Zika Virus…A bearing on our future travels? Photos from a trip to the beach…

Many signs and names of towns are were based on the indigenous inhabitants of New Zealand, the Māori who’s language has had official language status, with the right to use it in legal settings such as in court, since the Maori Language Act 1987. There are around 70,000 native speakers of Maori out of a population of over 500,000 Māori people, with 161,000 of the country’s 4 million residents claiming conversational ability in Māori.”

The Zika virus is rapidly spreading throughout the world with the majority of cases in South America, particularly in Brazil with over one million cases and growing out of control. 

Here’s more information on the Zika virus from the US’s Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Its easy to expect beaches throughout the world to be sandy and pristine with blue waters.  Many beaches such as in New Zealand and Australia aren’t blue due to the interaction of light and particles present in the water. When there are mineral sediments lights from the blue spectrum are absorbed by the particles thus the water appears to be brown.   Also, not all beaches have the soft fine sand we found in Belize and Hawaii.

No doubt this virus will spread to other countries in South America and throughout the world unless drastic measures are taken to control it. What those measures may be at this point are unknown and under research in many laboratories worldwide. 

Low tide is more evident on many beaches but not all.

Will a vaccine, cure or remedy be available by 2017 when we head to South America?  At this point, we have no idea but continue to watch the news for updates.  Will we change our plans to spend as much as two years in South America from 2017 to 2019?

As we’ve traveled continents, island nations and many countries we’ve heard of a variety of viruses that may infect locals and travelers alike.  We don’t take any of these illnesses lightly.  That’s what precipitated our having as many as 18 vaccinations before we left the US which we’ll update as needed over time.

With many surfers attracted to this area, a lifeguard is on duty, well equipped for rescue.

However, new viruses continue to develop throughout the world and our exposure is no doubt enhanced as we traveled to potentially infected countries.  We’ve already visited several of the countries on the currently “infected” list. 

Surfers awaiting an opportunity.

Now, as we’ve begun to book travel to South America, there’s no doubt we’ve given the Vika virus consideration as to the impact it may have on us visiting such countries as Brazil. 

How else might we travel the Amazon River in Brazil and eventually, the top priority on our list…the Pantanal, the most wildlife diverse wetlands areas in the world (talk about mosquitoes!). 

Pretty cloud formation on a very cloudy day.  Note distant airplane and boat in left of photo.

At this point, after considerable discussion and information gathering we’ve decided to continue with our plans.  Its not as if we can say, “Oh, let’s wait and go in 10 years?”  In twelve years I’ll be 80 years old and Tom will be 75.  Will we have the health and stamina we now have to continue?  There’s no way of knowing.

Campgrounds are located at the end of the road at Oakura Beach with an onsite office for booking space.

If we were young, putting off South America would be practical.  We’re not.  The clock is ticking, whether we like it or not, as it is for everyone.  It just so happens we’re closer to the final hour along with all the others our age throughout the world, many of us whom have “things to do” and “places to see” before its too late.

There are permanent and temporary sites for caravans (motorhomes) and travel trailer type homes.

Continuing with our desire of visiting each continent before it is too late, doesn’t dissipate with news of a virus that based on information to date, is not life threatening for adults who aren’t pregnant. 

If this virus was comparable to the deadly Ebola virus, we’d definitely change our plans.  If, at any point the virus is considered life threatening to older adults, we’ll certainly reassess our views, changing plans if necessary.

Small sleeping tent sites are available for a fee which includes multiple facilities.

For now, we trek on…with hope in our hearts for a resolution for those living in infected countries and for our ongoing safety as we continue our journey.

Have a lovely weekend…

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Photos from one year ago today, January 30, 2015:

The colors in the tunnels at Tunnels Beach were varied when we visited the Napali Coast in Kauai.  For more details, please click here.

Figuring out the most simple things is often challenging…Feedback from our readers, please…How often do you go to a doctor when feeling well?



Double Island is often shown in many of our ocean view photos.

At times, we find figuring out the seemingly most simple things becomes tricky while outside of our home country.  Its not due to any difficulty generated by any other country in particular.  Its simply the fact that everything is different in each country.

Recently, I began searching online to order a year’s supply of my contact lenses.  Should be relatively easy.  Unfortunately, my prescription is three years old and the familiar brand that I’ve used for years has been discontinued.

Trees and vegetation are often seen growing along the beaches.

In order to make a new purchase, I’d have to pay for a new eye exam here in Australia and start all over again.  I don’t feel like doing this nor do I want to purchase a brand that may not be readily available as we continue in our travels.  Also, my prescription hasn’t changed.  I can still see perfectly with my current prescription.

Scout Island doesn’t look too inviting and isn’t occupied.

I only have common age related far sightedness, resulting in difficulty in reading small print, corrected with bifocal contacts, a different prescription in each eye.  It works great for me and has done so for the past 25 years without difficulty.

