Thursday, October 12, 2006

I can’t guarantee this won’t hurt

I’ve been so excited and anxious about this trip that it’s all I can think of. But as I sat in the doctors waiting room I couldn’t imagine being further away from the steaming hot streets of Bangkok, exotic foods and hot sandy beaches.

The harsh florescent lights gave a slightly off green shade that seemed to infect everything from the walls to the cheap furniture that I sat in.

I flipped through travel brochures in an attempt to distract myself from the fact that I was there to get big steel needles pushed into my arm, something that I’ve had a fear of since I was a little tyke.

It’s not that they hurt – I know they don’t – it’s the psychological factor. The thought of the metal thing intruding into my arm gives me the chills and makes my heart beat a little faster.

My heart skipped a beat when I was called into the nurse’s room. Was it possible that I could sweat any more? Apparently so. I reluctantly made my way into the small room and took a seat on the only chair as the portly nurse asked me questions about my past inoculations.

Her warm and friendly disposition took my mind off the impending jabs. She reminded me of the cool aunty you had when you were younger who would drown you in hugs and sneak you some beer when mum wasn’t looking.

She looked up from her chart and caught me bouncing my knee and fidgeting with my hands.

“You’re going to make me nervous with all of that. Now, tell me, have you had your Hepatitis B shot love?” she asked.

I grabbed my knees with both hands and tried to think back.

“Um, I had my first one when I was planning my Bali trip, but because of the bombing I didn’t finish the course”

She turned her attention back to the chart and began scribbling

“Ok, we’ll check with the doctor to see if you need another Hepatitis A shot then”

“B” I corrected her “Hepatitis ‘B’ shot”. Had I heard right?

“Right” she said not even looking up.

If I was anxious before, she had just taken me to another level. That’s when the doctor walked in and she began running through the list of shots. One is bad enough for me, but 3 or 4? And now my confidence in her had just been shaken to the core!

She showed the doctor the chart.

“He’s had the first shot, but it was a while ago so can we continue from there or should we start over again with the first Hep A shot?”

“B” I interrupted. I couldn’t believe this. Was she doing this just to toy with me? It crossed my mind that if I was in the same position, I would totally mess with a pathetic little nervous guy like me. But it was as if she was legitimately mixing them up.

The doctor looked at me over the top of his glasses as I sat on the edge of the chair, leg bouncing up and down while I rubbed my shoulder in preparation.

“Start him again with the B” I was relieved that he seemed to stress the letter B to the nurse.

I don’t work in the healthcare industry, but I’m sure it has its hierarchy problems and power struggles the same as any other office or business. So when the nurse looked at me after the doctor had left the room I could tell she didn’t enjoy being corrected.

It was as if aunty had gotten into trouble and it was all my fault. Her look seemed to say ‘no more beer for you!’ as she came at me with the syringe.

“I can’t guarantee this won't hurt.”


Anonymous said...

something i've learned from having a job: the hep a and hep b vaccines are usually combined in a single vaccine shot, injected three times over a course of about 9 months, called twinrix. to check that my pompous reply is correct, go to

mark robert allen said...

oh really? so maybe she's just giving me an extra one just for the fun of it? biAtch!!!

Alana said...

Oh the shots! The shots are the worst!!! Don't bother with the malaria pills. Honestly. The side effects aren't worth it and they're way too far on the proactive side, especially for when you're going.

I'm so glad you got something from reading about my trip. That's why I put it up, as sort of a breadcrumb trail for the preparations. Have a fantastic time and I'll look forward to reading about your experience!!


mark robert allen said...

i'm now cured of my needle phobia. they're a breeze!

got one more next week then i'm all done!