Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Jayavarman's Revenge?

I've been trying to catch up with my blogging in chronological order though I am desperately far behind. Recent events were interesting enough for me to blog about immediately and then return to my chronological thread later.

Friday we went to a wedding in Lauren's village (more on Lauren, her village and the wedding later). I must have eaten something that didn't agree with me because the wee hours of Saturday day morning found me up and my stomach contents out. Unfortunately I was also dehydrated which made for one of the least enjoyable pukes of my life. I had only eaten rice and carrots at the wedding and so my bodily was forcing this giant, dry mass of rice out with all its might. It was uncomfortable to say the least. I started sipping water, which gave my stomach some liquid to add to my later pukes.

I suppose this is another one of my blog posts when I should have warned you ahead of time to put down your sandwich or wait until after lunch to read. I would also like to make a special apology to Teresa. She hates vomit.

Anyway, at some point I either caught something in my throat or scratched/burned my throat is such a manner that it felt like something was caught in my throat. It was an amazingly painful sensation. Lauren said it was pretty common for people to get fish bones caught in their throat and they usually remedied the situation by swallowing balls of rice. Though rice was really the last thing I was interested in ever eating again at this point I was willing to try anything. Most families will still have rice left over from the night before around so early in the morning because they haven't fed it to the chickens yet. Her family was out, so she went next door and brought back a plate of cold rice. At first I was chewing the rice, which Lauren seemed to think was counter productive. Next we tried her wadding and swallowing technique. I added a little water to the mix since the rice was so dry I couldn't get it down. Lauren was unimpressed with the size of my wads, but I literally could not force anything larger down my throat. Also, it didn't seem to be helping.

At this point I sort of lay down on the mat next to the bowl of rice, tired, still nauseous and still feeling like something was trapped in my throat stabbing me. I hadn't put my glasses on for the morning, so this was the first time the rice came into focus.

"My, this rice is just crawling with ants," I pointed out.

"Don't worry," Lauren comforted me. "Those ants are fine to eat."

Good to know.

At this point I was a little concerned about having something tearing into my esophagus and told Cale we should probably ask Lauren where the nearest medical-like facility is that might be able to do something about this and how we would go about getting there. All of this was happening under a sort of time crunch. We were supposed to be leaving with Lauren at 7am to go to Kampot. She was meeting a friend in the city. It was now 6am and we still needed to pack.

It was suggested that a recently-graduated, Khmer/Canadian medical student who happened to be visiting his family in town could come by and look at me. It was also suggested I drink hot lime water. We tried both. The hot lime water burned with the fire of a thousand suns. The medical student was unimpressed with my symptoms. I think he thought I was overacting to a post-vomit sore throat. He poked me a little and told me that it would be fine in a couple of days. Even if something was caught in my throat (which is voice indicated he highly doubted) he was sure that my body could handle it and I would be fine.

So we packed our bags and ran out to the remark that was waiting outside Lauren's house, hastily thanking and saying good bye to her host family.

A remark is basically a cart about the size of a pickup truck bed being towed behind a scooter. There are benches along the sides and in across the middle. This one had a roof for shade. I threw an ie over my head and shoulders to protect against the sun and dust, put my head down and proceeded to ignore the outside world in a nauseous haze.

This first ride was only about 20 minutes to a nearby town (I am checking with Cale on these details as I was entirely unaware). There we switched remarks for one heading to Kampot. This one did not have a cover so it was open to the sun. The next trip was two hours over unpaved dirt roads in the hot sun (even though it was still early morning). I hear the scenery was beautiful. Once again, completely unaware. I had relinquished my glasses to Cale and was either cradling my head in my hands (when it was really bumpy) or resting my head on Cale's lap (when it was less bumpy). I was also in the process of getting sunstroke.

I had already started the morning out dehydrated. I had been drinking water, but I had also been prompting puking it back up. Now the act of swallowing was excruciatingly painful; so I wasn't all that interested in drinking water. Every once in a while I would come out of my haze, realize my tongue was stuck to the roof of my completely dry mouth and request a sip of water. A painful, painful sip.

When we arrived in Kampot we were immediately set upon by moto and tuk-tuk drivers. People kept grabbing my arm and poking my side to get my attention. I just repeated over and over in useless English, "Stop touching me." I had complete tunnel vision and the inability to interact with all the commotion. I got out of the remark, found a patch of shade (I have no idea where) and squatted in it, waiting for someone to remedy the situation. Cale and Lauren came to squat by me and discuss what we could do. I could hear Lauren explaining to Cale where he could go and how to get there (we needed both a guest house and an ATM). She was constantly interrupting her instructions to rebuke the moto and tuktuk drivers in rapid-fire Khmer. They refused to back off, and were in fact now squatting on the ground all around us, poking us and asking if we needed a ride.

Though I really had no idea what had been said, Cale asked me what I wanted to do seeing as how I was the sick one.

"I don't want to walk anywhere, but at this point I am going to walk just to spite these guys," I said gesturing at the moto drivers.

So, we hugged Lauren, shouldered our packs and walked off. Basically, we made it around the corner, at which point I am pretty sure I started to lose it.

"I need to drink some water," I said

"Ok, I will get you some water," Cale replied.

In my mind I took a couple of steps and then stopped. "I need to drink some water now."

