Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Vacations, Stomach bugs and Wonder drugs

Never thought I'd be blogging while on vacation. Which is why I explained my absence in the last post to quell queries about the lack of posts and my whereabouts. However things can change fast. Thanks to some unexpected circumstances a trip to one of the finest beaches got cancelled and left me stuck in a city for much longer than I had intended to stay. So while hubby dear goes about his business and I spend my days doing nothing much except staring and admiring the gazillion shops in this crazy city and browsing the internet. Which brings me to what I wanted to write about in the first place.

Okay so here I am in a foreign place, unfamiliar surroundings, being careful about what I eat and drink. Remember years of living in the US has robbed you of all your immunity, warned my Mom before I left for my vacation. So I tried to be careful. But looks like the US can really mess up your constitution and years of building a strong immunity through fighting all those Indian germs have deserted me completely in these few years. Within a week of landing in this South East Asian city, I get diarrhea. Now what is the big deal about diarrhea you ask. I mean I've had diarrhea before. And it's never been much of an issue. Lay off the spicy food, easy on milk products, plenty of fluids per mouth and it takes care of itself. Even the most watery and cramping kinds. So when I started frequenting the restroom a little too often I thought I just had to be a little careful and it would heal on its own. Except I was wrong.

As my Dad put it, I was fighting an Asian stomach bug and it required more effort than a fluid diet. On the second day of my diarrhea with no signs of improvement I realized that I needed to find a pharmacy and get some sort of medication. Unfamiliar with the kinds of drug one can find over the counter in this place I went to the drug store next to my Hotel and asked the lady to help. She pointed me to a shelf containing activated charcoal and smiled. I shook my head and said I needed something stronger. She says, "you need doctor". At this point I am still not sure whether one can get anti-diarrheal medicines over the counter. I ask her where I can find a doctor. She directs me to a clinic half a block down the road. I follow her instructions and go to the clinic only to find out that they do not see patients on weekends (yes, it was a Saturday) and I would have to go to the Hospital pharmacy to see what they could give me. Thankfully the Hospital was quite close, on the next street.

I go to the Hospital pharmacy which looked much better and well equipped than the one I had been to in the morning. I walk up to the Pharmacist and ask her if she could give me some anti-diarrheal medicine.

"Is it for you?" she asks.

I nod my head and say yes.

Then she asks me, "What medicine are you looking for?"

And I almost roll my eyes at the question. This was like being at a grocery store and being asked what kind of tomatoes I was looking for. What if I weren't a doctor and I had no clue. What am I supposed to say? What kind do you have available?

"Something like Lomotil or Imodium," I say with hope in my voice.

The girl looks at me and asks me, "What kind of diarrhea are you having?"

The unwanted kind. The bad kind. The kind that is killing me. I try not to sound irritated as I tell her "watery diarrhea".

"How many times have you gone since morning?"

"I lost count."

"More than five?" she asks.

I nod. She then asks me about signs for dysentery, dehydration and infection. And I shake my head saying "no" to everything.

But she suddenly decides that I look pale, with sunken eyes, dry parched lips and tongue and says, "You are having mild dehydration and you have to go see a doctor. You need intestinal antibiotics which require a prescription."

At this point I am really feeling tired and exhausted and cursing myself for not travelling with anti-diarrheal medicines. I ask her where I can find a doctor and she says I need to go register at the front desk and they would help. Except by the time I figure out where I had to go register I was told that doctors were gone for the day and that I needed to go to the Emergency room. Now I was really getting tired of the entire charade. I just had diarrhea and there was no way I was going to go sit in the ER for half a day for something so trivial.

So I march back to the Hospital pharmacy and this time get to talk to the senior Pharmacist. I tell her that I needed some anti-diarrheal medicine and that I was taking plenty of fluids and assured her that I did not have dehydration and that I would see a doctor on Monday if she would just oblige and help me for now. I guess something touched her. And she took out a pack of Imodium and hands it over to me. I could have hugged her with joy. She gives me the usual warnings that come with taking the medicine and I walk out of the pharmacy feeling victorious.

