Whoever said life is about adventure and risk-taking never had typhoid shots


UPDATED:  Just found out our malaria pills can give violent nightmares!  Wheee!

Following on the heels of our previous India excitement, Mr. B and I took a trip to the doctor’s office on Friday to get prepped for our trip to India with some shots.  The visit started out fairly innocently; over the phone, they’d told me that we would need probably two shots and a malaria pill.  We waited in a very cool, adventure-themed room while the doctor came:

which had the following image in it:

And, hooray!  Because India is on the V.I.P. list.  Although, to be fair, so are Mexico and Israel, and the most I’ve ever been in Mexico is almost mugged and the most dangerous situation in Israel was that time an Israeli Arab almost shanked me and Mr. B but really he just wanted to know if we had cigarettes.   So, no biggie so far.

Then, we go into the actual shot room with the doctor and he says, “So, India?”  and starts going through the list of things we would need, which was only slightly shorter than David Copperfield.  “You’ll need at least five shots,” as we looked at him sorting through his papers.  We looked at each other.  Five shots?

“Is there a way we can have less,” I asked the doctor, concerned that the shots would cost as much as a downpayment on a nice condo.   He looked at me sternly.

“Our insurance doesn’t cover these, right,” I gulped, already feeling the effects of wallet atrophy.

“No.  They look at it as elective as plastic surgery-you’re doing it to yourself.”

We sure are,  I thought, and looked at Mr. B, who had originally wanted to go to Japan before I told him about the Wonders of Mughal Culture, not to mention how much cheaper it was to fly to Delhi than to Tokyo.  Mr. B’s expression seemed to say, We wouldn’t have needed shots for Japan.  They would take shots to inoculate themselves against us.

“Tetanus,” the doctor said.

“I think I had that shot in elementary school,” I said, relieved not only because I wouldn’t have to pay.  Mr. B frowned.  “I might have had that.  But I was in Russia until I was nine.”  I looked at him.  “I’m pretty sure you had the tetanus shot.”

The doctor moved on.  “Measles/mumps/rubella.”   I was relieved.  “I think I had that, too!”  Mr. B scratched his head.  “He had it too,” I told the doctor, vouching on the Soviet healthcare system, which in retrospect was a pretty bad idea considering that it was under the same system that I’d had my tonsils taken out sans anesthesia.

“Chicken pox?” The doctor asked.

“Had it,” we both said, deflating in relief.   Three shots avoided and we weren’t even onto the serious stuff like yellow fever yet.

“Now, you’ll need malaria pills.  There’s two options.  One you take every day during your trip and one you take every week and a couple weeks afterward. And each pill is $10. ”  Mr. B and I looked at each other. I was feeling feverish already. “Unless you’re going to mountainous areas like Kashmir or the Himalayas,” the doctor ventured.

“We’re going to Kashmir,”  Mr. B and I said.   “I hear it’s beautiful during the ceasefires,” I prompted.  But the doctor was not convinced.   “Which of the two pills do you want,” he asked.

“What’s the difference,”  I asked.

“Well, the ones you take weekly, they’re cheaper, but they’ve been known to make some people on anti-depressants go crazy and be committed to mental institutions.”

“Oh, that’s it?”  I sighed with relief.  “We don’t take anti-depressants.  We’ll take the crazy pills.  They’re cheaper, right?”  The doctor frowned at me and dug through his folders and handed me this article.  “Lots of times you don’t see these stories, but look what happened to this woman that got malaria in Ghana.  Legs came right off.”

“Let’s go to Japan,” I mouthed to Mr. B in Russian.  There’s nothing really interesting in India that I can’t get in Edison, New Jersey anyway.

“You need three shots: Hepatitis A, typhoid, and meningitis.  I’ll be back to prepare them,” the doctor said cheerfully and walked off.

Mr. B looked at me with a look of triumph.  I looked at him with one of the sheer horror of a hypochondriac.  “Let’s go to Japan,” I said again, hoping that if I said it often enough, he would forget my initial idea to go to India and not divorce me.  “Nope,” Mr. B said.  “We’re going to India, baby.”   I’ll be hearing about this until I’m 40.

The doctor came back with six needles.  Mr. B hopped on the chair.  The doctor asked Mr. B, “Are you right-handed or left-handed?”  Mr. B and I looked at each other with alarm.  Did this mean he would administer the shots in the left hand, just in case that one stopped working for a bit?  Like the next 40 years?

The doctor administered the first shot.

Mr. B blinked.

The doctor administered the second shot, explaining that this one was with a bigger needle, a diabetic needle, meaning it would hurt more.

Mr. B winced.  I winced.

The doctor administered the third shot, explaining that Mr. B needed to relax his muscles because otherwise it would hurt more since he was trying to get into the fold of the muscle.

Mr. B slumped.  I almost fainted.

Then, Mr. B sat down, feeling woozy, probably because he’d just paid the equivalent of half a month’s rent to feel like a frequent flyer member of John Yoo’s terrorist torture policy.

I hopped up on the chair.  The shots didn’t hurt, mainly because I knew the real pain would come afterward, when Mr. B divorced me for a sane woman (probably Japanese.)

We left the clinic, knowing that our India adventure had begun.  Mr. B held my hand, as much as to show his love despite the fact that I’m clinically insane as much as the fact that neither of us could completely walk straight.  Woozy from the diseases ravaging our bodies as much from the knowledge that according to the doctor, this is what India is like:

That’s what my body felt like for a couple hours after the shot.

So, that’s the story of how we got our shots.

Here’s a reenactment of our experience: