The Adventure Continues...

Rants, raves and random observations from an itinerant epidemiologist.

100 in 1000
  1. Spend a week up a mountain learning to ski
  2. Visit Karoline's place in Moravia
  3. Hold a conversation in Czech (only)
  4. Drink 500ml of each of the following beers:
    1. Pilsner
    2. Staroprammen
    3. Budvar
    4. Velke Popovice
    5. U Fleku
    6. Gambrinus
    7. Krusovice
  5. Respond to at least one GOARN request (WHO and MSF are also acceptable)
  6. Travel across the Atlantic
  7. Return to South America
  8. Read a book to, or with, an impressionably aged child
  9. Participate in one NanoWriMo Challenge and come within at least 10,000 words of the goal length
  10. Have my nose pierced
  11. Have my next tattoo drawn
  12. Purchase the perfect jeans (x 2 pairs)
  13. Attend a spin class 3 times a week for 8 consecutive weeks
  14. Bake Viv's cheesecake
  15. Make David's casserole
  16. Make David's Chicken Cashew-nut Stirfry
  17. Invite 4 people who don't know one another too well to dinner
  18. Ride from Vienna to Venice on a motorbike (pillion acceptable, those less desirable)
  19. Attend a book group for at least two books
  20. Go on a choir weekend (learn and perform difficult piece in two/three days)
  21. Visit Madame Tussaud's (in London)
  22. Take an architecture appreciation course
  23. Join an all-girl group and sing a solo
  24. Publish in a scientific journal (top two authors)
  25. Cook a duck or other 'waterfowl'.
  26. Locate the Al-Timimi's from Doha Veterinary Practise
  27. Have a pedicure
  28. Maintain a Brazilian (ouch) for three months.
  29. Find a trustworthy Czech hairdresser
  30. Treat my inner-6-year-old twice a week (at least)
  31. Do the liver-cleansing diet properly (12 weeks)
  32. Don't eat out for one month
  33. Find a flat and flatmate
  34. Purchase one Joseph sweater
  35. Purchase one of the following pairs of designer shoes (they MUST also be COMFORTABLE, and be able to be worn with 4 different outfits and 2 types of occasion): Jimmy Choos, Manolo Blahniks, Christian Louboutin (Ebay or 2nd hand are acceptable)
  36. Send 5 books to the booksphere and track them.
  37. Go hanggliding
  38. Read 10 'classic' books (from 1001 Books to Read before you Die)
    1. Moll Flanders
    2. Everything is illuminated
    3. Madam Bovary
    4. Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance
    5. Catch-22
    6. Odysseus
    7. On the Road
  1. Run (non-stop!) for 5kms outside (preferably in a street race thingy)
  2. Send Christmas Cards on time
  3. Make a collage/mural out of street lights on my wall
  4. Buy a bed, build it, and sleep soundly in it
  5. Go to Africa
  6. Host an 'event' (classified as and when)
  7. Organise a 30th Birthday Party
  8. Wear a costume
  9. Sing on stage
  10. Buy a painting that evokes memories of Prague (cannot involve queues!)
  11. Learn a god-damned card game that stays in my memory (other than fish/snap)
  12. See sunrise. Be sober. Have woken for it. Excludes months Nov-Mar
  13. Take a walk and flip coins at each intersection
  14. Win something
  15. Draft a will
  16. Take a roadtrip
  17. Go to Italy already
  18. Sea Kayak around Abel Tasman Park (NZ)
  19. Get plants
  20. Take a train to another Eastern European Destination (accession countries are acceptable) alone preferably.
  21. Get UK to give me a provisional motorcyclists license and simultaneously get a 'card' license.
  22. Go SCUBA diving again - at least two dives lasting 30mins each.
  23. Go to a dentist. *sigh*
  24. Do a Czech Wine Trail. And live to tell the tale
  25. Make an 'outbreak emergency kit'.
  26. Go to bed prior to 11pm every night (inc weekends) for four consecutive weeks.
  27. Marvel over lack of tiredness
  28. Dine at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant (or Nobu)- preferably for free.
  29. Bet on the nags
  30. Do something for charity (applying and getting a 'red card' will count)
  31. Walk along the Champs Elysee
  32. Do 100 sit ups in a row
  33. Do 50 pressups (arms in tight)
  34. Make branston pickle (or nearest substitute)
  35. Cook something 'new' and 'adventurous' at least once a month
  36. Find a mentor
  37. Be a mentor
  38. Learn what mentoring is all about
  39. Meet an online person in real life
  40. Resist the flirt. Once. Just one night. It's okay if people don't immediately succumb to my natural charm. Really it is.
  41. Spend time at a spa (spa towns in the CR don't count)
  42. Send a care package to someone
  43. Get a Tata Bojs CD
  45. Order new contact lenses.
  46. Make a list of things I take with me when I pack for different occasions
  47. Eat lobster. Prepared by someone else.
  48. Back up the blog
  49. Put everything onto an external hard drive
  50. Find a DDR mat and console and 'dance, I say dance!'�
  51. Go to the beach and lie on the warm sand. For an hour. (with sunscreen on, natch)
  52. Take and complete a course in either: Tango, Salsa or Flamenco
  53. Join the Municipal Library of Prague
  54. Move to another country
  55. Go to a live concert of a band I actually like
  56. Pay off debts (student loan excl.)
  57. Send thank you cards for every gift I receive (other than the gift of happiness, blah blah blah).
  58. Get an agent (literary or theatre)
  59. Go to a sports bar without cringing, by personal choice
  60. Ride a rollercoaster
  61. Hold a snake
  62. Spend a day wandering around a museum (not art gallery!)
Day -2 and Day -1
Friday, 27 January 2006

