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Travel Health in general

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  • We feel safe in the west
  • Deadly diseases abroad
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      03.08.2014 11:43
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      • "Deadly diseases abroad"

      Ebola is going to wipe that smug look off Cameron's face.

      The world’s deadliest known virus, Ebola, is coming to Britain and there is nothing we can do to stop it. That movie we have all seen is happening right now. Dustin Hoffman is putting on his protective yellow suit. Cameron is on his knees in those Cobra meetings hoping it doesn’t happen. It will. We know how porous are borders are to illegal immigration and asylum and if he can’t stop those guys how can he possibly stop this? When a government doesn’t want to spread fear (now there’s a first) they talk down the likelihood then you when they know full well they are worried, like Blair was over the fuelers strike. It’s going to play merry hell with the May General election.

      The World Health Organization and various governments involved were too slow to act once it made the big city and they couldn’t stop the spread. Right now some infected people are leaving West Africa and heading north, by whatever means. 60 health workers in Africa have already died trying to contain it. The moment Ebola left the jungle and found its way into a bustling African capital city it was game over, the 2 million populated metropolis of Conakry in Guinea the incubation hub. People, not surprisingly, fled the outbreak and spread it to neighboring West African countries.

      The virus comes from ‘bush tucker’, the eating of Fruit Bats by jungle tribes this time around, an infection statistically going to get out of those communities one day as Jungles are felled for western furniture markets and cleared to grow crops for increasing world populations, rural Africans then forced into the cities to make a living. The tribal ceremonies of laying hands on the dead bodies and superstition didn’t help to contain the virus.

      An infected Liberian official appeared to pay his way on to a flight to Nigeria and collapsed at Lagos airport. Anyone who knows Lagos/Abuja airport will know how chaotic and corrupt it is. He knew he was ill and trying to get western medical help, which many Africans believe can cure the disease. Other Africans say the white man bought the virus to Africa and attacked them at treatment centers. There is no cure folks. Again, it’s natural to flee such a terrible illness and you can’t blame him. If you’re a checking clerk at the airport are you really going to want make conversation with a person sweating and showing flu symptoms? No, you just wave them on. Only 20 of those people on that flight have been found, most of them the crew, suggesting the other passengers didn’t give forwarding addresses or don’t want to be found for some reason.

      Now, you’re not going to catch it but the social and racial consequences are going to be as big as AIDS once was. It’s not easy to pass Ebola on, usually by intimate contact with blood, diarrhea or bodily fluids and sweat, why only 750 people have died in six months. It’s been a remarkable effort by brave healthcare workers to keep it below 2000. Basic hygiene and containment is the only known prevention. But now doctors treating them in West Africa have died, a real concern the tiniest bit of blood vapor could pass it on. For those who survive it or never really develop the worse symptoms they can pass on up to 60 days after infection through sex. It’s like an AIDS version you can catch from the toilet seat. Its scary stuff.

      The normal incubation period in the body is 21 days. Imagine if just one person brings it to London and not know to be a carrier until they make contact with the NHS? How many people could they have infected? Ho many will they infect? This is going to happen very soon in Britain. The racial segregation in places like London will be telling and face mask sales exploding, troops on the streets and quarantined zones introduced. The world is going to change. The threat of Al Queda was contrived by western governments to keep us scared and the oil cheap flowing. Ebola has no conscious or spin doctors. Its simply needs another host, relentless in its quest. Swine Flu, like governments, targets the weak and small. Ebola targets everybody. If the virus spreads in the West the way experts think, it’s coming to your home town by this time next year. They expect the first case in Europe by Autumn.

      Experts think Paris or New York will be first, modern transport systems able to carry the disease over oceans, cities with big African immigrant populations at the other end. The streets will be quiet in Paris. Imagine one desperate person infected in those crammed migrant boats taking illegal trips across the Mediterranean from Africa to Italy and Spain? I’m not scared because, like AIDS, most infections will be contained and very few in Caucasian lower middle-class males. This will arrive in places like Hackney and Birmingham first and the likes of Cameron and Farage will try to win big votes through illegal immigration fears.

      If you are thinking of travelling to West Africa then don’t. If you are going to Southern Africa then go now rather than later. Warzones will buffer the diseases in Central Africa from the South for a while. Your holiday destination next year will be limited. Would you seriously book a holiday to a city or resort with confirmed Ebola cases? No. The Home Office website is updating all the time and giving good information. The WHO has received a 50m cash boost to try and contain it in Sierra Leon, the West only chipping in now they know it could get to the West. A cure is possible now minds are concentrated but we all know how slow drug companies are to get a fix to all of us.


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      17.11.2010 22:02
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      Think ahead about what you might need

      When spending time abroad on holiday, we sometimes forget how easy and convenient it is to go to the medicine cupboard or pop down to the chemists for an appropriate product.

      If you are heading off on holiday (lucky so and so) it's worth spending a little time thinking about what you should take with you.

      Here are my thoughts on what I think you should pack in your bag and why?

      Diarrhoea Tablets - or risk spending too much time in the room, afraid of venturing too far away from the loo.

      Constipation Tablets - a different diet can wreak havoc with your pipes, so whether you're leaking like a hose or all bunged up, these are two of the must haves.

      An Antacid/Indigestion Remedy - upset stomachs can sometimes affect you - dodgy or not properly cooked food plus of course, we do sometimes pig out a bit on holiday - all that rich food and too much of it!

      Headache Tablets - for the overdosing on vino collapso and assorted other excuses

      Suntan Cream - high factor is the order of the day if you're having an outdoor holiday in the sun. (Sun Block and After Sun would be useful too)

      Something for the Mozzies - these little critters are only small but they pack a powerful bite, so you need something to put them off and something to put on if they haven't been put off!

