Ah, the Peace Corps medical clearance process. I’m not going to lie – when I received my invitation I really put it on the backburner. I’m a great procrastinator when I want to be.
Visa application? Done. Passport application? Check. Aspiration statement? Easy. Health “stuff”? Avoided at all costs.
Finally, three weeks went by and I figured I should probably actually open the medical portal and take a peek at the tasks that lie ahead. In order to get a grasp, I just started printing everything (sorry, trees). In my defense, I hadn’t used my printer in years (you’re welcome, trees) and dug it out of the closet just for this very special occasional. The next morning, I took the plunge and called my doctor.
They thought it best to start with a consultation where I would sit down with my doctor and discuss everything I needed to get done. Mind you, I had 60 days after accepting my invitation to complete all of my tasks. At this point, I was panicking and ready to go in and do the damn thing. It was mid-December and my medical clearance was due by mid-January. Not to mention this was right in the midst of holidays and I felt like that posed a big threat to getting everything turned in by the deadline. Turns out the consultation was necessary for my sanity and I was so much more at ease after explaining my needs to my doc and figuring out a timeline. It also just so happens he had another future PCV in his office the week before, so he had a good idea of the process. Because of this, he went the extra mile in ensuring all my paperwork was done right the first time. How’d I get so lucky?
Lucky is a term used loosely here, considering the appointment coming my way in a week’s time. When I walked out of my appointment, my doctor said, “See you next week! …And probably the week after that!” Good one, doc.
This is the point where I mention I’m extremely afraid of needles and have passed out on multiple occasions, both in situations involving and not involving needles. Not only have I fallen head first off of an examination table due to passing out, but I’ve also passed out on a plane, at the eye doctor (what?!), and in 4th grade when my friend’s dad came to talk to our class about his job in the ER.
NEEDLESs to say, I was not looking forward to my impending immunization appointment. Shoutout to my friends who listened to me complain about how afraid I was for a week straight and offered nothing but words of encouragement!
The day finally arrived. My appointment went surprisingly smooth and I even got apple juice and goldfish (hi, I’m five). I didn’t pass out – I didn’t even get light headed! My nurse was the Beyoncé of administering shots. And by that, I mean the greatest of all time. I opted to go back after work to get my blood drawn because I needed a breather. But a few hours later I got that over with, too, and only felt slightly light headed.
Two days later I returned to check my reaction to the TB test and found out I had to get – wait for it – another shot. I shrugged. At that point, I don’t even think needles phased me anymore. The Peace Corps had already changed me and I hadn’t even left America yet.
Five shots and a blood test later, I’d made it through the part I feared most! When I recount my proudest moments in the last 24 years, this is top 3. I’m not exaggerating.
After this whole process, I thank my lucky stars for good health and Western medicine. When it’s all said and done, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. One week after submitting every last piece of medical history I have on record, I HAVE MEDICAL CLEARANCE!
I woke up to this email today and was elated. Don’t mind the fact that Siri calls me “Princess Zoe” (it’s more of a confidence booster than an egotistical thing).
Namibia, I’m coming for you.