November 26, 2007

Doctor's advice: Pop the Pepto, lose the cubes (plus an update on the sunken sidebar...)

I've now spent four days (during which time I've written nothing gainful) trying to levitate this blog's sidebar from the bottom of the page to the top where it belongs.

If you're browsing with Firefox (and, I suspect, with Safari and perhaps Opera and Konqueror), things likely look fine to you. It's Internet Explorer (IE) that has a tough time dealing with some of the code in the blogging software that half the world uses. (The only relatively good thing that's come of my four wasted days is learning that my sunken sidebar has plenty of company. IE is kicking sidebars to Siberia all over the blogosphere, and thousands of people are, like me, at their wits' ends searching for and sharing potential fixes. We're a cyberclub of temporarily miserable people who go to bed worrying about their blogs. Very sad.)

I've decided to keep posting travel stories while I work to kill the elusive sidebar bug. I'm going to tinker and tinker and try some (to me at least) radical moves. So, if you see things moving around on the blog, new labels and categories appearing, old ones disappearing, it's just me working under the hood. I'd hoped to do all this experimentation with a test blog that I created, but the test blog isn't broken, and I can't get it to break like this one, so I can't test possible fixes.

Now back to our regularly scheduled progamming:

I got my shots for Uganda: Yellow fever, typhoid, polio, tetanus/diptheria and influenza.

The travel clinic doctor also wrote prescriptions for Cipro, a high-powered antibiotic I'll carry with me and hope not to have to use, and the anti-malarial drug Malarone, which Dana and I will begin taking two days before we leave the States and will continue taking for a week after our return.

The doc handed me a printout from Travax, a website for health care providers that's maintained by a division of Scotland's national health services department. It confirmed that the malaria risk in Uganda "exists throughout the year in the whole country, including urban areas." We may see mosquito nets in some of our hotel rooms. (That's Adam in the photo chilling in his cozy net at a lodge at Lake Nakuru, Kenya.)

Before I left the clinic the doctor took out his prescription pad one more time. "I know you're a seasoned traveler," he said, "but if you don't mind, I'd like to write down a few precautions you can take to avoid illness."

His list:

-- Handwashing
-- Sunscreen/Hat
-- Deet, 30% or more
-- Pepto Bismol - 1 per day
-- Bottled water only
-- No ice cubes

I've always adhered fanatically to the "no ice cubes" rule when traveling in remote or developing parts of the world, and I trained the kids early to think of warm Coke as a cultural experience.

As the doctor wrote his list he told me about a patient who'd recently let his guard down and paid for it. The man travels regularly to Asia and, on his last business trip, after a tiring tour through rural Thailand, he checked into a luxury hotel in Bangkok and went to the bar, where he ordered a scotch. A few hours later he was ill enough to have to be admitted to a hospital.

It was the "on the rocks" that got him.