Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Inger F. Sheinbaum
SHEINBAUM: Oh yes. All of them came through. But those were also in the years, it was 1978, when Merieux had just been legalized in Europe. It was not yet in America. It had not passed American standards. But I was, we didn't have fax in those days, we didn't have phones, but I was wiring Washington, begging them to send me Merieux, because I knew from my medical background, that they had it in the State Department And they said, “we can't send it to you because it's not been legalized.” I said, “I have all these children here, send it to me.” Number one, when you inject duck embryo, in anybody, it's very high risk for allergic reactions and many more people die from that reaction than actually from rabies. And I was standing for all these children — it was a tremendous responsibility. The State Department wouldn't give me the Merieux. Six months after all this had settled and the dust had sort of settled, Merieux was liberated and they sent it to me in Malawi. And they said “congratulations Mrs. Sheinbaum, you've been a pest for six months, but here you are.” I then offered the entire Embassy to get pre-exposed vaccination. In other words, should they ever be exposed to rabies again, they have had the vaccination. Only my own family took advantage of it. At that time they had seemingly forgotten. That was about the time that Gil and I left post. When we got to Washington, there was a cable in the Medical Unit, “please check in immediately.” And the cable read, “our Ambassador's dog has died from rabies and everybody has been petting the Ambassador's dog. They're scrambling. I said, “too bad.” My family took the Merieux but nobody else at post wanted it. So that was maybe one of the health hazards. Snakes, of course, were rampant — there were snakes everywhere. And so those hazards, when you have small children, you just have to be very cautious. Allergic reactions. But knowing the medical system inside out, I always knew where the doctors played poker and I always knew where their girlfriends were and we had a couple of very close calls. When the British High Commissioner in Malawi nearly bled to death, I happened to know where the surgeon was and got him out of his poker game and we saved Michael Scott. But it was a close call.
Q: Were your children otherwise healthy at that post. Did they come out without any other close calls?
SHEINBAUM: Nothing. Nothing. No. The usual minor stuff, but nothing unusual.
Q: To change the subject, was that a post that you were able to get out and around in the countryside?
SHEINBAUM: Definitely. Up country, around country, neighboring countries a lot — with the children.
Q: Was it as scenic as your previous...