I am not one for pills or doctors. I won’t even get a prescription for migraines because I’m an idiot. I have insurance and I never use it. I just let the migraine come on and then curse myself for being such a fool. Rinse and repeat!

But I will go and get my flu shot. Here’s why: about five years ago, Arch and I both got the flu. At the same time. This was in my first year in Portland when I had absolutely no idea how to cope with the cold and the rain. I owned no down items or performance wool (I am a performance wool fanatic. Icebreaker, Black Sheep line. It’s all you’ll ever need in your life), nor did own anything with a hood. I still don’t use gloves mainly because they’re very uncomfortable for me. I don’t like not being able to feel things with my fingers.

Anyway, my first winter here was a dark, dark time. The house we lived in was beyond damp — think water beading on the walls — and I had never even seen a furnace before. There was an oil furnace in this house and I had no idea it needed to be refilled. It ran empty in February and I was baffled at why the heat wouldn’t work. For a couple of days, I just left it alone and thought, “Oh well, it’ll warm back up soon.” AHAHAHAAA. And then after a few days of it getting colder, I was horrified at how much it would cost to refilled ($500).

Let me just say that I have a deep appreciation for natural gas now and a finished basement. Also a fireplace. And Fancyhats who came into the picture after that bleak winter. He also made sure I had a jacket with a hood and tried to get me on the gloves bandwagon, but that’s really not happening.

Anyway, deep in Portland’s winter (late February) Arch didn’t feel well and started vomiting. Now, this boy is rarely sick and I’d never seen him throw up before. But there he was, puking. All over his rug, his bedding, himself, the floors. Over and over again. And then I started puking too. And I realized it was the flu. And between the two of us, I’d done 8 loads of laundry in 12 hours. While vomiting.

We have no family in the area and I was on my own. I have fragmented memories of those few days, but what I remember was feeling like I’d reached absolute rock bottom. Physically I was broken and caring for a little broken boy. Mentally, I was totally alone. It was awful.

But after we both recovered, I started getting flu shots. Every time I get one, my pills and doctors paranoia turns on and I have a second of firm belief that flu shots are probably not flu shots, but rather a grand science experiment by dark forces in the government. I spend a moment thinking about that, and then I remember this very clear memory I have of that time. I remember rolling up Arch’s rug that he’d just vomited on, and my needing to throw up but just knowing I couldn’t. It’s an awful memory but it gets me into the flu shot chair.

You’re supposed to get flu shots in October, but I didn’t. I got mine today. It took me all of three minutes. I might be participating in a grand experiment, and I might still get the flu, but the farther I can get from that awful winter, the farther I want to be.

If you’ve not gotten your flu shot, I hope you’ll get one. They’re easy to find. I heard that this year flu season will be bad, so please protect yourself.