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A tale of two nurses

Posted by daveb on July 23rd, 2007

I’m not in the medical trade. Far from it. I really don’t know the first thing about the game. But I do know this: There are two types of nurse; ones who can inject vaccines (and take blood) and ones who cannot.

The nurse–who shall remain nameless–at my local GP’s surgery is unfortunately a classic example of the latter type. After misspelling much of my information into the NHS computer (apparently, I’ve got a ‘bad thump’), Nurse Nameless offered to provide me with a Hepatitus A booster ‘free-of-charge’, on the country. Very good. I explained that I used to have a fear of needles and that I had recently worked hard to overcome my fear, so let’s go gently, so as not to undo that good work.

Nameless showed me the box in which the fresh juice was being chilled and I distracted my mind with admiration for the whiteness of his laboratory coat as he prepared the pointing device for an outing. He turned towards me, took two steps with weapon-arm raised. Then I think he tripped and fell on me. I say that because I’d never before received an injection quite like it. The needle went in the very top of my shoulder with a 45 degree downwards stab towards my armpit. It went deep and I can’t be sure that I didn’t see the steel drill-bit flex under the awkward motion too. The plunger was pressed by momentum, aided by a clumsy ‘thump’. Nurse Nameless pushed himself off me, taking his hypodermic with him in exchange for a cotton ball and some medicinal duct tape. I was quite angry with my experience and at Nameless for giving me the impression that he simply didn’t know what he was doing and certainly didn’t care. And he hurt my arm.

Nurse Boo jabs daveb to lock-in the vaccinations.Contrast the above with the remainder of my vaccinations, carried out at the Nomad Travel clinic in Victoria by the admirable Nurse Clare (‘Boo’ to some, I gather). Here’s a real person, that is not only able to administer [relatively] painless injections with consummate ease, but is also both friendly and engaging. Crucially for me, instead of wiping my nervous, would-be sweaty palms into my jeans for the entire train ride to central London each time, I actually looked forward to meeting Nurse Clare to get my jabs! Plus, she called me ‘hardcore’ for having four shots in one arm at once — which left me feeling a bit Alpha.

I’ve now completed my course of starter travel vaccinations, and have taken jabs to help me to deal with Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Meningitis A, C, W & Y, Rabies, Tick Borne Encephalitis, Yellow Fever and Enrique Iglesias.

I’m also hundreds of pounds poorer. Still, you can’t put a price on health. Believe me, I’ve experienced second-hand what Amoebiasis with dash of acute Dehydration will do to a person in a second-world hospital that isn’t perhaps quite up to the same standards as an NHS offering. There’s no money in the world that I wouldn’t have paid to get us both out of that green, sticky situation when the shit hit the pan.


Comment from Chloe
Time: July 26, 2007, 6:27 pm

I like your last paragraph. We didn’t even bother going to hospital in Varanasi (India) when we got Amoebic Dysentry. Just got a private doctor out (courtesy of the guesthouse we were staying with). He looked at our ‘medical bag’, eyes gleaming, and said “Yes those tablets (“BIG” antibiotics!) will do well! And if you need more, this is what they are called over here”. Can’t remember their name, but it did take a bit of persuasion for each of us to get them out of our local GPs before we left (had been told about these super-dooper tablets by a semi-medical friend).

Whatever people think of squat toilets with taps in – when you are sick & having diarrhoea at the same time – they are excellent!!! The only problem, was I wish we had 2 toilets… as both of us were ill and had to give the other person a couple of mins notice to vacate the bathroom!!!! At least that stage only lasted 4-6 hours.
3 days of eating nothing (no appetite)… then the first thing that was heaven was a chip butty!!!

Would I go there again? Oh boy yes. But would take my water pump and never ever drink any fruit juice, even if someone says it’s safe. It probably isn’t!

ALWAYS take loads of Diarelyte with you. Fanstastic for dehydration (and an expensive hangover cure – no paracetamol in it, but better for you). I actually like the stuff now (most people find it revolting – ‘blackcurrant sweat’ was a comment from one friend.) – howver my body recognised the good thing it did at one time, so it always thinks it’s good now!

Giardia is another fun one too. Have a look-see for the symptoms of that too!!!
Bacterial dysentery (only Chris got that) is different too – and straight forward antibiotics clears that one up. But when you do go to these hot/unusual climates – one bit of advice a friend gave us (and it’s TRUE!)… Always think twice before you fart…. :o)

Buy yourself a water pump (one of the dinky travel ones does us nicely). You may even need it in the UK if you go near Gloucester at the moment! We’ve used it in Egypt, Peru, Sri Lanka… converts tap water to ‘safe drinking water’ and if you are still in doubt (or have taken the water from a dodgy looking stream) then you can always add an iodine tablet. It also saves on having to buy lots of bottled water in foreign places (so saving plastic bottle recycling expense). It can take a bit of time to pump the water through the ceramic core (especially if the water ‘contains’ stuff) – you just use a green scrubby cloth to clean the outside of the core, and then continue pumping.

Glad to hear you’re on your way.

(PS – am suprised you need the rabies jab… thought it only gave you a 24 hour headstart over getting the treatment anyway… another friends advice was: just don’t pet ANY animals… no cats… no dogs… especially no monkeys.)


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