In the US, an eye exam prescription is good for two years and the same applies in Australia.  Sticking my neck out, I asked my old optician in Minnesota to send me a year’s supply of a new brand with me taking the risk that they’ll work. 

A handmade swing at the beach.

Finally, they agreed and as of a call I made to them this morning, they’ve agreed to send me only a one year supply of a new brand that should work well when it matches my prescription.  Rather than have them send them directly to me in Australia and in order to make it simple, I asked them to send them to our mailing service in Nevada.

Before we leave Trinity Beach, we’ll order a new box of supplies and have them mailed to us.  In Australia, if the contents of a package shipped from outside the country into the country has a value of less than AUD $1000, US $773, no taxes or customs fees are required.  We’ll keep close tabs on the value of the contents as we add to the items we’ll eventually have shipped to us.


Sandy beach on a cloudy day.

Once again, we must address the teeth cleaning issue after cancelling our appointments in Maui when Tom didn’t feel comfortable with the odd scenario of the location and office setup of the makeshift dentist’s office.  We’ll check with our landlords and also check online for reviews.

Recently, we’ve decided it may be time to make doctor appointments for both of us for a general check-up and blood tests which neither of us are excited to do when we’re both feeling so well.  Our insurance doesn’t pay for office visits or tests and this could easily run into quite a bill.  Its been almost three years since either of us had a physical exam. 

Double Island is privately owned.

We’d love feedback from our readers and you may do so anonymously at the end of this post by clicking on the “comment” link.  How often do you see the dentist when you’re teeth feel clean and without problems?  How often do you see a doctor when you’re feeling well?

Today, we’re off to the fitness center and for another exploratory drive in the area.  There’s so much to see in our immediate surroundings as we continue to post photos. 

There are plenty of condo and apartment complexes in Trinity Beach and the surrounding areas.

One day soon, we’ll head out of town.  For now, we’re so content that its difficult to become motivated to take a road trip especially when its been cloudy and rainy most days. We’re hoping that by next week we’ll be ready to take off for a day.

Soon, we’ll be leaving for the fitness center and another drive exploring this amazing area.  Have a fabulous day!
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Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2014:

The small island of Madeira had many points of interest to explore within a short distance of our home.  We certainly enjoyed our time on the beautiful, historical island.  For more details, please click here.

Health concerns for travelers of any age…Questions and answers applicable to all…

 

Sunday’s sunset from Jeri and Hans’ third-floor veranda, the last rain-free day.

The following comments are not intended in any manner to substitute for professional medical advice. This post is entirely based on our personal travel experiences regarding preparedness in the event of medical issues or emergencies.  Please seek the care of your medical professionals in regard to your personal healthcare.

Coupling our interest in health and well being with our worldwide travels has been important to us. Many seniors and younger travelers alike choose to address health concerns before traveling. Many others “wing it” hoping for the best, in many cases a poor decision or, simply a lack of a decision at all.

Checking online over the past almost two years, we have discovered a wealth of resources available that may be of assistance, too many to list here.

We’ve found that researching credible medical sites are crucial, not simply the opinions of a few travelers with a good or bad experience, often seeking a place to vent frustrations and unfortunate experiences.

Some of the questions we had and the answers we’ve discovered that have worked for us, that we’d asked ourselves when planning our world travels include and on an ongoing basis:

  • Will we get intestinal distress from eating uncooked fruits and vegetables? If so, how does one reduce that risk? Yes, illness is often a result of produce eaten raw. This risk does exist when non-purified water is used to rinse produce, which is then eaten raw, such as lettuce, celery, and fruit. Usually, cooking vegetables destroy most of the bacteria. We rinse all of our produce in a bowl of purified water, replacing the water as needed. Always remain mindful of cross-contamination of washed and unwashed produce. We washed all of our produce immediately before placing it in the refrigerator.  This may reduce shelf life, but our “shelf life” is more important.
  • Is it safe to drink the water? Before we arrive at each location we research to determine if the water is safe to drink.If not, we arrange for the property owner to have a several-day supply of purified water awaiting us to ensure we have ample time to get to a grocery store.
  • What about brushing our teeth? This is often a cause of illness. We keep small bottles of purified water in the bathroom for wetting the brush, rinsing our mouths after brushing and rinsing our toothbrushes. Daily, we brush with baking soda and then do a full 20-minute coconut oil gargle which kills bacteria in the mouth, spitting it out when done. Once a week we disinfect our toothbrushes (and my contact lens case) in hot boiled purified water.
  • What happens if get water into our mouths while taking a shower? Immediately, spit it out and promptly rinse the mouth with mouthwash, and brush our teeth following the above process using purified bottled water.
  • Can water be boiled to become safe to use? We don’t recommend this process. Considerable bacteria may remain if the water is not boiled long enough, 15 to 20 minutes, or more. This would only be done in the case of a dire emergency.
  • What about washing dishes?  Ideally, we could use purified water to wash dishes.  Unfortunately, the cost of bottled water is prohibitive and if done properly this isn’t necessary. Wash and rinse dishes, pans, and flatware in the hottest cleanest soapy water your hands can take. Drain on a clean cloth. Wipe dishes dry with another clean towel and leave out, not stacked, to further dry on the clean counter to ensure that no water molecules remain.  Wash your hand before handling dishes which we each do so often it’s ridiculous.
  • Do we need to take malaria pills or other prophylactic medications while traveling? Taking pills for the prevention of malaria depends on the location of your travels. Check with your local travel clinic for detailed maps and information for every country in the world. Other prophylactic medication? For us, we take a Bifidus Probiotic  (30 billion CFU minimum) supplement daily to keep the balance of good bacteria in the gut.  These may be purchased online or at any quality health store.  Research for a quality brand, most of which require refrigeration for freshness.  We have been taking multiple individual supplements for years.
  • What do we do if our luggage is lost or stolen containing all of our daily medications? Do we need to bring along copies of our current prescriptions, written letter explaining the use of medical syringes, if applicable, etc.? Yes! Yes! Yes! We have copies of all of our prescriptions and a doctor’s letter listing all of the supplements we use. Even so, we had trouble boarding a Carnival Ship in Belize (see the posts of April 9th and 10th, 2013 for details of our ordeal).  Also, we carry several Epipen syringes, in the event, we have an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to stings from insects or other substances, including a doctor’s letter of authorization.
  • Will our insurance pay if we become ill?  Do we need to purchase emergency evacuation insurance?  Is it costly? Every policy is different.  Check with your policy benefit well in advance of travel to determine what will or won’t be paid. Generally, Medicare usually doesn’t pay outside the US, but check on your supplemental policy’s terms and conditions.  Emergency Evacuation insurance is a must if you’re traveling outside your home country unless your regular policy provides this coverage. Check for specific details well in advance of travel.  On its own, emergency evacuation insurance usually is US $200 to US $300 per person for a two-week vacation. Keep in mind, that “travel insurance” and “emergency evacuation insurance may be entirely different from one another; one if in case of cancellation on non-refundable fares, etc. and, the other is for medical purposes. A few policies have both features combined. Check carefully for details.
  • Do we need vaccinations to travel abroad?  Again, check with your local travel clinic, a highly valuable resource when planning a trip abroad.  Countries in Africa may require proof of vaccination for Yellow Fever and other communicable diseases.  We keep a copy of our entire vaccination record (we had around 18 separate vaccinations) on the inside flap of our passport holders. We haven’t been asked to produce these records yet , but entry into a country can be refused if not provided.
  • How much in advance must we plan for the vaccinations? We both began the vaccination process 6 months in advance of our departure from Minnesota.  Many vaccines require waiting periods between boosters.  Many vaccines may be given at one appointment, which is not detrimental to their efficacy.  The question becomes…how will you tolerate multiple vaccines in one appointment? If dubious, space them out as I did with no side effects.  Many vaccines such as Yellow Fever don’t require a booster for 10 years.
  • Did our insurance cover the cost of the vaccinations?  At the time we had the vaccines, both of us were covered under Tom’s policy from work which much to our surprise, paid 100% of the cost.  With the number of vaccines we chose to receive, the total cost would have been over $1500 each.  If you have Medicare or under the new guidelines, this may not be covered. Please check with your company to determine what, if any is now covered.
  • Will the tours and excursions in which we plan to partake fit within the confines of our current physical conditions and limitations?  Most tour operators specific the “difficulty level” of each of their tours and excursions.  However, these are often minimized, leaving participants gasping for air and exhausted or perhaps at severe risk.  Read reviews and comments online at travel websites such as Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor.  These comments are often a better resource of “factual” information as opposed to the sales orientated tour companies and cruise lines.
  • Did we bring along extra prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, and supplies, (and hearing aid batteries, if applicable).  What if we lose any of these?  How do we plan to replace them?  We both have our optical prescriptions with us, even if they expire.  In the event of a loss, most prescription eyewear and contacts can be replaced locally or through the mail.  Tom has three pairs of backup prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses. I brought along 24 boxes (6 packs) of contact lenses enough to last three years. I do purchase lens solution at a local pharmacy due to the added weight of the bottles which may be difficult to find in some locations (Belize and Italy).
  • If we use any particular medical supplies, what happens if they’re lost or quit working? Although Tom nor I use any particular devices, we suggest bringing a backup in the event of loss or failure.  We do have a thermometer, small blood pressure cuff, emergency suture kit, and emergency dental supplies (dental glue) in the event a crown or filling falls out or dislodges.
  • What over the counter medications did we include? We packed Aleve, Tylenol, Tylenol PM, aspirin, Milk of Magnesia and Benadryl, cortisone cream, antihistamine cream, antibacterial cream, and hydrogen peroxide.
  • What first aid supplies did we bring? Besides the above comments above, we have Bandaids, bandages, sterile gauze pads, sterile gauze wrap, ace bandage, liquid bandage, and Lidocaine patches.
  • Immediately upon arrival,l in a new location, what precautions do we take in the event we become ill or injured? Upon arrival at our new home, we ask the owner/landlord or property manager the location/phone of the best local hospital, medical clinic, physicians, and dentists in the event of any emergency. For example, here in Kenya, we have the phone number of a physician who will make a house call in the event of a non-life-threatening emergency.  Otherwise, there is a hospital within 10 minutes on the main road.

