Wednesday 1 February 2012

The Walking Chemist

I have many reasons for choosing Nepal for my sabbatical, as a climber and walker I want to see the largest mountains in the world. Also looking back on all my holidays I have only been to relatively developed, westernised countries.

Nepal, allows me to experience a different culture, meet new friends and try different foods. However, this has a few downsides, whilst Nepal is still developing and does have some western comforts (luxury hotels, internet, pizza restaurants, etc) it still does not have some of the basics that we take for granted like 24 hour electricity (I’m told there are frequent power cuts in Kathmandu) and a plentiful clean water supply.

So, it seems highly probable that I’ll get sick sometime during my trip and I want to be as prepared as possible! 

After reading my Nepal guidebooks, I produced a list of the basic first aid kit items & medicines such as painkillers, anti-inflammatories, plasters, etc. When I was picking up my prescriptions for altitude sickness and antibiotics, I struck up a conversation with the Pharmacist (Pete), due to my “unusual” prescriptions. As a result, Pete helped me put a together a comprehensive list of medicines that I may need. The list we came up with is below (In case you’re interested or going on a similar trip):

Relieve joint pain and altitude headaches. Paracetamol is best as it doesn’t thin the blood like Aspirin.
Ibruprofen to ease joint pain as the treks are going to be a killer on the knees and hips.
A good blocker, in the unfortunate event I get food poisoning or traveller’s diarrhoea.
Treatment of severe traveller’s diarrhoea. Kills all germs dead.
Altitude Sickness
Alleviate acute mountain sickness (AMS) symptoms where immediate descent isn’t possible.
Antifungal Cream
Ensure my feet stay in tiptop condition.
A High SPF is required especially at altitude (closer to the sun).
Insect Repellent
To keep the mozzies in the Terai region at bay. Must be 50% DEET to stand a fighting chance.
To help with any bites I may get when the above doesn’t work!
Anti Malarial
Kill any malaria parasites if any mosquito does manage to bite me.
For cuts and blisters.
Popping blisters, nice!
Zinc Oxide Tape
Taping up my feet to prevent blisters.
Antibacterial Gel
Keep my hands clean.
Wet wipes
To keep the rest of me clean when water is not available.
Throat Sweets
The air is dry at altitude so these help keep the throat moist. I expect to get the typical high altitude cough.
Water Purification
All non bottled or boiled water should be treated with chlorine to kill any nasty germs.
Multi Vitamins
To make sure I get all the vitamins I need in case there is a lack of food variety at some points on the trek
Travel Sickness
I will have some long car/bus/plane journeys, these may help
Sting/Bite Relief Cream
Stop me scratching any bites
Sterile Needle Kit
Ensure I have some sterile needles I can trust in the event I need any injections or dental work. I’m hoping that these will not be used.
Keep my feet and bits dry.

With all this kit, I’m going to be like a walking chemist – anything not used will be donated to a local health charity in Kathmandu.


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