The Army’s always had a reputation for giving soldiers a lot of vaccines. It’s not unheard of for new basic trainees entering the Army to have to receive upwards of 10 shots during basic training, especially if they forgot their shot records at home. At this point in my life, especially given my 7 years in the Army, I thought I was pretty well caught up on shots… but the Army never fails to come up with a few more. As part of my deployment screening, I had the privilege of getting Typhoid, Anthrax, and Smallpox vaccinations. I got the first 2 while I was still home in Missouri, but deferred the smallpox as it’s contagious and I didn’t want Drew to get exposed to it. The Typhoid wasn’t bad, but the Anthrax made my deltoid hurt for a week. Once I got here, the medics hooked me up with the Smallpox vaccine. It was a little uncomfortable to begin with (see earlier post), but now the real fun begins. The smallpox vaccine is actually an induced infection with the cowpox virus (a.k.a. vaccinia, which is where the word vaccine originated from). The initial inoculation pokes a bunch of holes in your skin to induce the virus, and then you just wait for the infection to kick in. I’ve now got a large blister/pustule on my arm. Thankfully, it doesn’t hurt, but it does get annoying that I can’t scratch it due to the risk of spreading it via my fingers to other parts of my body… no fun!!
On the homefront, I talked with Cristin (and heard Drew in the background) again tonight. Right now, I’ve still got cell phone access, although I’m shutting down my account after I leave the country. We’re going to have to rely on Skype from then on. It’s hard to imagine life before we had such instantaneous access to each other. I’m already starting to miss both of them, and I felt really bad when I couldn’t fix some problems with Cristin’s cell phone over the phone. “Hey Sean, could you fix this?” is one of Cristin’s more common greetings and usually I’m able to sort out a solution sooner or later. But this one (her phone’s microphone appears to have stopped working) had me stumped. After trying everything I could think of and Cristin taking a trip to a Verizon store, which was even less helpful, we decided that it’s time for a new phone.
We’ve spent the last 2 days in the field, yesterday spending all day at the firing range with our M16’s (I qualified the first time I fired it, really not too different from the .22 rifles we used to shoot at Boy Scout Camp, other than the bulky body armor) and then today out working on various Army-type skills. Despite sunscreen use, I’m already starting to develop my “Army Tan”. Much like the fabled farmer tan, the Army tan is a tan or sunburn that involves only the back of your hands, the back of your neck, and from the neckline of your shirt up to a line that runs about an inch above the eyebrows around to about an inch above your ears. When we’re in uniform in the field, we always have long sleeves, which covers everything but your hands, and then your helmet creates this goofy tan line above your eyebrows and ears. I’m sure this is only going to get worse once I move to warmer/sunnier locations.