DSCN3641.jpgThe last two blogs were long, so I will offer a relatively short one today.


I will start with some exposition and end with a good story. Some might say that I am burying the lead, but I say I am teasing you to read the whole blog!


After our previous trip to Asia (China, Nepal, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand), many people asked about our health. They marveled at the fact that 6 people could travel to countries with different food (and different bacteria) and not suffer serious health challenges.


Oddly enough, we were incredibly healthy on that trip.


This voyage has been a tad tougher.


If Asia is a health bantamweight, Africa is the heavyweight champ.


Like our previous trip, Susie brought a portable pharmacy, with medications, vitamins, probiotics and first aid. The great news is the fact that the pharmacy actually made the difference this time.


In the ten days we have been in Africa, we have enjoyed the following maladies:

  • Asthma
  • Diarrhea
  • Serious scratches (a future blog will describe the trees around here)
  • Back tightness
  • Conjunctivitis
  • A scratched cornea
  • An eye sty
  • Nausea
  • And (wait for it) a heart arrhythmia


But here is the cool part, we have not needed to pursue professional help for any of these conditions.


Nope, Susie’s ziplock bags of medicines and treatments covered everything. OK, the arrhythmia was a tad scary, but we realized that it had more to do with sleep deprivation and caffeine. [Note: it was not a parent that had it, but all is OK. It is worth noting that we were dealing with the arrhythmia in the very remotest parts of the northern Serengeti on the same day as the Toyota breakdown . . . Welcome to Africa!!]


This leads me to the promised story.


During one of our stays at a tented camp (once again, a future blog will describe these), Susie befriended a father and his two children from Barcelona. They talked, shared drinks and watched the sun set over the hills.


While sitting there, the father stood suddenly and said, “Oh.”


Moments later, he said, “Ow.”


He then dashed to his tent.


At this moment, a normal person would assume that all was well. But Susie Ma’am is NOT normal. She is a mom. Heck, she is the camp mom to hundreds. She runs our camp health center.


She sensed that Papa Barcelona needed help.


She found his tent to see the following:

  • A confused 21 year-old daughter.
  • An even more confused 17 year-old son (after all, he was just 17).
  • Three concerned Tanzanian tent-camp employees.
  • A very pale Barcelonan.
  • A dead black scorpion.


Everyone was distressed.


Susie, having the calm head of a camp director, took a deep breath, smiled and asked the important question to the staff.


“Is there a doctor here at the camp?”


The staff did not answer. Instead, the pale Barcelona Father interjected, “I cannot really help. I am a urologist.”


OK, suddenly Susie determined that she was the best-prepared person in the room. Perhaps if the scorpion had attacked something other than a leg, the doctor would have prevailed, but this was not the case.


Within minutes, Susie left, went to our tent and returned with sufficient antihistamines to abate a serious allergic reaction. She asked about what he had eaten and what he drank. She gave him a topical cortisone and analgesic numbing cream for the pain. She issued instructions to the staff and children to assure that they understood that the father would become drowsy (which was OK), but might experience anaphylaxis (not OK). If, however, he did have anaphylaxis, she did have an Epipen (actually, three, but who is counting?)


The next day, his leg was numb, but his smile was wide. He thanked her profusely for being so well prepared.  Dr. Susie had saved the day!


Steve Sir