Live Typhoid

Trip Start Sep 26, 2009
Trip End Aug 15, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Idaho
Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Shots, pills and more shots… After Maite's promise of a Cold Stone Peanut Butter Cup Perfection, I reluctantly rode the elevator to the 4th floor of the Multnomah County Department of Public Health building.  Unsure of exactly how many shots we would need for our upcoming trip, I feared that no bandaid could patch up the pain I was to endure.  Little did I know that the 8 to 11 recommended shots would be next to nothing compared with taking the Typhoid pill.  And the entire visit would be full of unexpected surprise.

The build up...I spent the two weeks imagining the large angry heavily jaded nurse, worn down from treating impoverished mental health clients, with a thick angry wall covering her long ago disheartened former idealism faded twenty years to my visit.  The wall over her heart having had time to grow inches of bitter puke green mold, covered in fungus and lichens less passable than a rain forest mid rainy season.  I imagined that now indifferent to the pain and suffering of others, with her necessary self-preserving yet evil demeander she would jab multiple needles clutched in each of her hands into my arm without a care of my timid warning that I faint when shot with needles.  I tried not to let Maite know  just how nervous I was, using my proverbial grunt everytime we spoke about the need for immunization.  But even more fearful of what might happen if I refused the shots, I passively allowed Maite to set the appointment and take charge of our immunizations. 

The visit...To my surprise, the nurse wasn't fat, angry or jaded.  This experience turned out to be one of education.  In my life journey towards ultimate zenlike happiness (doesn't hurt to dream), I make a habit of taking note of people who seem both adequately successful financially and happy.  The staff and clients were among the most happy I have ever seen at any clinic, hospital or doctors office.  Most of the staff were older, had travelled themselves and spent equal time helping those less fortunate as they did chatting with travellers like myself.  These crazy nurses were only crazy because they were so damn happy.  The nurse with whom we had the appointment spent an hour and a half meeting with us to discuss the best combination of vaccinations and another nurse assisted in distracting me with most fantastically cheesy jokes I've ever heard.  There was almost no waiting time in the waiting room or the doctor's office.  And to top it off the loony toons band-aid really did help.  ;)  Go county public health! 

On our way out...As we were paying for our billions of shots, there was a women who appeared to be mentally disabled and likely homeless being assisted by a rather patient public health worker, to fill out her documentation prior to her appointment.  As she was called in for her appointment, she was told the flu shot costs $25.  The worker explained that although the H1N1 shot is free, the regular flu shot requires a fee.  Confused, visably embarrased and beginning to tear, the woman turned and ran out the the clinic door.  As most of us onlookers watched the door close and tried to get on with our business, another clinic patient who appeared just the opposite of impoverished with her frosted hair and abundance of tasteful gold jewlery told the public health worker that she would pay the $25.  I stood there shocked.  After 10 years of social service work, constantly questioning the value of the work I have done, here was a clear cut opportunity to help someone.  Here is a women who probably lives on the street, may even be a prostitute and cares enough to get a flu shot so she won't only avoid getting the flu she will also avoid passing it on to others.  Even if she came for selfish reasons, her effort to get the shot is helping to protect some of the most vulnerable people from getting the flu and I didn't budge.  It was an important moment and the women who I assumed to be self involved and unaware of the problems of the world gave me inspiration.  Thanks for another piece of happiness.  People are good.

The actual suffering...Do you know that you have to eat Live Typhoid in order to become somewhat temporarily immune?  We had to keep the pills labelled 'Live Typhoid' as illustrated in the picture cold in order to keep them alive, that is alive as in living, living so that we could swallow them alive.  What does it feel like to swallow live Typoid?  It feels like swallowing something that is living and then having it swim around your stomach for 24 hours.  No really it does.  The thing is you can't allow yourself the pleasure of throwing up in order to appease your stomach because then you will not only have to pay for more Live Typhoid, but you will have to swallow it again.  My advise to you, keep drinking water.  It helps...kind of.
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stori on

miss you both too much for words and am so grateful for this blog to keep me close. xxo

B&B on

Great writing style...hope you publish this as a book...and get rich from royalties....;)...we are sooo happy for armchair travelers...

JE on

I thought that no one (our age) hated shots as much as I do. You really gave an eloquent voice to all of my thoughts and fears about nurses. Can't wait to hear more.

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