So this is my fifth week as being a human pin cushion. What I mean by this is that whenever you go into a travel doctors office and say ‘I am going to India among other places ‘, expect to be prodded with needles in your arms until you have needles coming out of your eyeballs. The other thing that you can expect is that it will set you back about a whole months worth of travel dollars just to make sure that your health is in good order before you go. But if there is one thing I have learned in this life it is that you can find new love and make more money but if you neglect your health, it might just be the biggest regret of your life.
So I sit in the office about a month ago with a nurse going over what it is that I need for travel given that I will be going for such a long time and trying to decide on what it is that I will need based on where I am going and what I am doing. Prior to this, I have been pretty well vaccinated. When I was a child my mother used to tell us we were going somewhere fun and then we would wind up at the doctors to get immunizations before we would be allowed to go and do that said ‘fun thing’. My previous history being a myriad of tetanus, Hepatitis A and B, measles, mumps and rubella, polio, yellow fever, old meningococcal ABWY and past typhoid, I figured that I would not really have that much to update other than the typhoid which is out of date.
But noooooo…. apparently when you say you are going to India the ball game changes completely. I am sitting in the chair hearing about three course injections for rabies, more typhiod, more tetanus even though my last one was only 4 years ago, cholera, more polio, more meningitis…. I could see needles and dollar signs flying around my head and an understanding came about that I would be spending at least once a week for the next month in this doctors office getting poked with needles. I do not think that people realize just how much this part of travel costs and just how important it is. On top of this they needed to take my blood and do a test to make sure that all of my past injections had taken and that I had high enough levels of immunity or I would be needing to have more of those too. Turns out my measles, mumps and rubella vaccination from a child has lapsed and I had no immunity to this at all anymore…. lucky I had the test.
And this was just the basic level. I then have to organize my drug kit. Drugs for malaria prophylaxis, drugs for stomach infections, giardia, general skin and chest infections, travel sickness, gastrostop. Drugs for altitude sickness, travel sickness, antihistamines…. My mind is in a semi state of explosion. I guess people don’t realize how prepared a person has to be when they are travelling into countries that are not westernized. While it is eye opening in so many ways, it is also eye opening with regards to how lucky we actually are in our westernized home countries to have basic things like clean water and a good health care system so that we don’t have to worry about such diseases. And so I go in well equipped.
On top of my massive list of needles and drugs, I am also equipped with 2 massive cans of Bushman’s hardcore Australian bug spray and permethrin-impregnated everything, so I think I might be ready to go. I spent my weekend a couple of weeks ago on my balcony getting high on the hydrocarbon solvent the permethrin came in whilst soaking all of my clothes and laying them out on plastic in the shade to dry. It took me a good day because of the space that I needed to lay things out but it is all ready and good to go.
So…. a bit over a week to go, I am feeling somewhat prepared. Somewhat healthy and somewhat like a pin cushion. But it is just the pay off for all the fun to come!