There are just over two weeks left before our indefinite departure from the homeland. Tonight, LJ leaves for camp for two weeks. So, we are scrambling a bit. There is a lot of prep work involved with long-term travel, especially when it’s overland, and even more so when you’re leaving stuff behind.
Among the things left to do are finalize our auto and health insurance, get our International Driver Permits, and cram all of our belongings into one room. With the exception of the latter (since my parents have graciously given us the space for nada), these add up to two things: a little time and mucho dinero.
Honestly, the costs are adding up. We have money set aside for this trip, of course, but we definitely underestimated how much the necessities would cost. For example, immunizations.
LJ and I visited a travel health clinic in Chilliwack, BC this morning to get up-to-date on our shots. My sister, who is about to embark on a year-long European exchange, went there last week. Were it not for her directions, we might not have found the place.
Nestled amongst a local grocer, art supplies shop, and religious book store is a quilt shop. In the back of that quilt shop is a tiny loft, and upon this loft is an eclectically decorated office. It’s from this office that Dr. Darin Cherniwchan practices. Formerly a beloved GP (yes, I checked his RateMyMD reviews), he now devotes his time to tropical medicine – an area he’s particularly passionate about.
LJ and I arrive early, completed paperwork in hand (these qualify us for a discount). We’re immediately greeted by a friendly receptionist, sitting at an effete desk. We hand in our forms and sit down on one of two deflated leather couches. The walls are chock-full of postcards, flyers and posters indicating the many illnesses you might acquire abroad.
After some time we’re invited into the next room by Dr. Cherniwchan, who is wearing a worn pair of jeans and running shoes. We shake hands and sit across from him on a pair of old kitchen chairs. The long wall of his office is lined floor-to-ceiling with books and photos of his children. Some vintage luggage sits next to his desk. And above it hands a huge map with hundreds of pins in it. (No, it isn’t all the places he’s travelled. It’s an interesting story but not mine to tell.)
The furnishings, much like Dr. Cherniwchan, are not what you’d expect of a doctor’s office. However, there’s something charming about it all, and something very trustworthy about him. Across from us another wall is covered with his various degrees and certifications, from McGill and the like. He’s very well-spoken, knowledgeable and not the least bit condescending. (It’s almost as if he’s doing what he loves regardless of financial gain. :O) He enthusiastically answers my many questions, explains in detail why we need the vaccinations and prescriptions he’s giving us, and expertly administers our shots — that is, he does it quickly while distracting us and gives us lollypops after.
We were both given the Yellow Fever vaccine and Adacel™ (dTap), a combined vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Additionally, I was given Vivaxim, a combined hepatitis A and typhoid vaccine. LJ, who’s already had TwinRix (and thus didn’t need a hep A vaccine), was given Typhim Vi, which prevents typhoid fever alone. He was also given Priorix, a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. Altogether, after consultation and administration fees, our total came to $646 CAD (not including prescription costs).
So, for a little conversation with a stranger and a few tiny pricks it is, indeed, a bit pricey. It’s necessary, though. Even the vaccine naysayers can’t avoid getting the Yellow Fever vaccine if they want to enter half of South America. So, we pay it, take a deep breath, smile, and focus our worries on all the other things we have left to do.
For more information on Dr. Cherniwchan’s practice – or to make an appointment for vaccinates in Chilliwack or Abbotsford, BC – visit the-travel-doctor.com.