Immunizations, or “I am a big wimp”

So they have these things in other countries called “diseases,” and if you want to avoid them, you have to get immunized. Mostly that means getting shot in the arm.

All you parents out there, here is a bit of advice: don’t lose your kids’ little yellow books of immunization records. Why, you ask? Well, when Junior grows up and joins the Foreign Service, the happy people in the State Department Health Unit will want to see it to be sure that Junior is all caught up with his shots. If Junior doesn’t have his little yellow book, well, that’s Junior’s unlucky day, because it means that he will have to get re-immunized.

Today, my arms are decorated with four little band-aids from some make-up shots. You will all be happy to know that I am now immune from measles and polio, as well as the more exotic ones like Japanese encephalitis.

I would have had five band-aids, except that I fainted after the fourth shot. So we called that one a “do-over” and rescheduled it for next week.

I have to give a big shout-out to the nurses at the Travel Health and Immunization Clinic at the Foreign Service Institute. They are professional and compassionate, and didn’t laugh at or tease a grown man who fainted just because some puny but live diseases were injected into his perfectly healthy body. If you have to go there for any reason, ask for Elaine, she’s the best.

In the meantime, they gave me a typhus vaccine in the form of capsules to take over seven days. You have to be careful with that. If it isn’t swallowed right away, it will cause my mouth to break out in blisters, and other Bad Things will happen. These pills are so volatile that they must be kept in the refrigerator.

Next week I go back for more, then four weeks after that for the last one. This has not been my favorite week in the Foreign Service.

I keep reminding myself that I volunteered for this, no one forced me to join the Foreign Service, so I have no right or reason to complain.

If a Lakota tribe of Native Americans adopted me, they could name me: “Diplomat With Ouchy Arms.”

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