Jabbed and drugged I am today…

“Just relax your arm, let it rest” were the words before I felt a pinch. It had been ages since I last had a syringe pinch my body. I don’t actually remember exactly when I last had somebody put a needle on my body, but I am sure I haven’t had any injections or anything after I left Nepal years ago. I was anxious, to say the least, when I visited my travel clinic this afternoon to get the Yellow Fever jab.

Yes, that’s why I had to “feel the pinch” and the numbness around the “spot” afterwards. It wasn’t too bad actually, a lot easier than I had anticipated. The only discomfort I felt was the pinch when the needle first pierced my skin. I didn’t feel the liquid go in, which is actually more painful if I remember correctly. Apparently this vaccine goes inside the skin but not into the muscle, hence less pain.

Okay, I had to get this vaccine for Yellow Fever because if I don’t I wouldn’t get entry into Mali, the country I will be visiting in a few weeks’ time for a project meeting. Apart from a visa, you also need the international Yellow Fever vaccination card (yellow in colour!) to enter Mali. And the list of vaccines, medications, precautions doesn’t end there. I was given this dozen-page printout about the health risk when travelling to Mali and few other countries that I’ll be going later in the year, required and recommended vaccinations and medications for those destinations, and at the end, “security advisory”!

Well, I must have had a lot of recommended vaccinations when I was a baby, but I have no idea which. So, I’m going to phone my mum tomorrow and find out what I had. I don’t think there will be any paper records but I hope she remembers! If not, I’ll be a baby all over again, getting all the jabs. List looks like this:
Required – Yellow Fever (DONE! Safe for next 10 years starting next week!)
Recommended – Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Meningococcus, Polio, Tetanus, Diptheria, Rabies, Cholera (Not needed, unless you are medical worker or something like that!), Hepatitis B (Very expensive!)

Plus there are medications of course. Malaria is the biggy, and medication is a must, although from what I have read, prevention from mosquito bites is the best way to stay away from malaria and even the medication does not always help! A few options available and I opted for the one that required taking one tablet per week (if you know your malaria then you probably know I’m taking about Lariam here!). Lots of side-effect issues to consider, especially if you suffer from anything related to your mental state, even the moodiness! I have already been warned about some people acting crazy under the influence of Lariam. My doctor thinks I’ll be fine though, for I am in perfect health, both physically and mentally! But I still have to trial this drug now so that I (and they) could be certain that I don’t suffer from any side-effects. Well, I hope I stay sane. Actually I just started my trial period for Lariam medication today! And I am typing these lines after taking the tablet. I hope I make sense so far 😉

Strange thing in all this medical stuffs before my travel is that I hadn’t been to see a doctor ever since I saw my GP some eight years ago when I first arrived in the UK! And now within a space of a week, I saw a doctor and also had a vaccination and started a “trial” medication. Before today, I haven’t even had a single Paracetamol tablet in all these years I have lived outside Nepal! Everything’s gonna change now, especially as I spend more time on the field in Africa.

Almost every travel health advisory recommends carrying “enough medication for the entire duration of your travel” at the top – and that too “in your hand bag” and NOT “in your checked-in luggage”. Reason? if your luggage doesn’t arrive when you do then you might as well return home! For, according to these “advisories”, you won’t find adequate medical facilities or medications that you require in these countries! Well, I guess I just have to forget about a decade of “drug-free” existence and start getting used to these “drugs”, known nicely as “medications”!