Overall, I have been super lucky when it comes to illness overseas. I had a pretty serious bout of heat stroke in Indonesia, then urinary tract infections in China and Vietnam. Plus there’s that time I got ring worm and had to buy anti-fungal cream which totally grossed me out.
Recently I haven’t been so lucky. It all started when I ate a delicious bag of berries from a farmers market in Colombia without washing them – because, you know, I’m superwoman and have an iron stomach… not. I was fevered, had a ton of body aches and pains, and couldn’t keep anything in my stomach. After a few days all of these symptoms went away and I felt a lot better so I figured I was in the clear. Over the next MONTH I would feel good for a few days then crappy for a few days until finally it went back to the original hell of living in the bathroom. I went days with very little food and very little sleep due to the amount of pain I was experiencing. It was at this point that my loving husband took my health into his own hands.
One morning in a small town hospital, a three hour private mini-bus, an afternoon in the emergency room at a larger city hospital, blood tests, a couple of IV’s, a dozen trips to the pharmacy and about a week later I was finally on the mend. Turns out I had been living with a bacterial infection in my stomach. My symptoms were so similar to a number of other common illnesses (like travellers diarrhea), I kept pretending it wasn’t a big deal. Learn from my mistakes and don’t wait a month to get a diagnosis.
So what should you do if you get sick while travelling?
1. Don’t google your symptoms, because you’re going to end up thinking you have lupus.
2. Head straight to a Doctor (or pharmacist). They are there to help. If you’re in a country where they don’t speak English, use google translate to jot down your symptoms as reference.
3. I repeat: Don’t wait a month to do something about it. As soon as you feel unwell (or “off”) seek medical advice.