Yes, I know, this stuff is difficult to address. And for many of you who seldom travel it may be boring. But, for those who travel even short distances on a day-long road trip, being away from one’s home base can present challenging health concerns.

Years ago, I was meeting up with a bunch of girlfriends in Mexico for pre-arranged dinner plans. When they hadn’t arrived after a two-hour wait, I tried calling to no response. A day later, I received a call from one of the other friends in the group informing me that the friend had fallen into a hole under a “grate” on the sidewalk resulting in a serious compound fracture of the leg.

The only way to receive quality medical care was to return her to the US immediately.  With her not having emergency evacuation insurance and the requirement of payment in full in advance of the flight with the air ambulance service, the friend had no alternative but to ask family members for their credit card numbers to cover the then cost of US $25,000 when her own card had a US $5000 limit. Can you imagine the stress of returning home facing your own credit card bill, but also that of the cards of family members? That airfare was 30 years ago. Can you imagine how much it would be in this day and age?

This scenario remained stuck in my mind for 2 reasons; one, don’t walk on grates, wooden boards, or any potentially unstable surfaces on roads and sidewalks (in any location). Of course, Tom has adopted this practice also, as we’ve always alerted one another to possible hazards.  And, the second reason, always have an emergency evacuation policy in effect when traveling outside your home country.

Last night, we ventured out to dinner during a massive rainstorm that had started on Monday continuing all the way through today, Wednesday.  As is typical in Diani Beach restaurants, the walk from the taxi drop off area to the restaurant is long and treacherous with uneven steps, many often twice as steep as we’d expect, multiple tripping hazards, slippery surfaces, and the risk of falling tree limbs and coconuts.

Always carrying our LED mini flashlights has proven to be vital to our safety.  Last night, leaving the restaurant in torrential rains and gusty winds, luckily under an umbrella provided by the restaurant, I hung onto Tom for dear life.  If one of us went down, we both were going down. The long, steep outdoor steps were particularly hard to maneuver when their design was inconsistent and there was not a light or handrail at any point.

We both sighed with relief when we found Alfred, our trusty regular taxi driver, waiting for us and quickly jumping out to open the car doors as we handed off the umbrella to the restaurant server who escorted us. We were soaked all the way through to our underwear, but grateful to have made it to the taxi without incident.

No traveler can sit back and make the assumption that they are invincible and exempt from possible injury or illness when traveling.  With all the effort we’ve made, on a few occasions, we’ve fallen prey to unforeseen illness and injury. We can only hope and pray that we’ve exercised more than adequate foresight to guide us through those tough situations.

As they say on a mindless drivel TV show, Big Brother…” expect the unexpected.”  Doing so need not reduce the quality of our experiences or result in needless worrying.  But, preparedness, certainly minimizes the risks enhancing the quality of our experiences.

 

Photos of upcoming vacation home in Nevada!…

 

Pool and Spa
Pool and hot tub in Nevada house.

 

Living room
Living room.

Below are the photos of the Henderson, Nevada vacation rental we’ll be moving into this upcoming Wednesday after a five-hour drive across the desert. We posted these photos many months ago, doing so again today for our newer readers.

Master bedroom.

Second of three bedrooms.

A charming house with great reviews in VRBO.com located in the fabulous Green Valley Ranch area in Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas, will definitely serve our needs for eight days over the holidays with family and friends coming to visit for the three days between Tom’s 60th birthday on the 23rd and Christmas.  We couldn’t be more thrilled.

3rd bedroom
Third bedroom.

Over the next two days, we’ll busily pack for the eight days in Nevada, finish the balance of our paperwork, pack the food and cooking supplies we’ve accumulated while in Scottsdale, and the hardest part of all, decide what we’re leaving behind in one final bin we’ll leave at son Richard‘s house.

Kitchen, dining area.

This is the hardest part.  Once we leave the vacation house in Henderson on the 27th, we return to the vacation house in Scottsdale for our final packing before leaving on January 1st for San Diego to ultimately sail away on January 3rd.  Any items we don’t bring to Henderson now become a part of our luggage, an impossible scenario.

2nd Living room
Casual dining and lounge area off of the kitchen.

We have warm clothes that we aren’t bringing (Good thing we brought them along for the cold weather we’ve experienced lately), piles of papers to pass off to my sister Julie who’ll spend Tom’s birthday and Christmas with us as well. 

Pool Table
Pool table in the living area.

