Bye-bye California -- with a visit to the doctor
It’s less than a week now till I leave sunny California (yes still sunny), and there is an impossible number of things still to fit in. Grade the students’ papers, write two reviews, get a paper together for a conference in January – to name just three of the more pressing obligations.
The truth is that I had a rather leisured and genteel image of how life would be when I finished the lectures -- some nice early nights, curling up in bed with a novel or two, toddling down the road to the movie theatre . . . You know the kind of thing.
Well it hasn't been quite like that. For a start, writing the lectures left me pretty brain dead – so that even girlie novels have seemed an intellectual bridge too far. My rate of progress on one of the books I’m reviewing has been something like 75 pages a day. It takes a long time to get through a 550-page tome at that rate.
And then of course there are all the people I want to see before I leave and had to put off until after I’d finished performing. There’s not a lunch or dinner that remains free till I leave. Huge fun, but it doesn’t actually speed up the reading!
Not to mention getting things organized for going to Sudan after Christmas. You’ll be hearing more of this in due course, you wont be surprised to learn. But for the time being, the story is about getting a Yellow Fever vaccination. Not quite as simple here, it turns out, as in the UK.
When you go to get a shot (that’s American for 'jab') in England, you walk into the surgery, wait a bit, answer some quick questions about your suitability for the vaccine, expose your arm to the nurse, get pricked and walk out.
Not so here.
My appointment at a local family doctor’s (which was also a Yellow Fever vaccination centre) was scheduled for 3.00. And there was no jab to be given without filling in a complete medical history form, an insurance form and being weighed and measured in various ways.
The don is not in the greatest shape right now. Those lectures precluded almost all exercise for two months, and encouraged the consumption of coffee, and from time to time, alcohol on an industrial scale. The more they bustled on, the more I began to panic that they were about to say that I wasn’t in fit condition to have the Yellow Fever jab (and the more the blood pressure zinged. . . .).
As it turned out, after the gloomy preliminaries, they got on and did the vaccination (plus meningitis for good measure) without batting much of an eyelid. It all took about two hours.
But it was a wake-up call about the state of the body. So belatedly some fitness treatment is kicking in. I’ve given up taking the bus to the campus, opting instead for that good-for-you brisk 20 minute walk. I’ve stopped making a pot of 10 cups of coffee in the morning and have just 3 instead. And I’ve bought some herbal tea which I take to my office in place of the previous large flask of coffee (are there people in the world who really do prefer this stuff to a nice cup of Arabica?). And the home stock of wine is remaining firmly in its bottle. Good practice for Sudan.