I've had my shots.
Apparently there are some health risks inherent in traveling to parts of the world you've never been to before. Yesterday I had to spend $150 on vaccinations for the (rapidly approaching, shoot me please I don't have time to travel 10,000 miles twice and still get all my shit done, help me oh God why am I doing this? Oh, right.) trip to Vietnam in March. I've already spent a zillion dollars on a new camera (Nikon D80, sorry there's been no birth announcement of THAT baby yet...I am such a blog slacker, but honestly I'm still making friends with it), and an expedited passport, and I still have to deal with the not-small issue of whether or not I'm going to buy a smaller laptop because taking my Macbook seems really, really stupid in addition to all the other very heavy stuff I'll be carrying.
Did I mention how frail I am? And also that said
center of my universe Macbook is currently not working? That yesterday I plugged it in and it was all, "Haha, you expect me to work? Because you have no time for me not to? And that you might care that every ounce of information you need to conduct your life is inside this dark, hellish screen? HA! Way to take me for granted, stupid human."
If my cute little Apple Store genius man does not tell me in approximately one hour and 45 minutes that this is a result of a suddenly-faulty charger, please brace yourself world for the screams.
Seriously, I cannot freak, all the while I am currently freaking. But this was not supposed to be about that. Shots. Yes.
I went to the campus health center yesterday which houses an International Travel Clinic, all capitalized and shit, because we are a major four-year research institution. It was actually a fairly good experience as those go that involve getting stuck with needles. I waded through the sea of apparently rapidly expiring college students littering the waiting room, flu germs swimming in the air, to go to the second floor and meet with a real-live doctor. She told me I needed a Hepatitis A shot, a combo cocktail of "Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis", and a series of typhoid vaccine pills. Pertussis is Whooping Cough, which apparently is making a comeback in adults who "haven't had boosters", in case you were fresh out of things to worry about this fine winter's day.
Me (because I must torture the people with my pressing need to know): What is WHOOPING cough?
Doctor: Well, it's an upper respiratory condition that results in a cough with a WHOOPING sound.
Evil voice inside my head: Well, YEAH.
Me (see above): I'm just not sure what WHOOPING sounds like. I remember my grandmother talking about it but no one I know has ever had it.
Doctor: I'm not sure I've heard it, because I'm an internist. The pediatrician here has seen cases.
Me: Probably best to avoid it, regardless.
She also said that I need to acquire insect repellent that has at least 25 percent DEET, which will probably set me spinning because again, frail. (I just made myself laugh. Rock.) Also, she mentioned Immodium, and wrote me a prescription for Cipro, the anti-Anthrax drug, which you're supposed to take if Immodium doesn't work and you've somehow stumbled into the jaws of intestinal death.
There's really not a better way to feel all warm and fuzzy inside before noon than to have someone say things like, "Eat no fruit or salad" and "insect-borne diseases can be really serious so you need to take precautions." I have no idea what Hanoi will be like. I'm not afraid of it, not at all, but I have never traveled to Asia and much of what I read tells me to literally and figuratively fasten my seatbelt. It's really exciting, but I don't want to do anything stupid or get sick and ruin my time and more importantly my ability to work while I'm there. A good chunk my work for the semester will be based on what I do in Vietnam - pictures, footage, interviews. I have to be at full strength.
It's not like we're sleeping in the open air, it's a hotel that has a home on TripAdvisor and everything. But without going into too much nauseating detail, dude, I have the worst stomach in the WORLD right now. This is not an unusual circumstance, not at all, but I am a mess. It's quite possible that Vietnamese food and water will improve my situation. But 20 hours on a plane will not, so I'm actually looking to go on some kind of pre-trip gastric IronWoman training program or something. Google has so far not been forthcoming with that.
The shots weren't bad. I am the best little soldier, really, which is a result of having scalpels and needles wielded in my direction since I was six weeks old, I'm pretty sure. Seriously, you think this sense of humor is organic? Listen to doctors and nurses and admissions types ramble on for most of your formative years and you'll quickly learn to go to your own happy place.
The nurse yesterday told me to wiggle my toes, first on my right foot and then on my left, which I thought was some kind of accupressure technique for blood flow, but it turns out that there I go, complicating things AGAIN. After it was over she said that thinking about your toes takes the focus off the needle going in your arm. It could be the ADD, but I am completely capable of wiggling my toes while still directing the majority of my energy to the sharp thing puncturing my skin just a few feet north. Just sayin'.
She told me my arm would hurt from the tetanus, and it does. I took one typhoid pill last night, and have to take three more on alternate days through the end of the week. That is a live vaccine in a capsule, and has to be refrigerated. It's a very involved process but it's kind of interesting, actually, to read about all the terrible things that can possibly befall you when you venture off of your continent.
I had terrible nightmares last night that I was in some kind of grave
medical distress and my mother called an ambulance that somehow never
came. Most dreams can currently be interpreted to reflect an unmet or rapidly approaching deadline, which is the current (due tomorrow! At least a draft!) story of my life. We leave for this trip in three weeks, and believe me I am really excited, and additionally a little bit overwhelmed. I'll just be relieved when we touch down in Hanoi, and not just because it's a 15 hour plane trip to Korea and then five more to Vietnam. I'm really ready to get this show on the road.