Julie will keep our medical files with test results, our health care directives, and stacks of legal documents that we completed on Friday.  We’ll leave our tax prep receipts in a banker’s box with Richard

Kitchen
The kitchen is dated, but serves our needs.

Oh, it goes on and on.  There’s so much to remember much of which I listed on a Nevada “to do” and others that require me walking around and “looking” at everything to further remind me. Thank goodness, my memory is serving me well. 

Living room
Main living room.

Not only will we move into the house below, but we’ll get ready for Christmas, baking (for guests), decorating (just a little), and go to our dentist appointments for final cleanings.  After the dentist, Tom has an appointment at a local travel clinic for his last TwinRix vaccine. 

Spa
Hot tub as part of the pool.

Plus, we’ll complete the arrangements for the sale of Tom’s car (prospective buyer in the works), hopefully, to transpire while we’re in San Diego over the last two days.  If that doesn’t work out for any reason, of course, we have a Plan B. 

On January 2, we’ll take the SUV to a local dealer and sell it for whatever they’ll give us.  Apparently, there’s a shortage of clean used vehicles. After pricing it at Edmunds, we feel confident that we will sell it for close to the dealer’s wholesale price. It’s a 2010 model and in perfect condition.  We’re already prepared for a low offer accepting this reality as part of the process, especially after doing so poorly at our estate sale. Ouch!  Nobody cares to pay what we feel “our stuff” is worth.  

Here’s the link to the details and photos about the Henderson home.  (Please excuse the formatting issues. It’s rather tricky copying and pasting photos from other web sites.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, web design is not my forte).
http://www.vrbo.com/301335

 

Last visit with Nurse Marsha…Ouch!

Never in my entire life have I walked into a medical clinic and felt so welcomed. Only minutes after I checked in, Nurse Marsha, head travel clinic nurse at Park Nicollet Travel Clinic, warmly greeted me, telling me how enthused she was to see me on her schedule for my last round of injections.

She knew how anxious I had been about possible side effects through this entire process, having had a few frightening immunizations in the long ago past. My fears were worsened after many hours of relentless online research looking for all the reasons why one should not be subject to such an obvious health risk.

My greatest fear was the yellow fever vaccine, well known for disastrous outcomes in a small fraction of the recipients. Alas, we survived. Tom was a little queasy and flu-like for one day and for me, I lapsed into bed midday for four hours of  uncomfortable thrashing about, to fully recover in time to cook a lovely dinner.  The worst was over.

Nurse Marsha was delightful, bubbly, and concerned for us, for our safety and for our joy. Lively and animated banter ensued between us as my heart grew full with her charm and interest.  For the first time in this process, I freed myself from the monumental tasks at hand, allowing a wave of excitement to wash over me, which I had held at bay all this time, fearful of losing focus.

Upon leaving I handed her our card for this blog, which she enthusiastically accepted, promising to follow along with us. Perhaps, knowing the vital role she played in our health as we travel the world over the next several years. Thank you, dear Nurse Marsha. Thank you for easing us along the way.

Yesterday’s injections:  the final booster of three Twinrix injections, for Hepatitis A and B, (ow, ow, ow!  Painful!), the latest flu vaccine (nothing to it) and the take home Typhoid Live Vaccine.   (Apparently, there is now a shortage of the Typhoid vaccine, which wasn’t the case only a few weeks ago when Tom received it).  

Over a period of eight days, I must swallow one of four live Typhoid vaccine tablets (now safely residing in our refrigerator) every other night at bedtime with a full glass of lukewarm water.  Nurse Marsha explained the importance of taking this pill at night on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of stomach distress as opposed to the morning when one’s stomach would be more empty after a night’s sleep. 

Of course, I complied. At 10 pm last night I poured myself a huge glass of tepid water and chugged the pill. Nothing happened. Good. I went to bed anticipating awakening during the night for a trip to the loo. Well, lately I’ve been waking up at 3:00 am anyway, after a run of convoluted dreams of hotels and other people’s homes, my mind racing with the upcoming tasks of the day.

Oddly, I slept through the night to awaken at my usual 5:30 am, ready to tackle the day, happy to feel well, happy to have slept through the night.

My vaccines are almost over, with three more Typhoid pills to take over the next six nights.  Tom must have his final Twinrix booster after his final waiting period ends November 22, 2012.  Son, Richard gave us the name of his doctor in Henderson, Nevada.  We’ll arrange the appointment soon for one of the few times we’ll be in Nevada in November and December.  

After about 15 injections, my share of needless worry, multiple trips to see Nurse Marsha with only a few hours of discomfort, we’re appreciative of the manner in which she eased the way, by that which she taught us about food and water safety when traveling abroad and most of all, enriched by simply knowing her.

Today will be another busy day; off to the office supply store for an ink cartridge for the printer (ran out of ink with documents to print before we go) and to buy a portable keyboard for my laptop. (We’re buying new lightweight laptops while in Scottsdale after Window 8 releases). In the past few days, the case broke and now the keyboard requires Herculean effort to press a key.  Not surprising, huh?

