Vaccination: Q1

The second day of the vaccination processes is called “Q1”. I’ve yet to feel any of the effects of the Streptococcus pneumoniae, or any secondary effects of typhiod. None of the others have complained of anything other than boredom. I’m still being slightly antisocial, primarily just involving myself in the discussions when I’m in the break room, but not exactly extending myself socially beyond that. Mainly I’m staying busy on the new portfolio(Please take a look at it here), even to the point of discussing complications I was having with my ftp with my web site’s hosting company while having blood removed from one arm, and using the other to follow necessary instructions being told me on the laptop. Of course, a guy getting stuck in arm twice a day for a pint of blood is going to eventually want to eat, even if it means with strangers.

But, I’m a pretty amiable guy, and honestly I have connected with the rest of the lab ratsvolunteers when we do get together. Early this morning, after egg and french buttered croissants, I struck up a conversation with the dietitian and the sustainable agriculturist about squatting(living in vacant homes), the economy, and farming. The sustainable agriculturist was apart of a farm in the city, and we also spoke about recycling and the wastefulness of the west. There is an interesting similarity in all of our beliefs and our philosophies, branching at certain extremes, but never really colliding. Even when the discussion turns from the socio-political to the religious.

During the lunch break, the neurologist, the choir director, the welder & his sister, and the sustainable agriculturist were all discussing polyamory when I walked in. Like most things, I support polyamory, but probably wouldn’t ever involve myself seriously in anything like that. The choir director, just entering the room for lunch, asked what polyamory was. We explained that it was multipartnered, nonmonogamous relationships. The neurologist joked and said it was like swinging. The sustainable agriculturist gasped and asked if people still did that. I laughed, recalled a few swinger’s parties, and just said with a grimace,”You’d be surprised at what types of cultures persists through time.” She spoke about her sheltered life and how she worked the maintenance room of a convenant, and how she could understand.

The conversation shifted from the sexual to the financial, and we all spoke on how we were worried about following our dreams. Like most people, our concerns moved from thoughts of retirement benefits and insurance, to the mundane life that is indentured servitude in even in these modern times. We all also spoke of how we would hate to spend the next twenty years working for someone, and have to live with the regrets of not giving our life to our dreams and beliefs. The neurologist stated, “you can’t pray for a house, though.”

I was the first to laugh and say,”It depends on who you are praying to.” The choir director instantly agreed. I was asked about who I prayed to. I gave a small synopsis of my philosophy and my beliefs regarding vibratory thoughts and the natural patterns of life. I also stated I don’t believe in a personal god, and that I was half atheist. That drew laughter from the neurologist from Kenya who bellowed,”You are smart man, playing both side just in case!”

The conversation continued with us all explaining our varied manner of worship and belief. And even with a query from the welder and I regarding the historical proof Jesus, the bilingual, and well-traveled choir director simply smiled, leaned his into his Dell laptop and remarked,”Give me until dinner, guys…”

Vaccination: Day Zero

So, I’m a part of a vaccination study for a university in town. The overall objective of the study is to see which method of three delivery methods beings studied will assist in making the vaccinations of streptococcus pneumonia(S. pneumo) more wide spread. S. pneumo is one of the most common causes of bacterial infections in the lung (pneumonia) and brain and spinal cord (meningitis). It also causes infection in the blood, ears (otitis media), sinuses and other body sites. These infections can be difficult to fight and lead to many deaths worldwide. The method of vaccination delivery I am helping to study(read: being a guinea pig for) is the oral digestion of a trace of the S. pneumo bacteria being carried into my system by another trace of Salmonella Typhi (S. Typhi) bacteria. Vaccines work by presenting the immune system with a small amount of an antigen so that the immune system can produce antibodies that will destroy the less potent antigen while teaching the immune system how to recognize the antigens if they were a stronger pathogen, eg. a full blown virus.

Since the type of vaccine is a live-attenuated vaccine at a high dose, I am not allowed to leave the facility. Since I am shedding the bacteria from my body, I might infect a person with a compromised immune system. Also, I have to avoid contact with babies under the age of 2 years young. Due to the possibility of my carrying the bacteria longer than my stay here, I could middle ear infection, and other complications. The need for me to stay confined is serious.

I am speaking in first person singular but there are actually around eight other people here with me. Upon arriving here this morning, I was offered my choice of room. Now, this is just a converted hospital, so it is a nine by ten foot room with the bed surrounded by lights. There is also a regular television with basic cable channels and the phone with the strange extension as a direct line for the phone .

As the day progressed, I met the rest of the lab rats volunteers while being prepared to receive the vaccine. When it came time, we all stood around a rotunda facing a bottle of Ensure that had been poured into two cups, while our numbers were called for our dosages.

This is about the time my history lessons started flying through my head and all sorts of thoughts of impoverished American Black men and women being injected with syphilis and denied penicillin treatments in Tuskegee, Alabama conducted between 1932 and 1972. For a second, my mind went back to the very term “vaccination” with its roots in the cow pox disease that protected many of the early European settlers from the viral small pox disease that would become a form of the western world’s bio-chemical warfare. During the Native American attack around 1752 on the British terrorist encampment Fort Pitt (which would become Pittsburg, Pennsylvania), Jeffery Amherst, Henry Bouquet, and Simeon Ecuyer, in order to “use every strategem in our power to reduce them”, conjured up the idea to send infected blankets and a handkerchief to the Native Americans in an effort to an “extirpate this execrable race”.

All this passed through my mind as we, upon instruction, quickly gulped two-thirds of the Ensure bottle and then drank the bitter vaccination like a shot of Tequila (actually the phrase “Shot, shot, shot..” was chanted by a nurse and a few of the lab rat volunteers). We then poured the rest of the Ensure into the same container with the remaining droplets of Salmonella Typhi laced with Streptococcus pneumoniae.

So, far I haven’t felt any of the effects, but my immune system has always been pretty strong, and there are only trace incidents, or so I’ve been told.

Of course, what would this post be without me describing the others. It is a motley crew at best: A young brother working on his neurology degree, an agriculturist working on projects in the impoverished areas of the city, a welder, a dietitian, a choir director, and the other alternate that came on with me. I know the descriptions are bland at best, but as the project goes on, I’ll fill you in on the specifics. Thus far the conversations — all starting with a name-statement-name staccato in effort to memorize each others names — have been about societal designators, class designations, the degree-job ratio and sushi. Oh, and the other alternate wants to smuggle in liquor. That ought to be interesting!!