I’m 45 today. Normally, I enjoy my birthday, since I still look young enough that people don’t quite believe it when I tell my age… I figure I have 20 or so more years to enjoy this, because, as they say… Black don’t crack. It shatters.
This year was looking even better than usual. It’s also my 18 month anniversary with my main partner (yah… That’s right, our relationship is a year and a half), who has a cute apartment in Paris, central enough to sometimes hear the riots. And I’ve just started working at a job in a cool company that actually gives out birthday presents.
And yet I’m not at work today. I’m also not annoying my friends by complaining about how my partner is in Paris and not making me breakfast in bed (despite all of us knowing he wouldn’t actually allow me to eat in bed, because… crumbs, gross!).
Nope. I’m in my room, in my house, where I’ve been since Thursday afternoon… forbidden from leaving by the Department of Health until my pee sample is deemed free of measles.
How did this happen?! I’m no anti-vaxxer. My kids are all up to date on their shots (thank goodness). And yet, I’m left hoping that my cough, runny nose, and watery eyes are due to a very poorly timed cold instead of the beginning of a week long rash.
It started with a party. I danced for a few hours and gave a sweet guy a second chance, and then went home with fond memories. Until the next week when a friend who had also been at the party shared a news item saying that someone infected with measles had been at the club.
“Oh great…” I thought. But I laughed it off, because my parents had made sure I got all my shots. 40 years ago. But it didn’t occur to me that I might not be immune. So, just to be safe, I got my blood tested. Which was an adventure in and of itself, since my Russian pediatrician swore that at my age, I’d probably already been exposed anyway.
Dude, no. Not in America. No offense but I’m guessing this is one reason why y’all lost the cold war.
Thus, three days later (after missing yet another great party), I discovered that I didn’t have any antibodies for measles.
Who knows what happened? Was I one of the rare non-responders? Did my protection wane over the decades? Does it matter? No. Regardless of the reason, I’m out of a week’s worth of work, and a bunch of people are scared as heck.
At first, I was angry at the person who exposed me and several hundred other people to measles. But maybe he was in the same position as me, and did everything he was supposed to and came up unlucky. The great thing is that most of the people in the club were protected. And my kids didn’t have to worry about catching a potentially deadly disease from their mom.
So, as someone who is going stir crazy, and has been checking my face hourly for spots, I just hope that anyone considering skipping immunizations for their kids carefully weighs the imaginary risks of autism against the all too real consequences of infection.
Get your shots.