      Antiseptic Cream - you will be exposing large parts of you that wouldn't normally be at risk, but any scrapes and rashes and bites need to be soothed and protected from infection.

      Plasters - walking barefoot on the beach is romantic, but goodness knows what you might step on. Or those new shoes might give you blisters if you're out dancing the night away.


      For me, the above eight products are the key essentials. They are all available abroad of course, but these ones in particular are handy to have with you.

      It's worth researching your chosen destination and reading some of the popular review sites where you can pick up useful tips and advice from other holidaymakers.

      You should also ensure that if there are any recommended jabs or course of tablets for the area you are going to, you make the effort to get these done. Don't leave this to the last minute.

      Health Insurance is also essential and good levels of cover are now available at very little cost - when you consider what the alternative costs might be if you are struck down with some nasty lurgy or are in an accident.

      Finally, consider your own personal conduct and safety. We like to enjoy yourselves and let our hair down, but remember that you may be in a country that has a totally different culture, which you really ought to respect. Behaviour which may be normal and acceptable back home may be wholly inappropriate in your holiday destination, so bear this in mind.

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      28.07.2009 22:17
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      Marvellous service - quality healthcare

      I bought an apartment in La Cala de Mijas - near Calahonda - Costa del Sol just over two years ago. The idea was for me and my family to use it as often as we could and rent it out at other times. As usual we dont get there nearly often enough but the rental side is doing well!! We took out a medical policy with Helicopteros Sanitarios commonly called the Flying Doctors. For a family of 4 (all adults) it costs approximately 375 pounds for the year which is paid annually. I had been told by many friends who live in Spain that even if you have an Elll you really should havet his service as back up. We thorougly investigated them - spoke to many members - being Scottish didnt want to buy a pig in a poke! - before joining and we have been absolutely delighted with them.

      If you become ill - no matter how trivial - one phone call to an English speaking person and a doctor will visit you at home. If they think that you need further investigation then they take you - if not by ambulance they will airlift you to hospital. I have used their services twice - both times was seriously impressed by the level of service.

      The first time I had a couple of very bad bites which looked as though they were very infected. Within 7 MINUTES I had a doctor and two nurses turn up at the apartment. I was thoroughly checked over and given an injection of antihistamine and a prescription for some cream and tablets. All of the medical team spoke excellent english.

      The next time was in January of this year - I had a very bad case of eccema. Again the doctor and one nurse arrived within 30 MINUTES - gave me a good check then an injection and some steroid cream and wanted me to see a consultant dermatologist. Unfortunately the only appointment they could give me was 4 days later and as I was leaving the next day I had to decline. Incidentally on my return to the UK it took me 4 weeks to see a specialist in spite of the fact I went privately!

      The Flying Doctors currently operate between Sotogrande and Torremolinos
      although they are looking to expand their current area.

      So whats the deal I hear you asking - well .....

      They will come to your home 24 hours a day 365 days of the year regardless how trivial you think your condition may be.
      They all speak english
      There is no age limit
      Anyone can become a member - you dont have to undergo any medicals etc
      Will take you to a hospital if necessary either by ambulance or air.
      They have just bought new ECG equipment which can be taken to your home and the results transmitted to a cardiologist at their headquarters.

      You can if you wish undergo a full health check either at home - around 300 euros - bloods urine etc etc - or go to one of their clinics - around 110 euros for the same check. None of us have used this particular service so cant comment on it.

      I heard of a woman a couple of years ago who was in a multi car crash on the motorway. She phoned the Flying Doctors and they were able to reach her by helicopter when ambulances couldnt due to traffic congestion.

      Never underestimate the E111 which is invaluable and an absolute must have on your travels out of the UK - however if you are going regularly to Spain, spending the winter months there or even retiring then this health insurance is truly money well spent. What price good health and peace of mind!

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        18.07.2008 13:13
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        My experience with a DVT

        Travel Health in General

        I thought I would write about an issue I am experiencing now which probably came from Airline travel.

        Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with a DVT in my lower left leg. If you are not familiar with what it is, the following is a definition:
        "A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in a deep leg vein. Veins are blood vessels that take blood towards the heart.

        Deep leg veins are the larger veins that go through the muscles of the calf and thighs. (They are not the veins that you can see just below the skin.) When you have a DVT the blood flow in the vein is partially or completely blocked, depending on whether the blood clot partially or completely fills the width of the vein."

        About three weeks ago now I flew back to England from Los Angeles, a 10 hour plus flight. Now, I am usually quite good about doing leg exercises in my seat, drink lots of water and generally get up and stretch every hour or so as I have heard of the dangers of DVT before but you never really think you will get one. I don't however, wear flight socks (believe me; I will be wearing them every time I am on a flight from now on). My mother has been telling (ok nagging) me for years to wear them but I must admit I think they look a little uncool and never wear them. (My mum had a perfect; I told you so moment, when I told her I had a DVT!)

        This time as it was an overnight flight I fell asleep for 5 hours in my seat. My leg did start to hurt on the flight but I put that down to a bit of swelling and tried to exercise it a little bit more.
        Back on solid ground I experienced a dull throbbing in my leg that would not go away so a week after the flight I finally made an appointment to see my GP who referred me to the hospital that morning as he was not convinced it was a DVT.

        Now, the thing is though they cannot say for certain that it was the flight, it could be the fact I have been on the pill for quite a few years (another determining factor) but even then there is no definite answer (it tends to inflict the over 40's and obese people but I am neither of those either).

        The wait at the hospital was an all day affair. I had blood taken to test my INR levels (International Normalization Ratio, a standard unit for reporting the clotting time of blood) which turned out to be quite high. I was then given a heparin injection (an anti coagulant) in the stomach to stop the clot from travelling up to my lungs and causing a collapsed lung (worst case scenario) and then had an ultra sound later in the day where they found the blocked vein and then decided to start me on the treatment.

