Africa: Why my arms hurt and mosquitos suck.

So, today was the big day with the travel doc.  Dr. Yates at Kaiser.  I highly recommend him, even if he made me get a bunch of shots and get a bunch of prescriptions.  He was very well traveled, was totally into the fact that I had done peace corps and I think wanted me to talk him into signing up after he retires.  So I gave him my recruitment spiel and then let him tell me what he had to tell me.

He had two other doctors with him visiting from China so I kinda felt like it was show and tell for the travel patient.  They were very nice and had a few questions and they may have thought I was a little nuts getting all of the shots, and then asked me what I was going to do in Tanzania. When I told them I was going to volunteer with folks infected with HIV/AIDS, then they had even stranger looks on their faces.

As you can see, it was lots of needles. The nurse who gave me all the shots was quite happy to line up the needles when I told her I wanted to take a picture and would be blogging about it later… I think she was also worried that I wouldn’t be able to do so many shots at once — and then I told her about peace corps and how Bev and Teuila used to line us up, and she realized that I would be ok.  The shots didn’t hurt too bad… the worst were the yellow fever and the tetanus booster.

So, as of today, I am updated on my typhoid, tetanus, polio, meningitis, influenza and yellow fever.  I also have some prescriptions for my malarone (anti-malarial) and a few courses of cipro (antibiotics) just in case they are needed.  I was also lectured on avoiding mosquitos, not swimming in standing freshwater, and how to get HIV prophylaxis if necessary (call the Embassy and my travel insurance company, apparently).

The doctor was helpful also in getting the malarone, which is super expensive and not usually covered by my insurance.  He was able to get around this because of my general sensitive skin when it comes to sun (finally, my inability to tolerate the sun is an advantage!) and saved me quite a chunk of cash by doing so, and I still am going to be shelling out a fair amount for all of these vaccinations and pills.  I’m also grateful that I’m not doing the doxycycline because I have a low tolerance for antibiotics in general, and for those of you women who have ever been on long-term antibiotics in a hot climate… you know the dreaded yeast infection is bound to happen.  Yeah, I dealt with that enough in Samoa every time I had strep – I would prefer not to deal with that while in Tanzania on top of everything else.

They also gave me more reading material than I expected that covers a lot of information on everything from what kind of mosquito repellent to get and that I need to let them know anytime I have a fever up to a year after I return?!?  He also told me a few stories of people going to the hospital in Tanzania with fevers and being told to stop their malaria medication, which he told me NOT to do… that they could treat me for the fever but that I should not stop taking my meds.  Ah, the joys of malaria.  Stupid mosquitos.

Hopefully I’ll be a little better about updating on here as we get a little closer to departure. I’ve been asked lately if I’m excited, which I am, but just haven’t had much time to devote to being excited or the excited is often counteracted by the general chaos that is my work life, which y’all will also be getting an update on sooner than later.

Hope everyone is well and disease free!!

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Africa: Shots and Visas and Pills, Oh My!

It’s been a long time, folks.  My apologies!!  Before the semester started, I had free time. And now we’re almost mid-way through the semester.  My current “free time” is spent sleeping or trying to catch up on sleep or something else probably related to school, etc.  I’ve been able to do a few social things, but that has certainly taken a backseat to trying to work two jobs and teach three classes.

The lovely Katie at Cross Cultural Solutions called me this week to check in and see where I was with things.  (Or not, in my case!)  I remember initially getting the packet and being all gung ho and then school started.  So now I need to get back on their website and finish my volunteer profile so that I can be matched with an agency.  She also had some updated information about our visa application process — apparently there have been some inconsistencies with the type of visa I have to get and Katie seemed more upset about it than I was.  I guess when it comes to international travel I know it’s gonna be all kinds of crazy expect a little bit of chaos – it just wouldn’t be the same without some ridiculous bureaucracy or confusion (or both).  This means I also need to book a ticket by the end of the month.  So much is up in the air right now in terms of life it is hard to decide on dates for travel.  At this point it looks like I’m not going to have enough time to attempt Kilimanjaro – so that may have to wait for another trip, unfortunately.  But I have a feeling this will not be my last trip to Africa.

Along with working on my visa, I finally called the travel medicine clinic this week to schedule an appointment later this month.  Lucky me, my typhoid and tetanus both have expired, but all of my hepatitis series are still good.  I’ll have to do yellow fever as well.  It will be reminiscent of the days when Teuila and Bev would line us up and stab all the peace corps trainees.  I’ve never gotten so many shots in all my life.  I’ll also hopefully get my prescription for malaria pills then too.

I honestly haven’t had much time to think about Africa other than when someone asks about it… this semester is too busy kicking my ass. I guess it still isn’t real… it never is until I’m on the plane, it seems.  I know that as October flies by that it will start to be more and more real, and I’ll have to start thinking about packing and getting stuff I need and what my extracurricular activities will be while I’m there… safari, Zanzibar, and other excursions.

I dropped an old peace corps friend off at the airport today…he’s headed to Samoa, and I was insanely jealous.  It has been almost a year since I’ve done any kind of traveling and I am feeling it.  By the time December rolls around I will be good and ready!!