February 22, 2005

Tuesday am

Word is coming from the U.S. that it is tax time. As part of my community service obligations, I'll credit myself one hour for informing my reading public that tax season is approaching. Especially for you foreign inhabitants, file your taxes in time to allow ample postal forwarding. Service complete.

Hello, blog zone fans. What's happening? We've got a beautiful day here in Addis. Sunny, a bit windy, and it's going to be hot. 7,000 feet doesn't seem to make much of a difference at this time of year. It gets darn hot. To give you a visual comparison to which you can relate (well, maybe you can't relate and if you can't, good on you for proper hygeine), if I drive anywhere around 12:00, by the time I arrive at my destination, my shirt is hydraulically attached to my back and stays that way for a good 10 minutes. Fortunately, the air here is so dry that it dissipates rather quickly, but who among you can say that you enjoy the feeling of a damp shirt on your back. It's giving me the heebie-jeebies just sitting here thinking about it right now. And yet I know I will be leaving the house today at around noon. Shortly thereafter, I will encounter a traffic jam near the Orthodox Church at Woreil and that's when the back sweats will start in. And I'll be trapped - there will be nothing I can do. Oh the horror, the inhumanity.

I haven't talked religion for awhile and maybe it's a good time now. Particularly, religion in the context of the research I'm assisting with at the HIV Clinic. Turns out that the vast majority of the patient population there is Christian. As an aspiring statistician, that can tell me a number of things, all of which will need to be investigated. One, Christians in this country are far more likely to seek testing/treatment, hence they appear in greater numbers. Two, Muslims in this country have a far lower prevalance of HIV than Christians (due to religious expectations?). In other words, Muslims would be just as likely to seek testing/treatment if they found themselves sick, but far fewer are, so their number is lower. Three, because we are interpreting religion based mostly on patients' names, we are collecting innaccurate data on religion and HIV. Whatever the case, the ratio is staggering - something like 9 to 1, and this deserves to be investigated further.

The research is going well. We've all developed kind of a team bond, researchers, doctors, and nurses. We work through lunch and after the clinic closes; then, just like in my home state of Alaska, I drive everyone home.

It's funny, I think my wife was concerned about how I would feel about taking people home/offering rides when we first purchased the car. Here, a person with a car is somewhat obligated to drive family, friends, and coworkers home and around town so that they don't have to be subjected to the city bus or shared taxis. Little did my wife realize that I had a lifetime of training in this department as a swimmer and/or community member of a small, geographically spread out Alaskan town. I don't know if it was the swimmer part that prepared me or the Alaska part. Probably both. As a swimmer, you are required to be at the pool at unpleasant hours when the rest of the world is sleeping or just getting up. As such, rides must be coordinated and shared (unless everyone owns a car). Additionally, as a resident of one of the biggest cities in the U.S. in terms of land size, you were practically obligated to offer rides to schoolmates and others seeking to either get from the valley into town or vice versa. You are indoctrinated into this lifestyle as a youngster when you possess no vehicle and your seniors take pity on you and you return the favor when you reach driving/car ownership age. In summary, I was prepared for the expectation of ride sharing.

Actually, yesterday I gave a ride to one of the clinic doctors to the Immigration Office. She's planning to travel abroad for training. Humorously, I saw two of my wife's coworkers in another car in a parking lot while I was stopped at a light. We said "hello" and then the doctor with me said that I needed to tell my wife so that her coworkers wouldn't report back that Ken had been driving around town with another woman. Meanwhile, this doctor is probably 40-45 years old and I'm a buxom 28 year old - it wouldn't work anyway, but I did a little explaining later just to be sure.

Well, the Fun Zone had a little bit of GI upset and fatigue for a little bit, so he went to the pharmacy yesterday to get himself some cipproflaxiccin. Great. No doctor's visit required. I checked with my doctor colleague about dosage and then I went to the pharmacy with a note scribbled on the back of a scrap of paper and got my antibiotics. That easy. What's more, the cost was less than one dollar for a five day course (10 tablets). Now the Fun Zone is fully recovering and you should expect an increased level of writing energy. Gotta step it up a notch.

It is kind of strange about the price of medicine and, more to the point, that I can get it without having to consult a doctor. Let's be honest. Most times, we know when we are sick. We know, if we pay any attention while in the doctors office, what kind of antibiotics doctors prescribe and also when we might need them. I'm not calling for the abolishment of the medical profession, but maybe a little more personal control in regulating ourselves would be acceptable. Maybe, as part of high school health curriculum, schools could teach students some basics about self-medicating and proper anti-biotic use. This proposal is, of course, going nowhere, but a little common sense might go a long way. Hope I don't keel over from improper medication - that would look foolish.

Well, anyway, as the Greeks say, "another day, another dollar". And as the Chinese are prone to suppine, "when the monkey is out of the cage, you must look for it". I'll sign off there and begin my grueling work day. My consolatation is that I will be back on the e-waves tomorrow, dishing up another serving of the Rocking Fun Zone.


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