        Treatment involves taking a drug called Warfarin, an anticoagulant medication that slows blood from clotting. It does this by preventing some of the clotting factors in the liver from being formed. Warfarin was previously used as a rat poison until rats became immune to it. My husband takes great pleasure in calling it that!! The dose of the Warfarin has to be controlled in order to keep the INR at a level between 2.0 to 3.0 (the higher the number, the longer it takes the blood to clot). For the first two weeks I was at the hospital every day having my blood measured but now it seems to have stabilised so I now only have to go once a week. I have to take a dose of Warfarin every day for probably the next three months and keep up the appointments for that long too. I also have a very attractive compression stocking that should be worn during the day every day (now who doesn't look cool). In the beginning it was a lovely surgical white colour but I now have a flesh coloured one.
        I do have to watch myself on the Warfarin as it is apparently one of the 10 most dangerous medicines. I am more prone to internal bleeding and will bruise easily.

        There are various foods that I cannot eat such as items high in Vitamin K as the chemicals interact with Warfarin, various green leafed vegetables, liver (no chance of eating that anyway whether I was on drugs or not), cranberry juice, and alcohol should be kept to 1 or 2 units a day.

        So the moral of my story would be when you are on a plane do wear your flight socks and be sure to get lots of exercise but even if the DVT did not come from that I would say be careful if you travel on long car or trains journeys daily, do not always cross your legs when you sit down, watch how long you are on the pill for and generally just take care of yourself because from my experience I can see that it happens to anyone.

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          17.02.2004 10:08
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          Well, with the spring almost here our thoughts turn to summer; how many people will be making their yearly pilgrimage to the sun, usually travelling by air? I would like to offer some helpful yet simple tips and exercises, which are suitable for most air travel passengers. This advice is designed to provide a comfortable, relaxing and in some ways also to enhance your flight. They are used to help reduce the effects of travelling both during and after the flight. 1) Drink plenty of water during and after the flight to limit dehydration. The air-conditioning on the aeroplane has a drying effect on the skin and the body. 2) Avoid sitting or sleeping in the same position for too long. Try moving your legs and feet regularly to prevent getting your body getting stiff. 3) Limit the intake of alcohol, coffee, heavy food and tea. These can all upset the stomach or digestive system of your body. It should help to reduce airsickness to abstaining from these items. 4) For additional on board comfort, try to wear loose clothes, ideally made of natural fibres. This allows your skin to breath. Loose fitting shoes and sock will help to prevent swollen feet. 5) Using moisturiser and lip balm will help to prevent the skin drying out. 6) To help reduce travel sickness, try putting a couple of drops of lavender essential oil on a hankie and sniffing that when on the plane. This can help prevent the sore, ear popping sensations. For many travellers on planes, health and safety is important. We all laugh about the emergency demonstrations but we would be worried if it was not done, but how many of use forget to do any form of exercise on the plane although it is advised we do some? They are simple to do and can help to reduce the risk of developing a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or clotting of the blood in other areas of the body. The muscles of the body are contracted when we sit for long periods in a confined spa
          ce (yes you know what I mean if you have ever sat in a plane seat for more than half an hour!) and the blood is restricted from the legs back to the heart. This can lead to the fluid collecting in the feet, making them swell up, (ouch!). It can also cause muscular and/or back pain too. It is recommended that you stretch your legs on an hourly basis and also perform some simple exercises. (Explained below). These exercises are designed to be safe and yet easy to do. **Exercises** 1) Ankles Sitting straight and upright in your seat, circle (clockwise and anti-clockwise) your foot around your ankle seven to ten times on each foot, keeping the hole leg as still as possible. 2) Arms Raise both arms over your head, with one hand grasing the other arm?s wrist, hold for ten second and then repeat with your other arm. 3) Legs With one leg, hold and support your knee, then slowly raise your leg to a comfortable position and hold it there and count to ten. Slowly put your leg back down. Then repeat this exercise with your other leg. 4) Neck Whilst sitting straight and upright in your seat, gently circle your head round three to four times in a clockwise, then anti-clockwise direction. 5) Shoulders Take a few deep breaths and relax your shoulders, then in a circular motion roll one of your shoulder blades around eight to ten times, then repeat on the other shoulder. This is a collection of useful health tips for air travel and I hope you find them helpful. Do not however undertake these exercises if it is contrary to your doctor?s advise. If in doubt about exercising ask the cabin crew on board the plane as they will be happy to give you advise.

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            20.08.2003 19:55
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            It is a nasty shock to learn that 48% of travellers, when asked about problems they had had when travelling revealed that they had had some kind of illness that was related to their journey/visit/holiday. This is a real finding from a doctor in Glasgow, who did research on the matter. Admittedly, a good proportion of the problems are minor, such as travellers' diarrhoea, but some travellers die, and there aint no cure for that. At the moment (war and plagues apart) it is very fashionable for the young to travel after leaving work or university. Compared to 25 years ago, long-haul independent travel is easy and cheap. What is not considered is that there are complex interactive risks that are not taken into account, and people do things when away from home that would not cross their minds when in their normal surroundings. Similarly risks exist which do not cross minds at home. Each year, about 2000 travellers bring malaria back with them from trips to malarious zones, and of these 2000, about 15 will die. That is scary. The main reasons for this is lack of proper precautions either through ignorance or bravado or thinking it would cost too much. Many of the cases come from the Indian subcontinent where people visit their family, and just simply fail to take precautions. Hepatitis A can be a risk, and is now even present in some southern Mediterranean countries. The risk is one per thousand per month of unprotected travel. It is spread through contaminated food and water. Basically it is almost impossible to totally control where our food and water comes from when we travel, and we cannot see what happens when it it is cooked. Most episodes are not too serious, and most people will recover, but if you are a young adult and you contract hepatitis A, you may be unable/unfit to work for two or three months. It simply lays you low. Sexually transmitted diseases can be rife where there are travellers. Sex and travel go together, an
            d it never ceases to amaze me that inhibitions are lost once immigration is cleared. Yes it is fun, but not only do you not know where that stranger has been before, but there are huge monies to be made out of sexual services. HIV positivity in Thailand is scary, and the basic message is don't f**k with the natives.

