June 14, 2010
In the interest of talking travel, I'd like to focus this post on the topic of vaccinations. Specifically, the kind you get at the Long Beach Health Center.
I headed over to Grand Ave early this morning to get a Typhoid Injection, and my malaria pills. What I didn't expect was a Tdap booster, and a Polio shot. Three awesome circle band-aids later, I felt like a kid headed to kindergarden - minus the sucker you get when you're six, and frequenting the giraffer room.
I'll be honest, I milked the sucker bit for as long as I possibly could.
In any case, my nurse and I had a little bit of an argument about what Malaria medication I was going to take. She suggested I take the cheaper, once a week, "Lariam."
Now, while Larium is a convenient, affordable, once a week solution to all your Malaria-fighting solutions, allow me to divulge some terribly important information. As your non-health-insurance-holding travel advice one stop shop? I'd like to say that Malaria pills are the place to splurge.
Malarone is the way to go.
My nurse shook her head when I asked for it. "It's too expensive for you."
I said, "What about the side effects?"
She told me I'd have to live with them.
I actually, kind-of, wanted to punch her. My travel nurse in New York was on a first name basis with me. She gave me her cell number in case I needed to call her, panicked, from Heathrowe, and told me that if I couldn't afford the Malarone, she'd give me left overs she had. "The important thing," she said, "is that you don't end up sick and crazy in the middle of Africa. The less expensive pills WILL make you sick and crazy."
Let's take a look at the scrumptious possibilities -
1. Upset Stomach
2. Colorful/vivid dreams
4. A variet of mood swings and psychological disturbances including depression, mental confusion, anxiety, irritability, disorientation, psychosis, seizures.
Let's start from the top.
Number one: judging by my recent doctor's visit? I don't need help on the stomach part. If I'm missing out on this much ice cream and IPA on this terrible wheatless, dairyless, cakeless, pieless died - I better have a terribly happy stomach.
Second: can we talk about what "colorful" entails? Vivid I can do. This weekend I had a nightmare that I was buying black pants at Wal Mart because I had just gotten a job at Johnny Rockets.
Three: does the regular urge to find onion rings and milk shakes at three AM count as, "insomnia"?
Four: I don't know what the criteria is for phsychological disturbances, but I'm pretty sure I experience them in the flesh quite frequently. This weekend, they took the form of a heavily intoxicated 6'4" cross-eyed 20 year old. I was trying to get into the bathroom to change into my bikini, when he burst out, grinning. "I just barfed in there. I think I made it all in the toilet, but I'm not sure. All yours." I'll tell you what, I was saying yippee to myself for sure. Pretty sure mental confusion has to do with a little thing we like to call the moon cycle. One to disorientation. Now, let's all be terribly frank together - raise your hand if you don't think that running into doors while trying to get your sweatshirt off counts.
As you can see, I really don't need a booster in any of these areas.
I ran through the list quickly with my nurse and told her a certain boy I know recently experienced all of them before deploying to Afghanistan (this is my subtle jab at the USMC for their lame-ass job at providing for their special forces - and I hope that it's being duly noted).
I handed her back her paper.
"Give me Malarone."
She nodded, and wrote me off the prescription I wanted. Soon after, while advising me about how long to boil water, and what foods to avoid, she warned me of the way that animals in Uganda carry rabies.
"Don't get bit," she said. "Avoid monkeys. You know they swing out of trees and can bite you suddenly."
A few monkey hand signals and vampire faces later, and she sent me on my way - duly scarred.
Not to worry, I've had some primate experience of my own.
Now, who knows a pharmacist that might like to donate some Malarone to a needy student headed to Africa for six weeks this summer?