Traveling? Check out, and get, those recommended vaccinations!

If you’re traveling, get your shots!

I’m not just talking about malaria, tuberculosis shots and others required for trips to Thailand and the like. I’m talking about needed vaccinations if you’re in a certain risk group. Vaccines that can stave off the flu, meningitis, pneumonia, shingles and the like (see www.cdc.gov for a good list).

On June 30, I came down with, first, incredible toothache, in an upper left molar. Saturday and Sunday, between stabbing pains every six seconds, all I could do was dream of getting to the dentist and having a tooth pulled or root canal the following Monday.

Despite popping a dozen and a half ibuprofen over the weekend, by Monday the pain had moved to general jaw pain and in the roof of my mouth, lip, upper lip and lower cheek I was starting to pop out in what I thought were “fever blisters”.

I saw my dentist, first, and he, along with my Kaiser Permanente Doctor, suspected either bacterial or viral infection. At Kaiser, the tests came back confirming shingles, the adult continuation of chickenpox.

I now am three weeks and two days into this bout with the zoster shingles virus. And it’s been a variety of “shades of miserable”. From toothache, earache, jaw-ache and continuing headaches and facial swelling, most of my month of July has been “down the toilet”.  Not much sleep, little appetite (though I have lost 12 pounds) and low energy.

I finally appear to be coming out of it (normal duration is 2 to 4 weeks, though symptoms can last far longer), and I am thankful that this didn’t happen to me in the midst of a long trip we have planned later this summer.

Worst, upon my second appointment at Kaiser Permanente, I was given a list of “recommended and received” vaccinations. Of about eight of them recommended to me by KP, the only one that was recommended (upon my turning age 60) that I did not have was shingles. I never got around to it. Big mistake.

So if you’re in a risk group (in particular if you are 60 or older) or have other recommended vaccinations – get them! Don’t risk a well planned vacation – ruined. If you don’t, you might want to get trip cancellation insurance and prepare for a miserable time!

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