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              04.05.2003 08:02
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              Having recently told a friend who was travelling abroad about the E111, I was surprised how many people at work had no idea what one was, where to get one from, or how much they cost. What is an E111? An E111 is an extension of your National Health Service cover. You collect one from the post office, even the small ones, its is in a leaflet that says Health advice for travellers on the front. You fill in the forms at the back with the names of the people you want covered. The first form says application for form E111, but if you qualify you will be issued with you certificate (form 2) straight away, no need to wait. There are only few minor questions names, address, phone number, date of birth, national insurance or pension number, you have to state if you are planning to live outside the UK after this visit abroad, (your form will no longer be valid once you live abroad), your nationality and finally if you are a stateless person or a refugee, (if you are you will need to show your travel documents from the Home Office. The second form is the E111 itself. All you need to fill in on this one is your employment status; the options are employed, self-employed, pensioner, or other. The name of the primary insured and address in the first box and in the second members of the family you wish to be included, husband, wife, children, grandchildren (my son is on my parents E111 and on mine, you can have two). And the date of travel. All you then have to do its go along to the post office to get its stamped. And basically that is it. For those who don't know I'm sure your asking how much do they cost. They cost ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, that's right nothing, free, gratuit. (Unless you count what you pay in National Insurance contributions) Who is eligible? In order to claim an E111 you need to be a UK national, a national of any other EEA (European economic area), a stateless person, a widow receiving
              a UK State pension or widows benefit. How long does the cover last? Basically forever. On the form its asks for date of travel. If you leave the return date empty (which you can) it will then run from the start date and never end. The only time you would need to get a new one is if you change address, name etc etc. What do you get? Its really depends on which country you are travelling to, but basically you will receive free or reduced medical treatment, (and dental in some countries). If you need to use it, what do I do and what do I need? Again this depends which country you are in, each country is explained fully in the leaflet. But looking at the list most countries want proof that you are a UK citizen and will accept (depending on the country) UK passport, driving licence or medical card. They will also need to see the E111. Claiming any medical expenses back? You can do this two ways, whilst you are still in the country, the address for each country is in the leaflet, or waiting until you return to the UK, again the address is in the leaflet. You will need to keep copies of as many documents as possible relating to your claim, bills etc etc and keep a copy for yourself when making a claim, just in case the Royal Mail loses them. The rest you should be able to claim from your travel insurance. In the leaflet it is crammed packed with information about travelling in general, what injections you need for certain countries and health/travel info in general. THIS FORM IS NOT INTENDED TO REPLACE YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE. ITS IS TO WORK ALONG SIDE TO HELP AVOID HAVING TO PAY MEDICAL EXPENSES WHILST ABROAD. IT DOES NOT COVER, DELAYED HOLS, LOSS OF BAGAGE, PASSPORT, MONEY ETC ETC ETC ETC.