It took almost 48 hours for the medication to kick in, check my diarrhea and regain my appetite. But it worked and I am glad. And I'm never stepping out of known territory without an array of medication that I may need. Which my Mom still cannot believe that I actually did.

Doesn't matter where you are going you always take an emergency supply of medicines. And this is Asia for crying out loud!

Yes, now I know. The hard way.

But the good news is I'm back on my feet and ready to tackle the next culinary delight. Right on!



Blogger Cacophoenix said...

Yipee!! Good for you! That's why everytime I go home, I try doing everything to get my immunity back. Eat as much roadside vada-pav's, pani-puri and et al., go around in autos inhaling hte thick smog, travel in buses and drink regular unbottled water. I sometimes feel as if I am in that 'survivor' show. I can even hear the immigration people saying . The tribe has spoken, you are immune. You can go. hehe. Enjoy, have loads of fun and come bac and write all about it.

6:42 AM  
Blogger Bonatellis said...

Imodium used to be the favourite fall-back during the teenage years, but I am told now it has been banned (in India) due to some reason.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Sanjay said...

Oy! All that trouble to get some simple medication.
But glad you are feeling well.
You are spot on with our immune system now being different after years of living in the US.
I have learnt the hard way and now never travel without imodium typ of medication.
Enjoy the rest of your trip.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Dreamcatcher said...

Yay back :) did you go sightseeing? Or just stuck in a hotel, sick?

8:29 AM  
Blogger Chilla-Bong said...

Aha...the joys of South East Asian cuisine and the spending next day from walking to crawling to the toilet :) Everytime I tell my US/UK clients not to be an adventurous foodie on the very first two-three days and if at all always be under strict local supervision. But almost all the time we have the causalities to be rushed to the local doctor. Now that you have survived the first bout one suggestion if not tried already : do check out the SriLankan Chilli Crab (available almost everywhere in SE Asia)...it's huge and ummy-licious.Goes very well with the local Tiger or Singha beer.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous bongopondit said...

From your last post- I thought u were vacationing in India....

Anyway, glad that you are okay now - don't miss the Mee/Nasi-Goreng and the delicous Satays while you are there.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Sandeepa said...

everytime I go India, I load up on Phuchka and chicken roll and am out for a week only to load up right before catching the flight back :)
Now that you are up, enjoyyyy

9:43 AM  
Blogger Kele Panchu said...

hmm.. a doctor too needs to see a doctor for medicine. Can't you just flash your badge like the cops do and say give me this medicine?
Enjoy the rest of your trip.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Rapid I Movement said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Jinguchakka said...

Doctor caught on the other side!!
"What kind of diarrhoea?" - That cracked me up. You should've replied, "The shitty kind". Duh!
Anyway, in these aspects you should appreciate India. You would've got all you wanted without a prescription. Infact told the symptoms, they'd choose the medicine and give, no dumb questions asked!
I came to US with Lomotil, just in case! :-)

3:01 PM  
Blogger Casablanca said...

Oh no! You are already in Singapore and I didnt send you the things-to-do list yet :(
How be you now? Hope you get well soon and be in a condition to experience Orchard Road, Clarke Quay and Chijmes.

7:00 PM  
Anonymous Duhita said...

Oooh Singapore, can I be shameless and tell you to come visit Malaysia too:D heheheh Anyways enjoy the rest of your holiday.

7:55 PM  
Blogger sapna said...

hihihi M! That was amusing! I get diarrhea each time I leave to stay for a few days in another country. Must be a classic case of IBS or an over sensitive stomach! Probably I'm too used to the germs!! Imodium is like a wonderdrug tho.. didn't know it is banned now..

