Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Murphy's Law of Travel

If you were waiting for the last of the temples, you'll be waiting a while longer. It's been a very trying two days, and I may or may not get around to the other temples before there's something new to post. As for Murphy's Law of Travel, it's that shit happens, and when it does, you've just got to deal with it.

We checked out of our B&B in Siem Reap yesterday at noon, but didn't have the taxi to the airport until 3:00. We walked into the market area for lunch and ice cream. On the way back, walking down a side street, younger son and I taking photos of flowers, four small dogs ran out of a yard through a gate that was ajar. One of them bit me in the calf. Being a bit afraid of dogs to begin with due to an incident years ago, I was pretty shaken. I got back to the B&B, and the husband looked at my calf. There was no puncture in my cargo pants (I haven't worn shorts on this trip yet and am so very, very glad I wasn't wearing them yesterday), and he didn't think the skin had been punctured. At least his many squeezes and presses did not elicit any blood. The owner of the B&B was very concerned and, after having the husband and older son take him to where it had happened so that he could know which dog was involved, pointed out that the international hospital was very close to the airport and perhaps I should stop there on our way just to be safe. So younger son headed off in a tuk-tuk with most of our luggage, while the rest of us headed to the hospital in a taxi.

I need to e-mail the owner and thank him, because at the hospital they determined that the skin had, in fact, been punctured. They gave me the first of five doses of rabies vaccine that I'll need over the next month. Unfortunately, I was the fourth or fifth dog bite they'd seen yesterday, so they were all out of the immunoglobulin I needed one massive injection of. They gave me written instructions on getting it here in Ho Chi Minh City today, antibiotics, heavy duty pain pills, lesser pain pills, and salve, and I managed to make it to the airport, where younger son had managed to talk his way into the airport despite not having e-ticket documentation with him. Good thing we allowed plenty of time, because this Vietnam Airlines flight took off so early that we landed in Ho Chi Minh City about the time we were scheduled to take off from Siem Reap.

This morning, the husband and I headed off in a cab to the clinic that the hotel said was the place most foreigners go. Got there, but the clinic said that the immunoglobulin was at the hospital and we needed to go there. Another cab ride, to the far end of a very large city. Got checked in, had vitals taken, and sat and waited. And waited. The doctor finally came in and said that she was concerned about my having an allergic reaction. I told her I wasn't and I wanted the injection. When she came back, she said that the hospital only had one vial of immunoglobulin, and that wasn't enough to treat me based on my weight. She did have the pharmacy call around, and they finally came up with a clinic for expatriates that did have enough. The hospital made an appointment for me there, and off we went in another cab. I ended up getting two very massive injections, one in the bite site and one in my hip, from a French Canadain doc who was a delight to talk with. The punchline is that after getting the shots and paying the bill, the husband and I walked back to the hotel from which we'd set out some four hours earlier.

I will get the next two injections of rabies vaccine in the Netherlands, then one in Norway, and then the last one at home in mid-May. I've checked with the family docs to confirm the course of treatment they laid out in Siem Reap. I've been in touch with our insurance company and know what paperwork to get from each site (the total for the first two visits is nearing four significant digits). I have a contact in the health department at home and am keeping her posted on what vaccines I'm given along the way so that the one I get there is compatible. Shit happened, but we're dealing with it.

Moral of the story: When you're going to a developing or Third World country and the travel doc says you don't need a rabies vaccine because you won't be out in the bush, just say no and insist on it anyway. I wish I had. The irony is that older son at home pets any dog he sees, and I made him promise more than once not to do that here. In fact, the only five dogs he's petted were ones at houses or businesses that we visited. So who gets bitten and how? Me, walking down the street taking pictures of flowers. Murphy's Law of Travel at work.


Debi said...

Oh Jean...I am so sorry!!! Are the shots as horribly painful as I've heard? Sounds like they're definitely painful on the wallet. Well...may the rest of your trip hold only pleasant surprises!!!

Anonymous said...

Hope you have no complications from the shots, or from the bite. What a what to end your visit in Vietnam! (or close to it...)