delight of fundies everywhere who think that cervical cancer is the ideal punishment for premarital sex, Gardasil, the HPV vaccine shown to prevent four cancer-causing strains of the virus, has also been shown to hurt going in. Pain!, they cheer. Fainting! And pain! And they have to do it three times! What are we subjecting our daughters to, only to watch them turn around and slut it up without the fear of deadly illness to keep their pants zipped?

Now, I'd say I have a fairly high tolerance for pain. I've got one tattoo and piercings in ears, navel, and nose (and the last one was a bitch, I'll tell you). I donate blood, without major incident, every eight weeks. I once broke a toe while out dancing and didn't even notice for fifteen minutes (although the anesthetic properties of alcohol might have had something to do with that). So it could be argued that my personal anecdotes aren't terribly applicable to this particular situation. But I've had two Gardasil shots now, and they both felt... much like I was getting a shot. There was the poke with the needle, and a little bit of burning when the vaccine went in, and then the injection site was sore for a few hours, and then I went on with my day. It didn't hurt nearly as badly as the tetanus booster and meningitis vaccination I got before my study abroad sophomore year -- painful shots in each arm that left me unable to raise my arms above shoulder level for more than a day, thanks, Doc.

And despite the minor ouchiness of the injection itself, I was much comforted by the thought that it was far less painful than it would be to have parts of my cervix surgically removed. Or undergo chemo and radiation. With my final shot looming at the beginning of February, I can face the pain gladly, knowing that after I get my shot, I reward myself with a cookie, which is far more fun than dying slowly as my uterus turns to goo.

Of course, one side effect of the shot that I've became an absolute whore since. As soon as I left the clinic, I started thinking, “Wow, this newfound feeling of safety leaves me wanting to have sex with every single person I encounter. Like that guy. And that guy over there. And those two guys and that girl.” And the cumulative effect has been even worse. I’m having so much anonymous, unprotected sex these days that I can barely get any work done, and I haven't even had the third shot.

That is, of course, a joke, because vaccinations don't have that effect. After I got my tetanus booster, I didn't run out of the clinic shouting, "Someone bring me a rusty nail! Bring me a great, huge rusty nail and pound it through my foot! I am invincible!" And my hepatitis vaccine certainly didn't give me any urges to patronize seedy-looking tattoo parlors or share needles with Tommy Lee.

But Gardasil, apparently, has the power to turn innocent teenagers into sluts roaming the streets and humping anything that'll stand still long enough. And the injection hurts, like, way bad. And both of those things are worse than death. Better to lose your daughter to tumors that'll spread through her reproductive system and metastasize throughout her body and leave her sterile if they don't kill her in unspeakable agony than to risk her having premarital sex and not getting punished for it. 'Cause getting a shot hurts.

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