After having an enlightening discussion with my doctor about the countries I would be visiting and what to look out for and precautions to take we landed on Hep A (2 shots six months apart), Hep B (got this one when I was 19 so that’s off the list, phew!), Meningitis, Tetanus, and Typhoid. As she started pulling out the needles, I went white with terror. “Shall we do just 2 today?” she said smiling. I gulped down the knot in my throat, sucked up the panic (for god sake woman you are nearly 29 years old!) and shakily told her, lets just get them all out of the way. So she continued on her task and lined up the 4 shots I would be receiving. I couldn’t believe how calm I was when she actually started sticking me. I just kept talking to her and looking away from the needle. The only ones that really caused any pain were the Hep A (minor) and Tetanus. Actually the Tetanus is the worst one, she put it in my left arm since I am right-handed and told me it would be sore for the rest of the day. At first the muscle just felt a little tender, like I was getting over a hard workout, but as the day has progressed it is feeling a little like I got punched in the arm by Mohammed Ali - OUCH! It hurts to move my arm at all. I guess it will pass though, at least I can still type :)
Lesson is, that if you are traveling overseas, and especially for a good deal of time and to many different countries, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. For instance, its a good thing I went now, because the Hep A shots need to be done 6 months apart. She also had great advise about other medications and supplies I should stock up on, such as malaria pills, z-pack, Benadryl, and DEET-containing insect spray.
I’ve actually found a great resource for learning for about diseases, immunizations and infected areas: TravelWise(SM). Check it out if you are traveling soon!