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February 10th, 2010 | Africa

Travel Clinic Terror !!

I have been putting off my compulsory visit to the travel clinic for a bunch of inoculations, for as long as possible. Hypodermic needles and I, have never been on the best of terms, but with time running out, I finally made my way to the same clinic I used on my previous trip up through Africa. Things had changed significantly since my previous visit in December 2007… I am happy to report that the Nazi who was in charge then, is no longer in evidence !! Yes, she who so enjoyed my discomfort, while administering SIX injections, was no longer in sight !! In her stead, were three young nurses, bustling about in an efficient manner, and dealing out smiles to all their prospective victims…

After locating my file, I was lightly scolded for not making an appointment, and when I answered,

“I didn’t realise that torture required an appointment !…” I at the very least expected a little laughter… None was forthcoming…these girls took their jobs far too seriously for my liking !! Not a good start to the festivities !!

I was ushered into a room that looked like an office-cum-operating theatre, and was asked to sit at the desk to answer a few questions, which the elder of the three nurses posed in a very businesslike fashion… Naturally, I was as nervous as an inmate on his final day on death row, and tried to make light of my replies, in order to take my mind off what I knew was coming…

“So, where are you going ?” she asked, with her pen hovering over a section on the form which contained about six empty lines…

“Well, for a start, you don’t have the space or the time to write it all down,” I quipped…

“Sir,” she said in a rather tight lipped manner, ” I have to fill in this section to determine which vaccinations I should administer !”

“Ah,”  I replied,  “Well just write down, “Everywhere”, and that should suffice!”. I took this opportunity to slide my “Gypsy Biker World Tour” business card across the table to her. Her eyebrows took a short trip to the top of her forehead, before turning south and only stopping when they had formed a frown…

“There are about 94 countries on my intended route,” I explained as nonchalantly as possible, “so how much of your snake oil will I be needing?” I gave her a little smile, while she contemplated the question with one raised eyebrow… This girl’s eyebrows travelled a lot…

“Plenty!” she finally replied, which wiped the “little smile” off my clock in no time at all !

“Well let’s just do the most important ones, and I’ll take my chances with the others !” I said, a little too quickly… She raised her head at this and I noticed that my “little smile” had crossed the table and was now residing on her face…

“Why ? You scared of injections ?” she asked…

This was one question that I had never been able to lie about, as much as I had tried in the past… My silence answered her queries in the most eloquent of fashions, while she wrote “Traveling the World”  in the space required for “List of Countries”… She then put her pen down and began listing the inoculations I would need… She interrupted herself after a half-dozen or so “diseases I could come into contact with”,  to ask,

“Are you feeling O.K. ? You look a bit pale…”, she then said, her “little smile” getting bigger….

Mmmmm, observant, this one… !! That could be a good thing under normal circumstances, but in my case, it was very bad…..

With a throat that felt as dry as the Sahara in summer, I told her I was fine, all the while my brain was saying, “Ronno, you have just two choices here; either run like hell; or start negotiating with this chick, before you get the “Porcupine Treatment”…”

“Tell you what,” I said as calmly as I could, “I’ll take Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, and the Cholera stuff…. You keep all the other things in the fridge ! No need to disturb all those little bottles…  And besides, I am sure you’re very busy today and don’t need me taking up so much of your time…”

“It’s really no trouble at all !” she replied, “It’s not often I get so much practice on one patient !”

“Yeah, well… Sorry to disappoint you on that one, but long before you get to the end of your list, I’ll be flat on my face on your nice clean floor, so let’s just do those that we agree are ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY, shall we….” I said with as stern a look as I could manage….

“Ok then, but what about Polio ? When last did you have  that? ” she asked…

“Polio itself, or the vaccine ?” I replied, feeling like I was getting on top of the situation…

She shot me a look that said, “Not funny!”… But she came right back with, “I assume you haven’t had Rabies yet either, but have you been innoculated against it? Rabies requires three separate injections “… The smile on her dial got a little longer at this, while I felt sweat beading on my hairline…

“Do camels carry Rabies ?” I quickly asked, “I’ve seen a lot of photos with them frothing at the mouth !”

This caught her off guard, and she had to think for a bit before she said ” No, you silly man, they do not ! But I am sure you will be coming into contact with many other animals that do !”

I promised not to pat stray dogs and keep well away from other vermin in exchange for her dropping the Rabies shots off her list, and before long I was perched on the side of a gurney, feeling the needles slide into my left arm twice, and my right arm once, then drinking down phase one of the Cholera medicine, and finally holding the Polio drops under my tongue for a while before swallowing that down as well. Apart from the heels of my boots beating a tattoo on the steel underframe of the gurney while the needles slid home, I thought I handled the whole thing quite well, thank you very much!!

Nurse Stern then packed the 2nd Phase of the Cholera muti into a little carton, wrapped it in a pair of ice packs, and warned me to get the package into a fridge within the next half hour…

“No galivanting about on that bike of yours… Go straight home and put this in a fridge… Then drink it down in seven days time… If you can’t do that, then I’ll keep it here, and you can come back and I’ll administer it for you… And I might change my mind about some of the other vaccines as well !”

With a threat like that, who wouldn’t rush the hell home to get to a fridge with their Cholera medicine… And that’s exactly what I did, with a few minutes to spare to boot !!!

My vaccine certificate is now almost filled with an impressive list of diseases which I plan to avoid at all costs, vaccinated or not !!

Another line on my list of “Stuff To Do” has been crossed out, and there are now only about 739 to go….. With just three weeks left before I swing into the saddle, it  should all be a cinch !! Not !!!!!!!

1 comment to Travel Clinic Terror !!

  • Kenny(S/Suburbs)

    Hi Ronnie
    I have started reading your blog AGAIN.
    Not to make you jealous or anything.
    But I am going to the Woodsman in Sabie on the superbike for the week end
    Have a good one and I will have a cold one for you.

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