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                19.03.2003 10:23
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                I've travelled the world several times over throughout my years. I've stepped foot in more nations than I ever knew existed. I've been to the most remote armpits of the world, where languages are spoken that consist of clicks and grunts, barely percievable by the human ear, at the sort of frequency that sends dogs into seizures. Since I was old enough to appreciate the opportunities I've been given, golden opportunities unfathomable even to my ancestors two generations ago, I've been of the mindset that, were I to grow up and die in the same place in which I was born, I'd have died in vain. It was the Viking spirit coming on full force, and the only remedy I took to cure it was to blast away across the Atlantic to America. And we know how that ended. It sucked, just to paraphrase it. In case you haven't read the sad account of my semester abroad, it sucked so badly that I terminated it at the half-year and came home early, rather than languish through the whole ten/eleven months. Once the horrible, almost post-partum depression I experienced upon return subsided, the wanderer in me surfaced again, though not with such overwhelming hegemony over my actions as before. And he sent me to Finland for university, from which I have no permanent escape. And I feel my "Travel Health" slipping again, and I feel the nausea that comes with the dawning realisation that, despite the fact that I keep trying to reassure myself ad nauseam, I no longer have any desire to leave my own back yard. I know this doesn't have much to do with Travel Health, per se, not in the sense that comes to mind upon hearing the phrase Travel Health. That is, this does not at all relate to tetanus shots before travelling to Madagascar or purifying your water before travelling to Norway. But homesickness (the topic with which I now conern myself) is just as relevant a travel issue as any of the above, and has impacts on one's he
                alth that are farther reaching than you'd ever expect. Bluntly put, I am in the worst Catch-22 imaginable. At least that I've imagined, but I'm sure Joseph Heller could cough up something worse. He did, in fact, and it's one of the world's most popular anti-war novels. Anyway, at the end of summer, I anticipated with an uncharacteristic degree of optimism the years I'd soon take on as a student at the University of Helsinki. I told myself it wasn't that far from home, and though my classes would be primarily conducted in English (so is it by default for non-Finnish speakers), I'd face next to no communication barriers on account of the great number of Finns who speak fluent Swedish. (Swedish, of course, being my second-first language, just to clarify. Is there such thing as a second-first language? I think you know what I mean, nevertheless...) But the novelty soon grew as stale as the rice-filled pockets of nastiness the Finnish cafeteria broads cram down our throats like so many coldly impersonal mother birds yakking into the greedy rictus of a starving baby. Don't take it so far in the opposite direction and assume that because I'm sick and weary of what little university experience I've had I'm sick of Helsinki itself. Not at all. It's a beautiful city, and there's far more here to do than Oppegård, that teeming metropolis from which I hail. (Oppegård? you ask. Yes, I answer, Oppegård. That's why I always just say Oslo.) But it's just that I feel like I'm on an endless vacation, though I don't have that little light at the end of the tunnel that beckons to us all as our excursions draw to an end. I always denied that I ever looked forward to returning home when I travelled. But now I've realised that subconsciously that relief was always there when I walked in the front door and went straight to my own bedroom. Sadly, though, I've realised it to
                o late. There's nothing I dread more these days than awakening in the morning to a shrill alarm clock and a brutally cold shower at six or so in the morning in the undesired company three to ten other groggy, brutally dispositioned young men, the other prisoners of university conformity forced against their volition to plod though yet another unrewarding day. And as the day goes on, I can't look forward to my mother's cooking, which still hits me quite hard after all these months. Hell, I can't even call home at will. It's very expensive, and does little to foster my suffering sense of self-reliance. No, no. It's off to the library or wherever, off to slave away at term papers (all in my fourth language, which far more taxing a task than I had accounted for), and then, if I can even afford to take time off for dinner, I then trudge through the snow, usually all alone, back to my highly uncomfortable residence hall to piss away another bleak night in that orthopaedic nightmare of a cot. But what I find most nut-crunchingly, morbidly depressing about the whole situation is those rare occasions at which I actually do come home. It's paradoxical, I know, but the homesickness comes to an unbearable arrowhead the moment my family's creepy little house on the fjord (yeah, I live on a fjord, it's so stereotypical it's funny, and I beg you stuff your fists in your mouth to suppress the laughter before you actually do laugh, and I'm then forced to stuff MY fist into your mouth, which would hurt and isn't all that sanitary) comes within sight, I lose all emotional grip and either cry like the Indian guy that sees all the trash (something from an old American commercial, apparently, I don't really know), or I just don't say anything. I don't know if this is normal or if I'm unsually desperate for a semblance of normalcy, or maybe I'm grasping frantically to keep hold of my
                very quickly slipping childhood, but the total effect it has on me is that this travel through which I've willingly and consciously put myself is that same thing that is grinding me down with a startling alacrity of purpose. Travel sickness has emptied me of desire and passion. Just as I get to Helsinki I want nothing more to get back to those things I miss so badly I can't even stand to think about it. And just as I get into Oppegård, I want nothing more than to get to Helsinki, where I'm at least safely removed from all the reminders of those same things. There, you had it. Something serious from Dr Bimboo, the new father of existentialism. Sören Kirkegaard had his day, and that's done. It's my turn now, and this essay is my debut. I hope it was good, or at least slightly travel-healthy, because these sort of cathartic moments from me are few and far between. Don't count on another one soon. Or do, maybe, because as much as I don't want to admit it or think about it, I'd probably best start packing my bags to head back to Helsinki, where I stay until June. In closing, I leave with these words of wisom-- "I do what I must, and I mussed what I do."

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                  04.02.2002 21:10
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                  If you are travelling abroad this year, whether on holiday or on business, it is vital to make sure that you have emergency cover in the event of accident or sudden illness. We often take the NHS for granted.With all its faults and failings,at least we do know that it is there when we need it.But not all countries have such reliable medical facilities. Obtaining treatment can, in some instances, be complicated, as well as costly. It is better to be prepared. Levels of cover available to UK citizens vary throughout the world. The UK has reciprocal agreements with some countries, such as Malta, Australia, New Zealand, some Caribbean islands and most of the former Soviet republics. With many countries the UK has no agreement whatsoever, for example, Canada, the USA, India, the Far East, Africa and Latin America.It is, therefore, vital that you take out full medical insurance if you are going to these countries. The European Economic Area Countries. Travellers from the UK, who are eligible, are entitled to free – or reduced cost – emergency medical care in any of the member states of the EU. The member states are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibralter, Greece, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. In most cases you will be asked to produce a validated Form E111. (EE-One-Eleven.) This is an EU document which confirms that the holder is eligible to receive treatment in any of the member states. Who Is Eligible for an E111? You are eligible for an E111 if you are normally resident in the UK and you are either a UK national, or a national of any of the other member states. You are also eligible if you are a widow in receipt of a UK state pension or Widows Benefit and your late husband was an EU national resident in the UK at the time of his death. You are eligible if you are a stateless
                  person or refugee. (You will need to show your travel document to the person issuing your E111) If you have dual nationality or you do not have a British passport but consider yourself to be British for the purpose of obtaining an E111, you must provide proof of your British citizenship. If in any doubt, contact: Home Office Immigration & Nationality Dept. India Buildings (3rd Floor) Water St Liverpool L2 0QN Who Does the form E111 Cover? The form covers the applicant, the applicant’s spouse, and dependant children up to the age of 16 (or 19 if in full-time education.) The form covers an unmarried partner where there are children of the relationship. Where Do I Get an E111 (and how do I fill it in?) Ask at any Post office for the form. You will be given a booklet called “Health Advice For Travellers.” At the back of this booklet there are two pullout forms. One is Form CM1, which is the application needed to confirm your eligibility, and the other is the Form E111 itself. Both forms must be completed, in capitals and without alterations. You will need to provide one of the following numbers: a) National Insurance Number b) Pension Number c) NHS Number. Please note you only need ONE of these numbers. If you are completing the form for a child under 16 (maybe for a school trip) both forms should be completed in a parent’s name and the child added as a member of the family. The child will then be able to use the E111 for the trip. Hand the completed forms to the Post Office clerk, who will check eligibility and that the forms have been completed correctly. The forms will be stamped, signed and dated. The clerk will retain application form CM1 and return the validated form E111 to you. Keep this form safe for when you travel. It is as well to obtain a photocopy of your E111, as some countries will ask for one. There is no time
                  limit on the E111.It is valid as long as you remain a UK resident. However, if the E111 is taken off you when you claim treatment, or you lose it, you can re-apply in the same way. Certain countries may prefer a new form each year and it is best to check with your travel operator. Getting Treatment. Each member country has its own regulations regarding state medical provision. In some cases you may pay nothing, in others there may be a partial charge. In some cases, you may have to pay in full and then claim a refund. Full details on each country’s rules are laid out in the booklet which comes with the E111. It is worth mentioning that the form E111 is for emergency medical treatment, and does not cover you if you are going abroad for scheduled treatment, or for treatment for pre-existing conditions. Please see the booklet for further advice in these cases. Form E111 is NOT intended to replace travel insurance…instead, it should be seen as a useful back up. The booklet contains a lot of very useful information on health matters for travellers, and a number of useful addresses. It is easily obtainable, not difficult to complete (PO staff will help you if you are unsure) and it is free. My advice is “Don’t go without your E111.” Information on form E111 is also available at www.doh.gov.uk/hat

