One of the challenges of service in the Peace Corps is going through the medical clearance process prior to departure. Medical staff must ensure that each volunteer headed overseas is generally healthy, as access to medical services in other parts of the world may be much more limited.
For me, this process began last fall, when I filled out a long questionnaire detailing the entirety of my medical history. Thankfully, I haven't started falling apart yet, so this step was relatively easy: I just checked the box next to "needs glasses."
After being selected for a position in the GHSP last winter, I received a number of additional tasks through the Peace Corps' Office of Medical Services that had to then be completed. If I've neglected writing here recently, that's partly the result of being busy with these efforts (among other things) over the past few months.
Luckily, I documented some of my experiences along the way:
I'm not used to being on this side of the examining table. I visited two excellent doctors who completed my medical evaluation, conducted thorough physical exams, and ordered all of the necessary blood work and vaccinations required by the Peace Corps.
Ouch! Things started with some basic labs: HIV, CBC, Hep B surface Ag, Hep C Ab, G6PD titer, BMP, and UA. All of my results were normal, but it was still kind of a kick seeing my own numbers after looking at others' lab values for 11 years or so.
Next came the vaccinations: meningococcal, Tdap, and typhoid for starters. I received a 3-part series of Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccines over the next month. This was followed by a trip to the local travel medicine clinic, where I received a polio vaccine, a yellow fever vaccine, and three rabies vaccines over the next several weeks.
Public service announcement: kids, shots really don't hurt that much. I'm just being dramatic in the hopes of securing some ice cream.
Off to the dentist! This was the part of the medical clearance process I was most nervous about, as I've been terrible about getting regular dental care over the past 15 years or so. Would brushing and flossing have been enough to prevent any cavities?
Nope. Looks like I have four.
My dentist dressed me in these Neo-like shades in preparation for some fillings. The bib around my neck takes away some of the cool factor.
While I've been known to offer the occasional smirk, here I'm simply modeling my stroke-like smile after half my face has been anesthetized. Thanks to my fantastic dentist, my choppers are officially as good as new. I'd say that's reason enough to grin.
One final "eye-opening" experience to go: the vision screening exam. Walking around Chicago after getting my eyes dilated was trippy.
Trying on spectacles...
I submitted all of my medical paperwork in May and learned about a month later that I had been medically cleared for service. Mustache photo included at no extra charge.