Typhoid Maria

Mandy, Athena and Me
Mandy, Athena and me inside the Warren County Public Health Building

“Really?” I said incredulously.  It was Wednesday and Mandy, Athena and I were having lunch at the Round House Cafe.  “Are you sure?” I kept asking them.  I couldn’t believe they actually wanted to come with me to the Warren County Public Health Department to get my Typhoid shot for my trip to India.

I was dreading it.   Not getting the shot.  That doesn’t bother me.   But sitting for an hour with Dr Leach as he warned me about all the health dangers I’d be exposed to in India.  It was mandatory.  If I wanted the Typhoid vaccination, the talk came with it.  The practical and adult part of me appreciated the information I’d be getting, but the cynical side of me and the idea that I didn’t have a choice got my fur up.

I could see Mandy was intrigued by the idea of spending an hour talking to a doctor  about all the diseases and illness I had a good chance of getting while I was in India.  And how to prevent them.  (Travel and the human body are both things that Mandy is passionate about.  Being a Massage Therapist she gets all excited talking about bones and muscles and how the body works)  And Athena , along with being supportive, was up for a road trip.

So both  Mandy and Athena  cleared their schedules for the middle part yesterday and at 10:30 we headed out to the town of Lake George where the Warren County Town offices are located.  Lake George is a vacation town with The Great Escape Amusement Park,  lots of Adirondack style hotels and restaurants and Shopping Outlets.  We found a deli and had lunch outside, next to the parking lot in one of the shopping centers.

Maybe it was the change of scenery, or just that we were doing something so different from usual, but by the time we got to the Health Department we were already starting to cackle.

It cost $100 to have the hour long meeting with Dr Leach and another $100 for the Typhoid Vaccination.  When I told the nurse all three of us wanted to meet with the doctor she asked why.   And I didn’t really have an answer.

It was like we were three teenagers who didn’t want to be separated.  Mandy came up with some excuse about helping me understand  retain all the information I’d be receiving.  And me and Athena went along with it.  It was pretty lame but it worked.

We crowded into a tiny  windowless room and sat around a little round table and computer.   Dr Leach was a small, fit, tanned man in his mid seventies.

As he started to give his well rehearsed talk about the different kinds of diarrhea, and the possibility of getting rabies, dengue fever and malaria, I started to zone out.  Too many possibilities of too many bad things happening.  I listened for what I thought were the important details as my eyes glazed over.

I made the quick decision to take the  doctor’s advice and not pet any of the thousands of stray dogs that roam around Kolkata and knocked rabies off my list of things to worry about.  Then Mandy broke through my fog and  addressed Dr Leach.  “Maria’s an animal magnet” she said, ” what if a monkey jumps on her shoulder and scratches her?  Isn’t rabies spread through saliva?  Would she still need to get rabies shots?”

Suddenly I knew what it felt like to be Mandy’s kid.  What the fuck?? I was thinking, how did she ever come up with that scenario,  but just looked at her with my mouth hanging open.  (On the way home it was one of the things we cackled about it.)

This is how it went.  Athena was interested by the spray developed by the  US military to keep mosquitos and ticks off your clothes.  (It lasts up to 10 washes) I was petulantly  thinking, “I’m not going to use that.”

But we all agreed the $60 water cup with the filter in it that you could fill up with water from anywhere and safely drink, was a good idea.  And all of us thought it  strange when Dr Leach kept using the word “poop” when talking about diarrhea.

Towards the end of the hour Mandy finally lost it when Dr Leach explained how he applied a saline gel to the inside of his nostrils during the long plane ride to keep from drying out.  “A little on the pinky and a round robin inside the schnoz” were his exact words.

By the time I got my Typhoid shot and were walking down the hallway out of the building, we were acting like teenagers.  Doing girl talk, but cackling instead of giggling.  I’ll admit we turned a few heads.

Meeting with Dr Leach, as much as I was resisting it, was both informative and useful.  I know if I get one of the many kinds of illnesses that cause diarrhea, I’ll be grateful for the antibiotics he prescribed.

But being with Mandy and Athena  actually made the whole thing fun.  Something I never expected.






8 thoughts on “Typhoid Maria

  1. You and my husband are twin souls. He WAS extremely careful in Bsngladesh except for eating at two very doubtful food cafes out in the countryside which he did from courtesy to his hosts there and hoped that the polite spirits of the earth would look after him. He thought the most important thing was “Brush your teeth with your doctored or filtered water” = easy to forget. When he first arrived his initial host insisted he get polio vaccine–not included in his States- side slate of injection.

    Pertussis = Whooping Cough. I had this as a child and it is nasty, nasty. I think I am part of the last Western World generation to have had Whooping Cough, Scarlet Fever, Measles and Chicken Pox and Diphtheria. I was supposed to be protected from the last but it didn’t “take”. My children only had Chicken Pox–what a wonderful change ( the Scarlet Fever killed one of my sisters, aged 7 at that time)

  2. Continued… I also was protected from Small Pox. The only doctor my grandparents could find, in occupied Lithuania in 1941 was a German army doctor, who gave me , presumably, an adult injection. It left a whopping scar on my thigh which is Still very visible. He said “she won’t need this on her arm!”

  3. Love the story and it sounds more like a health party…I can’t wait for you to take this trip and then gather everyone to tell us all about it!! And perhaps we could all moisten our snouts to help celebrate, and chocolate lava cake could be served as a reminder that with fun comes some serious health prevention…and God willing no runs while you are there! Take care!

  4. Maybe you should practice the “little on the pinky and a round robin inside the schnoz” several times before your trip. Ask Jon if he’ll assist you with this 🙂

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