Countdown has begun. In twelve days I leave for the biggest travel adventure of my life. I went on my first plane trip when I was 32 years old. Before that I had only been to the New England states and Washington DC. I have since traveled a bit more but never to a country where a visa or immunizations were required. India, here I come!
The immunization process started in August when I met with my doctor to discuss the shots which are considered necessary when traveling to India. I tried to focus on the doctor's words and not on the needles which were laying on the tray next to her. I bravely rolled up my sleeves and shut my eyes as two nurses tag teamed me. "Okay now, this is going to pinch just a bit. Make sure you remember to breath." Right. I held my breath as they injected MMR, Polio, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B into my arm. Ouch.
My arms soon recovered. I then booked a trip to the travel clinic to discuss the more exotic immunizations that my doctor did not have access to but felt I should consider. On the list were Japanese Encephalitis, Preventative Rabies, Yellow Fever, and Typhoid. I was momentarily tempted to ignore getting these shots but decided I had best head to the travel doc especially when I read about wild monkeys in Delhi attacking people without provocation. Since animals naturally are attracted to me I figured I had better be prepared in case a monkey decides to jump on my back.
The travel doctor was very helpful. I was happy to find out that I didn't need the Yellow Fever or Japanese Encephalitis shots - relief rushed to my arms. He told me to just avoid wild dogs and monkeys. My list was getting shorter by the second. My arms started to relax. Ooh, bicep, don't relax too quickly. The doctor strongly recommends the typhoid vaccine. My bicep shrinks as it tries to hide. Wait - good news, the typhoid vaccine is a live oral vaccine. All I have to do is take four pills -one a day, every other day. Much easier than a shot, or so I thought.
The typhoid pill must be taken with cold water on an empty stomach. No problem. Day one - I swallow the first pill. I try not to think about the live typhoid I had just swallowed. I went about my day waiting for serious side effects to take place. Nothing.
Day two - I am a bit grouchy about taking this pill. I want to eat now. I don't want to wait another hour. Every time I open the refrigerator I see the box containing the vaccine capsules sitting on the shelf. Printed on the side in bold letters I read 'LIVE Typhoid Oral Vaccine'. Gross.
I almost 'forgot' to take the third pill. I don't think I can do this. What does live typhoid look like? Is it crawling around in my belly? I am tempted to break the capsule open so I can see the live typhoid. Does it look like the mold that grows on the forgotten food way back in my refrigerator? Is it green and fuzzy or purple with orange cilia wiggling around? I finally swallow the pill but I have to fight the gag reflex. When it is time to eat I can't because the live typhoid is in my belly. I pray it doesn't mutate.
Today I took my last live typhoid pill. The other three typhoids are sitting in my belly waiting for their comrade to join them. I close my eyes and try to shut off my imagination. I swallow quickly. I can feel the typhoid do a happy dance in my belly. Orange cilia tickle the lining of my stomach. I try to calm myself and be logical. These typhoid critters are my friends. They are going to protect me. I visualize them as they create a strong defensive fortress in my belly. I will sleep better tonight.