Tuesday, October 05, 2010

House Call

My phone rang tonight. It was my neighbor. “Have you ever given someone a shot?” he asked.

“No, I haven’t seen your son”, I replied. (Understanding Mongolian is hard enough in person. By phone, the gap between what was said and understood can be even wider.)

“Can you give me a shot?”, he said more simply. “Yes”, I said before thinking about it too much. “Come on over”, he said, and hung up the phone.

On the way over our shared back yard fence I pondered my answer: “I’ve given lots of shots to horses and a few to cows…I used to give my self allergy shots, so I’m able.”

I walk into his house. People are watching TV in the front room. They ask if I can give an intravenous injection. I start to feel creepy. What if there are narcotics here?

The man of the house is laying on his bed in the other room watching his own TV. “What’s the matter, friend?” I ask.

“Allergies,” he says flatly. “Here in my nose”. “Sometimes it’s plugged or runs, sometimes it’s okay” he explains.

“So where’s the medicine?” I ask. He motions. I pick it up. On glass viles is written in Mongolian letters the name “Dexamethazone”. The name comes rushing back to my memories from working at my father’s veterinary clinic. “We used to give this to horses as an anti-inflammatory and pain reducer,” I announce suppressing shock and surprise.

His wife walks in. She picks up a bag of IV fluids. “You’re supposed to put the medicine in here”, she explains. The man of the house chimes in “it’s supposed to go in this vein here,” touching the back of his hand.

“I’m not doing this!” I exclaim. “I’ve never given IV shots to anyone. Isn’t there a nurse that lives right across the street? If we have allergies we just take pills, you want some?” I ask. So I go fetch the nurse, and send Renee over with a bottle of Benadryl.

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