Thursday, November 26, 2009
Fever, that is...... Yellow Fever - What a beauty.
I had an amazing Thanksgiving back in Cleveland with my family and I hope you all did as well! My truly amazing sister, Ashley, picked me up from the airport. I arrived at 11:00am and was originally scheduled to receive my immunizations at 4:00pm. "Looks like we're going now," Ash said. "Whaa?" Apparently my schedule had changed and she was kind enough to take me straight over to the doctor's office to receive my SEVEN immunizations for Tanzania. "Well, uh... alright then, here we go!" I'm tough enough when it comes to shots and so forth, but it was very nice to have her there for extra conversation and funny stories. An entertaining distraction never hurts as you're about to become a human pin cushion - and let me tell you, Ashley is most definitely great for a laugh ;) I've been blessed with an incredibly smart and goofy family.
I had been told by a friend that Yellow Fever would "rock. my. world."
...and now I know why. Each time the very sweet nurse gave me a shot she'd ask, "ready for the next?" and I'd say, "Oh yeah, I'm good!" But after receiving Yellow Fever I found myself saying, "YYYYUP! It's time for a break..." I've never felt a shot truly run through my veins like that before. Black dots slowly freckled my vision... "I think I'm going down!" I said this with a laugh, only I was definitely not kidding. Freezing and sweating... "Lay back in ya chaya (chair)," this adorable old woman next to me explained, sitting with an IV in her hand. Probably 15 minutes later after fanning myself with the Cleveland Arts Magazine (they have that?) and catching up on "Dancing With the Stars" (no, sorry, I've actually never watched it) - I said, "alright, let's do the other arm." In all honesty, it was not a big deal, but a lot for my body to take at once; a funny experience and an informative one.
Fact - shots that hurt more as you receive them most likely have more fluid and will end up hurting less later. For the record, Meningococcal Meningitis has a LOT of fluid ;) and Yellow Fever hurts more later -- leaves for one very sore arm the next few days... makes for very poor results when playing pool in the basement with your family on Thanksgiving. "I. can't. lift. my. arm." Of course, it is all worth it when you consider the purpose behind it all. I had planned on receiving seven shots and only endured five this day. The other two will be taken orally over the next few weeks. Good deal!
All in all, here are the current immunizations one is recommended to have when traveling to Tanzania:
Yellow Fever (Legally Required)
Typhoid - oral
Malaria - oral
As much as I'd love to jokingly complain about all this, I am very lucky to have had no fever and experience only soreness. More importantly, what gets me through every bit of sacrifice here, is understanding how blessed I am to have had these immunizations. There are men, women, children who lose their lives EVERY DAY because they don't have the opportunity to have what I just had... so how on earth could I not feel grateful to have had these shots? And to therefore be healthy in Tanzania? I am, indeed, very grateful. Being healthy will give me the chance to offer so much more with these hands; this voice; this heart that is so avidly ready to make a difference for what looks like a truly beautiful culture. It's important to keep ourselves in check in life and I must understand that this volunteer experience is no chore, but rather a fantastic gift.
Tanzania is a developing nation in the lowest 25% of the world's economies. Medical care is substandard throughout the country and it is not uncommon to encounter a shortage of routine medications and supplies. HIV/AIDS is estimated to be present in 6% of the adult population, which puts Tanzania in the top tier of all countries. I imagine many orphans have lost their parents to the infection.
90%, ninety percent, of all malaria deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa and it is the leading cause of death for children in Tanzania. Ready for this? Malaria can be cured with prescription drugs. Talk about being grateful for what we have in life. Malaria and Yellow Fever are transmitted by mosquitos so while I do have this vaccination, I will also be sure to keep covered in long sleeves and pants, as well as have a mosquito net draped over my bed.
These are photos taken by a previous volunteer at a "hospital" in Tanzania:
Post Natal Care Lessons
While I realize our own country is not perfect, today I am thankful for the clean and well-supplied facilities we have. We are blessed in many ways and there is much to be thankful for.
Special thanks to my Dad for helping me set up and receive these immunizations! Thanks to my whole fam for their love and support. Again, please feel free to leave comments or ask any questions you may have.
I applied for multiple visas today - stay tuned for what's next! Thank you and God bless.
Posted by Britni Tozzi at 5:20 PM