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                    23.09.2001 21:53
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                    If you return from holiday looking like a spotted dick and itching all over because those little mozzies just won't leave you alone heres my tip for prevention and cure. Having recently returned from a nice relaxing break in Cyprus, where we were hassled mercilessly by small whining critters which BITE in the dead of night I wanted to tell you that it isn't pleasant at all if they decide you're the flavour of the month, especially if you discover that you are one of the many who have an allergic reaction to their bites. We weren't warned in advance that especially late in the year mosquito bites can be a real problem in hot meditteranean countries, although if there is a high malaria risk in the country you are visiting you will be given fair warning and a visit to your doctor or pharmacist in advance is a must. I was the lucky one, I didn't get one bite, but my poor partner, Brian immediately discovered that he was the target of the little divils. Waking up the very first morning he was covered in small red spots on his arms, body and legs and he was itching and itching and itching! We were lucky to have some friends to ask for advice and they told us firstly to get some plug in mosquito repellants with small blue tablets that you insert ( no not into yourself, into the electric socket!) and the smell keeps the mozzies at bay overnight, unfortunately its not the most pleasant smell, and we found that he still got bitten again and again. So off we went to the pharmacy, now most pharmacies abroad will instantly know what to give you when they see spotty turning up and the cream we were given over the counter, BetnovateN has an anti histamine and cortisone and helps the rash go down, just as well, the rash was now so bad and the spots joining up that Brian had to go out in temperatures of 35 degrees celsius completely covered up. This cream worked a treat and is only £3 a tube in Cyprus. However as soon as we got home th
                    ey began to itch again and the cream had run out. After experimenting with various creams and lotions we found that Savlon was the most effective in stopping the itch and soothing the spots. Now we know we will take a tube next time! The best tip we were given, after the event, why is it always afterwards that people give you the advice? Was to take vitamin E tablets, 1 a day for 2 weeks before your departure and during your holiday and this makes sure they will not bite you in the first place. Now I wish we had known that a few weeks ago. So if this helps just one person prevent the discomfort poor Brian suffered, which almost spoilt a lovely holiday it will have been worth the time it has taken me to write this little op!

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                      15.09.2001 18:19
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                      Just a few things you must take if you are off to a hot country - leave the baby oil behind. People's attitudes to the sun are changing- my mum tells me that during the 70's girls wouldn't leave the house on summer days without slapping on the baby oil. During the 80's sunbeds were incredibly fashionable but in the 90's it became more acceptable to be milkbottle white - just look at all the super models. I am lucky because I have a fairly dark skin and take a tan quite well but no-one is immune from burning. The rest of my family have the same colouring as me and burning was never really a problem for us on family holidays but my eyes were opened when I went abroad with my blonde, very fair boyfriend for the first time last year. But he is sensible - he reaslises that he is fair and quite prone to burning and is very good at constantly applying sun lotion. But I am amazed at the number of people who just don't seem to care. I have just come back from a week in Rhodes and I was stunned by the number of bright pink bodies lying on the beach. I admit that when on holiday, there seems to be some sort of desparation to get a good tan (in my family there always seems to be some sort of competition!) and it is especially hard to sit inside during the 'best' hours of sunshine while there are girls wondering around with amaxing all over tans. But it is not worth it! Something to remember - the tan that takes the longest to get, last the longest. Many of you will know what a miserble summer we've had up in Scotland in terms of weather so when I arrived in Greece I was as white as a sheet. But within a few days I had a healthy glow and when I arrived home, I have to say, I had a pretty good tan. But now, just 5 days after leaving Greece, my back has totally peeled and my chest is speckled as my tan fades unevenly. So really, getting a tan should never become top of the priority list. And when I
                      say a healthy tan, I should really say 'unhealthy' as a suntan is really a layer of damaged skin cells. But as I said, boyfriend Ross was very good at getting me out of the sun during the midday hours and reminding me to reapply my sun cream. And yes, we both avoided burning. Wish I could say the same for many of the others on the beach this year. Some points to consider... * Choose an appropriate SPF sun cream - I used 12 at the beginning of the week, reducing it to 8 and then used 4 on my arms and legs on the last few days. Ross however, stuck with the 12 all week. * Don't forget to put lotion on your face (especially nose) and tops of your ears - and also the tops of your feet and the back of you knees...sounds obvious but easilly forgotten. * Part your hair in different places or wear a hat - yes, I have burned my scalp many a year and it doesn't matter how gorgeous your tan is if you have a horrid dry, flaking scalp! * Reapply sun lotion every 1-2 hours... you can still obtain a good tan whilst wearing suncream but you reduce the risks of burning * Reapply lotion after swimming - waterproof lotions are designed to protect you when in the water, not when you have dried and are back on the beach. * Don't me afraid to cover up...I felt overdressed on the beach wearing a tankini! * Don't fall asleep in the sun - if yo have just arrived and are tired from the journey, have a snooze before hitting the beach. * Apply aftersun in the evening to rehydrate and moisterise your skin Another interesting point for the ladies - sunbathing topless increases your chances of getting skin cancer 3 fold! I know nobody likes big white lines but I'd rather have white boobs that cancer. And besides, you can get a strapless bikini top or just slide the straps down. Baiscally, be sensible! If you get burned on the first day of the holiday, it ends any hopes of a decent tan - an
                      d remember, white is far, far better than pink! Too much sun on the face leads to wrinkles in later life so get that hat out and buy some bronzing pearls! And if all else fails, there is a fabulous range of self tanning products available...really the safest tan, is the fakest! PS _ I have recently discovered the bestest fake tan in the world - a spray by Loreal, expensive but so so so worth it!

