Last night, after a wonderful dinner of liquid gold gloopy tofu, tomato salad and Shan guacamole (Burmese food is maybe the best in the world!!) my hardened journo travel buddy developed a raging gastroenteritis, starting with a small, innocuous vomit on the side of the road.
Back at the guesthouse, things escalated at an alarming rate. We were up the whole night, KG alternating between very loud, violent retching spells and desperate toilet runs, letting out screams of “Fuck you, parasite!!!” and quiet sobs, “Pleease parasite, please leave me alone, pleeeaaase…” – me suppressing a recurring impulse to point out it was likely bacterial and that it’s not a good idea to brush your teeth with tap water in South Asia, if you have a choice. At 2am with her sitting up in bed hugging the vomit bin it didn’t seem a good time for a lecture.
After several hours of deranged parasite talk I started to get worried. Judging by the bathroom noises she was losing a lot of fluid, but she couldn’t keep down any water and her pulse was sitting at 100 beats per minute. In one very dark moment she expelled the only anti-emetic pill I had brought (dammit!), which we had strategically administered in between stopwatch-timed vomits. At that point I thought we might have to venture out in the dark to try and find some sort of healthcare facility with an IV drip, which didn’t seem like a fun prospect in the middle of the pitch-black night in Nyaungshwe.
At around 4am the retching subsided and her pulse went down and by 5am we were asleep. It’s now nearly sunset, and the poor thing has been in bed all day. It will probably be another couple of days before she recovers her baseline vivicious strength.
One of the perils of trying to squeeze a trip to a place like Burma in 10 days is that if you get taken down by a pathogen of whatever nature, it puts a real dent in your travel plans. A boat trip down Inle Lake is off the cards for the time being.