Today we had a short, but interesting adventure. I was seen by a general practitioner here a couple of weeks ago. We found out that I was deficient in iron (first time in my life as dark, leafy greens are harder to come by here). When I have blood work done it tends to get interesting. I participated in a vaccine trial for HIV my sophomore year of university through the Fred Hutchinson Research Institute. I've carried antibodies ever since. Those antibodies lead to what professionals call vaccine induced seropositivity (SCIENCE!). This can make being an expat (especially in nations with classically xenophobic government policies, i.e. South Korea or China) pretty trying at times. That is not to say that U.S. medical professionals are very supportive or understanding of this situation, either. It's usually met with a raised eyebrow or condescension at best. For this reason, I have a letter and test result documentation from the institute.
So, what does all of this have to do with today? Well, the GP had to send my blood sample over to public health (protocol and all) for further HIV testing. My blood sample blew their minds. They (this is the HIV/AIDS division for all of the Czech Republic) have never dealt with vaccine induced seropositivity before. So, they asked the GP to contact me on their behalf to politely ask for another sample.
After checking with Fred Hutchinson and asking the Czech researcher questions whose answers went above my comprehension of medical science, I obliged. He was so grateful that he offered me a bottle of Moravian (Czech) wine. I accepted that as well. Ian and I met him at the metro stop. He was extremely warm and friendly. I mean, you only see people this excited about science on t.v. programs, right? His partner, a woman, met us at the facility (he had clearly sent her out for a wine gift bag). She was also incredibly friendly and obviously grateful.
Since Fred Hutchinson themselves, these are the first people I've encountered who have been excited about the "every man" contribution to HIV research that I made eight years ago. It's been a long time since it wasn't a struggle to feel good about it. I think I'm as grateful to those researchers as they were to me.
On a less sappy note, here's the wine he generously gifted me:
After the visit to the public health facility, Ian and I went to Moment for breakfast for the first time. We had almond meal porridge topped with fresh berries and white currants. We told the waitress that we'd never had a fresh currant before and she looked at us like we had been on Mars. "They're everywhere here," she told us. Indeed they are, I've seen them at pretty much every market, I just didn't know what they were. I'd only seen/eaten them dried.
We both really enjoyed the bioflick. I highly recommend it. The cinematography is lovingly obsessive, just as it should be for a movie about the man that created the iPhone.
It's still rainy and nasty out, so we're in for the night. Happy Monday, folks.