I’ve been home for just over 1 week and I can honestly say that I can’t wait until my next adventure. In fact, I may or may not be dreaming about the moment that I board the series of glorified lawn darts that will take me from here to Malawi.
Of course, before I head to Malawi there was a lengthy list of things I needed to deal with.
The first of the things I needed to do involved getting a visa so that I can legally enter the country1. Unlike my trip to China, which involved a day trip to Toronto to hand over paperwork, and another day trip to Toronto to pay for and pick up my visa, the process to obtain a visa for Malawi is a bit more involved. Since there is no Malawian embassy in Canada, all visa requests have to be sent to Washington. This means that the time to obtain a visa typically reaches 3 weeks or more. Given the short tenure between China/Europe and Malawi adventures, it was necessary to express-post my passport, photos, and visa application as soon as I returned from Europe to Ottawa. There the application was merged with other supporting documentation and express-posted to the US-Malawi embassy. As such I’m currently passport-less, and for someone who wanderlusts as much as I do, it has left me feeling a bit awkward, anxious, and incomplete2.
The next thing on my list of things to do before heading to Africa involved a serious of prophylactic treatments. I’m specifically referring to vaccinations3. All the vaccinations, in fact. I met with a public health nurse on Thursday. After a period of consultation with her, and reviewing my benefits package, I received
- A final Hep A/B vaccination booster,
- A vaccination for Typhoid,
- A vaccination for Meningitis,
- Pills to prevent Cholera (and to a lesser degree, e-coli),
- Pills to prevent Malaria,
- And Cipro – an antibiotic that I can take if, and only if the situation warrants it.
The first three of these were administered via needle, and I was warned that my arms would be sore afterward. While they were slightly achy post-inoculation, the aches were a small price to pay for the protection they offer.
Sadly, I think the aches and the general feeling of festering-disease-baggedness had more to do with the fact that I was already dealing with an infection of sorts. You see, only a few days prior to flying home from Spain I succumbed to a cold that one of my travel-mates was carrying. Sore throat, runny nose, body aches, stupidly exhausting cough; I had it all. To say my flights home were fun would be an understatement4.
Anyway, by the time I was able to visit the nurse for my shots, my disease-ridden body was – in my opinion – on the mend. However, with the introduction of several vaccinations, I think my immune system had an extreme WHAT THE EFF? moment. As a result, my cough intensified, the body aches returned, and I’ve spent much of the weekend pumping myself full of cough meds (mmmm, codeine). Blargh.
Regardless, I know this is a small price to pay to ensure that I am as healthy as possible when I head off to Malawi.
Sadly, the worst part of all of this has nothing to do with the aches or coughs associated with being sick. It has to do with my absolute stupidity. You see, after suffering from an incessant and unending cough, after suffering from body aches and lack of sleep, and after trying to mitigate the symptoms with simple over-the-counter codeine-laced cough medicines and cough suppressant pills, a good friend asked me Have you had any scotch?
Sadly, and amazingly, the answer was no.
Note – was.
As soon as possible I poured myself a large bowl of scotch. And while I’m not going to say that the scotch helped, I’m definitely not going to say it didn’t5. To be perfectly honest, it seems to have been the only thing that put an end to the incessant coughing.
Moral of the story – scotch cures everything.
1 Because I always obey the law 😉
2 If I were a praying man, I’d probably be praying for the safe return of my passport.
3 Dear anti-vaxxers – VACCINATE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY.
4 Dear Aer Lingus staff – thank you once again for the extra blankets and the incredibly awesome care. You went above and beyond to make sure I felt as comfortable as possible. I will absolutely be flying with you again.
5 It totally helped.