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                        01.05.2001 05:17
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                        The E111 form is a form that you can pick up from any post office. Its free and its packed full of information for travelling abroad. What's more it can cover you or reduce the cost of emergency medical treatment in most European countries. What's in the booklet? The booklet that you get the form E111 from is packed full of information which is imperative that you read BEFORE you go on holiday. It covers general health and safety like eating and drinking safely, safety in the sun and roads. How to take precautions against major diseases in most countries and immunisation. With this in mind the booklet also takes you through what are these diseases and an easy to read table in which lists all the countries. This table consists of a key which tells you what immunisations are essential (E), Essential except for children under 1 yrs of age (E1), recommended immunisations(r), and a few others depending on time of year or on area of country. At the top you have the immunisations, like Hepatitis A, Polio, Typhoid, Malaria, and other. This is brilliant as all you need to do is look for your country and across at the letters(E) etc under the immunisation. This table makes it easy to read and you know exactly what you need for the country you are visiting. If the country you are going to isn't there then you don't need any inoculations at all, but just check with the doctor to be on the safe side. The same thing goes if you are pregnant or breast feeding or on any other medication. Some immunisations are not safe for children under 1, 18 mths, or pregnant women. So again ask you GP if in any doubt. Planning before you holiday The key thing the E111 booklet tries to put over is planning BEFORE you go. It tells you about what you need to take in your basic first aid kit, taking medication out of the country, what to look for and making sure you have a good insurance cover, either through the travel agents or an indep
                        endent firm. What does the E111 covers you? Only state-provided emergency treatment is covered and you receive care on the same terms as nationals of the countries you're visiting. Treatment may not include all the things you would expect to receive free on the NHS. Emergency dental treatment is often not covered, and you may have to pay for extras such as X-rays. The cost of bringing a person back to the UK, in the event of illness or death, is not covered. Each country has its own rules. In some, treatment is free or you have to pay part of the cost, in others you have to pay the full cost and then claim a partial or full refund. The booklet accompanying the E111 form gives details about what treatment is available in each of the qualifying countries. Keep it with you when you travel. Follow the rules of each particular country or you may have to pay charges which cannot be refunded. Britain still remains the only European country with a free National Health Service. It is therefore important that all EU students sort out E111 cover before leaving the UK for a study period elsewhere in the EU. The E111 form automatically provides you with free foreign medical services while you are away. It is important to realise though that unlike this country, prescriptions will, in general, not be State-subsidised, making it important to get any prescription medicines you may need for your year abroad from your UK doctor before you go. If you do have a known medical condition, inform your doctor that you are going abroad and ask for his advice. Although the E111 form covers urgent treatment for accident or unexpected illness, the form does not cover all medical expenses. In particular it will not cover you for emergency medical treatment on the slopes and therefore if you plan to undertake any "dangerous" activity such as skiing, rock-climbing, hang-gliding or free-fall parachuting, please ensure you have additional
                        insurance to cover any possible accidents. Worth investing in are also the basics - aspirin, plasters, antiseptic cream etc which are in general much cheaper in this country than abroad. It is worth remembering too that in most EU countries pharmacists can often help you with minor ailments such as coughs, colds and 'flu' and will be able to advise on basic medicines and treatments without a costly visit to the doctor. This is one of the main reasons why you should carry a first aid kit, even if its only a basic one. At the back of the booklet there is a form which is your E111 form. Just complete the sections that apply to you and take it to your post office to get it stamped. You must get it stamped to make it valid. Keep it safe with your passport and your NHS medical card when you go abroad. Your NHS card isn't necessary but it does make it easier when claiming. Once you have your E111 you dont need to get it renewed unless you change address, you have another child, your children leave school, you mislay it, or you go and live outside the UK. This form, and I have to say I have been lucky enough not to use, is worth having. Even if you have to see the GP in a foreign country, you could still claim something back. Above all it just takes 2 mins to fill and get it signed. I must stress that the E111 IS NOT a substitute for travel insurance. Its just to help with minor complaints. Please make sure you get full cover insurance from your travel agency or from a well known firm for insurance. If something does happen the last thing you want is to be faced with someone in hospital, waiting for treatment, and having to pay out. After all someone's life is more important.....isn't it.

