Posted by: passedportsnyc | June 19, 2009

Stay for 30 Minutes, Just in Case You Die

Yellow fever.  Dengue.  Typhoid.  Menengococcal meningitis.  Malaria.  Rabies.  Adult polio.  Japanese encephalitis.  Tick-born encephalitis.  Cholera.  Hepatitis.

We went to a traveller’s health clinic yesterday and I got two armfuls of shots.  This was round one of three.  The thing is, I don’t do well with needles – in the episode of The Simpsons where Bart gets his vaccines, I have to turn away because I can’t bear to see that giant cartoon needle puncture Bart’s schoolbus-yellow skin.  And Max is even worse than I am.

They laid me down on the table and did a couple in each arm.  Max talked to me about the BBQ we’re attending on Sunday and I squeezed his hand so hard I nearly broke it and punctured his skin with my fingernails.  I didn’t pass out, which was quite an achievement for me.  But the woozy light-headedness set in, I went white and sweaty, smelling salts and ammonia were employed.  Max saw my reaction and got freaked out himself (he claimed this reaction was empathetic love, which is sweet, but perhaps not the most practical expression of love…).  Next thing you know both of us are laying down having our blood pressures monitored.  Those poor doctors and nurses.  And what a couple of wimps we are.

The timing of our freak out was well timed though.  The Japanese Encephalitis vaccine has a higher-than-usual risk of anaphylactic shock so they make you stay there for 30 minutes after receiving the injection, just in case you die (that piece of information didn’t exactly help with my needle anxiety).  But I suppose it’s better to wait lying down and resting than sitting in a sterile, uncomfortable waiting room.

They also suggested that we get the rabies vaccine.  The thing is, if you get bitten by a rabid animal, you still have to get all the same post-bite treatment, but with the vaccine you have an extra 2-3 days to get to medical care.  I just don’t know if 3 rounds of shots, at $255 a pop, is worth it.  On the other hand, on the off chance that I do get bitten by a rabid animal, it will probably happen in a remote area where it might take 2-3 days to reach appropriate medical care.  Hmmmmm.

Round two is next Thursday.  The doctor politely asked that we don’t come together; two difficult patients at once is more than they like to handle.

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