Our bus pulled into the station after a wearisome 11 and half hour journey it was dark and late and well past my bedtime. My travelling companion and I grabbed our bags and headed for the gate to find a taxi. Behind us came an explosion of people yelling in a variety of languages:
“Come back here.”
“You can’t leave yet”
“What about your medicine?”
One of the guards came running forward to block the gate and keep us from exiting , while another man in a while lab coat, presumably a doctor, started waving papers under my nose and pointing to the line. That was when I noticed that every one of our fellow passengers had dutifully disembarked the bus and were standing in line to receive whatever medical treatment the local physician deemed necessary.
Since I am on a regular regiment of medications that are prone to side effects and adverse interactions with unknown drugs I am weary of taking something that I don’t know. I haven’t studied enough medical words, so I didn’t know what disease they were saying had broken out in their area, but I tried valiantly to convince them that I was sure I had been inoculated for it in Canada and that I couldn’t pop their mysterious pill. My arguments fell on deaf ears and were to no avail. The group of one doctor, three nurses and two gate guards ganged up on me and scolded saying “You can’t leave the bus station until you take this”, “No hotel in our city will permit you to stay if you have not had your medicine” “You may get very ill, if you do not listen to us”.
Against my better judgment I blindly grabbed their white tablet and swallowed it, signing my name on the dotted line, and accepting the slip with the red stamp calming that I had received the need medical treatment. I kept that sheet of paper close to me, and sure enough needed to show it again at the airport in order to board a plane and leave the area.
It wasn’t until after I returned to my home that I learned that part of our province was facing an outbreak of polio. My doctor friend was kind enough to reassure me, that while a person on immune suppressant, like myself, should not take a live vaccine she did say that I should be fine since I would have taken a vaccination years ago for the same disease. Her confidence did put my heart at ease.