Friday, November 20, 2009

Temporary freak-out for no good reason

We both went to get typhoid and malaria tests this morning at City Laboratories. I've been there before, the laboratory is basic (no running water, photocopied health announcements reminding women to have "only one sexual parteners" with the final "s" blacked out) but acceptable. I've kept a close watch on clinical practices during our many visits, and have been please to see good sharps disposal, decent equipment, and most importantly, all new needles and sticks taken out of their plastic wrappers in front of clients. They also have an impressive list of diagnostics on offer, including fertility testing for both women and men, which I thought was interesting.

Anyway, Nate and I enter the lab, pass a weak-looking Asian youngster looking gratefully at the functional air-conditioning, and both sit on the carpet-lined bench against the wall. The confident and rather dapper technician who usually pricks my finger wasn't there, but a small woman with a large facial mole was. She grabbed a glove and two syringes. I examined her face for signs of confidence, becoming uneasy at the idea of a) an African clinic b) the lack of a familiar face and c) the extremely large needle attached to the syringe and figured hey, I probably don't have typhoid. I mean, really -- would I be sitting there, sweating lightly, able to have this conversation in my head, if I had typhoid? Please.

The issues started when Nate volunteered me to go first, all blase and not yet aware of my increasing alarm. The health worker firmly tied the rubber glove just above my elbow and unwrapped what was now looking to be a monster needle. I panicked.

"I'm not sure this is such a good idea," I said to Nate, looking stern. I leaned in to whisper, desperately, "She looks incompetent." And then, strangely, "We should've discussed this." And then, full of panic, "Stop!"

So Nate went first while I assured him, sweating a bit more now, that I was quite sure I don't have tyhpoid or malaria and I certainly don't need any tests. He looked at me, bemused, and the health worker didn't look at me, but smiled, and I quieted down. And let her jab me.

We'll call them for results in another hour, but for now are walking down to the UNICEF canteen for jollof rice and fried chicken with pepper sauce. I feel better.

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