I need to pack.

I am behind schedule and starting to get a tad stressed. It would seem that my carry on bag went from Cincinnati to Michigan to Indiana to Ohio to West Virginia before arriving less than 48 hours ago. So, the nice leisurely planning and packing has not happened. Now I am leaving in a little over two days and some of the three days will be spent working.

I should have been packing, but we have fully booked appointments to allow rechecks to be seen before I leave. I tried to get a relief vet to work, but the good ones were busy and I would rather have my clients well taken care of than just taken care of. Because we will not have a doctor present, I have also worked with my staff on work plans for while I am gone. Everyone has pet projects that they want to accomplish. They also said they wanted to set a record for grooming while I was gone.

I should have been packing, but I will be gone for two weeks and there are things to do before I leave. Chores that I normally do at the house will be covered by Becky. She will check in on Matt. I have set up for my dogs to stay in the kennel at Guardian. They will get some extra attention at day care plus. I do have to get out and treat the bees for mites. I am already late.

We pay bi-weekly so I will have to get paychecks done before I leave. Come to think of it, I have to pay bills because several will be due before I return. Deposits that could have waited a day or so, cannot wait for two weeks.

Speaking of money, Becky Jo tried to help and make a deposit and pick up the crisp, new one-hundred dollar bills that can be traded for local currency in Uganda. They would not allow her to trade cash for the new bills. The teller talked her into depositing the money into my savings account and said BJ could return with a check. BJ was skeptical, but the teller was insistent. While I am somewhat upset that they would not trade cash for cash, I would be rabid if they allowed her to withdraw money from my business savings account since you cannot write a check on a savings account. In short, they made me ask my husband to get money out of his account for me to travel with. Apparently it is not to be folded, marked or torn. The check for my travel fees got lost in the mail, so I am already traveling with more money than I am comfortable with so I will have to split money between my two bags, wallet and a cargo pocket on my pants. Credit cards are not safely used in most of Africa.

I need to pack. I decided to travel with two check through bags. One is a plastic foot locker, the other is a gear bag from the UCLA team. I’ve got no clue if it is hockey bag, baseball bags, or what. It is quite a bit larger than my daughter’s martial arts bag, so I don’t think it is that sport. Since I am spending fifty-six hours in airplanes and airports, I was very picky about my carry on bag and personal item. I have a 40L backpack duffel (I chose the Osprey with the better harness over the REI with the better pockets). Because of need for organization and pockets, I chose a very well organized backpack briefcase for my personal item.

I will also have to unpack. I will have to go through my wallet and take out all but emergency credit cards. I will have to remember to leave my keys to my truck.

I am headed to a third world country. While there will be places to buy things, there may not be places to buy things to keep me in a manner that I am accustomed. While I have been vaccinated for typhoid, cholera and hepatitis, the third world country sanitation means that I want to pack sanitizer and wipes. I need to pack toilet paper just in case. I filled scripts for anti-malaria meds, emergency antibiotics and medicine for the common urgencies. Now I need to find the muscle relaxers, bronchodilators, NSAID’s, and inhaler so I can pack them in the small personal bag. They will not be replaceable. Emergency medical insurance paperwork, passport and tickets will go in my personal bag.

The trip packing is divided into separate parts. A not inconsequential part is the travel portion. Going there, I will be on airplanes and in airports for 26 hours. Coming home, I will be traveling for thirty hours. These 56 hours will be spent with only two of my bags. Part of the trips will be overnight and spent sleeping. This would seem that I don’t need anything to sleep, but my neck pillow and throw must be in the bag that will be at my feet. For the awake portions of the flight, I need my kindle (with 27 unread books and 4 downloaded movies), ipod (with music and podcasts if I get it unlocked from Apple ID) and the four chargers that might be needed for the electronics. I might even take a print book for emergencies. (I might be the one to be reading as the plane is crashing.) I will also have some snacks specifically for the flights and airports. Although food might be available, I want to make sure there is something to not upset my stomach. There will be more snacks in the checked through bags.

I will be working as a veterinarian. Every veterinarian has certain things that they prefer. My stethoscope, surgery gloves, scrubs, cap, mask some surgery tools, and a few other specific items will need to go. Some can go in the checked luggage, but my stethoscope is not easily replaced. I will have a few business cards for the vets in Uganda if I remember to pack them. I have learned that sometimes I am the most experienced medical professional. That means I always have a first aid kit.

I need to pack. I am allowed to take two checked through bags of fifty pounds each. The footlocker has forty pounds of supplies for The Big Fix. Surgical drapes to be donated are used as packing material for supplies that were purchased to take. Austin, Josh and I spent over an hour relieving several cases of heartworm medication of its packaging to maximize space and weight. Beside the packing table, the trash can is full from the cardstock from collars. The other bag already has a 26 pound sterilizer.

I need to pack. We will be meeting with school children to discus proper dog care and rabies control. I have pencils, stickers, flying discs and jump ropes. I also have a rock that was painted as a part of an employee’s therapy program. I will take it and leave it in Africa.

I need to pack for me. The part that most people think of as packing is more difficult this time also. Normally I am a very light packer. With an average household income of $133 a month, I am certain that there are several of my clothes that can be used by someone there. A dog bite might leave an unprofessional, but tiny hole in my quite functional work pants. I will wear several things one more time and then leave them for there. I do have special insecticide pants and shirts for village and safari days. (Yes, I will take three days at the end to see some amazing animals.) That reminds me, I need to pack my camera, SD cards, binoculars and trekking poles.

Now my article is written and I really, really do need to pack.

Dr. MJ Wixsom owns and practices at Guardian Animal Medical Center on Bellefonte Road in Flatwoods, KY. 606.928.6566 and online at www.GuardianAnimal.com and has her fourth book out.