Cyndi's Two Cents

No place like home

Commentary.

It had been fifteen months to the day since I had been on an airplane, when I flew from Kansas City, Missouri to Denver, Colorado and back last month. During a normal year without a pandemic, air travel is a monthly, and often several times a month, occurrence. Although most of that travel is within these United States of America, my career has provided opportunity for quite a bit of international travel.

I have traveled to 16 foreign countries in the past quarter of a century, covering agriculture for farmer listeners. Not every trip has allowed freedom of schedule for trekking out on sight-seeing missions, but as a storyteller, I do my best to step outside of the meeting rooms and learn about what makes the people in the region “tick.

Many of my most recent international trips have been to European countries where routine vaccinations such as MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella), TDaP (Tetanus, Diptheria and Pertussis) and a Flu vaccine have brought my titers to a level at which I feel safe and comfortable. However, several countries in Europe as well as countries on every other continent recommend or require a variety of preventative measures be taken to reduce the chances of becoming a very ill visitor. Remembering my visit to a travel clinic several years ago, I can almost feel the ache in my left arm from the hepatitis A immunization, the adult polio booster, and the TDaP shot. My right arm, where the Registered Nurse at the Travel Clinic vaccinated me with the MMR booster was not quite so sore, nor was my hip where the yellow fever vaccine was injected. The oral typhoid vaccine did not bother me, but the antimalarials made me nauseous and gave me some vivid dreams.

Travel clinic docs have also provided prescription drugs to take with me in case I get “debilitating diarrhea” as well as Azithromycin (Z-pack), in case of a second bout of said diarrhea, or upper respiratory tract infection. I have also been prescribed Cipro, a broad-spectrum antibiotic and Ambien to help me adapt my sleep patterns more quickly in the different time zone(s).

My husband has suggested that I need more shots to get into other countries than livestock coming from those countries into the U.S. must have.

Each region has special concerns like Dengue fever, Rabies, or mosquito-borne arboviruses.  Snakes were a specific concern in Australia, but I was reassured that all major hospitals in the areas I visited did carry supplies of antivenom. I have been warned against pickpocketing, theft of luggage, briefcases and laptop computers in hotel lobbies and airports.

“Don’t drink the water,” is advice that I take to heart.  Many years ago, I traveled with a group of Illinois pork producers to the Mexican National Pork Congress.  Upon my return to the states, I was ill for several days. The doc said it was probably the ice cube I had in my drink on the airplane coming back to the states from Mexico City. 

Strikes and demonstrations occur and can turn violent in many regions. In 1997, I spent a day taking in the sights and sounds of a Labor strike from the window of an Argentine hotel room with a group of farmers, so I know all about strikes and demonstrations.

We have it pretty good in these United States of America.  As much as I enjoy the opportunity to travel to foreign countries, coming home is always the best part of the trip. 

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