I know I already dubbed Brody Indiana Bones in a prior post, but I’m stealing the nom de plume for my upcoming trip to Peru with Amazon Cares. I am Indiana Bones, slogging through anacondas and tarantulas in search of the elusive capybara. It’s the largest rodent in the world, and I want to see one.
It’s not a photoshopped guinea pig: It’s the world’s largest rodent. *squish*
I admit it will take a bit of luck, since I’m going to be pretty busy doing veterinary work- the main reason for going. But if someone just happens to bring a capybara to the street clinics in Iquitos for medical attention, I just want everyone on the trip to know I have dibs.
I’ve been so distracted with other things that I haven’t really had the opportunity to allow myself to be excited about the trip, but trust me, I’m over the moon. Getting to go somewhere like the Amazon while giving back to the community is something I have wanted to do for years, so this is quite literally a dream come true. Molly Mednikow, the founder of Amazon Cares, has been just wonderful in helping me put this together on fairly short notice. She’s on my list of “People who have done amazing things and leave me feeling incredibly unaccomplished.”
I had the joy of going to the travel clinic last week for the rather long list of associated vaccinations, drugs, and workup recommended before travelling to tropical climes. My doctor, having realized I hadn’t been in for a while, ordered up some routine bloodwork to go along with it, just for giggles.
She called me the next day. “Wow,” I thought to myself with glee, “I must be lucky! It’s always the NURSE who calls me!”
My reverie was to be short lived, however, when the first words out of her mouth were, “Have you been feeling okay lately?”
“Uh, yes….” I stammered, “I actually am probably the healthiest I have ever been. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, your white blood cell count is low,” she replied. “Quite low.”
As I immediately started compiling my bucket list in panic, she gave me the details. “It might be a lab error,” she said, “so before we do anything else, let’s just repeat the test in a week. If it’s still off, you can go to a hematologist.”
“A week,” I said. “Because I have this trip coming up to the Equator, and I imagine going into Dengue fever territory might not be the wisest idea if one is immunosuppressed.” And I really really want to pet a capybara.
Long pause. “Yes. Well, let’s test you on Monday.”
So I waited one tortured week, studiously avoiding the horrors of Dr. Google, before presenting my vein promptly at 8 am on Monday.
On Tuesday, I sat by the phone for a good 5 hours before starting to pester the doctor’s office.
“Oh,” the receptionist chirped, “Yes, the results are in. No, I can’t tell you what they are and the doctor isn’t in until tomorrow. They usually just send them, though, unless there’s a problem.”
“Oh, there’s a problem,” I informed her. “Last week I had no white blood cells and I need to know if that was real or not before I go to the deepest murkiest depths of the Amazon and expose myself to the stifling herds of pestilence bearing mosquitoes that will be feasting on my immune deficient blood.”
See, working in medicine has taught me the importance of self-advocacy.
Needless to say, at 5:45 the other doctor on staff promptly called to tell me, somewhat tersely, that my bloodwork was perfectly normal.
“I’m not normally a pest,” I told her, “It’s just that it was really not normal last week and there’s this capybara-”
“OK,” she interjected. “Well, it’s great now! Bye!” And that was that.
Perhaps my white blood cells had played a mischievous prank on me, squirreling away in my spleen just to give me a good scare. Perhaps they were afraid of the things I found on the net about tarantulas, piranhas, or Dengue fever.
But then I showed them the capybara, and apparently that was enough to tip the scales and lure them out of hiding like a toddler chasing after a fluffy kitten. Voila! My fully equipped team of leukocytes will be happily accompanying me on my quest to pet this elusive beast. And of course, of COURSE, you know I will be blogging all about it.