Friday, November 16, 2012


....make me sick!

In 2001, while living in Houston, I was prepping with a friend to go on safari in Africa (Zimbabwe to be exact). It was a freakin' blast (what an adventure! we did a horseback safari from Victoria Falls to Botswana and back, viewed game via horseback by day, Jeep by night, hot-air ballooned over Victoria Falls, canoed the Zambezi River, groomed and rode elephants, rode through a brush fire and much more). We, of course, needed to get vaccinations for the trip resulting in our yellow immunization card for travel which typically is valid for 10 years; it lists all of the vaccinations and dates when we got them. The technical name for this yellow card is "International Certificate of Vaccination OR Prophylaxis (as approved by the World Health Organization)". If you don't have it and your vaccinations, some countries won't let you in! I remember vividly going to a clinic in downtown Houston to get my Hep A, Typhoid, Polio, Tetanus and Yellow Fever vaccinations and within an hour feeling dizzy, light-headed and out of it. For the next several days, my
Maggie & Me in Seattle December 2011
10 years later!
neighbor and good friend, Maggie took care of me while I sweated my way through several  changes of pajamas and sheets while my body fought off one of the many viruses in my body. Can you say 'suckage'? She kept me hydrated and fed, while I died! It was horrible. I was glad when that week went by, thankful to have my friend take such good care of me and finally feeling back to normal, hoping I'd never have to feel that horrible again! And then alas, here I am, over 10 years later, with a renewed yellow card and my latest round of updated vaccinations for this trip. Tim and I visited the University of WA Travel Clinic in Belltown (that's downtown Seattle for all you non-
My immunization "yellow" card
Seattle-ites :)) and worked with a travel advisor who went through every blessed country we'd be visiting on this trip and advised us of different vaccinations we'd need. We opted for shots for all but 1 vaccination, Typhoid. Typhoid comes in two forms - a shot (valid for 2 years) or a set of 4 pills (valid for 5 years) that you take every other day; we opted for the pills. After getting the other vaccination shots, my arm hurt so badly for over a week that I could barely lift up a pair of shoes! I had a slight fever for a night and then was done with that series. I thought maybe pills would be easier? While we've been here in San Diego, we decided to take our Typhoid while still in the US 'just in case' something happened where we'd need immediate medical attention. Of course, nothing happened to Tim, but I am a different story. Within a few hours of taking my first Typhoid pill, I had a mild fever and stomach cramps. I'm not talking about stomach cramps where you have to run to the bathroom and explode, I'm talking about cramps that are random, can't anticipate when they'll come on kinda cramps and then stop, extremely uncomfortable. By the next day, I was in full fever mode, freezing and sweating my ass off, with a nasty sinus infection and sore throat. I'm still not sure if the fever and sinus infection were together or if I was fighting something off beforehand, but I felt normal, so I'm not sure what was going on with my body when the Typhoid entered! I felt horrible for the next week - weak, feverish, coughing, horrible sore
A good chart for when your boosters are due :)
throat, stomach cramps, stuffed head, etc. and all while having to take the next 3 pills throughout the week. We are supposed to be going into Mexico mind you, but because I was taken out by a Typhoid reaction for a week, we are very behind on our projects and so no Mexico!  I'm telling you this because if you don't have a yellow immunization card and plan to get one, beware and give yourself time before you go in case you have any reactions! A lot of health insurance companies may cover these vaccinations but some don't, prices vary, just ask the travel clinic. I've had to pay out of pocket for my first round of vaccinations (few hundred dollars or so) and thankfully our insurance covered the second recent round.

Here are the countries we plan/hope to visit on this trip:
Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Aruba, Bonaire, Venezuela, Barbados, The St.'s (Lucia, Thomas, Maarten, etc), Dominican Republic, British VI, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Jamaica, Belize, Martinique, Grenada, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Dominica, Montserrat, Curacao, Guadeloupe, Nassau, Antigua, Caracas and wherever else the wind takes us and Olds.

Some helpful links from our UW travel advisor:
Travel Health Online - www.
World Health Organization -
International Society of Travel Medicine -
US Department of State -

--K (now 10lbs lighter from all the sweating this past week...)

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