Sunday, June 3, 2012


I was just up in Dakar for my mid-service medical appointments. About a year into service PCVs are supposed to come up to Med to have a check up with a doctor, a cleaning and x-rays at the dentist, and a tuberculosis test. Depending on what the PCV needs they'll also do a Pap smear, HIV and STI tests, MIF (stool sample) kit analysis, and tests for various parasite problems, such as schistosomiasis, a sort of snail-worm infection. Schisto, as we like to call it, is a neglected tropical disease (NTDs; they're horrible but fascinating) and is very common in my region. 

My check-up was pretty brief and boring; other than strep throat, switching off Mephaquin, a few relatively minor bouts of diarrhea and vomiting, I haven't really had any significant medical problems so far. (Knock on wood.) My schisto results haven't come back yet, but I don't have any cavities or tooth-problems (yay!) and my TB-exposure test was as negative as they come. The dental cleaning is a little odd, mostly because the dentist (a cheerful older Moroccan man) doesn't do things like give you a free travel-sized tube of toothpaste or provide a lead apron during x-rays. In fact, he takes the x-rays while standing next to you, sometimes whole holding the little square of film in place against your teeth with his own hand. He also develops the x-ray films right there, rinsing the chemicals off right into his little lab sink. It's how I imagine American dentists did in the olden days when it was totally okay to use fluoroscopes for fun and have women hand-number clock faces with radium paint.

In any case, it was interesting and good to get all checked out. And totally bizarre that I'm already more than halfway through my service. How is it June 2012 already?

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