Spent four hours today getting injected and checked over. The tropical health doctor couldn't believe my weight. She told me that someone with my kilos should look *insert mime for 'big' and 'fat' here* and I didn't. I wasn't sure whether to be scared, pleased or just slightly confused!? What exactly did you think that numerical value looked like in the flesh then?


However, I can confirm with you all that I do indeed have a front, and a back (in six places, no less) and that I've now also got antibodies to Hep A, Diptheria, Pertussis, Polio and Tetanus running around my blood - joining those for Hep A, Measles, Mumps and Rubella (from the diseases NOT the wimpy bloody vaccines) and possibly some lingering for Yellow Fever too. I also have blood. The woman who took it from me is my new best friend.


See, I have hidden veins. I have veins that bury themselves deep against my bones when I need to provide a sample of blood. It's pathological. This nurse said, "My, you haven't got veins...okay...I shall have to feel" and closed her eyes, felt my elbow, jabbed a needle in and extracted 10mls absolutely painlessly. First time THAT'S ever happened. I want her to travel with me. In fact, next time I need a blood sample, I'm on a train to Berlin (four hours) and getting it from her!!


During all this, I was also undergoing 'media training'. I got back from the medical and had to give an interview to radio, followed by an interview (to a person - one to one apparently) on television. It was good fun, even if I broke down halfway through the television interview, stopping the reporter mid-answer (mine) by saying "I'm sorry, we have to stop..." as I'd COMPLETELY lost track of where the hell I was going - my mouth was just talking but te brain had gone on holiday!


The amazing thing was: on playback, I gave absolutely no indication my brain had left the building (which makes me wonder...) and you coulnd't tell I'd disengaged until I actually spoke the words. Weird. No wonder people think i'm confident etc...I'm a REALLY convincing liar. good to know.


After being jabbed, freaking out on television, and generally having a weird day, it was DELICIOUS to head back to the hotel (via Starbucks - the lovely green place!) and pack my bag. I've purchased: yoga pants x 2 (can be worn under trousers), thermal underwear (leggings and singlet), a jacket, and a torch. I've picked up a prescription for the pill (so I can try to avoid menstruating while there - sorry for te graphic details but in future, I may need to remind myself of this), iron tablets, and some antibiotics (just in case of UTI). I've purchased THE MOST AMAZING JACKET IN THE WORLD from North Face, and some Merrall walking shoes. I changed out of my suit, put all te stuff I don't think I'm gonna need in A (sparkly tops? Heels? Out they go *sob*) into a bag, and took it around to Andreas's.


