Thursday, 12 November 2015

Un-Amoeba-ble!: A truly explosive ‘Bowel Buddies’ adventure

Hello friends…family…people I’ve never met. This post is not for the weak stomached… because it’s kind of gross. So, if you get squeamish over bathroom talk, I suggest you scroll to the bottom of the page – whilst averting your eyes – and click a different one. But also, be warned – this is going to sound really bad, maybe even negative, but I promise you, it had been written in good – although grotesque – fun, with a slightly self-deprecating chuckle!


So, traveller’s diarrhea… is a thing… that often get’s thrown around… when you’re talking about travelling abroad. Well… the diarrhea itself is hopefully not being thrown around, but the term, the warnings, etc. most likely are.  The good thing about this affliction is that you get to take a weird (some, meaning me, might even argue tasty) fizzy, raspberry flavoured concoction to reduce your chances of getting it. And thankfully, so far, it has worked. But, you can understand my alarm, when all of a sudden food was coming out as quickly as it was going in*.

On Friday night, I awoke around 11pm to a suspicious gurgling sound coming from the stomach region of my body. I knew it could only mean one thing: diarrhea! And sure enough, it eventually flowed along. But the thing is, on top of that, I was also overcome with a need to burp… a sensation that was unsuccessful in being fulfilled. Well, that is, at least until I proceeded to spend the next 6-ish hours dry heaving and producing approximately one half of a litre** of nothing but water and stomach acid. Mmmmm - hope you’re not eating!

Aaron refused to take a picture of me pretending to be crying on the toilet...
so I attempted a self-portrait. I have to say, I'm quite impressed with my skills.
The blue surrounding the toilet represents my tears. Not sure what's going on with my hair, though...
At first, I thought maybe this was food poisoning, and then I recalled that magical time in Ghana where I had similar symptoms that lasted for nearly 24 hours. I now understand this as having been caused by dehydration – which I thought this was. So, I drank… and I drank… and I drank. My fellow intern/roommate and one of my coworkers were super supportive and made sure I wasn’t dying. And, for the most part I felt fine.

But then Saturday rolled into Sunday, and those gurgles returned. And as Sunday became Monday, my condition was getting much, much worse. For when I got out of bed to get ready for work, I felt a very unwelcomed sensation of being stabbed in the stomach. Now, to be fair, I’ve not actually ever been stabbed in the stomach, but it’s what I can only assume this would be like. So, I finally admitted that visiting a clinic would be the ideal choice, despite the pleas of my co-worker on Saturday, and suggestions of my roommate pretty much the entire duration of the weekend.

As I walked up the ramp into the clinic, I realized that this was the first time I’d ever needed to go to a hospital outside of Canada. And this is what I’ve learned… wait times – almost non-existent compared to what I’d have experienced had I been home. It took just about an hour to see a doctor, walk awkwardly around the building with a vile of my on-demand poop-in-a-jar, trying oh so hard not too look suspicious***, and get the results. The results of which were inconclusive. So, I left with an empty stool container and instructions to return in 2 days if the symptoms stayed the same.

Now, I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, they didn’t go away. So yesterday, I returned to the clinic, sample in hand…well backpack, then hand, then lab. I had the results back in less than 10 minutes, which honestly made me question the validity of the test, but I digress… Anyway, would you believe this test also came back inconclusive? Well, if you do, then good…because it did. At this point I was told to sit and wait for my doctor to arrive in approximately 30 minutes.

And this is when I learned about Andy. Andy is the name I’ve just given to the amoeba, or possibly amoebas, living in my stomach. This is what we thought, based on my extensive research on the inter-webs. For those of you who don’t know about Andy’s family background, he’s a single cell organism that can morph into various shapes and can kill you if untreated…especially if you’re under 5 – which is pretty much how I felt when they handed over the pills I was told I had to take. Did I mention I hate/can’t swallow pills?
The list of symptoms. The green check marks indicate which ones I had...
I used Comic Sans because it's equally as terrible as how I felt, but also kind of happy. 
Anyway, so far I have been successful in starting the treatment… although it takes me a good hour to complete the task!

But, I’ve got one more tale of woe to share with you, partly because I’m frustrated with my failing body, but also because I enjoy a good laugh at my own expense. Come to think of it, those might actually be the same thing… Anyway, I also, some where along the line, broke a tooth. But, not just a small chip, I mean half of my tooth is missing. How? I’m not sure. When? Equally clueless. All I know is that while Andy is vacating my digestive system, I’ll be looking for a dentist.

Here’s to good health, and hopefully the conclusion of expat illness bingo!

-the Orange Canadian

*Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
**I know this measurement because I also successfully mastered throwing up in a 1L reusable water bottle! That one’s definitely going in the CV!
***Seriously, for a girl who loves poop, and talking about it, I was so uncomfortable having to hold this sample while failing epically at finding the lab. I’ll give you a hint – they didn’t actually call it a lab! I was wandering all over the place, and no one’s instructions made any sense. If only they had told me that fact, I could have reduced some of my… embarrassment?

1 comment:

  1. Yikes, that totally sucks Emily! Although I love your font joke and also the hilarious way you wrote this article. Hope you are feeling better this week!!!