Alternative Title: The Case of the Missing Malaria Test
Getting a VISA can be complicated. Not to be confused with a VISA card, which seems to be available to me every time I check the mail. Getting a VISA to work in another country is much harder- and I even have assistance from the school I will be working for. It’s a lot of gathering documents and getting tests done. They get all up in your business. Which is fine because, as a person with anxiety, I often worry that I have any number of contagious diseases outlined on WebMD. Getting the tests done is pretty finite proof that I am healthy and just possibly, neurotic.
I got tested for a ton of stuff. Additionally I got a check x-ray for Tuberculosis. I did that wrong the first time, actually. You’re supposed to hug this metal plate and act totally relaxed about it, as if you were looking for a shoulder to cry on and found a flat hunk of metal instead. Except I wasn’t relaxed enough and, in fact, was holding my breath. So, we did that test again. Today, I am proud to say I am TB free.
Fast forward three weeks. All the test results are in- NEGATIVE! I decide to run through the battery of tests with the doctor’s office to double-check and realize that Malaria is missing. Malaria, the test that I, quite literally, called the doctor’s office many times to check and make sure it had been ordered. Call it a sixth sense for disaster. I was assured though, that it had been ordered and carried out. However, now I was hearing that it hadn’t been done. Enter: PANIC MODE!
You see, it had taken three weeks to get all my results in for the other tests. I was in Disney World until the end of the week on vacation. Even if I left that very second and got tested, if the tests didn’t get back for three weeks, it might be too late to send it to the company that validates all my visa paperwork. Plus, my doctor was leaving on vacation in less than 24 hours. This could make it impossible to enter Kuwait. It follows that you can’t teach in Kuwait if you can’t leave the airport.
So, I texted my father about how my life was possibly over and I may end up jobless and hawking stuff on Ebay just to pay for a small box on the side of the road. My father claimed I was being dramatic (as if) and gave me this little tidbit of wisdom: Embrace the Suck. Apparently, it was what his command had told him when he was on deployment in Afghanistan. I had heard this advice in that Tina Fey movie Whiskey Tango Foxtrot which gave it credibility with me. While I am not exactly going into a war zone, it is a different culture. One that may move at a different pace than I am used to. One that doesn’t have Chipotle (RIP steak burrito). So, there are things that to me, may suck. I am not going to be able control everything despite my carefully laid plans, endless lists, Voo Doo dolls, crystals, and my Vision Board.
Embrace the suck. Acknowledge that this is sucky but sucky stuff happens and you roll with it. Especially difficult, but important, when you are already way out of your comfort zone.
So here I was. In the Happiest Place on Earth with major b*tch face, and not of the resting variety either. So, I made a plan. I drove the 1.5 hours to my doctor’s office the following morning, planning to get to the office right when it opened to sort this thing out in person. Then, I hit an hour of stand still traffic: more suck. Embracing the Suck, I watched Youtube videos about the reunion of The L Word cast. Be cool people, cars were not moving. Short of data usage, I was not behaving irresponsibly.
Traffic moved eventually and the cast of my favorite show are interested in doing a reunion special. All is well again. When I arrived at the office they printed me a new lab order for Malaria. They assured me for the 5th time that they would type up the cover page (what they call a Health Certificate) and give it to me once results were in. I called two more times that day just in case they forgot. I am never mean, but yes, I am that annoying and I know it.
I then drove 20 more minutes to the testing lab. The same lady who took my original labs checked me in again and told me they couldn’t give me the test for Malaria until after I had been to the new country and could possibly have been exposed to it. Except, as I reminded her, I couldn’t get into the country to even be exposed to Malaria unless I get the test before entering the country. Quite simply, they won’t let me in. This country is like an exclusive neighborhood. Without the gate password “Malaria free” I ain’t gettin’ in. She told me she didn’t think there was anything she could do to help. Here was more suck.
Then an angel, or another lab technician, I can’t be sure, walked by and came up with a work-around to help me. They would state that I didn’t say if I had been exposed to Malaria or not and that I didn’t state whether I had been to a foreign country or not. That way they could run the test. Apparently the lab they send the blood work to in Tampa blocks the tests if, like I told them last time, I hadn’t actually traveled to the new country yet. Makes no sense but then again, no one shares stories with each other about the joys of bureaucracy.
Fast forward 3 days. I am disembarking Splash Mountain to find an Email in the inbox with my test results. Malaria Free.
This had been a sucky situation. I am sure there will be more sucky situations. That’s life. I am still a worrier. I didn’t fully Embrace the Suck. More like a slight pat on the back rather than an actual embrace, but its a work in progress.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, there is a celebratory Dole Whip with my name on it.