Trompe le Monde: A Round the World Tour Diary

An online travel diary so people can keep up to date with what I'm doing and where I'm going.

Location: Home, United Kingdom

You all know who I am, I assume.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Prevention: Better Than Cure

The thing about Foreign Climes, of course, is that the diseases are different over there. Thus, when you embark on a journey such as the one I'm soon to leave for, you need to get a heck of a load of jabs and pills to stymie a whole variety of bacteriological and viral agents that could otherwise make my stay in strange lands an unpleasant and perhaps fatal one.

To illustrate my point, here is a list of some of the diseases that I have had to take into consideration before leaving:
Diptheria, Tetanus, Polio, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Rabies, Japanese B Encephalitis, Malaria, Tuberculosis, HIV.

Each one of which is probably less than pleasant once contracted. But never fear, friends and relatives, as with quaking heart and the above list I ventured into Bognor Regis Health Centre (located conveniently near to my house) in order to achieve immunity to all illness at the minimum of cost and effort, thanks to the NHS. Or at least that was the plan...

Bognor Health Centre is a strange place, and I shall not attempt to describe it's Kafkaesque (that's right: Kafkaesque. As in Franz Kafka. I do read, you know) insane bureaucracy. Suffice it to say that an attempt to see a "doctor" is pretty much doomed to failure, and thus ordinary mortals such as me must content ourselves with seeing a "nurse". Which suited me fine. On my first meeting with said nurse, then, I explained where I was travelling (see previous post "The Route" for details). Then I explained again, because it's a lot of information in one go. The nurse looked at a series of charts and asked me a few questions about what vaccinations I'd had in school (all of them - my mum doesn't believe in not getting jabs). She then told me that I'd need to get vaccinated against Typhoid and Hepatitis B, which was one jab and could be done there and then for free, and that I'd also probably want to be vaccinated against Rabies and Japanese Encephelitis, which would have to be ordered in specially and would cost a combined total of £22o. I assumed this was some kind of a test to see how my constitution would react to situations of extreme shock, and so I nodded and smiled. When she repeated this figure several times, I began to realise that it was the truth. I took the free jab and retreated home, to think about the proposition.

Now, as you probably know, I am a gambling man. In my view, £220 is wasted on prevention. I would have quite happily just said "sod it, chances are I'll be fine" and headed off without having to endure the time, money and hassle of getting a program of armpokery that costs about the same as a hundred pints of lager (that's sixty pints of lager to those of you who live in London, and a hundred and fifty to those of you from up north). But, as mentioned above, my mum is not someone who wants her sons going without every kind of injection-related disease prevention available, and so she (extremely kindly, may I add) said she'd pay for the vaccinations. So I made appointments to get my arms, and her wallet, painfully punctured.

Rabies and Jap Encephelitis require three jabs each, to be given on days 0, 7 and 21 or 28 of the vaccination program. This meant that I could go to the health centre three times and receive two jabs each time. Simple. Or so I thought.

However, as those who have been to Bognor Health Centre (and those who have been reading closely) may have worked out, there was a snag. Quite brilliantly, on the day of my first jab, I turned up only to be informed that they had lost the japanese encephelitis vaccine. Great. So, on day 0 I had only the Rabies vaccine. Then I made an appointment for a week later. Day 7 for Rabies. Second Rabies dosage. But by then they'd found the Jap Encephelitis vaccine, so I get my first dose of that. So it's day 0 for Jap E (I hope you're keeping up with this at the back). So I have to make another appointment for a week later to get my second Jap E dosage, on day 7 for that, and day 14 for Rabies.

Anyway, it all will (hopefully) work itself out, as I can just get my final dose of both on the 28th September, which will be day 35 for Rabies and day 28 for Jap E. Which is apparently fine. I hope. Like I said, I'm a gambling man...

Meanwhile, I've also got to take Malaria tablets. One a week. For pretty much the whole time I'm away. So I've got forty tablets. At a total cost of £120 or so. Ouch. And they taste nasty as well, and can cause depression in some people to boot. How they know that it's the pills causing depression and not the cost, hassle and taste I don't know...

Still, if you've got your health, that's the main thing, eh? And at least now I can boldly stride into disease-ridden places with the firm knowledge that I am equipped with antibodies in my bloodstream to deal with all the nasty illnesses swarming about me. Except STDs. And stomach upsets. And the common cold. And Avian Flu. And SARS. Hmmm... To be honest, I think I just be glad that with only one Health Centre visit left, I seem to have emerged without catching some kind of superbug...


Blogger Shall said...

I didn't take Malaria tablets anymore after the time when I was 12, and every time I took the less frequent one, I had a fever and felt very very sick for at least a day. On the prevention is better than cure front, instead I went for dousing myself in anti-mosquito stuff and plugging in those anti mosquito pads that fumigate rooms when you switch on the electricity. Not getting bitten is less difficult than stomaching malaria tablets, I found.

September 28, 2004 at 5:37 AM  

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