If you were reading my blog two years ago, you heard about Lydia and Jo, Belgium and Senegal. In December, I’m visiting my friends in Belgium and then we’re flying to Senegal in Africa to visit their twenty foster children. A grand adventure.
Today I went to the London Travel Clinic to find out what shots I need. The doctor didn’t pull any punches: “You’re going to one of the most dangerous places in the world.” Dangerous as in disease. She described a belt which runs west to east across the middle of Africa … big problems with respect to health. But I can get the “full meal deal” of vaccines and pills to protect me.
Today I had four injections. In a month I’ll have two or three more. Here’s what I’m avoiding:
1. Yellow fever – potentially fatal without protection, widespread in parts of Africa, carried by infected mosquitoes
2. Hepatitis A – contracted through impure water
3. Hepatitis B – contracted through blood or other bodily fluids
4. Typhoid – contracted by eating food or drinking water contaminated with the feces of an infected person
5. Meningitis – inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord, due to infection
6. Measles, mumps and rubella – infections caused by viruses
7. Malaria – a life-threatening disease transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito
And here are some other do’s and don’ts for me to contemplate:
1. Put on insect repellent at the beginning of the day and every four hours thereafter. Make sure it has a high concentration of DEET.
2. Don’t pet dogs. Actually, stay away from dogs. Rabies is a common cause of death in Africa.
3. To avoid diarrhea, drink only boiled fluids or those coming out of a sealed bottle. Stay well-hydrated. Brush your teeth with bottled water.
4. Eat well-cooked meat, rice and peeled fruit, such as bananas. Don’t eat salads or berries since they may have been washed in impure water.
5. Stay well-hydrated to avoid constipation. Take a supply of Bran Buds with you since African food tends to be low in fibre. Use a laxative such as Restoralax as needed.
Well, this definitely gets me thinking. Ruth, the doctor at the clinic, told me not to worry since I’ll be well protected. Still, I need to be on high alert while I’m in Senegal. Not exactly a “falling asleep on the beach” vacation. Here comes a dog. Those greens look yummy but … Did I take that malaria pill at breakfast?
I’m a bit afraid but then clear thinking returns. I’m committed to being safe.
I want the trip to be about people – especially Jo and Lydia’s kids, but also the Senegalese adults I’ll meet. I’ll handle the health details, breathe easy because of that, and open myself to love.