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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A trip to the Travel Clinic

After people hear that I am going to India, I am typically asked is it safe? Can't you get sick there? While short term discomforts like Delhi Belly can get you, staying away from unbottled water will usually keep you safe. As a self-proclaimed hypochondriac and a junkie, I had an initial surge of hysteria when I visited the CDC website. The Plague, Polio, all varieties of Hepatitis, and Malaria flew across my screen as "CAUTION" or "OUTBREAK." But let's face it, I am no Mother Theresa and my day to day exposure to the diseases should be pretty limited.

I pulled myself together and made an appointment with the Travel Clinic at the local hospital (if anyone else is going to an exotic location, your primary physician usually won't carry the vaccines you need for your trip). This is a good reality check for anyone. You are about to inject yourself with dead viruses to avoid getting live ones; you have to pull up your past, be honest about the present and hope that you have the best future. So I tried to remember the year I had chicken pox, when I got a tetanus shot and give an accurate weight. Now the clinic doesn't really check your medical history, but its best not to fib; however they do check your weight! Like any American woman, I put on my Havianas and lightest dress I could find to minimize any extra pounds.

The recommended vaccines for India are: Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Polio booster and Meningitis. I also got a lifetime supply of low grade antibiotics to fight malaria and some wicked strong intestinal meds. I have also heard that getting a prescription filled in India is like picking up candy at the store... cheap and easy!

I did gain a new level of empathy for my children and their repeated vaccines during their annual check up....I would normally say "buck up" but these shots really hurt! I too needed the supreme comfort a McDonald's happy meal after my trip to the clinic.

So this time I was not only thin soled in flip flops but thin skinned when it came to these shots... Oh and it's not over yet, 1 more round of Hepatitis A and two more Hepatitis B shots!

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