Vaccination Situation (Triumph!)

Today really went nothing like I planned—we were going to work through the morning and afternoon and instead, we ended up off on a spree downtown. I did in fact learn something from my tumultuous adventuring, and it is this:

If you live in the Austin area and are planning to get (or continue) Gardasil, the three HPV vaccinations, from Planned Parenthood, call your branch before you leave and make absolutely sure that they have it in that day. In fact, don’t stop there. Ask them to double-check. No, I’m serious. The North branch on Burnet told me to come in, and when I got there, they didn’t have any Gardasil. When I went downtown to the E. 7th St. location, after calling them to make sure it was available… I’d been given incorrect information. They didn’t have it either. I felt incredibly lucky that when I finally ended up down on Ben White in South Austin, somebody had the stuff on hand—and hadn’t given me false hope! Not only that, but all this scrambling happened right before lunch, which made me terrified that we would finally find a place that had it… only to be told that we had to wait another two hours for the nurse to get back. That didn’t happen, but oh god, the scary!

You can imagine how frustrating my day was, given this course of events. But I finally did get the injection—my third and last of three Gardasil vaccinations that will protect me from the four most prevalent strains of HPV, which can cause cervical cancer. The four strains in question are, in case you’re curious, 6, 11, 16, and 18—the first two cause 90% of cases of genital warts, and the last two cause 70% of cases of cervical cancer.

This means I am 90% (or so) less likely to ever have genital warts (wow, that’s fun to type in a public forum!), and 70% (or so) less likely to ever have cervical cancer. Right? Even if I’m not sure how accurate it is for me to say that, those are awfully nice numbers! Stay away from my baby-making parts, HPV! I have a stick!!

Anyway, it was way cool to finally get home after all that running around. I picked up more Yerba at Whole Foods and we stopped at the bank, and collapsed in pools of sweat on our living room floor, basking in the air conditioning that we’d (oops) left on all morning. Oh, air conditioner. We love you so very dearly.

I guess I do have more to say about Planned Parenthood. I wasn’t all keen about being run around, and I’m not sure why it was so difficult for them to let me know whether they had the vaccination available or not. Especially in one case, the fact that I tried to make an appointment to come in (which, incidentally, I’m not allowed to do after the first shot), and the fact that I was told it was in when it wasn’t, when I specifically asked someone to check so that I could avoid the previous painful circumstance… oy. I understand that Planned Parenthood is providing a wonderful service for low-income citizens but I don’t think a restricted budget necessitates restricted respect for your customers. That’s not reasonable, as far as I can tell.

More and more, it makes me feel that I’d better find a good ob-gyn—one I feel strongly safe with, one who is excellently worth the increased expense—purely to have a positive, predictable experience. Planned Parenthood is nice, especially in Austin where I have been treated infinitely better than in Youngstown, but there are kinks in the system. Such kinks in the system!

Regardless of these things, I feel good about my day; I don’t have to worry about the vaccine any longer, and having stuck with it for the six months it took to have all three injections makes me feel pretty good about myself. What should I do next? I bet there’s a Hepatitis letter or two I can spend my money on…

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