My typhoid shot is on backorder. Now, Christmas and backorders go together like red hair and freckles, but one doesn’t normally expect it in third-world pharmaceuticals, partly because one doesn’t normally ORDER third-world pharmaceuticals. But my doctor has to pre-order my upcoming typhoid shot as there isn’t much call for regular typhoid boosters in Milroy, Indiana, thus the resulting backorder. Who knew?
I’m hoping this backorder of typhoid is a result of low demand, but the pessimist in me likes to whisper in my ear at night and say, ha, ha, ha, you fool, it’s just the contrary! Demand is high and Typhoid Marys are a dime a dozen in Haiti! But as I am my father’s daughter, I chase down the pessimist in me and beat her into submission with grandiose plans to buy duty-free alcohol in massive quantities. Rum balls anyone?
On the heels of my recent foray into Europe, I find packing and planning for a trip to a third-world country to be a great study in contrasts. Venice and London required no inoculations. As for Haiti, I’m already up by four shots and have two boosters to go, plus – hopefully – my typhoid vaccine, and I get to take malaria medicine in the process. I’m also starting my low-dose introduction to Imodium too as my sister regaled me over Thanksgiving with tales of my brother-in-law’s diarrhea (hey, thanks Renee!) brought on by HIS malaria medicine taken prior to his dive trip to Honduras. So I’m working on building a tolerance now because who wants to be stuck on a plane with Montezuma’s Revenge? Or, since I’m Haiti bound, let’s call it the Papa Doc Trots.
When the good Doctor Lake told me I needed Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, tetanus and recommended typhoid, I listened, because the good Doctor Lake has been to Haiti before and knows where of she speaks. As a doctor, she’s been exposed to patients with typhoid and, given the risk factor, why not get the shot, she advised. She also prepped a flu shot for me at which point I said, “Oh, I rarely get the flu.” Her response?
“Robin,” she said, “it’s not for you. It’s for them.”
Now there’s a thought. Inoculations, she went on to explain, aren’t just for me, but for the many native people I will come in contact with while in Haiti. While I may have the immune system of an elephant (and the thighs too), I can still be a carrier, and the last thing I want to do while on a mission trip is expose people with depressed tolerances and lack of ready access to medical care to something I fight off like skinny jeans. It’s an interesting point I hadn’t considered. So, naturally, I got the flu shot.
The other great study in contrasts between planning for Haiti as opposed to western Europe is the packing itself. I’m going down there to do construction work which isn’t as funny as it sounds because my father was a plumber who had two girls years before he had two boys. The end result was that he treated us like boys for years, thus Renee and I can both swing a hammer, drive a tractor and – if the need calls for it – pee standing up. I didn’t say it was pretty.
Back to my point. Whereas my packing plan for Italy was to look polished, cosmopolitan and well-traveled (aka – not necessarily like someone whose closet resembles the clearance bin at Walmart which is closer to reality), my packing plan for Haiti fits in nicely with my telecommuting wardrobe. I’m packing my oldest clothes. I’m taking only one dress and it’s for church. Out goes the jewelry and in go the work gloves and safety glasses. And I’m trying to find bug spray and I’m praying my sunscreen hasn’t expired. That can be hard to find in the winter, I’ve discovered.
I’m also trying to figure out which Bible to take as it’s on the packing list sent to us by our fearless leader, David Duba. David has supplied us with helpful packing lists, insurance forms and itineraries which come to my email inbox like early Christmas presents. His online enthusiasm is infectious – but not in a typhoid kind of way – and rather than dreaming about putting up Christmas lights while the snow falls, I find myself daydreaming about swaying palm trees, dirt roads, and colorful local people leading burros around tiny towns. It’s hard not to, you know?
On that list is the Bible and now I have a decision to make. Bibles aren’t small and David said pack light. Of course the huge old family standard that my dad bought when we were kids is out. It’s the size of a small VW Beetle, though the pictures are really pretty. On the flip side, I still have my itty, bitty little vinyl-clad green version given to every elementary school child in Indiana during the 1970s, but it’s the New Testament only and, if I take it, I’ll also have to take a pair of reading glasses fit for Mr. Magoo. Decisions, decisions.
But don’t worry, I’ll figure it out. December 12th will be here before I know it and my backpack will be ready. My camera batteries will be fresh and my spirits will be high. Christmas isn’t about buying, wrapping and eating so much as it is about celebrating Jesus’ birth and ultimate sacrifice. It seems most fitting to honor that gift by giving to others, and I don’t mean with cheese logs. I’m ready to tote that barge, lift that bale and swing that hammer – though, trust me. I wasn’t kidding about the rum.
Cheers to all. And God bless.