He'd made us all (Maarten, Morten, Lisa, Lisanne, Luise and myself - aka 'the grid') potato soup and an antiplatter plate. God it was divine. We sprawled ourselves on his couch, listened to music, chatted ina   very desultory (read: we wre all knackered and couldn't be bothered) manner, and checked our e-mail on his laptop. It was SOOOOO very lovely to spend a relaxing evening at home for a change. Someone else's home - but good enough that's for sure. And while we sat, my underwear was being washed in his machine.


In a very typical gesture, one of Cohort 10 (the previous years intake – the one for which I was turned down) is in Copenhagen. He found out we were coming, and has invited us for a beer on Friday evening after the briefing. And Luise (from above) will ALSO be in Copenhagen that night (she has family commitments) and is hoping to pop to our hotel to visit us for breakfast on Saturday morning before we fly to our respective destinations. Zosia (from Intunition) did say the other day, "you guys get on planes like we get on trams, don't you?". Um…kinda yeah. AND IT'S GREAT! Already the end of January, and I've been in four different countries this month. My passport would be bursting if we actually got stamped anymore!


Having stowed my belongings behind his bedroom door, and called two women epidemiologists at the RKI who also have size 10 feet (that's european 42, but a WOMAN'S 42 - not a mens!) to see if they could bring me in a range of 'hiking boots' tomorrow: we headed back to the hotel. I packed in about 10mins (I had very little left to pack), and jumped into bed. My eyes were closed at 12:30, and I was asleep at 12:30:03.


Day -1.


Having asked my group if they minded starting at 8:30am so we could get to the 'down the line' (ie. I'm in a studio on one side of town with a camera, the reporter is in their own, and I appear as a small box on your television screen) before I had to catch the plane to Copenhagen in the evening, I stopped at Starbucks on the way to the institute. Sadly, the barista mistook my 'skinny grande white chocolate mocha with extra shot' for 'large latte'. I was so disappointed I almost burst into tears on the U-bahn. That's when I realised I'm freaking out.


Maarten had lots of questions. In the state I was in, I'm not good at dealing with myself – that really tests my limits – so if anyone else has problems/queries etc, it's as much as I can do to convey to them that I coulnd't really give a flying fuck if they can't charge their iPod (though I know how I feel when I can't charge mine, my compassion is clearly the first thing to flee).


Not to mention THE BEST JACKET IN THE WORLD was TOO GOOD and was causing me to sweat almost uncontrollably on the U-bahn (you try wearing four layers underneath a bloody ski jacket…see how warm YOU get).


List of things to accomplish: shoe trying on (aka. The Great <insert rest> of RKI). Turns out that I'm NOT the only woman with the size feet that I have. Christina and Viviane had both brought in shoes for me. The first shoe fit like a glove (yes, yes, call me Cinders) and so I've now got a pair of hiking boots. We still have no idea whether we're going to be office based, or field based. Guess we find that out at the briefing in Copenhagen tomorrow.


Back to a whole load of stuff on camera today. Discovered that my main sense is smell. Also discovered that Morten and I shall never interview one another again. What we had to do was decide what our message was going to be on a topic. Tell another person our topic – then tey could ask ANY question about that topic and we had to still get our message across without avoiding te question. There IS a technique – I promise you. And turns out, I can do it. Just that I can't keep a straight face when he's my interviewer. Or vice versa. What everyone else managed in one or two takes – we took three – because someone kept laughing! How awfully unprofessional.


We struggled on, doing the down the line. I discovered that I prefer performing to a camera – and not with a person. Interesting. And apparently, I already have that whole 'look through the camera at the audience' thing going on with my eyes (whatever that REALLY means). All those years at NZFMA finally came in handy then huh?


Eventually, it was time to go. Though our tickets (they had to issue proper paper tickets) had tyet to turn up at the institute. ARGH!   Reason being, apparently the mission contract hadn't been signed yet. DOUBLE ARGH!!