According to Cale, I hadn't moved at all. Also according to Cale I wasn't doing a very good job of walking or paying attention anyway. He handed me what was left in our water bottle and sat me down on a bench in the shade of a shop where a woman said hello to him in English. While I waited he came back with a cold water.

"Can you ride a moto?" he asked. Cale was quickly gathering that there were very few tuktuks around. Mostly just motos.

"I cant' balance." There was absolutely no way I was going to be able to balance myself and much less my pack at this point.

So, it was determined that I would stay here on this bench by the nice lady who could at least say greetings in English while Cale found an ATM (we were out of cash moneys) and a guesthouse and returned for me with a tuktuk.

My memory of the following period of time is not exactly clear. I was sort of wavering in and out of awareness. I would sip water and sweat. My entire thought process was centered around that. Later Cale asked me what I was thinking when he was gone. "Sweat." That's it. My mind was thinking sweat. Also, I was hoping that someone would help me. At some point the nice lady came over and noticed the shade had retreated and I was partially in the sun. She indicated a more shady part of the bench.

"Move here. Sun hot."

Yes. Sun hot, indeed.

After was seemed like an insanely long time Cale returned on the back of the moto. I have no idea what he said to me when he came up to the bench. I said, "Help me." Then I leaned over the edge of the bench and vomited all over the side walk. It was my must enjoyable vomit ever. It was only 11 in the morning.

Cale put me in a tuktuk pulled by a bicycle. We went to a guest house. I walked up stairs into a room. I removed all clothes. I stood in a cold shower. I drank water. I did not leave the room for 48 hours. During that time we drank more than 10 liters of water (and some Royal-D and Propel. The Propel tastes way better than Royal-D). I ate 1/4 cup of oatmeal, two of the tiny bananas and six french fries (but that wasn't until the second day).

When I finally left the hotel room, I was surprised to discover that Kampot was a cute little town. I literally had no visual impressions from the day I arrived. My entire mental image of Kampot was "hot." It has been almost four days and my throat still hurts, but it isn't as bad as it was. I am still sticking to mushy foods.

So there you go. The tale of how Sara got travel sickness.

— Sara

PS. Later Cale told me about why it had taken him so long to return to my bench of sweat. He had been in such a hurry to find money and a guesthouse that he lost track of how to get back to where I was. At the guest house he jumped on a moto and told the driver to take him to the pharmacy (as it turned out, the shop I was sitting in front of was a pharmacy).

"You want drugs?" asked the moto driver.

"No, no, no. I need to find my wife, she is sick." Cale explained.

"You want a wife?" asked the moto driver.

Great, Cale was thinking. This guy thinks that I am looking for drugs and prostitutes. Cale had to call Lauren and ask her how to say the name of the place the remark dropped us off and was eventually able to get the moto driver to backtrack to the pharmacy where I was sitting. Cale is sure it all became clear to him when he arrived. Ah, a pharmacy! Ah, a wife! And then I vomit on the sidewalk. Ah, she is sick!


Clem said...

So, I took the day off work today, thanks to a high fever and severe diarrhoea, which alternately kept me running to the toilet and huddling under a sheet in a cold sweat all night, and still doesn't seem to be shaking.

Thought I should check if there was anything I needed to fix on Sophara's website/blog (which I finally got around to putting together on Sunday, by the way). Typed the URL into the search box by mistake, and for some reason, this blog entry is one of the first things that come up.

I'm sprawled on a mat in the kitchen surrounded by empty Royal D sachets and a blackened pot, drained of its remnants of watery, boiled rice, which is all I've been able to stomach today.

I just had to laugh. You have my COMPLETE sympathies!

Teresa said...

Thank you so much for the warning... AFTER you mention the vomit... sheesh! You need a precautionary warning on this post! I'm quite impressed you made it through all of those bumpy rides without throwing up.. I would have been hanging over the side of the cart! Did you ever find a fish bone?! I hope you are feeling better- it sucks to be sick and I can only imagine how much more it sucks when you are stuck outside in the heat! You guys still coming home July 12th? We've got our pool set up... so you guys can come float whenever you get back!

annette said...

oh my, you poor little thing - what a miserable time you had, so glad that you are on the mend. must admit , your blog made me a bit teary...mixed with some smiles at your unique writing ability....
this will be one for your book!

cale, you are a good caretaker : )

Barb Carusillo said...

I can't really describe how this blog entry makes me feel, but if ever become a mom some day, and you read about your kid across the world collapsing from dehydration and sun stroke, you may understand.
I would think that if you were upchucking dry food, without lubrication, you caused abrasions or even tears in your esophagus. That would then get inflamed, so would feel like something stuck in your throat. It should largely heal in 4 or 5 days, unless it gets infected. Eat only sterile ants.

Cale and Sara Wander Southeast Asia said...

Clem, it appears this was the weekend for sickness. When we arrived in Kampot we called Meera and discovered she had gotten food poisoning over the weekend in phnom penh. I hope you are feeling better. PS. Send the link to sophara's web site.

Teresa, we do indeed come home on the 12th, but we don't get back until the 13th of July.

Robert Kirkman said...

should have stayed 5 star..
no one ever vomits there

except maybe from too much of the good life.

Clem said...

I think it was - I know at least three others who got sick, including one who ended up in hospital with a parasite! I guess we should count ourselves lucky in comparison?


Showed him yesterday... he was totally chuffed, and loved the pic with Cale!