Boogeyman.. er, boogeybugs?

I attended a lecture last week. A medical one, despite the fact that I’m not medical. A friend had organized it for health care providers. The subject was “returned traveler health”. Basically, if someone comes into your practice and has funky symptoms after returning from a trip abroad here’s some of the crazy diseases and conditions you should consider.

There’s a reason I’m not medical: I’m squeamish. Oddly enough, not in the way you would think. If someone right in front of me is sick or bleeding, I’m more than willing to patch them up. Volunteer for it, even. But sitting in lectures hearing about things I get a little light-headed. X-rays are the worst. I once went to a talk about reading x-rays and had to leave after five minutes. I also passed out while getting an x-ray.

So I went to this travel health talk on purpose. To scare myself. After all, if I’m actually going to consider Peace Corps, it would mean ending up in a third-world country where some health conditions are more common. There’s a chance I could end up with something, but a definite chance that I’d be around people with something.

Malaria. Tuberculosis. Dengue fever. Schistosomiasis. Marburg virus. Mosquito-bourne illness. Water-bourne illness. Parasite-bourne illness. It was a one-hour talk so there wasn’t much depth, but a lot of breadth and lists.

I think I had to take a deep breath once to stop my head from spinning.  But otherwise, nothing.

I went to scare myself, and I wasn’t scared. It was pretty darn amazing, let me tell ya. But walking home that day, all I could think about was sleeping in mosquito nets. Ugh. I hate mosquitos. They came after the fall, I’m sure.

What do you guys think? Am I crazy for considering visiting places with health hazards like this?

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2 Responses to Boogeyman.. er, boogeybugs?

  1. Aimee says:

    During my time working at Kew, I heard all the amazing stories of botantist’s collection trips (including my own). In the “line of duty” botanists have suffered from intestinal worms so large that they had to take pills made for horses to clear them, posionous snake and spider bites, the usual malaria, hepatitus exposure, japanese enchephalitis, being shot at by robbers, being shot at by non-robbers, charged by elephants, more leaches than they could count, getting lost in sarawak jungles and genuinely nearly dieing, monkey bites (they have serious teeth)… And do you know what? They all get better and go back and do it all again, because the work is important. GO. Pack a mosquito net and a compass, and baby wipes. Get your shots, be sensible, and trust that the work is important. (incidentally, I had a too-close encounter with a posionous spider and teeth-baring monkey – and I had a very nasty reaction to anti-malarial tablets that made me so dizzy I was unsafe to hike so went without)

    • Alissa says:

      Exactly! Health care is so advanced that I don’t feel there’s a huge need to be afraid of “what’s out there”. We’d all just worry ourselves silly – even in first world countries!

      Plus, the medical care and support they offer Peace Corps volunteers is exceptional from what I hear. Don’t know if I’d consider going to the jungles of Uganda on my own, but awesome to know there’s back up.

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