So we made an appointment with the Health Centre to speak to someone about travel immunizations. Well, I took all the boys by myself, because Richard is all up to date because of his trip to India last year. I picked up the boys from school as our appointment was at 2:00 in the afternoon. Well, almost half an hour later we were still sitting in the waiting room to see someone. James was restless, Ethan hadn’t had a nap yet and I just wanted to get the whole thing over with.


We were finally ushered into our room at 2:30 and I was able to speak to the nurse. She wanted to know where we would be going and how long we would be there. We discussed how much time we would spending off the boat, how much of our own cooking we would be doing and where we would be sleeping. Her biggest concerns were about eating off the boat as typhoid is a major concern when others are preparing your food. Even staying with local family and friends in the area can put someone at higher risk by the ingestion of food or water which has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person. Typhoid is a common worldwide bacterial disease that causes fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea and things seem to go downhill from there. Not pretty.


Malaria is also a concern so the nurse and I discussed using bug spray with at least 25% deet in it. Sleeping in our boat, on the water will help protect us from mosquitoes, but there will be bugs and we will have to cover up and use spray to protect ourselves. Malaria symptoms include fever and headache and severe cases can lead to a coma or even death. There is no cure for malaria once the disease has progressed, but there is antimalarial medication to be taken if the case is uncomplicated. It is best to practice preventative medicine, rather then try to medicate once you have become infected.


Also Hepatitis A and B which affects your liver, may also be an issue. Apparently tens of millions of individuals are affected by HAV every year. Symptoms of the flu are common, but they often don’t show up until two to six weeks after being infected. James, Matthew and myself have all received the first round of immunizations with Twinrix which protects against Hep A and B. So we needed the second dose to make the protection complete. Ethan got his first dose of Twinrix and got a booster of the measles, mumps and rubella which he would normally get at age 5.


So I went first. I don’t like needles so I took a deep breath, looked away and smiled at the boys as if to say everything was okay. Well, it hurt! The poke in my arm was fine, but the medication makes your arm feel so heavy and then it feels like someone sucker punched you in your shoulder when you weren’t looking! I almost cried and thought I should have gone last…but I kept smiling for the boy’s sake, saying “that wasn’t so bad!” Well, Ethan was next. I held him tight for both arms and he cried, but the nurse brought out the sticker box and he stopped pretty quickly. Matthew was next. He sat on my lap quite willingly and I held him while the nurse poked him in the arm. He cried a bit, but was easily consoled.


James was another story! He wanted to go last, which was fine, but when his turn rolled around, he wouldn’t even come and sit on my lap. He got angry and he started fighting back. I tried to grab his arm and he moved to the corner of the room to get away. Once he entered that “fight” mode he was nearly impossible to handle. He made his hands into fists and was close to punching me, then the nails came out and the scratching at my hands when I tried to bring him over to the nurse. We almost needed to call in another nurse to help hold him. He finally sat down with me, the nurse swabbed his arm and then he bolted again! He was crying, angry and so strong! I was almost scared of what he would do. We finally talked him down, he settled and allowed the nurse to give him the immunization. Phew!


It is hard to explain to kids that a little pain now, will protect them from so much potential pain down the road. That appointment was not easy! How should I tell them that we have to go back for one more needle?

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