After Steve and I returned from the Sundarbans Friday night, we carried out the last step in the complex preparations we’ve undertaken to keep us healthy while we’re here in India. I detailed most of these in an earlier post.
The last step began in Seoul, site of the International Travel clinic I discovered online and where I’d made an appointment. It was tricky to find. We had to call them from the street and ask for directions.
Up on the fifth floor, we both had to fill out lengthy medical history forms……and have our height, weight, temperature, and blood pressure checked. Then we were ushered in to see the clinic’s owner, Dr. Sooyoung Kim, an urbane guy dressed in jeans and a casual longsleeve shirt who spoke English like an American. We chatted with him about what we wanted (vaccinations against Japanese encephalitis (for me) and cholera (both of us). He approved our plan and sent us off for processing by his efficient nurse.
The shot ($63 in Seoul versus the $868 it would have cost in San Diego) was painless. The Dukoral (approved by the World Health Organization for preventing cholera and traveler’s diarrhea, but unavailable in the US) sounded like it would be easy to take.
We didn’t realize there was a little problem until later that evening, when we went to take the first of the two required doses. The nurse had included an ice pack in the bag containing the boxes of vaccine ingredients, and that had chilled everything pretty well. (Taking the Dukoral required mixing a packet of fizzy stuff with water, then adding the liquid contents of a little vial.)But we wouldn’t be able to take the second dose for another week. And during that time, we had to travel to Kolkata via Singapore.
We did our best to keep those babies frosty: refroze the freezer pack the night before our journey and slipped the package through security in my carry-on backpack.
By the time we got to Singapore, the ice had thawed, but we filled up a plastic bag with ice cubes from the Priority Pass lounge. As we were heading to our gate, I noticed to my horror that we had to go through another security check. Confident that the bag of ice cubes wouldn’t make it through and might draw attention to the suspicious little vials, I ditched the ice and carried the vials in my liquids bag. They weren’t very cold by the time we reached our hotel in Kolkata. But our room there had a nice little refrigerator, where the Dukoral remained until we could polish it off.It surely got warmer than 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (what I think was the recommended temperature range) for several hours. I don’t know what difference that makes. If we don’t get cholera or traveler’s diarrhea, I don’t know if the Dukoral will deserve the credit. But I’d sure like to think it did.
Just in case you ever face this again, as long as ice is frozen solid, airlines regard it as … a solid.
Interesting. (Although I hope I never have to face it again!)