 

Worrying about ice cubes…

As I hauled out one box after another to our overflowing garbage and recycling bins today, a powerful sense of determination drove me to keep up the pace I had started on Monday.  

Yesterday, I had two more vaccinations; the first in a series of three rabies shot and a single Meningococcal vaccine.  The risks of serious side effects from either of these vaccines are fairly low, although approximately 50% of the population experience mild side effects, including flu like symptoms with a fever and/or redness and itching at the site of injection.

After Tom had these same vaccinations last Friday, he felt lethargic, achy and “out of sorts” (his words) over the weekend.  I guess I feel somewhat the same today.

In any case, I kept myself busy all day, making a trip to the auto repair shop to have a valve stem replaced on a tire, followed by a quick trip to Kohl’s to return an item I’d purchased online. While browsing the store, which I seldom do, I happened across a nifty item for our travels, buying two in the process.  Here it is:

Nifty 32 oz. BPH free drink holder

In looking on the inside of the bottle, there is a  1½” cylinder that holds a gel-like non-toxic item, that can be frozen to keep drinks cold.  While worrying about “safe” ice last weekend, I ordered four ice cube trays with lids to ensure we’d be able to make ice from purified water.  
In discussing our endless list of “habits” we’ll need to break living outside the US, we had struggled with the reality that clean, “safe” ice may be a commodity that we will be forced to include on the “goodbye” list.  

By bringing our own ice cube trays and getting settled at a vacation rental, we will fill them with bottled/purified water to make our own ice.  Every property has a freezer and bottled water for our use.

Also, the ice cube trays with lids will function as jewelry boxes for my earrings, bracelets and necklaces, preventing them from tangling. Since customs in some countries require prescriptions to be in the original bottles, we can each use a tray while situated to contain our weekly medications and supplements, thus preventing the necessity of bringing those bulky 28-day pill cases. 
When I had ordered the ice cube trays online last weekend, I had no idea I’d find these sports bottles that will serve us well for our daily doses of iced tea and water. The iced cube trays will be perfect for Tom’s cocktails.  I couldn’t get home from Kohl’s quickly enough to put the cylinders in the freezer so we could test them tonight with our iced tea.  It took about three hours for them to fully freeze.
Here we sit this evening, enjoying our new bottles of iced tea, knowing that we’ll need two more of these bottles allowing another to freeze while we are using one.  Back to Kohl’s in a few days.

The bottles originally cost $12.99 each.  They were on sale today for $5.99 each.  Today, Wednesday, is Senior Discount Day at 15% off, resulting in paying $10.18 + tax for two, as opposed to what would have been $25.95 + tax.  

While at Kohl’s today I also bought a pair of white KEDs and brown slide sandals.  The KEDs worked out great. But, when I walked around the house in the sandals, they hurt my feet and I will return them. 

The total bill for the bottles and the two pairs of shoes was $51.  Kohl’s was offering their “Kohl’s Cash” today, giving me back a $10 gift certificate that may be used for any purchase within a certain date range that happens to fall into next Wednesday.  

I will return to the store next Wednesday to return the sandals and, while there, use the $10 “Kohl’s Cash,” to purchase the two additional bottles for $5.99 each at a total of $10.18 + tax (once again using the Wednesday Senior Discount), use the “Kohl’s Cash,” pay the remaining $.18 + tax and bring home the additional two bottles.  That’s my kind of deal!

The continuing medical concerns…

When meeting with Nurse Marcia a month ago at the Park Nicollet Travel Clinic, in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, we had discussed the rabies vaccine.  The cost is outrageous at $350 per person per injection, a series of three injections spread a month apart at a total cost of $2100 for both Tom and I. 


At the time, I suggested we hold off on rabies until further down the road. With only a little over five months left to departure date, the time had arrived to investigate this further.  I called our insurance company.  Much to my surprise, they will cover the cost in full! Thus, we decided to proceed with the rabies series.  My first rabies vaccine will begin on June 5th with Tom’s over the next few months.


We made this decision based on a few concerns; one; we will want to explore the bat filled caves in Belize (guano!) next February and two; while living among the animals in Kruger National Park in South Africa in December 2013 we will be exposed to a possible incident.  Surely, these two situations warrant a radical precaution such as the rabies vaccines.  


Is it likely a rabid bat will bite us while riding in an inner tube through the caves in Belize?  Highly, unlikely. Is it possible we will be bitten by a rabid wildebeest while lounging by the pool in South Africa?  Possible, yes. Likely, no.  


We have decided that any precautions we can take in the planning of our lengthy journey will be well spent both in time and in money. Unquestionably, situations will occur that we aren’t able to anticipate at this point, in regard to health and well being and their resulting costs.  


The more we prepare, the less likely we will experience angst and frustration. Remember, our journey…”wafting through our worldwide travels with joy, simplicity and ease,” requires as much preparation as possible.  Thank goodness, we’ve had the time and the determination to plan ahead to this extent.  


