Nothing like a visit to the travelling nurse

by Sarah Luna

Today I had an appointment with the Cornell travelling nurse to make sure I was on par for India. A petite woman called me into her office and said: “Now, honey, let’s get you all ready for India.” No one’s called me honey since I left Texas. I felt better.

She then whipped out a huge folder–my travel folder–with information about all the diseases prevalent in India and the corresponding precautions. One by one she explained them to me: hepatitis A, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, malaria, Dengue fever, polio, rabies, tuberculosis, cholera…

The reality of India started to sink in. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Discovery Channel specials on almost all of those diseases–none of them sound pleasant. They all start out the same, too, with a vignette of some dumb traveller wandering somewhere they shouldn’t. (“The malaria mosquitoes are out from dusk to dawn, and the Dengue fever mosquitoes are out from dawn to dusk. So you’re going to be living in DEET.” “o_o”) Additionally, I’ve been told by my more experienced colleagues to know that there will be times I’m huddled in a corner over a hole vomiting and diarrhea-ing until there’s nothing left. It’s just part of the job.

So today I got a hepatitis A shot, typhoid pills, antimalarials, and antibiotics for really bad diarrhea. No drinking water, no showering with my mouth open, no raw vegetables, no cut fruit, no cold food, no scented anything, no bright colors, no black, DEET everything, bed net, Pepto, Immodium, malaria pills, no touching animals, a bat in the same room as me is exposure to rabies.

India just got real.

It also got me thinking about the 1.1 billion people who live in India. And Mother Teresa and Amy Carmichael and William Carey. How did they do it? All I’m doing is getting on a plane in Ithaca and arriving magically in Mumbai and conducting tests for a few weeks. How did they create their callings there?

Any idiot can face a crisis, it’s the day-to-day living that wears you out — Anton Chekhov.

Today I prepared for the crisis, but the real test will be living with all these restrictions.

Although I don’t have a date, I know that I have less than a month left in Ithaca.