That Wasn't Fun
Fighting through Peruvian food poisoning, with a little bonus.
Thinking back, I believe I've never really had cause to write about an illness—I rarely find myself sick. I can think of two other times this year that I've had a multi-day battle with something, but never have I been as disabled as I was this past week.
It started with an unsettled stomach on Sunday evening, the 24th, and by Monday morning things were in full swing. Nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, fever/chills, tiredness—all the classic signs of a very bad meal. Tuesday I thought that I was through the worst of it, feeling much better, but after my eaten dinner made a reappearance in the baño later that evening, I took a serious turn for the worse.
Time has been split between my bunk bed and the television room—incapacitated with extreme fatigue, chills, and muscle pain. Most days I ate only a single, small roll of bread. People came to know me as that dude who never leaves the TV room or the guy with the food poisoning. Ultimately, a solid six-days of bed and couch time was had.
It was on Thursday that I really took notice of some new symptoms, and decided to venture out of the hostel (for the first time in several days) to run to the pharmacy. My family was urging me to see a doctor.
My mother was a nurse, and she had the little habit of self diagnosis (instead of seeking out another opinion), a personality trait that I've picked up—although without the medical training to back it up. Yes, I know, not so smart.
Dr. Craig has been curing his own ailments for years though, and in the wonderful world outside of the silly pharmaceutical rules and regulations of the United States, prescribed a round of antibiotics (Amoxicillin). Life is good where drugs are cheap and don't require a doctor consult or prescription—less than US$3 for 10 tablets at 500mg. The lozenges for my painfully swollen throat glands cost almost the same amount.
Friday night I had my first real food since the prior weekend (with success). By Saturday evening I was feeling very much back to normal.
In the end, I think I figured out what did me in. It wasn't just the food poisoning, but a 1–2 combination punch from the bad chicken meat and a secondary bacterial infection that I picked up. I have a feeling that my immune system was compromised in my weakened state, allowing me to fall victim to something one of the hundred-plus backpackers around me was carrying (…spreading) around. Damn, dirty, dirty backpackers.
My legs haven't been used for a week, and I've got some serious walking time ahead of me… I'm going up to Machu Picchu.
I'll be taking the poor-man's route that involves many hours of walking, but after becoming the equivalent of a mossy log for the past week, the change of pace will be welcomed.