Why do YOU need the pneumonia vaccine?

I have a love/hate relationship with medical professionals. I love them because they help people when they are sick. Obviously. I hate them when they are extremely rude and insensitive!

The past several winters I have been gotten pretty sick – chronic cough from November to April plus a bunch of sinus and ear infections. Could be from all those darn germy kiddos in my class!  Or, Myeloma Precursor Disease MGUS May Increase Risk Of Developing Infections. Take your pick. 

But anyway, back in April, after discussing this with Dr. R, he suggested I get a flu shot in the fall (I had never had one before) as well as the pneumonia vaccine sometime in the near future.

In August, I was in to see my primary care physician who wrote the lab slip for me to get the pneumovax. I walked down to the nurses station, lab slip in hand. Two gentlemen (I think they must have been nurses?) were there. I told them that I needed to get the pneumonia vaccine.

They proceeded to roll their eyes and one said to the other, “Geez, I guess we are giving everyone the pneumonia vaccine these days, huh?” The other guy responded with, “Yeah, hmmm, I wonder who came up with that, the vaccine company, maybe?”  *sarcastic laughter*

This made me a bit uncomfortable – sitting right in front of them while they talked about me. Then, the guy who was apparently administering the vaccine started asking me a series of rapid-fire questions.

Do you smoke?


Do you have asthma?


Do you have bad allergies?


(in an irritated voice) Wellllllll, then WHY are we giving YOU the pneumonia vaccine?

I, of course, start getting choked up. Typical. This was literally just a few weeks after my bone marrow – that was supposed to be “no big deal” – debacle.

I whimpered something along the lines of, “Well…my hematologist told me to get it…I have this weird blood condition called MGUS…you probably haven’t heard of it…it’s not really cancer but…someday I could get cancer…and I just had a biopsy and actually now I am borderline smoldering myeloma…” 

After hearing that, he stopped interrogating me.

Seriously, if my doctor told me to get the vaccine and then my PCP approved it and gave me a lab slip stating that I needed it why do I need to be questioned? Now, you might say this guy is required to record the reason why he is administering the vaccine. Sure. However, he didn’t need to act like I was requesting some sort of illegal narcotic!

Multiple Myeloma is one of the conditions listed for people who should get the vaccine. I don’t have active MM but what if I did? What if I had AIDs? Obviously, I am pretty young and look relatively healthy, and I am relatively healthy, but don’t judge a book by its cover! 

I think this guy felt a bad about making me upset. He was super nice after that, a little too nice. As I was leaving he got a bit emotional – no joke, tears in his eyes – grabbed my shoulder and said, “You are GOING TO GET THROUGH THIS. I see that you’re married and I hope your husband is VERY SUPPORTIVE. I want you to know that if you EVER need ANYTHING, ANYTHING AT ALL, call and ask for Phil and I will do WHATEVER I can to help you.”

Who’s Phil? This guy? What’s this crazy nurse going to do for me? I think he meant to say this to make me feel better but umm, okay…I’m not dying yet!