Friday, October 29, 2010

(PC#4) Man walks out of a building...

arm in pain after getting shot in it, missing a lot of blood. Someone says, "Son, you need to see a doctor!" Man replies, "That's a hospital back there, buddy."

I don't really know how those jokes are supposed to go.

Anyway, the last two days were pretty active for Peace Corps business. Tuesday morning I went to the dentist, which went splendidly. The office was about five minutes away from my house, the dentist was a very affable fellow with friendly (and cute, I might add) assistants, and it went off without a hitch. I got my Panorex x-rays -- with bitewings, of course -- and Dr. A checked out my mouth. He complimented my hygiene and said everything looked perfect. And there's no sign that I'll ever have to get my wisdom teeth out, praise Allah. No cavities or gum problems, no further work needed. He just told me to make sure I take extra care of my teeth in Asia because the water will probably not be fluoridated. So dental is done!

Tuesday afternoon I drove up to the VA hospital in West Palm to have my physical. I thought I was going to need additional trips to draw blood, get blood results, do any immunizations, perhaps even an X-ray for my shoulder; I thought I might need an additional appointment with a specialist about my shoulder. But here's how it actually went down:

I got in there, gave the doctor the form with all the things that need to be filled out, and we got to work. He did the physical, ordered all the blood tests, ordered a tetanus booster shot, a PPD to test for tuberculosis, and ordered an X-ray for my shoulder. After the physical, I got the booster in my arm, the PPD in my forearm, then went and got five or six vials of blood drawn, peed in a cup, and got my shoulder X-rayed. All in one trip! I was a bit nervous with the blood tests because I hadn't fasted, and I've read a few horror stories about blood tests coming back screwy because people had eaten too recently. But the doctor assured me that none of the tests I needed would be affected by eating. I had an appointment made for Thursday (two days later) so that they could check the PPD to see if I'd reacted to it and so the doc could examine the results of the X-ray.

Well, I went back today, and my expectations were exceeded AGAIN! Except I did have to wait an extra 40 minutes or so past the appointed time, but that's small potatoes. I didn't react at all to the PPD (there's supposed to be some kind of induration in your skin as a response to the protein they inject, and the larger the induration, the more there is to be concerned about), which was perfect. The doctor saw nothing abnormal in the X-rays, so he cleared my shoulder. And as icing on the cake, almost all my blood work was already done! HIV, CBC, the three Hep B's, Hep C, and my urinalysis were all taken care of (disease free!). The only lab test still missing was the G6PD titer, which has significance for the kind of medications one can take against malaria or other blood ailments, the doctor told me. Tests also showed that I'm immune to Varicella and MMR. The only thing I'm not sure about is if I'll still need a Polio booster.

Sooooo, in about a week I'll call the hospital to see if the final blood test has come in, and if so, then I'll make an appointment and have the doc finish up my medical packet, pick up documentation of all the blood work and the X-rays (plus make sure the Polio is taken care of), photocopy EVERYTHING, and mail all this crap back to the Office of Medical Clearance. Just to think, this could all be over with in the next couple weeks! And even with delays, more than a month would be very unlikely. Then it's just a matter of OMC getting around to actually going through my file. Reading other applicant blogs, some people are waiting six weeks and more after submitting their paperwork before hearing a single thing. And then they might also send it back because something is wrong. But I think not -- things will be in good order.

Things are actually going according to plan! I don't feel rushed or panicked or nervous. But with each little hurdle that gets cleared, I feel closer to service and things feel a little bit more real. It's exciting.

As a side note: getting a tetanus booster is no walk in the park. Whatever chemical that is makes your arm bruise and hurt for a few days afterwards. I woke up yesterday morning feeling like I'd been shanked.

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