Staying alive & healthy

23 Dec
11 shots for 1 travel...

11 shots for 1 travel...

Travelling to faraway countries is not something to be taken lightly. There are parts of the worlds where the bugs aren’t as friendly as in Belgium/Europe. So before stepping on the plane (well before) I went to see my doctor for some advice on how to prepare for ‘the other side’ (of the world).

I never knew there were sooo many diseases, most of them with lethal consequences. So better safe than sorry.

  • When travelling and ‘going local’ which i surely hope to do (am not interested in staying in a hotel that looks the same as anywhere else), one should have a vaccination for Hepatitis A, in case the food would be contaminated. But luckily I had that one already (for life).
  • if you go even more local than local and come in close contact with the locals (contact with body fluids) you also need a Hepatitis B vaccination (3 painful shots).
  • Tetanus immunity I still had (valid for 10 years) and Diphtheria & Polio I got as a kid and they are ok for life.
  • However I still needed to get a Typhoid shot to cope better with bacteria and salmonella and other yummy stuff. That’s another injection – moan.
  • The mosquitos in South East Asia don’t seem to be very kind. The spread (amongst others) Japanese Encephalitis. To get inoculated for that I even had to go to a specialised hospital to get the vaccinations. Three more stabs with big needles – ouch ouch ouch.
  • Those nasty mosquitos over there can also spread Malaria, so there I need to take anti-paludism pills. There were three options: (1) one of the type of pills would cost a fortune per box, and me going for a long long time would need a lot of boxes… (and my money is still blocked in a fxxxing Icelandic bank). (2) The other pills sometimes give you rash and funghi on the skin and genitals !! – NO THANX !  (3) The third option: Lariam sometimes gives you hyper-action, nervousness, nightmares, etc… Great for a relaxing holiday… But after testing Lariam for 2 weeks I seemed to have little of those secondary effects – except for still being veeery harmful… for your wallet.
  • If you meet beasts bigger than mosquitos (eg squirrels, dogs, etc) and they scratch or bite, you might get Rabies and die within 24 hours. Luckily Louis Pasteur developed a vaccin for Rabies so that you only die after 8 days instead of 24 hours. Hopla, another three shots, umpf umpf umpf.
  • Add to that a little blood test before leaving, I am surprised that my arms are not leaking from all the holes they made in it over the last 2 months.

You can imagine what all those doctor visits and meds cost (and with all my savings blocked in an Icelandic bank, not evident). If you have a password for this blog, you can read more here.

A little bit of drugs, sir?

A little bit of drugs, sir?

Medication for the road

Besides the Lariam, there are quite a number of other precautions to take.

  • To keep the mosquitos away, there’s mosquito repellant, a mosquito net, coils and long sleeves and trousers for the evenings. My poor back that has to carry all of that.
  • Surely you’ve heard about turista, delhi belly, montezuma’s revenge or travellers diarhea – not sure which terminology I prefer. It will happen inevitably (as the climate and food will put it’s strain on my body) but then there’s immodium (the chemical alternative to a cork or plug) and antibiotics to kill the bugs. Preventing is of course better than curing, so I got desinfecting hand gel with which you can even wash your hands without water. Probably quite useful if we’ll be eating with our hands… I also chucked a few MicroPur water-purifying tablets in my travel pharmacy, while I was at it…
  • To be rather safe than sorry, I am also dragging along the usual ‘comfort medication’ such as paracetamol, throat sweets, travel sickness pills, insect bite relief, numming tooth-ache paste,…
  • They also adviced me to take condoms, because they tend to have a different size over there (and I am not saying this to boast!) …
  • And the usual first aid such as plasters, desinfectant, scissors, bandage, tape, tweezers, syringes, dental floss,…

It looks as if I’m a walking hospital. But as the pharmacist said today when I shouted at him that the Lariam was sooo expensive: “staying alive is still more important than those few Euro, isn’t it“…

Operation Going Abroad…

Going abroad is quite an operation or expedition, but I actually also had a few operations before going, which were not directly linked to my travel, but still they needed to be done and over with before leaving.

  • Two of my teeth were really bad, and have been filled and refilling several times. My dentist tried her best to reanimate them, but to no avail. They were to be ‘put to death’… I mean, the only option was to take the nerves out surgically (ouch, that hurt), and then at a later stage screw a porcelan crown/tooth into the leftovers (or into my jaw). As this is a bit veeeeeery expensive in Belgium, I’ll be having this done in Malaysia ;-)  This means however, that now I am running around with temporary fillings in my teeth, which hopefully will survive all the Thai & Viet chillies and other aggressive foodstuffs.
  • And I was going to shave my head in Cambodia (well, not only there: my hear is slowly leaving my scalp, so sooner or later I’ll be shaving my head I suppose, unless I want to look like a priest or monk). In order to be ready to run around with a naked head, the ears of course have to look the part. But one of my ears was growing in the wrong direction (as in having a Dumbo ear, sticking out, catching lots of wind ;-), so I went to an ear doctor to correct this. Results below. The only thing is that I should protect my ‘restorated ear’ from the sun, or the places where the stitches have been will turn black… So I got some heavy duty sunblock!

So now I’m ready to make the jump into South East Asia and even survive it ;-)


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