Today, Mr. DBM and I made our yearly pilgrimage to the local travel clinic. We seem to spend far too much time (and definitely too much money) at these clinics. We are forced to sit through the same talk and look at the same maps, showing us which horrible disease we may pick up in which God forsaken country, being told we really do need the inoculations against the bubonic plague, Ebola, Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever, bird flu and SARS and then being charged $40 for this “consultation” - each! OK, so I can stomach the $40, but not each, since we both had the same consultation at the same time. I guess we could insist on having our consultations separately to make sure we got our money's worth, but that has the obvious drawbacks............We then decide what shots we need and are made to endure needles and vile tasting concoctions designed to keep us happy and healthy whilst we are meandering across continents, trekking through mountain passes, immersing ourselves in indigenous cultures and wondering what the hell everybody is saying. We are then presenting with one whopping big bill. I turn pale - definitely a side effect of the bill and not the needles and Mr. DBM half nods and half shakes his head sagely and mutters philosophically “Remember, you wanted to go on this holiday. This is just part of the cost of travel.” Fair enough. Can't argue with that..............or can I?
Stupid question - of course I can argue with it! The question is, where do I start? Let's make a list - I love lists.
- Paying for two consultations, while receiving only one.
- Since we have had many a consultation in the past, paying and having to sit through another one bugs me. I could that job now - I even have the requisite Dr. bit to my name.
- Most importantly, the cost of all this. Mr. DBM and I are responsible people and we nearly always do the responsible thing, even when it costs us hundreds of dollars. Now, we didn't need to get all these shots and medications. We did it because it is the right thing to do. It hopefully saves us pain and suffering, and it saves the medical services lots of money - do you know how much it could cost to treat someone with bubonic plague with a smattering of malaria and a touch of squirty bottom? Well, to be honest, neither do I, but I am guessing it costs a lot, a very large lot. So, conscientious citizens who do the right thing get to pay money into the system, while people that just swan off into the wild green yonder without a care in the world, potentially cost the system a very large lot. Just doesn't seem right.
Anyhoo, I think that I might have digressed, since this has very little to do with my title - oops! Let`s get back to my not-a-baby-bump (for those a little puzzled by this term, please look here: The Baby Bump - Not!)
When you arrive at the travel clinic, the first thing they do is give you a clipboard with a form to fill in. It asks you lots of sensible questions, such as "Do you have any serious illnesses?" "Are you allergic to any drugs?" "What countries will you be visiting?" Are you pregnant or expecting to become pregnant?" and so on. I can understand why the doctor would need to know the answer to these questions, so we diligently fill out the forms. Then, off we go to see the nurse. She sits us down, takes the forms from us, reads them through, and then proceeds to asks us all the same questions again, so she can fill out her form. This puzzles me somewhat.
"Can I ask why we had to fill the form out, if you are just going to ask us all the questions anyway?""Well, it is quicker this way.""Not really, since we now have to answer the questions twice, instead of once.""Well, I have to check your answers, in case you got any wrong.""Oh, I didn't realise it was a test. I shall study harder for the next one. I hope I passed.""You did just fine, the doctor will see you now and ask you the same questions all over again."
"Great, I should be able to get 100% third time through!"
So, off to the doctor we trot, answer the same questions again, are informed of all the weird and wonderful diseases that might kill us horribly while we are on our dream holiday of a lifetime and then we are back to the nurse again to receive all our shots.
This is where things go pear-shaped. I have already answered three times that no, I am not pregnant and admitted, three times, to the fact that I have a huge liver due to a chronic illness. After the shots, I trot off to the front desk to hand over wads of cash, while Mr.DBM is chatting to the nurse. All of a sudden, I hear shrieks, snorts of laughter and a lot of apologising. The nurse, all red faced, is disappearing round the corner faster than a tourist being chased by a hippo. Turns out she was congratulating my husband on his impending fatherhood and asking when the happy event was due. Mr. DBM was rather incredulous at the nurse's lack of a brain, shook his head and tried to explain, for the fourth time, that I am NOT pregnant but have liver disease, thank you very much! Good job he is a school teacher and has the patience of a saint when it comes to dealing with idiots! Luckily, I was out of earshot, so didn't have to face the embarrassment head on.
Now, I do have another classic example of a nurses incompetence, which involves the inability to remember the difference between the carotid and coronary arteries - "Oooooh, I can never remember which is which!" and the difference between glaucoma and cataracts - "Ooooooh, that's another one that I always have trouble with!" But, I shall not delve further into that incident, since I wouldn't want you to get the idea that I have no respect for nurses. Sure, there are some bad nurses out there. There are nurses that don't have a clue, nurses that don't care and nurses that should only be allowed to empty bed pans. However, this is not the case for most nurses. Most nurses are caring, hard working, professional people, who, in my opinion, have one of the hardest jobs in the world and have my utmost respect for facing a job every day where they could get poked in the eye with a disease infected needle, covered in pee, vomit, sputum or other equally disgusting bodily fluids, insulted, demeaned and then asked to work another shift because there just aren't enough nurses to go around. My hats off to them, I know I couldn't do it.
The amazing photograph of an Anopheles mosquito in flight after a blood meal is from the December 2006 issue of Nature. It is by Hugh Sturrock of the University of Edinburgh. Who'd have thought a mosquito could be so beautiful!