To travel to Antarctica, you have to “PQ,” or physically qualify. This involves a complete physical, EKG, TB and HIV tests, bloodwork requiring 6 vials of blood, urine analysis, and dental examination with full mouth x-rays, among other things. The reason for this is because Antarctica is very remote–if you get sick there in the summer, it could be days or weeks before the weather is good enough to get you out, and if you get sick in the winter, you are stuck there. The HIV test is required because there are no blood supplies in Antarctica–if someone needs a transfusion they go find someone with a compatible blood type and take their blood directly from them.
Today I started this wonderful process of PQing by taking a trip to the dentist. 18 X-rays later, I was informed that I have 9 cavities. I looked at the x-rays, and sure enough, I had some bad ones. That’s what I get for not going to the dentist for several years. Antarctic deployment requires that I have all of these filled before I can PQ. So I spent the next 3 hours with one half of my face numb and a drill in my mouth. Tomorrow, I get to go back to have all the cavities in the other half of my mouth filled. Party!
I really hope that the medical portion of PQing is a little less painful for me.
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