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International Travel Clinic

Posted Feb 07 2013 12:00am
I promised you a post on our international travel clinic appointment ... and by golly, I'm going to do it - even if it's almost a week late!
But last Friday, Bjorn and I made the hour-long trek into the Cities for an appointment at a speciality International Travel Clinic. We met with a doctor who was armed with mountains of paperwork, going over every single health advisory and risk factor for Ethiopia (and surrounding African countries). The main purpose of our appointment was, of course, to get all the necessary vaccinations for our two trips ... but we got lots of other useful information about general health and safety.
Going over all this information made us excited, of course, because we're starting to actually think about the trip ... but just as much it brought home the fact that Ethiopia truly is a third world country - and one of the poorest ones at that :( We've made a point so far to talk and learn about the beauty of the Ethiopian country and culture as it is is very important to us to respect our future son's birth country. And yet, here I am reading page after page about terrorism risk, civil unrest, extremely poor road conditions, food safety (or lack thereof) .... and above anything, it's extremely poor medical care. As a matter of fact, t he World Health Organization ranked Ehtiopia's health care system 180th - out of 190 countries. In all the countries in the world ranked by the WHO, only 10 ranked worse than Ethiopia (and almost all of them were African countries, too). It makes me think of our son, and the environment he's currently living in and the dangers he's exposed to because of such poor medical care. Children in these countries die ... orphans die ... because of completely preventable and treatable diseases :(

Those were some of my heavier thoughts during our appointment. Bjorn and I each received a whole arsenal of vaccines. We were warned about the side effects of the yellow fever vaccine in particular, which (aside from some rare but very serious and potentially life-threatening side-effects) causes flu-like symptoms in about 25% of the people who receive it. On the other hand, 8 out of the 9 cases of yellow fever document in the US in the last few decades ended deadly. So yes, I'll have that vaccine, please - side-effects or not. Funnily enough, Bjorn was the one who was so worried about the side effects since he had a big work day on Sunday and couldn't afford to feel sick. Thankfully, he didn't. I did! And holy cow, let me tell you: when they say "flu like symptoms"  - they mean: you will feel just as crummy as if you had the actual, real Influenza flu ... only you don't. Saturday, I was already feeling really under the weather (see previous post), and basically spent the day in bed. Liana was really sick, too ... and she and I just cuddled in bed together - with not even enough energy to get up and turn on the light as it got dark outside, while Amaya had free reign of the house. Sunday was a small improvement ... but not that much ... still a whole lot of body aches, fever, chills, and just that general "a truck hit me"-type feeling. Sunday night, I was starting to feel better and actually thought about going to work the next morning. Well ... of course the girls had been sick with the stomach flu for 5 full days at this point - so guess who woke up at 4am in the morning sicker than a dog and hanging her head over the toilet?! You guess it! I'm telling you people, I was living the high life this week! So back to the drawing board - cancel my work meetings, find subs for my classes, find someone else to take the girls to their swim lessons, bla bla. After two days of THAT ... I'm happy to report, I am finally back to normal. And not just me. All of us are healthy! Woot Woot! Let's please keep it this way!
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