Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Hardest Part of the Trip

Anyone who knows John and I will know that we share an aversion to most things medical. Pain, blood, protuding broken bones and I'm a goner. They don't even have to be mine. When Danielle fell and sliced open her chin I was the one who turned green, threw up and fainted. John's weakness is NEEDLES. So, in commiting to this RTW journey, we knew we'd be facing a series of vaccinations. When Danielle had her 5 year old vaccinations she almost fainted, so she was not looking forward to our visit to Dr. Chopra either. We all agreed that this might be THE hardest part of our trip.

We spent at least half an hour with Dr. Chopra who very methodically went through the list of countries we are planning to visit, the list of vaccinations that John and I had when we went to Niger (most of which have expired), and charting out who would be having which shots at what time. We all ended up needing 3 "picks" on this particular day. Everyone would get a Yellow Fever shot, and a TB test. John and I would have a typhoid shot, and the kids would have a meningitis shot. In a month John and I will have a couple more shots, and the kids will have theirs in late June just before we leave.

While meeting with Dr. Chopra, John left his suit jacket and leather jacket on. By the end of our conversation with the doctor he was looking quite flushed - from the heat the five people in the small office had generated, and the rising anxiety of 3 needles in one visit. I suggested he take off his coat, to which he replied, "over my dead body!"

One nurse sent John off to pay for the shots, while another nurse set about getting the needles ready. This gave John an opportunity to get a bit of fresh air in a different part of the medical building, and probably a good way of ensuring he went through the needles since he'd just made a significant financial investment!

In our family we are all called by our middle names. This was never a problem for John and I growing up but now that your "identity" is tied to what is on paper or on the card you are carrying, we often end up being called by our first names in "official" places like a doctor's office. Danielle and I share the same first name and the guys have the same first name. Well, that of course only added to the things the nurse needed to keep track of. She took to calling us Senior and Junior. I still thinking using our middle names would have been easier!

I had agreed days before that I would go first. I really don't mind needles - as long as I don't watch. Our little plan didn't entirely work because the nurse wanted to do the yellow fever shots on all of us first. Because you have to be monitored for 1/2 an hour after receiving the shot, she figured she'd do yellow fever first and by the time we got through everything half an hour would be done.

I did go first. Mom the brave! John went second. He then asked if he could go wait in the waiting room. The nurse said, "no" and John continued to stand as close to the closed door as possible with his back to the rest of us in the room. Simon was third. No problem. Danielle's turn - problem. She too had been cowering at the door with John and was quite upset when it was finally her turn. Wisely the nurse suggested she continue giving Danielle the rest of her needles because there was little chance I'd get her back on my lap after the first one was done. I found there was a stream of cold air coming from an open vent in the ceiling, so I made sure I sat directly under that with each child as they got their shots. As you can imagine, it quickly got quite warm in the room! Danielle finished her 3 "picks" like a trooper, and was the first person rewarded with a sucker from the nurse.

I kept an eye on Danielle as Simon climbed onto my lap for his turn. Danielle had turned around on the stool she was sitting on and quickly started to droop forward and put her head between her knees. With not much colour in her face, she needed to lie down. There was a flurry of activity as the nurse had to move all the papers and needles she had lined up on the examining table. Danielle hopped up on the table, and the sucker was soon kicking some sugar into her system.

Simon's second needle hurt. There were tears and he insisted he wasn't going to have the third one. With some coaxing, sitting on Mom's lap under the cool air stream, and a sucker he finally finished his turn.

Now it was John's turn. As the nurse was giving John his needles, I noticed that all the colour had now left Simon's face. I asked Danielle, "how are you feeling?" "Much better," she said. And she did look a whole lot better. "Well Danielle, it's time for you to get off the bed because Simon needs to lie down!" With some moaning, Simon crawled up onto the bed.

John was very brave and took the remaining two "picks" and his sucker in stride. He then turned around on the stool he was sitting on while I sat for the remainder of my needles. My back was to John but I could tell the nurse was keeping a close watch on him. She said, "Please give me some warning if you are going to faint because you're a big guy and picking you up off the floor won't be good for my back!"

Everytime I looked over my shoulder he had slumped a bit further. First his head went down, then his shoulders were drooping, then he had his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands, then he put his arm up on the bed beside him, and finally his head went down onto his arm. The nurse and I asked at the same time, "Are you okay?" When he turned around you could tell by the lack of colour in his face that he was not okay! "Simon, your Dad needs to lie down."

While I finished signing the paperwork I could hear Simon talking to John. "How are you feeling? You're starting to look better Dad."

It was almost 6:00pm by the time we left the doctor's office. The nurse had put in some overtime and over-effort to get us all back on our feet. I think everyone, and I do mean everyone in the office that afternoon, gave out a loud sigh of relief as we headed out the door.


  1. What an ordeal; you guys are great! How about this for next time - find the biggest, long-acting suckers you can find and pre-treat. Make sure you have some left during the actual needle too. The sugar might raise your endorphins prior to the sticks, making them more tolerable. Or you could try some desensitization therapy and get some accupuncture done! The suckers are cheaper.

  2. Oh, I laughed, I cried, and I could feel your pain! I too, have an aversion to needles, and have to turn my head away. You are a brave family! Just remember, it will be worth it, every step of the way..... (and keep a stash of suckers, just in case!)

  3. Thanks for the great laugh...You are all troopers!!

  4. Congrats on taking the leap to make this trip... And I've added you to our list of RTW families!

  5. Hello!

    I checked out your website online and love your photos! It must be so exciting to be able to have such a wonderful journey with your children.

    I am working with on an educational website for children called where kids form teams and post photos, videos, blogs, participate in contests and have fun learning about the world and each other. It was begun to help homeschool families but is growing to help children learn in all walks of life. We are also inviting military families to participate so they can keep in touch with each other.

    The site has just gone live and I would love if you would join us...there is no limit to what you post and there is even a forum for the students to connect to each other. All postings and submissions are moderated to keep the site safe.
    If you do participate please use the word Team in your name so all your postings can be tracked for contests, rankings, and so teams can find you easily.

    Easy sign up instructions are available HERE

    It will be easier to sign up once the site is online and photos will appear on the international pages of our parent site, Placement on these pages is determined by a variety of factors, but it is a great way to get noticed.
    You also may include a link back to your home page and would love it if you link to us.

    My best wishes and prayers go out to your family. My daughters and I will be following your travels.

    Becky Director