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                          05.12.2000 19:08
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                          Mummy,it hurts! Remember the last time you took a flight? How much did it hurt or feel uncomfortable when your ears popped? Ok, you may not always be affected, think of the times that you have been and how you sat there for what seemed like ages, contorting your jaw and face to try and release the pressure. What are kids supposed to do? I have a 20 month old daughter and we are going to wait until she is a couple of years older before we take her on a plane. I was wondering though, how do you manage if you do have youngsters? Here are a few tips that I picked up whilst surfing. Keep everyone's ears clear with scheduled feedings. BABIES Let your baby have a bottle during the takeoff and landings. A pacifier (dummy to us older ones, dodie to the younger!) will help, as they swallow naturally when sucking on this. TODDLERS Give your toddler a sippy cup (Tommee Tippee cup etc) full of water/juice or, if they are old enough to use a straw a carton of juice. Make a game out of your child blowing through his nose while you hold the nostrils closed. Pretend that you're a blow fish in the ocean. It can really help to relieve the pressure. Give them a lollipop to suck on (have a few handy - they are bound to crunch it before landing). Take some of their favourite biscuits as it's the swallowing that's important. If they refuse a drink then the 5-6 swallows with a biscuit are better than nothing at all. The most difficult part of the flight is the descent. When the plane reaches 8,000 feet, the pressure inside the ears is higher than the cabin pressure, and our ears start to pop. Explain to your child that he'll feel better when his ears pop, and then teach him to stretch his facial muscles and move his jaw to relieve ear pressure. To have some fun while doing this, you can play a game where you ma
                          ke faces at each other. EAR PLANES If you feel confident enough to put an ear plug in your childs' ear, then there is a product that can be used by children from the age of one. The following is a description from the product makers themselves: What are EarPlanes? EarPlanes are a patented pressure-regulating earplug inserted in the ear to help reduce discomfort often associated with air travel. They were developed by Cirrus Healthcare Products LLC in conjunction with the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles, and have been tested by US Navy aviators at the Miramar Navel Air Station in San Diego. The US Food and Drug Administration has designated EarPlanes as a "class 1" medical devise, and as such, they may be purchased over the counter without a prescription. How Do EarPlanes Work? EarPlanes consist of two elements: a hypoallergenic silicone ear plug and a ceramic pressure regulator. The silicone earplug has four circumferential rings which provide an airtight seal between the product and ear canal. The ceramic element is a controlled porosity filter, one end of which is exposed to the external cabin pressure, with the opposite end exposed to the sealed chamber formed when the ear plug is inserted in the ear. Thus, as the cabin air pressure changes, a pressure differential is created across the ceramic filter, thereby causing air to flow through the filter. The filter acts as an impedance to the flow of air into and out of the ear canal. Discomfort is caused by blockage and/or swelling of a passengers Eustachian tube(s). The air pressure changes induced by the aircraft's decent are too rapid for the blocked Eustachian tubes to adjust properly. However, EarPlanes, provide an equal but opposite impedance on the exterior of the middle ear, allowing relief. Discomfort is reduced because the air pressure difference on the exterior and interior of the middle ear is lessened allowing the E
                          ustachian tubes to function more normally. Who Should use EarPlanes? EarPlanes are intended for people with sensitive ears or people who must fly even though suffering with a cold, allergy or sinus condition. A pediatric version is available for children 1 to 11 years of age. We do not recommend use of EarPlanes in the event of severe sinus congestion (completely blocked Eustachian tubes). Are There Any Other Benefits to EarPlanes? EarPlanes also act as noise suppression ear plugs. Many users report that EarPlanes seem to filter out much of the objectionable high frequency noise generated by aircraft engines. Most importantly though, airline flight safety announcements may still be heard (and headsets worn) by users. Why are EarPlanes Disposable? During operation, air flows through the microscopic pores of the ceramic filter. Particles of smoke, pollen and airborne bacteria are small enough to eventually "clog" the filter and reduce effectiveness. Where can I Find EarPlanes? Available at Boots, Superdrug, Lloyds and other chemists and at airports. I saw some advertised recently in one of daily papers but It didn't say how much they were, but they are about $4.99 so I think they'd be about £4.00 here. Hope this helps, if you try the Earplanes come back and let me know if they worked!

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                            15.09.2000 04:24
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                            When taking young children on holiday, be prepared to take many things to be ready if your child becomes ill. When my middle son was 18 months old, myself and my ex-husband took him to spain on holiday, and he was ill all the time. Couldn't eat or drink and trying to get a doctor who spoke english was hard aswell. Our rep had to speak in spanish to sort things out for us. It was so expensive to get the medicine to make little one better. Then a year later we went to Malta on holiday.This time i took some dioralyte incase he was sick again and couldn't eat or drink properly.Also calpol insect repellent and cream for bites and stings. Bottled water and a first aid kit just to be sure these on their own took up a flight bag. And i was glad i did take these as my son was seriously ill this time. That he ended up spending most of the holiday in Valetta hospital on a drip and a breathing machine as he had Gastroentisis and he had problems wiith his breathing because of his asthma aswell. He stopped breathing and they resusitated him and he needed help breathing for a few days. He had to have a special nurse on the plane then spent another week in a hospital near us at home. We were lucky he has never been that bad since but never taken him abroad either. We were lucky as they speak english here in Malta. The staff were so friendly and helpful.It was lucky i had full medical cover or it could of cost abit. So be fully prepared for anything happening with children when you are abroad

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                            09.08.2000 20:44
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                            I would strongly recommend that if you are travelling anywhere abroad this year with a baby under 1 year old , particularly to a non english speaking country, that you take anything medical that you could possible want with you. Having just got back from a holiday in Corfu with a five month old baby, I was particularly worried about what to take with me. It is sometimes difficult enough in this country to find things that it is suitable to give or use on a baby, so I did not want to risk having to buy anything over there. In the end I went to Boots and stocked up on 3 month + insect repelant, sting and bite relief cream, teething liquid, factor 50 baby sun block, antiseptic cream, calpol and even saline drops incase the baby got a blocked up nose while we were away. I do not feel I went over the top - nearly everthing got used and the assistant in the local chemist spoke very little english so I would have been very worried about the suitability of anything if I had had top buy it there.

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