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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Down to the wire

It's great to have had as long as we've had to prepare for this trip. David got the okay for it in April, 2010.  That's also a little bit of a problem. No one prepares that far in advance. Well, maybe a few people do. You know who you are.

Health and safety issues: We had a 4-page health survey from Fulbright that had to be completed by a physician.  We SHOULD have gone to the local Regional Occupational Care Center or Purdue's Health Center, both experienced in certifying overseas travelers and supplying inoculations.  Instead, we did it piecemeal: Tippecanoe County Health Dept,  ROCC,  our physicians.  I had about a gallon of blood drawn and ended up at the Lafayette Oncology Center, for reasons that still remain a mystery. The physician there had reviewed my blood work and couldn't figure it out, either. It was, indeed, good to have a lot of time to sort these things out.

Questions still remain. Should we have also gotten rabies and meningitis vaccines? Is a 30-year-old polio vaccine still effective? How much of  portable pharmacy should we take with us?  Most of the lists I've seen agree on basics like antibiotic cream, band aids and anti-diarrheals.  I was also ready to purchase a snake bite kit until cooler heads prevailed. A snake bite kit? Really?

Malaria .  In the 30 years since we were Peace Corps Volunteers in Zaire (now DRC), malaria prophylaxis has gotten complicated. In those days, Peace Corps supplied us with a weekly chloroquine dose in pill form so bitter  that I can still conjure up the taste.  The CDC, The Surgery in Kampala newsletter, and Jill Clark (daughter of Barb and Gordon) were my best sources for current information.  Malaria parasites are now resistant to chloroquine. Today's choices include doxycycline, an antibiotic; Larium, a weekly pill that can cause wicked nightmares and sometimes psychosis ; and Malarone, a daily pill that costs $7.80 a dose.  (What?  Does it contain platinum?)  Fortunately, our insurance covers quite a bit of its cost.  Some long-termers forgo any malaria prophylaxis and treat themselves if they feel a bout coming on.  Understandable, given that pharmaceutical line-up.

We kind of feel, after all that, that we have a handle on health issues. That is, until the next question occurs to one of us in the middle of the night.

A big shout out here to the pharmacists at the West Lafayette Payless, Dr. Nancy DiMartino at the Lafayette Oncology Center, and Jill Clark for being so accommodating and nice during this process.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mysteries of the Global Supply Chain

Here is a question for the economists:  Why am I taking chocolate bars called "Uganda", purchased at the West Lafayette Walmart, to Mukono, where we are told, chocolate is in short supply?  I'm happy to supply chocolate bars anywhere, since I understand the effects of chocolate deprivation all too well.  It just seems that Uganda, source of cocoa beans, would make its own outstanding chocolate bars. This particular tasty treat arrived in West Lafayette via Belgium, if you can believe the packaging. It says, "Uganda is know for its generally tropical climate and fertile soils blessed by regular rainfall.  Ugandan cocoa beans are highly sought after as consumers have discovered this exciting taste of Africa."
Just saying.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Beth and David get ready to go to Uganda

This will be the story of Beth and David heading back to Africa after twenty-six years away.  We promise that it will be very exciting and may even contain a few old photos, some bad haiku and a few comments on the weather.
When we got married on June 19, 1982, we looked like this.  
We returned to Zaire (where we met as Peace Corps Volunteers)
ten days later to be the assistant directors of the Peace Corps Training Center in Bukavu.