8:41 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

welcome to se-asia, lah. now that you're okay, enjoy food heaven. can, can! :-D

9:15 PM  
Anonymous kk said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Apoplexy said...


3:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:06 PM  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

"What kind of diarrhea are you having?"

Hmm, that's just the kind of question that we all hoped to be asked by strangers, no? :-)

Hope the rest of the vacation goes well!!

12:15 AM  
Blogger Priya said...

M,(rolling eyes and looking at you in utter disbelief)maane just jaataa types u are only! A doc travelling without the essential medicines? Am just too speechless. Keep those restless hands off seafood will ya?

5:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Seashells said...

hehehe... so much for an Asian vacation... :D Happy holidaying again... :)

3:33 PM  
Blogger jhantu said...

where are you vacationing btw???

11:33 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ cacophoenix gosh I envy you!
@ bonatellis Imodium is banned? But why?
@ sanjay thanks and yes i am absolutely fine now :)
@ dreamcatcher did go sightseeing and all :)
@ chilla-bong well did try out a lot of SE Asian stuff...but couldn't try the chili crab although had chili garlic mussels.
@ bongopondit wish I could've been to India....but did load up on satays :)
@ sandeepa thanks and did :)

12:20 PM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ kele panchu long time no see, huh? Wish I did have a badge that I could flash :( Would have made things so much simpler.
@ jinguchakka talk about dumb questions :) That cracked me up too.
@ casablanca thanks and did check out Orchard Rd and Clarke Quay a lot :) Chjmes was very nice too. Thanks!
@ duhita not this time...but may be next time?
@ sapna Imodium worked like a charm :) Thank God for it :)And you have a new blog...yay!
@ t.r. oh the Singlish cracked me up totally...was most worried when ppl started talking to me because half the time I had no clue what they were saying. Difficult lah?

12:25 PM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ kk so you live in Singapore? Small world, huh?
@ apoplexy huh?
@ ghostoftomjoad well I recovered big time and ate like a pig :)
@ priya that's exactly what my mom said too :) But the good news is that I tried everything after that and did not have a problem.
@ seashells thanks :)
@ jhantu was...am back now :)

12:29 PM  
Anonymous KK said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:44 PM  
Blogger qsg said...

Hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip! :)

3:16 PM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ kk I'm amazed at the sheer coincidence. Hope your trip was good.
@ qsg I did, thanks.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous KK said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Brazen Head said...

Hmm... I think everyone can relate to that. Scatology brings out the best in people. I just made that quote up. But I think it is going to catch on:-)

2:34 AM  
Blogger Ekta said...

oh man!!! Have i been thru this too...I goit caught in a terrible stomach flu on my way to Bali in Jan this year...and it screwed my tummy so bad that I am still not fully recovered...so pls listen to mommy and make sure u always carry ur first aid meds whenever u travel!

3:55 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ kk good to hear that :)
@ brazen head LOL...well no conversation at our dinner table is ever complete without some reference to you-know-what :)
@ ekta if you're being troubled by something for almost a year now I guess you have some really persitent infection. Do try an intestinal antibiotic. Take care.

7:12 AM  
Blogger Shuv said...

reminded me of my mama who struggled for an hour trying to explain to a chemist in iraq that he had constipation..finally he raised his shirt and made circular motions with his hands over his stomach, enacting the fact that he wanted things inside to be cleared..'AAAH', the chemist said, and handed him a bottle of hair removing lotion. amazing guy!

3:34 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ shuv LOL...but why did your mama raise his shirt. a sweep of the hand over the shirt would have sufficed methinks :)

9:04 AM  
Blogger The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

ROFL at shuv's comment! am glad your feeling better, M. that sounded so frustrating.

9:16 PM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ tgfi you bet it was :)

7:21 AM  
Blogger Ashmi said...

hmm..thank god u got well sweetie :) am so glad or else we wud have missed all the great posts form u ;) lolz

11:53 AM  

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