A Medical Intermission
Isn’t Typhoid something you learn about at school studying the middle ages ; not a life threatening condition you happen to pick up two weeks into a trip!
I can’t believe I am actually writing this about myself: last week I had Typhoid Fever. And before you ask, yes, I was vaccinated for Typhoid before we left the UK. Apparently, however, Typhoid vaccinations are not wholly effective . 🙁
It is unclear where/how I got it, and we’ll probably just never know. The incubation period is usually between 6-30 days, but can be less. So I could have picked it up sometime during our first week in Antigua or soon after we got to Hawaii. And here I thought that being a vegetarian would help protect me from various food-related ailments!
As Toby mentioned in the last post, it was extremely hot and humid in Hawaii, but one afternoon in particular I found that I was unable to cool down and I had aches in my feet and legs, despite sitting with my feet in a bowl of ice water for at least an hour or two. This was our day off from volunteering at ARCAS, and we had planned to stay the night at a hotel with a pool in Monterrico. We arrived at the hotel to finally jump in the much-anticipated pool, but I immediately got the chills and had to get out. Shortly after — around 4pm — I got into bed and then didn’t get out again until around 8am the next morning. Through the course of the evening I was alternately hot and then cold, and my legs were aching non-stop.
The very kind proprietor of our hotel went to the local pharmacy to buy a thermometer (my temperature got up to 39C at one point) and get some painkillers for me. She also brought me soup and an amazing mango smoothie. As bummed as I was that our day off was spent with me ill in bed, I felt very well looked after and was glad to be somewhere comfortable. The fever/chills subsided by the morning and we went back to ARCAS, where I was unable to assist in the physical work of the organisation, but did my best to make myself useful in other ways.
When the evening rolled around again however, I once again felt feverish and ache-y, and put myself to bed early. I was beginning to suspect that this was not just heat exhaustion, but something worse. But again the next morning, I felt much better. We were due to return to Antigua for just one night before heading up to Lake Atitlan. On the shuttle back to Antigua, I became very tired and by the time we got to our hostel, I could hardly keep myself together. We went to the pharmacy to explain my symptoms and they said “Dengue?”; which we thought was a distinct possibility, as one of the other volunteers at ARCAS had recently recovered from the same.
We rang for a doctor the next morning and he came directly to the hostel where, after asking me a variety of questions and checking me over, he said “we need to go to the hospital right now.” !!!!
I packed a few things as quickly as possible and he drove Toby and me to the hospital, where I then stayed for the next 3 days/2 nights. Blood tests confirmed later that day that I had Typhoid, not Dengue. I was hooked up to a saline drip IV and also given strong doses of antibiotics (Cipro) approximately 3 x/day, also by IV.
These were some scary days, but maybe more so for Toby than for me. I was mostly very tired and a little spacey from some of the drugs they were giving me. And of course our family were quite worried as well, with lots of phone calls going back and forth.
It was just this last Friday that I was finally released from the hospital. I am feeling a zillion times better, but still need some further blood work done to ensure that I am back to full health. One week later than planned, we are heading up to Lake Atitlan later today.
So this is the story of how we ended up spending yet another week in Antigua. As I said before, things don’t turn out quite as one imagines them!
Disovery #2: If you have a fever in a foreign land more than one or two days, get to a Doctor…quickly.