It’s no secret that a trip to the doctor is imperative before a visit to Africa, and this past week, I had my first appointment with my doctor, who specializes in travel medicine. For three years, this trip has become a yearly experience each spring before my summer travels. Usually, a trip to the doctor is never fun, but when travel is in the future, I don’t mind.
There’s something about filling out paperwork that makes a trip more final. The questions about where you are planning on heading and for how long create an excitement like no other, and unlike the conversations with family and friends, when you are at an appointment in preparation for the trip, you know that it’s actually a reality.
Since I’ve been traveling for several years now, I have most of my vaccinations. In fact, this time my doctor informed me that I had all the ones that were required – Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Influenza, and my routine vaccinations. So, he wrote out my prescriptions for malaria tablets and an anti-biotic, and then he printed out the information for each country and gave me a book with health information. Then we went over the basics, which are the precautions I normally take while traveling – drink only bottled water, wash your hands, don’t eat raw fruits and vegetables unless you can peel them, brush your teeth with bottled water, etc.
After our conversation, he told me that if I wanted, he would also give me a rabies vaccine. Because of the length of my trip, and the fact that I would be primarily outside, he thought it was a good idea. And, after my fear of monkeys in Thailand, I decided that it wasn’t the worst idea in the world.
We also decided to test me for tuberculosis, just in case I contracted it while traveling. By testing me before I left, he would be able to tell that if I had it, I had picked it up while abroad. Luckily, my test came up negative, and hopefully, no symptoms of it appear in the future. After the test and my vaccine, I was done for the day.
I will have to head back this week and the following to finish my rabies shot, but after that, I am all set medically for Africa. Until then, I just have a lot of reading to do in order to feel fully prepared for the adventure I will be embarking on.