Friday, September 2, 2011

Pin cushion

After being randomly accosted in the streets of Sapporo by a man telling me to go to India, there was really nothing left to do but book my flight. Since I was circumnavigating the globe at the end of the year to go home for Christmas and then onto Canada before returning to Japan, I thought it would be practically rude not to stop off in Delhi.

In terms of flight paths, this actually makes no sense whatsoever but let's just pretend the Earth is flat and carry on with the story. Besides, the difference in cost was pretty small.

The only downside to this plan-of-awesomeness was that India is home to more exciting diseases that those found in your average Toronto suburb and requires an arm full of vaccinations. Canada deals with such things through specialised travel clinics where the only difficulty is finding one open during the summer since they tend to be populated by doctors who go to tropical parts for their vacation rather than Niagara Falls like everyone else.

"Which vaccinations have you had?" The nurse clicked through her computer system, bringing up the list of inoculations needed for India. The page seemed rather long.


The problem with moving around so much is that it's hard to keep a consistent record. I rattled off the few I remembered with their dates and the nurse ran a pen down the screen.

"How about tetanus?"

"Maybe 2007."

I'd found a slip of paper while sorting out my apartment before the movers came that suggested such an event. Since it came from the USA, it was naturally a bill. Oddly though, I had no memory of the proceeding at all.

"... maybe 1995."

That was the last one I was certain about. The nurse lifted an eyebrow and pulled out the appropriate medicine vile.

"How about hepatitis A, B, typhoid or polio?"

I shook my head and the viles stacked up. She swizzled me around on the chair so my right arm was facing her and loaded up three syringes.

"You don't have a problem with needles, right?"

My mind flashed back to my school days; to standing in the queue for my measles booster, becoming so completely scared that I refused it point blank and felt sick all day with guilt and the huge unused adrenaline rush. To anyone who knew me then.... I can hear your laughter.

"Nah, it's no problem."

I am all about denial. Besides, it was probably true; eight years ago I took a course of prozac for a boat of clinical depression. Not only did it have the desired affect of re-balancing all to where it should be but it removed my fear of needles. The only (non-medical, entirely guessed) explanation I have, is the antidepressant suppressed the overwhelming adrenaline rush, allowing me to stay in control. I still don't like injections but then, if I actively enjoyed being shot in the arm with a needle that would also be of slight mental concern.

We did the first two and then I asked for a break. The dual hepatitus A & B vaccine is double the size of a normal shot and makes your arm ache. It wasn't painful but you couldn't ignore it was happening either. The nurse plonked me on the floor for good measure.

"People are really heavy when they faint," she told me matter-of-factly.

Still, there was only typhoid left and it was the normal quantity. I started to sit up again.

"This one feels like you've been punched!"

... I lay back down.

"I always believe in honesty. Some people don't feel a thing but one of the other nurses here said it was like being kicked by a horse!"

So, for the record, this is a situation where I DO NOT BELIEVE IN HONESTY. I totally support telling me it'll be totally fine and I won't feel a thing and then adding in the correction after its done. I don't actually have a low tollerance to pain, but the prospect of pain? I don't do it well. My imagination is good and Dante's inferno becomes a scorching likelihood in less than a second per circle of Hell.

"You need a second shot for your hepatitis next week, so we could do it then," the nurse suggested kindly.

I considered it but the wisdom teeth were next week. There's only so much I felt I could sign my future self up for.

"It's fine," I muttered, sitting up and looking away.

The nurse administered the shot and I lay straight back down again.

It was totally fine and I didn't feel a thing.

The nurse waggled a finger at me. "Stay there. You're green."

There's no accounting for what you can do to yourself.


  1. I agree with you SO MUCH about the honesty thing. If you're going to deliberately cause me pain, I demand that you surprise me with it. It's not like I can somehow prepare for it.

  2. Exactly! And once it's happened, the worst is over and things are only going to get better. Especially true in this circumstance where the pain (if there had been any) would have faded in a minute.

  3. Go to India? Somebody had told me Durham, UK...did he try to beat you with an umbrella? Was a (very) scared wife standing next to him? Small world!

  4. What were you doing to the poor wife that made the husband beat you with an umbrella and order you to go to the other side of the world, Fabio?!