Finally, an out of breath bicycle courier came and put us out of our misery. So we did the rounds of the fellows, hugs before we went, a quick photo opportunity (the before shot) for Arnold, and then taxi to the airport. Finally found the gate, took another propeller flight (much less scary than the one TO berlin) and Copenhagen appeared before we knew it. Strangely, I've developed a very good capacity for falling asleep on planes – usually about   15mins prior to landing unfortuanately. Oh, and for those who think it important (I do), the SAS snacks are really good.


In total today, I've taken the following methods of transport: underground, tram, walked, taxi, plane and train. Am very disappointed I didn't manage a quick motorbike ride (even a scooter would have sufficed) or gotten on a ferry. Damn!!


Finally at the WHO hotel, left messages for the rest of the team checking in later inviting them to join us at breakfast (no, I have not met any of them, I'm just a friendly kind of girl) and then had dinner with M. Starting to feel the pressure and excitement build. During dinner, two women approached us. One said "are you the epiets?" and sat down when we confirmed her suspicions and invited them to join us. They are WHO people, one of whom is here to make sure we get on the plane (I suspect she's the logistician behind this all!). I HAD to ask: how did she know it was us? We had no t-shirts, no identifying EPIET slogans or anything. Turns out she didn't have super human guessing powers, she'd seen our passport photos. I should've known!! J


So here I am now, in a hotel room in Copenhagen. I've just done a yoga workout (only 25mins but enough to get some blood movement again) and had a shower (DIVINE underfloor heating, fully recommended for tiles). Am REALLY looking forward to our briefing tomorrow. And then…

posted by Nomes @ Friday, January 27, 2006  
  • At 6:40 am, January 28, 2006, Blogger Shawn T Lippert said…

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  • At 10:32 pm, January 29, 2006, Blogger Brett said…

    Dr Nomes,

    As always- a delightful, frenzied read. Dashing about the continent, saving statistically significant populations! After living in Alaska, I appreciated your thoughts about warmth logistics. It IS a hassle, but so worth while. Keep up the writing, as we all love it. *hugs*

  • At 3:13 am, January 30, 2006, Blogger Mums said…

    HI Gnomes,
    We're back from Godzone, where true to form it rained for a whole day on our first day in New Plymouth. Oh, and did I tell you we arranged to arrive in Pamerston North and then go on to Wellington on Wellignton Anniversary Day? Brilliant timing, but that's the problem with not having a NZ calendar.
    So we didn't get to do the business we had wanted, like seeing Quinovic etc. But we did get to see the flat next to ours, and it transpires that we are actually getting a top rent for our place. Not bad, especially as they haven't managed to rent anything further during the "high" market of January.
    Being the anniversary day did make the roads clear. Just as well with our 7 hour drive (down to WGN from PN, and then up to NP).
    We were able to collect MOGBOF, and make him legal again, and also get my car registered. We're hoping to bring that over the ditch once it reaches 15yrs old. MOGBOF is on his way, and should reach Brisbane in 4-6 weeks, yay.
    So when you've finished all your jetting round Europe you can come and do some in OZ.
    Sad news about your friend with MS. Horrible to have immediate instance and irrefutable evidence of our vulnerability. I too thought I was invincible, but all the people around me with varying degrees of illness, show me that I too will one day fail - but not whilst I'm looking. But there's no reason to not push the boundaries while you can.
    Your friends who said that you catch planes like they catch trams is SO right. I still do, even here, so much so that I tend to call them trains anyway. Bad habit I know, especially as I then don't get any feeling of trepidation about lateness. I've only nearly missed three flights in my life - not bad when you consider how many there have been.
    And as to seeing anything out the window - get serious - I can barely see the window!!! I never bother to sit near the window, I prefer the aisle as I can get out quick. On one of the flights this week the stewardess thought I was an ex stewardess (or whatever the PC name is now), as I knew exactly how to open the emergency door and all the various emergency drills they were doing. Get real, I know I can save my life, if the pilot does his bit. And I carry my own pilot for the serious stuff! And I can navigate my way out of a paperbag in the air, on the water and on land. And I've got certificates to prove it too.
    Anyway, must stop and consider eating - though we've done so much this last week I feel a) huger and b) not really hungry.
    Our love to you, Mms

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