06/21/08 Journal Entry:
Well, my preparations for my trip to Guyana continue.* I've
been getting my shots. The doctor warned me that as I get these
various shots and take various vaccination pills I might experience
"lessened" versions of the illnesses they are designed to prevent.
Day before yesterday I got my tetanus shot in my left arm, and in my
right a shot for Hepatitis A and another for Hepatitis B. My left shoulder feels like someone slugged me. I hosted an ASL
conference at the University yesterday.**
(Signing with my left hand was somewhat of a masochistic endeavor).
Well about an hour ago I took the first of four pills that cost me
around $52. (Apparently my insurance doesn't cover "typhoid"
vaccinations.) The typhoid pills are "live" and thus you have to
take them with cold or lukewarm (but not hot) water -- so that you don't
the little suckers before they take a stab at killing you.
The clinic didn't have all the shots I need, so they are sending me
to the "University of California Davis Travel Center" tomorrow so I
can get to enjoy a bit of "yellow fever."
Really looking forward
to that one I tell you. Plus they will prescribe some antibiotics to
take with me--just in case (and this is a quote), I "start seeing
blood" in my stool. The doc also suggested that it would be a good
idea to pack some Pepto-Bismol. Sheesh.
I got the Yellow Fever vaccination today.
A "kid" comes in with a name badge that has the letters "MD" after
As he goes about the process of
educating me on my vaccinations I notice that the
computer screen he is looking at contains not my medical records but
rather the CDC (Center for Disease Control) website that he googled 10 seconds prior. At one point he even turns the computer
screen toward me and scoots close so we can both read it together.
I note that he is the third "Dr." in the past week to mistakenly
think that "Guyana" is in Africa and whom I inform "it's in
He proceeds to tell me that, although rare, the injection I will
soon be getting does have a couple of possible adverse
reactions--the first of which is a neurotropic complication wherein
the inoculation attacks the nervous system and the brain -- leading
to coma. The second possible issue being encephalitis. I think he
might have also mentioned something along the lines of a
viscerotropic reaction and multiple organ system failure and death,
but honestly back around the time he mentioned "coma" I felt myself
slipping into one (even though I had not yet been stabbed with any
needles) -- thus I'm unable to say for sure exactly what the other
possible complications were.
As it turns out he wasn't the one giving the actual shot.
Apparently his job was simply to "prepare"
me for the shot. That is if by preparation you mean "scare the
holy crap out of someone."
No. The person who was going to actually give me the shot was the
Or, at least that's what she looked like. She didn't have on a
"white" coat, but rather one of those blue ones. Picture an old
black woman, silver hair, rather short, kind of skinny with a slight
hunch to the back that made you think she had spent a few too many
years stooped over a stove or bent over a crib changing diapers on
If they were going to kill me, they would have the janitor do it and
blame it on a mix-up.
As she came into the room she apologized for taking so long to
arrive. Said she was taking time to make sure to get the "right"
meds. I reckon that meant she wanted to make sure and get the meds
that could kill me
as opposed to getting the wrong
meds that might only make me grow breasts or turn green.
To lull me off guard she made small talk, "So, where are you going?"
"I'm going to Guyana."
"Oh, I see," she replied.
"That's uh, in South America."
I enunciated the words South America a bit too clearly. Sort of like
you would when something to a foreigner who was just learning
She eyed the needle as if looking for usage instructions. "I
KNOW where Guyana is!"
she said, sticking the needle into my arm, "I've been to 18 different countries.
I ain't never had any shots--and I've never
gotten sick a once."
I looked away as she gave the shot, but I'm pretty sure the cleaning
lady had a grin on her face at the time.
(1) To do a "Train the Sign Language Trainer" workshop.
The Lifeprint Roundtable Symposium at California State University,
Sacramento. A small but enjoyable gathering of ASL experts and
teachers. Not an annual event.