Yesterday, I had an appointment with our long time family practice physician, Dr. Dennis Showalter, a fine youthful doctor with a bright smile, kind and uplifting demeanor, sharp knowledge and a passion for his work.  

An advocate of main stream medicine, he and I have butt heads over the years with my penchant for alternative medicine and my obvious obsession with online research, (albeit reliable medical schools, universities and research institutes). All in all, Dr. S. always sought the best course available for any of our various ailments, real or imagined, and has provided the utmost of care.


Now, as our journey approaches, he and I discussed the challenges we may experience along he way, requiring medicine and/or medical care.  Here’s are a few of our concerns and possible solutions:

  1. Prescriptions:  Our insurance company only allows refills every three months with no regard to the willingness of the physician to write the prescriptions for longer periods.  With little access to mail as we flit about the world, receiving the prescription can be tricky.  Solution:  With our mailing service in the US, they can receive the prescriptions and forward them to us at the post office closest to our current location. We must ensure that we have an ample “extra supply of meds” to account for the extended mailing time. In the interim, I have requested a “travel waiver” from the insurance company which I will receive soon and process.
  2. Illness:  How often does one become ill at home in the US in 949 days?  For us, seldom, perhaps a cold or flu once every year for one of us.  Do we normally go to the doctor or get medication in these cases?  No. Tom and I seldom visit the doctor other than the required once a year exam in order to refill our medications. 
    Solution: Dr. S. can accommodate this requirement by conducting an online appointment with us as offered by our medical group. Should we require emergency medical care, we’ll seek out the closest, most highly recommended, medical facility within reach of our location.
  3. Emergency Illness:  Hopefully, we won’t require emergency medical treatment/surgery due to illness or injury. 
    Solution:  Many countries we will visit have excellent medical care and we’d go to the nearest hospital for care as one would here in the US.  If we are in a country with inferior medical care, we will use our then in-force Emergency Evacuation Insurance, a plan we have investigated and yet to purchase. (Many plans will not cover our extended period out of the US.  This particular company, requires an annual renewal.  However, they will provide coverage for us at about $100 a month per person, a cost we have budgeted).
  4. Preventive Medications:  As most of us, from time to time, we use over the counter medication that may provide temporary relief from annoying minor ailments which includes: antihistamines, aspirin, ibuprofen, antibacterial cream, cortisone cream, anti-itch cream, etc. 
    Solution:  Dr. S. and the travel clinic will provide us with prescriptions as preventive measures: Epipen (both allergic to bees), various antibiotics, allergy meds, anti-viral, ear patches (sea sickness, highly unlikely for either of us as long time boaters) cough medicine and other non-narcotic medications in the event we are far from medical treatment.   

In September, after having completed all of our vaccines with the travel clinic, we will book our final appointment with Dr. S. to review all of our medications, conduct last minute tests, perform our annual physicals, and send us off with his medical blessings for a safe and healthy adventure.  

Oh no! Yellow Fever side effects hit…

Yesterday, I felt great, optimistic that the potential side effects of the Yellow Fever Vaccine had bypassed me.  One in six, especially in patients over 60, experience some side effects: general malaise, lethargy, aching joints, low grade fever and flu-like symptoms.

When I awakened this morning at 5:45, my legs felt heavy when my feet hit the floor, so  heavy that I wavered momentarily before standing. I dismissed this uncommon feeling, attributing it to a poor night’s sleep or from arising too quickly.
Making the bed seemed an insurmountable task; the normally light and fluffy covers feeling like lead in my hands.  Preparing my usual mug of coffee, the normally inviting smell sickened me. I turned off the coffee machine instead guzzling a huge glass of ice water.

Of course, running through my mind was every possible Yellow Fever Vaccine side effect I’d discovered perusing through the CDC’s website. Yes, I was experiencing side effects, my worst fear.

There’s no doubt that I am a worrier when it comes to medical procedures. After a several unpleasant reactions over the years, I am  skeptical about any invasive treatments.  One could easily surmise that I am overly cautious.
The biggest problem is my continual desire to be educated about health and wellness in an effort to maintain the highest possible level of fitness. Each week, I read a multitude of scientific studies from reliable resources which include Harvard Medical School, Mayo Clinic and major universities.  
In the past several weeks, I have be reading and re-reading The Smarter Science of Slim by Jonathan Bailor, based on 1000’s of scientific studies surrounding a healthful diet and the HIIT exercise protocol which I have since incorporated into my routine. 

Many may find these topics tedious and boring.  For me, as my friends and family will attest, its more fodder for my guarded manner of approaching traditional medical by occasional musings on Facebook.
Information is power. Medical information is vital to maintaining one’s long term health objectives.  
But…its a double edged sword that wields a sense of apprehension and mistrust by the continuing contradictions handed us via the media, over and over again.
Are vaccinations safe? Did we really need a Yellow Fever Vaccine to go on a week long safari in Kenya (no Yellow Fever is documented in South Africa) while living in a guarded ocean side resort community? Probably not, but “they said” and “we” believed them, myself included.

