foreigners’ pharmacopoeia (or old man and the sea of salves)

Posted: January 20, 2011 in domestication, expatriate, marriage, wife, husband, house

Is an old man’s treasure trove the number of medications he has in stock?  After eating at a dinner party at 4 in the afternoon, do old people compare scars over dessert?  After ancient wound narratives over soft cookies and Milk of Magnesia, do they play that old parlor game Pharmacological Tounge-Twister?  Is the winner of that game the one who doesn’t let his dentures fall into his cup of decaf?  Or is he the only one who just didn’t fall asleep at 7:30pm?  Do the losers go home and prepare for the next lunner party by standing (or sitting) in front of their medicine cabinets and committing to memory the proper pronunciation and purpose of ciprofloxacin?

These may be questions that are at least ten years away for this ancient-feeling young man.  Is it the cold weather that makes this aging 30something creaky and in need of more herbal injections at the acupuncturist?  If cold weather is the root of my problems, I will have great natural relief in the 82 degrees and 80% humidity of Thailand.  But I may be a bit crotchety in northern Viet Nam March and most certainly at 3500m+ in springtime Himalaya evenings.  This doesn’t even account for the world of pain I am in for if Nic and I end up in WI or western NY state or Ohio or Michigan.  (Incidentally, congratulations to my wife for getting an interview for Northern Illinois psych PhD program.)

The bad knees, the wretched shoulder sockets and their blades, and the old nagging injury from car accident whiplash five years ago often flare up in cold weather.  The most severe pain was a paralyzing, knifing pain in my neck last winter upon return to Korea from WI.  However, that could have been from falling asleep wrong on the plane.  But, if that’s that case, I am still in for a world of hurt what with all the flights and other forms of transport I have coming up in the next three months.  Take a look:

Busan to Seoul February 1 (actually this is KTX, so my knees will be the ones to suffer.)

Seoul to Kuala Lumpur (Maylasia) February 2

Kuala Lampur to Hat Yai (Thailand) February 2, 3 (sleeper train, stretch out and pop a sleeping pill)

Hat Yai to Ko Phagnan (island north of Ko Samui, Gulf of Thailand) Feb 3 (this is a bus, so surely my knees will suffer)

Ko Phagnan Feb 4 thru ~12 (therapy of massage and hot weather and bath-like water in which to swim)

Ko Phagnan to Bangkok and points north (i.e. Chiang Mai) Feb 12-27 (train and then busses, lots of busses)

Bangkok to Hanoi March 1 (short flight)

Hanoi-Hue-Ho Chi Minh City March 1 thru ~15 (various trains)

Cambodia (Siem Reap, Phenom Phen, Angkor Wat) March ~15-23 (river border crossing from Viet Nam)

Siem Reap to Kuala Lumpur to New Delhi to Kathmandu March 23-24 (planes planes planes)

Kathmandu March 24 thru ~25

Annapurna Circuit Arrival ~March 25 or 26 (bus)

Annapurna Circuit and Sanctuary (trekking and staying in tea houses along the way) ~March 26-April 25

Kathmandu to New Delhi to Chicago O’Hare May 4, 5

Chicago O’Hare to Kewaskum, WI May 5 (the roomy front seat of my father-in-law’s pick-up truck)

I will be popping 650mg pills of Tylenol ER like so much Skittles.  I wonder, though, which body parts will take the worst beating.  My neck will suffer due to looking around at so many new things.  My shoulders and knees will endure repeated trauma from the weight of my pack all full up with our traveling pharmacy.  There is great irony in that.

Will my brain explode trying to keep track of what does what? (No, because Nic has meticulously written down all uses in a little notebook.)  Some may say we have too much, but do I want to be caught on a trail in Cambodia with no recourse for an attack of giardia?

temporary gatekeeper of the pharmaceuticals

Medications strongly suggested by the CDC and Lonely Planet travel guidebooks (All of these may or may not be counterfeit in Kathmandu; the bold faced are the items we already have; the others we will roll the dice on in Nepal):

  • antibiotic eye drops (1 bottle)
  • azithromycin (6 tablets)
  • clotrimazole 1% or miconaole 2% cream (1 tube)
  • pseudoephedrine (20 tablets)
  • diphenhydramine (20 tablets)
  • hydrocortizone 2% cream (1 tube)
  • loperamide (40 tablets)
  • fluconazole 150mg (6 tablets)
  • ciprofloxcin (20 tablets)
  • vicodin (30 tablets)
  • promethazine 25mg (10 tablets)
  • omeprazole 20mg (20 tablets)
  • tinidazole 500mg (24 tablets)
  • acetazolamide 125mg (20 tablets)
  • dexamethasone 4mg (20 tablets)
  • dymenhydrinate 50mg or meclizine 25mg
  • gentle laxative
  • simethicone 125mg (40 tablets)
  • acetaminophen 500mg
  • betadine
  • oral rehydration salt packets

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