30 June 2005

Un-Fairly Innocuous

Yet another example of how being a missionary is kind of like being a spy (for those of you still unable to decide):

Yesterday I paid a visit to the county clinic for a series of immunizations. They've got their racket figured pretty well, which is to say they're sneaky. I was graciously offered a less-than-comfortable seat in the interroga--er--examination room. To my left, a woman began to ask me questions. At this point, I can't replay our dialogue without mentally adding an Eastern European accent. In my peripheral vision to the right, a nurse made preparations wordlessly. I hardly paid any attention as the woman to my left kept me talking.

Ahead of me sat the little bottles of disease (or truth serum), each with an accompanying needle. I've never been too hung up on needles. Let's be real, though: I knew I was about to get stabbed in the arm about nine times. Staring at them, I began to let my mind wander. I started to think about how it was possible for people to get physically sick at the sight of needles and even tried to induce a little "sympathy nausea". To no avail. Let them do what they want to me; I have nerves of steel.

Did she say "Tetanus" or "Belarus"? The woman to my left was asking me questions again. She actually raised an eyebrow at my tentative answer, and almost simultaneously I sensed a tiny little prick on my right shoulder. I didn't even know the nurse was still in the room.

"My last tetanus shot must have been about five years ago, when I went on exchange to Germany! I was eighteen!" I blurted. Man, that stuff works fast!

"Most of Europe does not require extra tetanus immunization," she deapanned. Another shot. "Do you have record?"

"What? No, I--" (shot) "--I mean yes!" At this point I began losing sensation in my hands. The training in St. Paul had not prepared me for this.

"Let's have look, yes?" She made eye contact only with the nurse, who, at this point, must have been standing behind me.

"I left my immunization record at home, on accident but once when I was in sixth grade I put a rusty nail through my foot running through the forest in a game of capture the flag at outdoor school and I had a crush on the boy who was chasing me and he had to carry me back to base camp because I couldn't walk and I'm sure I got a tetanus shot after that!"

That was the last I can remember before waking up to see the nurse peeling off gloves and telling me I could expect to get a mild fever in about a week, and the Belarusian handing me a piece of paper and reminding me to come back for the second series of Hep A and B. Since then I've been feeling a little dizzy and find my arms too feeble to lift a wine bottle and I absolutely blame it all on those shots. Just goes to show, you've got to have your finger on the trigger all the time!