Today, I took Ibuprofen every four hours, which greatly reduced the achy fluish symptoms. The onset of the worst of the side effects may occur on the 5th day after vaccination. Tomorrow is day #4. Hopefully my feet firmly hit the floor tomorrow and Sunday morning!  I’ll keep you posted!

 

Yellow Fever Vaccine? Done!

Nurse Marcia wasn’t available today.  They gave me a nurse I didn’t know.

Worrying about the effects of the live Yellow Fever vaccine preoccupied me to the point of not noticing her name on the blue name tag affixed to her pajama-like scrubs with little elephants all over it.  Elephants, Africa, Yellow Fever, I thought. What a coincidence!

She explained that a doctor would see me prior to her injecting me with the batch of three immunizations: Hepatitis B (second in series of three), Polio (second and final) and…Yellow Fever. She would explain the risks and side effects.

Moments later, she entered the room, her eyes filled with compassion.  I wanted to scream, “Stop looking so concerned!”  She proceeded to explain the risks; one in 55,000 have an allergic reaction within minutes of receiving the injection; one in 125,000 have a neurological reaction days later that could result in permanent disability; one in 250,000 develop a serious illness resulting in organ failure from which 50% die. Reactions could occur up to 28 days after receiving the injection. Oh…I wanted to run out of the room.  I stayed.

The doctor left the room as the new nurse entered. The three giant syringes were lying on the exam table, as they had been the case last time around. She plunged, twisted and released but, unlike the last round a month ago with Nurse Marcia, they weren’t painful.  

“If you have an allergic reaction,” she stated, “it will be evident within a minute or two.”  Nothing happened.  Yippee! She then instructed me to wait in the reception area for 20 minutes. My eyes on the clock, I played with my phone, sent a few texts to friends, checked out Facebook and confidently dashed out the door after the 20 minutes passed.  Whew!

Thanks for all the encouragement and prayers!  Now, I can go back to worrying about the zip line in Belize. 

They refused to give me the dreaded shots!

A weird thing happened to me yesterday. I usually write in this blog every other day but yesterday was a weird day, a very weird day and I didn’t post at all.

Upon awakening in a foggy blur, I felt unfamiliar in my own surroundings. The light filtering through the various window coverings in our home appeared eerie and muted.

As I mindlessly wandered off to the kitchen to perform a series of ritualistic tasks, a wave of uncertainty washed over me. As many of us old-timers, both Tom and I toss back a small handful of prescription meds each morning and a big handful of a variety of vitamins throughout the day. 

My routine was broken, when I didn’t put in my contact lenses before going into the kitchen, a habit I seldom break, now thrown off by the peculiar feel of the day.  Pouring a quarter cup of purified water into my usual plastic tumbler I emptied the dose of the Tuesday morning prescriptions, tossing my head back with one big gulp.

Something was wrong!  My brain had taken a quick snapshot of the handful of pills and in an instant, I realized that the chunky pills drifting down my throat didn’t feel like the usual sensation.  Eyes blurry with no contacts, I looked at the one week pill case and realized I had just taken Tom’s pill, not mine!

My heart began to race as I ran into the bathroom to insert my contacts, made difficult by my shaking hands.  I needed to look again to confirm I had taken the wrong pills.  I had.  Oh, dear.

Since I am the official pill case packer in our household, familiar with all of Tom’s meds, my mind raced through the possible consequences of having taken his medications and the possible side effects.

OK, nothing horrible will happen to me I deduced upon deciding against taking another single pill the remainder of the day, letting these medications work their way out of my system.

By the time I arrived at the Immunization Clinic, I was experiencing full-blown side effects:  dry mouth and gurgling stomach.  In jokingly explaining to the nurse what I had done, I was sent away.  No live vaccines on the day I was having side effects of Tom’s drugs.  Ha!  That confirms how dangerous this yellow fever vaccine really is.  I have not worried needlessly! 

I was disappointed and relieved at the same time.  This temporary relief was short-lived when they made another appointment for today at 10:45.  

As I sit here two hours before my appointment in my usual chair, writing this blog, surprisingly I am less terrified than I was yesterday.   

Most likely neither Tom nor I will become ill from our immunizations.  Most likely, we won’t get bit by malaria or yellow fever carrying mosquito.  Most likely, we won’t get mugged in Mombasa, Kenya, or anywhere else in the world.

Most likely, a warthog won’t attack us in our kitchen in Marloth Park in South Africa.  Most likely, we won’t have to pay $1400 for each of two extra bags when we fly on Emirates Airlines.  Most likely, all of the properties we’ve rented all over the world will actually exist when we arrive.

Most likely, I will still be writing this blog, 28 days from today, when the risk of reaction to the yellow fever vaccine has passed. Whew!