Friday, June 02, 2006
Is Travelers Diarrhea Inevitable?
Yesterday I went to the International Travel Clinic to get immunized for Russia. I wasn’t going to do this. I thought I would just take my chances. However, it seemed like there were way too many instances of adoptive parents coming home not feeling well, or not feeling well while in Russia. So, I thought better safe than sorry.

First I sat down with an International Travel specialist. He told me that I needed a Hepatitis A vaccination. I was expecting this. After John’s experience I was saying “bring it on.” Then he said I should get a polio shot and update my tetanus-diptheria booster. I was O.K. with this. However, I totally wimped out on the Hepatitis B shot which required a 7 month commitment of return visits. He also suggested the Typhoid shot, but after he said that the shot hurts REALLY bad and leaves this big scar. I passed. (O.K. I suppose the typhoid "scar" comment is somewhat of an exaggeration. To be more exact he said it causes- redness, swelling and giant bruising and is very painful. Sounded scar-like to me, but in reality it may or may not leave something permanent.)

Then I was off to the Immunization Clinic. The shot guy came and got me from the waiting room. He was nice, but something about him was seriously wrong. From the time we left my chair to when I sat down in the office he said, “How are you?” or “How are you doing?” five times. I am not exaggerating. I counted. We hadn’t even started the shots yet. I started to change my response from a cheerful “good” to a flat “I’m fine” to make him stop. But nothing was going to stop this boy. No, he continued to ask me how I was doing over and over. Was he not hearing me? I guess seven answers were not enough for him. It was not like he was being reassuring- he was not listening to me or himself. I started giving him the evil eye with a “Stop ASKING me” ESP look. It didn’t work. I wasn’t feeling confident in his abilities to give me my shots. Will he keep repeating the shots too? “Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize that I had already poked you in the arm 10 times…”

After escaping from the Immunization Clinic I loaded up with some Immodium, Cipro (antibiotic) and Ambien (sleeping pills for jet lag) at the pharmacy. I was armed and ready.

I actually did learn a lot from my initial visit with the International Travel specialist doc. He told me that when in Russia I should-


1. Not drink tap water- only bottled water (I knew this, but he said people might try to fool us by giving us refilled bottles full of tap water, so we should check if the lid is securely attached)
2. Say “No ice please” and brush our teeth with bottled water
3. Drink bottled/ canned sodas and juice (I figured out that this was a safe bet, but he suggested always drinking these with a straw because the outside could have been kept in ice or recently rinsed with tap water)
4. Avoid ALL salads and raw vegetables and fruit- Unless the fruit is peel-able (i.e. bananas and oranges would be fine)
5. Avoid ALL milk products (Perhaps Brian could have used this info.)
6. Avoid buffets
7. Avoid food prepared by street vendors
8. Wear insect repellant with DEET
9. Eat at crowded, popular restaurants
10. Order well-cooked meat, fish, rice and vegetables (eat hot)
11. Eating bread products is safe too.

Thanks to all you sick guys that inspired me to take this trip to the Travel Clinic. I am sorry that your suffering was required to get my butt in gear, but at least you did not suffer in vain.

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10 Comments:
Blogger Debbie said...
Wow! Typhoid shot leaves a big scar. I had no idea. I skipped most of the shots when I went to the doc in Feb but I have time to get them. Poor Dave decided to get his done already and he hates shots. He starts shaking and gets all scared. He will not be taking our children to the doctor to get their shots I guess.
Glad you got your shots all taken care of. Now all you need is that referral...June 24th.

Blogger Elle said...
We have been to Russia twice with no shots. Watch, the third time around I will end up like John. Our illnesses coming home were Orphanage Super Virus induced... well that and Elle being dumb.

I am too chicken to get the shots.

Blogger Margaret said...
Sounds like a smart move to me, Jenn. We've had enough people in our little blog circle get sick -- might as well be safe than sorry.

Blogger Glo said...
Actually going to Russia to get a child sounds like a great time to go on a diet if you ask me. Just bring a bunch of slim fast....good nutrition an dfluids all in one LOL. My computer crashed a few days ago. I have a new tower now, but will be missing my old laptop for sometime I'm afraid. :-(. Where is that referral?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Good job. I got all the shots including a measles booster because my age group didn't get a booster blah blah. Well would you believe we came home from Russia the very same day as some babies from China who ended up with Red Measles! We were at same IA clinic the same day as those babies too, so when they found out it was measles....we ended up being quaranteened for a few weeks. Ironic we worried about catching something from overseas and it was in the US we were exposed. Granted it came from overseas.
Serena

Blogger jeneflower said...
I suppose the typhoid "scar" comment is somewhat of an exaggeration. To be more exact he said it causes- redness, swelling and giant bruising and is very painful. Sounded scar-like to me, but in reality it may or may not leave something permanent.

Blogger -Jenny said...
Jen...I didn't read the post yet, I just wanted to say, that the title made me laugh out in hysterics!!!

hahahaha...

Anonymous Heather said...
I lived in India as a child and we had to have a barrage of shots on a regular basis. Some of them really did hurt, but others were all hype. I did have the typhoid shot and I have no scars to prove it, unless you count those on my psyche. I remember friends who had to be literally pulled out from under the bed when it was their clinic visit day!
As an experienced traveller I would have to recommend you become as prepared as possible. Do not ever drink the water, order anything with ice or eat food from street vendors. This is not a time to try that cute, little, back alley diner---eat in the more expensive restaurants and enjoy the luxury. It will still cost you a fraction of what eating out like that at home would.
BTW, the wine in European countries is a fraction of what it costs over here and much, much better. It's also safe to drink and I was given wine in some countries while travelling as a child...that and Coke in which no organisms could subsis! Bottled water will cost you more ounce for ounce than vino.

You go girl...I should have been in line right there with you!!! But, alas...I am finishing my last round of antibiotics today and still can't get my stomach straight. I hope you get you referral soon! I cannot wait to hear~

BTW..thanks for your sweet words about S. She is still in the hospital..but, doing much better! Thanks!
Caroline

Blogger Rhonda said...
Shots are a good idea. B and I have had the HepA & HepB vaccinations, so we felt fairly good. But the no water/ice and milk advice is VERY good. B even bought a SECOND bottle of milk from a different grocery store and it was the same way. Very gross.

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