Vaccines

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I like to say I know a bit about getting vaccines. I’ve had to get shots for the nerd camp I did at Harvard and last year’s trip to Thailand, and I’m sure I’ll get a few more before I go to Africa with my dad and sister in May and ship off to Austria. Actually I don’t think I need any for Austria. I got that immunization form faxed over to the University of New Orleans within a day of finding out I needed to. Plus I’m a doctor’s kid, so I’m pretty used to having to get shots. My father is paranoid about my sisters and me contracting various diseases.
Want an example? Hepatitis. Oh, my father is obsessed with hepatitis. You’re getting a pedicure? You have to buy your own nail kit. They don’t clean their utensils at those kinds of places. You’ll get hepatitis. (Just for the record, I agree with this statement. My dad did a great job with ) Your friend has tattoos? He needs to come to my office so I can test him or you can’t see him anymore. And I guess my dad has complete faith that I’ll never do heroin, so I have been spared the lecture about getting hepatitis from drug needles. Is my father’s obsession with hepatitis annoying? Hell yes it is. But the thing is that he’s right. Hepatitis B and C aren’t fun to deal with, and they can take anywhere from months to years to treat depending on how bad the cases are. Plus there’s that risk of dying from the disease. Can’t forget about that.
I guess I’m about to make you squeamish. I wonder if I haven’t gotten an important vaccine. Well, I guess not. Actually I haven’t gotten all of my hepatitis vaccines yet – I’m due for my second one pretty soon, I’m guessing. Polio. Meningitis. Whooping cough (that one hurts like a mother.) Influenza (not necessary, but I’m in college, and I got a terrible flu bout my freshman year and did not want to repeat it last fall.) Gardasil, the HPV vaccine that’s supposed to lower one’s rate of cervical cancer. And this isn’t a vaccine, but after I got my appendix out, my IV got inflamed, and that was scarier than any shot I’ve ever had.
Here’s what I know about getting needles stuck in my arm – and hand, because that happened to me once. First of all, and most importantly, you need to find some sort of distraction if you’re afraid of needles like I am. Lots of doctor’s offices have TVs in them, so I’d start there. No TV? Look up. Count the tiles in the ceiling, look for odd shapes, whatever. Or you could close your eyes and repeat a mantra. Mine was “The Oven Bird” by Robert Frost and the first eight lines of Paradise Lost. And if you can, make sure whoever is sticking that needle in you is good at it.
What else do I know? Getting blood drawn hurts way less than getting  a vaccine. And yeah, no matter how much needles terrify you, you should probably get your shots. It’s kind of better than dying.

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Some of My Favorite Babies

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This is Spiderman Pajamas Baby. I can only present you to her through prose and photographs, but if you were to come across her, she would be thrilled to meet you. I met Spiderman Pajamas Baby in a village outside Chiang Dao in Thailand. (But I think that’s somewhat obvious. Doesn’t this picture just scream Thailand?) She made me want to smile, squeal, and cry all at the same time. I’m not a big fan of babies unless they’re animals, so hopefully my approval of Spiderman Pajamas Baby emphasizes how wonderful she is. Anything makes Spiderman Pajamas Baby happy: a bit of water running out of a spicket, the new faces of travelers, the packs of puppies scampering around her village, bananas. Spiderman Pajamas Baby’s happiness is ridiculously contagious and reflects off everybody around her. Marvel! She’s excited about these bananas!
 And here I present you with a photo of her taking over my stepmother’s heart!
Meeting Spiderman Pajamas Baby also depressed the shit out of me, for lack of a better phrase. Her teeth were rotting out. She was dirty. Seeing how excited she became over getting to wash her hands and face a little made me wonder how often she gets to use clean water.
We wanted to help Spiderman Pajamas Baby. We wanted her to be able to go to school, have access to medical care, and get enough to eat.  We couldn’t, though, and it breaks me. I don’t really know why. I think it had something to do with contacting the villagers; maybe they didn’t like us after all. Or maybe they don’t need help at all. I can’t say, and I really don’t know the answer.

I know I can’t provide an answer to why we couldn’t get in contact with Spiderman Pajamas Baby’s family and ask if we could help her out, but I can introduce you to some of my other favorite babies, the piglets two villages over.
Piglets act like puppies, so you can think of that too.

Elephant rides

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I intended to get around to elephant rides in last night’s post, but my sleepiness would not allow it. Now that I’ve gone to bed, woken up, gone to class, gone to bed again and woken up once more, I think I’ve gotten enough rest to write about riding an elephant without getting too distracted.
While my family was planning this past summer’s trip to Thailand, I repeatedly told my dad that I wanted adventure. I could sit on a beach and a book anywhere. Why would I want to do that in a country as fascinating as Thailand? Thankfully, he got the memo, and dedicated a day of the trip to adventure for me. I was also lucky because this day of adventure did not entail any hiking, an activity that I’m sorry to say I have never enjoyed.
Anyway, back to elephants – I think I’ll have to save the complete adventure for another post because I have a paper due tomorrow and I’m 20 words in. Our guide picked us up at our hotel and took us to town for a while for the Tuesday market. After about half an hour, we left the market and rode to a spot in the jungle where the elephants were waiting for us.
I can’t resist not putting a few pictures from the market into this post. The market mainly sold necessities – most of the booths were dedicated to food, clothes, and toiletries.
 The car ride to the elephants:

The elephants and their drivers were waiting for us when we got there. Getting on the elephant I rode wasn’t as scary as getting on a camel was for me. There were these seats on top of the elephants’ backs. I’m sure they’re for a greater sense of safety, but I also think the seats are there so you don’t have to sit directly on the elephants’ skin, which is pretty gross and hairy. The bench also meant that I didn’t have to hold onto something for dear life, so I felt safe to take my camera on board, which turned out to be awesome because the ride was set against an incredible backdrop.
My sister getting on our elephant:
 I definitely enjoyed riding the elephant. At the beginning of the ride, my sister and I were fascinated with our elephant captain because he was smoking a joint. The picture we got is really blurry.
Elephant skin:
Riding an elephant is much more relaxing (if you can describe it that way) than riding a camel or horse because you’re not constantly worrying about falling off. Well, if you’re me. The only part of the ride that scared me was riding downhill because the terrain was somewhat steep. Regardless, I would definitely recommend that you do it if you ever get the opportunity to take a ride.
A taste of my view – I don’t think we could have picked a more beautiful day for an adventure:
 I’ll post the rest of my adventure later because I still have 900 words to write for my final paper. Goodbye and happy trails!