Trying Not To Die Before Leaving India

I woke up on a Monday morning. Something was wrong. I felt weird. Something didn’t feel right. I dizzily stumbled to the bathroom and had some diarrhea. After being in India this long, a one-off session of diarrhea was nothing abnormal. I then stumbled back to the mattress on the floor that I called home in Delhi.

Normally when I woke up in Delhi I’d drink water, do some meditation, and get my day off to a productive start. Not this morning. No, I tried to go back to sleep. My friends checked on me to see if I was ok and I reassured them everything was fine.

Everything was not fine.

It was my second to last day in Delhi. It was suggested that I take advantage of the low prices for glasses in India as I leave, so I headed to the local glasses store. I got there fine, braving the 30C/86F 10am morning heat. As I stood in the store trying on pairs of glasses it started to hit me. I got weak in the knees, I felt faint, and I just wanted to go back “home.”

I finished up the transaction and then went across the street to buy some juice. I thought it would give me some energy. The walk home only took about 7 minutes, 10 if the traffic makes it hard to cross the street. But I couldn’t make it. I took a rickshaw for 20 Rupees ($0.37).

I got back and had several more bathroom sessions, each time feeling progressively worse. I checked my temperature and was shocked to see the digital mercury climb to 40C/104F. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had a fever. As much as I get sick on The Happy Nomad Tour, I never get fevers. This was for real.

Unfortunately, my friends were at work and I was on my own. I didn’t feel helpless. Being “at home” was far better than being in an Indian train arriving in a new city. Still. Being sick anywhere is terrible.

The thought of eating made me want to vomit, which I eventually did plenty of. In the depths of my despair, I let a friend know I wouldn’t be able to make it to our planned lunch. She offered to come over and help me out. I really didn’t want her to come since I was in such bad shape. I wasn’t even sure I could stand up and get the door since I was so dizzy.

She brought me the rehydration packets I’ve become quite accustomed to, and more than anything she brought some TLC (tender loving care). She made ice water and covered my forehead. She talked to me, helped keep my spirits high, and was just generally a fantastic friend. I’ve spoken before about how when I need them most, angels always seem to appear in my life. This was no different.

By the time evening came, I felt a bit better but my temperature was still quite high. My friends called a doctor in their family, got a list of medicines to try (anti-fever, anti-diarrhea, anti-vomiting). That night I ate something small and took in lots of liquid calories.

The following day I felt less dizzy, though my fever and diarrhea persisted. I had more energy and I knew I’d be ok to travel.

On Wednesday I caught my flights, New Delhi to Dubai and Dubai to Madrid. I was heading to Madrid to give a speech at my alma mater IE Business School. From first takeoff to second landing, the journey took 13.5 hours. I’m used to traveling far more time in less comfortable conditions than the comfort offered in a plane, so I was fine. I was very tired, but fine.

My fever stopped on Friday, after four days of trying to get it down. My diarrhea persisted in Madrid and didn’t really get rid of it until a full week after first getting sick, when I got to Cyprus. For the month prior to getting sick, every time I ate my stomach seemed to get bloated but I’d never have gas or anything. When I get to Cyprus I’m going to have some medical tests and see if I have some parasites or other uninvited guests inside me [note, I had the tests. They came back negative.]

In a twist of irony, my speech that Friday was quite high profile, definitely the highest profile of my life. I didn’t practice my presentation nearly as much as I would have liked since I felt so crappy. I was worried about having to deal with diarrhea in the middle of one of the four presentations I made. I don’t know if I would have been nervous if I had been in perfect health, but I really wasn’t nervous at all. My first speech was in Spanish, which I hadn’t spoken in about a year since leaving Peru.

My diarrhea let me focus on just doing my thing, telling my story and the inspirational stories I’ve come across on The Happy Nomad Tour. And it was wonderful. The positive energy of the students, the wonderful feeling of being back at a place I love so much, I think it all helped me overcome whatever was ailing me for so many days at that point.

I would have preferred not getting sick. But the diarrhea gave me a sense of calmness and presence I might not have had otherwise. Everything happens for a reason, I suppose. 🙂

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] ended up getting sick in Kiev. I had a temperature and diarrhea. It wasn’t as bad as this or this from India, but it kept me from seeing more of Kiev. As my diarrhea went away, a head cold replaced […]

  2. […] I left India with my tail between my legs, trying to conserve every last drop of water my body was trying to expel from my behind. It seemed like a fitting end to a place where I had perpetual diarrhea. I’ve only been horribly sick three times in my adult life. I caught something nasty when leaving Egypt in 2004 and lost 12lbs/5.5kg in two days, roughly 9% of my body weight at the time. Then came India, where I felt like dying in a train’s bathroom and then in my friend’s apartment just before leaving. […]

  3. […] I didn’t get to practice my presentation much because I was so sick during the days leading up to the presentation, my final days in […]

  4. […] arrived in Madrid quite ill, but quite happy as well. I think laymen visit Madrid and grow to like the city. But I lived there […]

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