How to Avoid Sickness: My Talk With a Travel Nurse

Hello again, people of the Internet! I realize my last post was rather snarky and sarcastic, so I’ll try to limit my bizarre witticisms this time around and from here forward.

In preparation for my journey, I went to a couple of clinics last week. First, I went to my own doctor to get a Hepatitis A immunization on Wednesday, and then headed over to the ProHealth Care office in Pewaukee to get some Typhoid virus immunizations as well as get a chance to meet with a travel nurse whose job it is to provide information about the best ways to avoid getting sick while in another country. The Typhoid immunization pills are a little bit of a hassle: they need to be kept refrigerated and I have to take them on an empty stomach. Additionally, all four must be taken every other day until they’re gone, and they must be taken along with a certain amount of water to avoid nausea. If any of these rules and regulations are broken, I have to go back and buy a new batch of pills and start over.

I had my father record the travel nurse’s “Staying Healthy” tutorial talk on video. You can view the video footage here.  I’m not sure the talk was really worth the considerable sum we paid for it, but luckily she gave it all to me in writing. I can thus impart my great wisdom to you at the cost of nothing but your precious time.

Firstly, there isn’t a huge amount of risk for chronic diseases because I’ll only be staying there for five days. Obviously, it’s better to get immunized ahead of time, but something like malaria (which is expensive to get immunizations for) can be easily prevented by applying bug repellent. She recommended repellents with DEET, because that’s an effective active ingredient. If there isn’t too much DEET in the spray, it shouldn’t be harmful to the person using it. Brands such as Ultrathon, which are available at stores like Gander Mountain or REI are ones she has found to be particularly effective.

Next, there is the concern of diarrhea. If you’ve done any medical research into the country of Tajikistan, you will probably have found warnings about this and the water there. How does one avoid it?

  • Drink, wash, and brush teeth with only bottled water that you know you can trust
    • Canned drinks such as soda are also usually safe
  • Only eat fruits and veggies that you have washed and peeled yourself
  • Avoid uncooked food
  • Avoid dairy products, creams, and ice creams (they may not have been kept cold enough)
  • Avoid ice cubes (which may have been made with contaminated water)
  • Wash hands before eating and use a personal towel

If one does get diarrhea, the first step to do is try going to a local pharmacy and getting Imodium. If the diarrhea isn’t chronic, this Imodium will take care of it. If, however, the problem is more serious, I was given a prescription of some Zithromax which is a more potent antibiotic to use only if the problem persists after the first one fails.

Lastly, it is best to take along a medical kit with some medicines used at home. This avoids the problem of trying to purchase medicine at a pharmacist who speaks another language. Medicines in here might include headache medicine or allergy medicine. I don’t know exactly what I’m taking, but it’ll probably be something along those lines.

To sum up, going into a third-world country has plenty of risks involving disease, but the experience can be excellent if one plans accordingly.

Ms. Bagin, the Travel Nurse
Ms. Bagin, the Travel Nurse
Pile of papers that I received
Pile of papers that I received
Brookfield ProHealth Care
Brookfield ProHealth Care

 I highly recommend you view this and future posts in the alternate blog: Rick in Tajikistan