Anyone with crohns, colitis and/or an ostomy knows how sensitive our tummies can be and if I’m honest having something tummy related happen while I was away was one of my biggest fears…..but you know what….overnight hospital stays did happen and because I acted in good time everything was ok.
I know the signs to watch for – stomach cramping, nausea, loss of appetite, not being able to retain fluids leading to extreme dehydration and output like water no matter how many Imodium I take. I first experienced this on a small island called Koh Tao off the east coast of Thailand, the symptoms were gradually getting worse during the afternoon. Being on my own and staying in a remote part of the island I knew I needed to get help before it got worse. I was also conscious that I was leaving for Vietnam in 3 days and wanted to make sure I was strong enough to travel.
So I went back to my room and packed an overnight bag which included a few days worth of ostomy supplies, all my medical documents (see post “Considering I Have Gone Through Airport Security 11 Times In 1 year It Has All Gone Pretty Smoothly for more details) and insurance papers. The medical centre was only 5 minutes walk away but it took about 15 mins to hobble there – I was so exhausted.
I went to see the owner of where I was staying to find out where the nearest hospital was, rather worryingly because it was such a small island there were no hospitals only a number of medical centres catering for diving accidents. On a plus the nearest centre was just round the corner!!
It was about 7pm by now and there were 2 nurses looking after the place, 1 of who seemed to be more in charge. I explained my symptoms; I’m not sure they fully understood however once she had my medical documents they realised it was a little more serious than food poisoning. I explained that I was ok but I needed IV fluids to help with the dehydration and something to help with the stomach cramps. They realised I knew my body, what these symptoms meant and what was needed – I was so grateful that they listened.
The Senior Nurse quickly hooked me up to an IV administering the fluids and medication my body needed. I was exhausted; it was such a relief to be getting some help and I was so glad that I had decided to go in. I had some old friends holidaying on the island so I messaged them and explained what was happening. They had been in another medical centre all day dealing with jellyfish burns!!! I wasn’t expecting them to visit me but it felt the right thing to let someone know where I was.
Sadly an overnight stay was inevitable, it was just me and the very kind Senior Nurse who I had to keep asking to take me to the bathroom as I was under strict instructions not to go by myself as I was too weak. All I wanted to do was sleep but with my output so high and having to empty my bag every hour it did not make for a restful night. Fortunately things started to settle down after a few hours and I managed to get a few hours sleep a little later on.
By early morning I was feeling a lot stronger and knew the best thing would be for me to have some porridge (this has been my go to breakfast for decades) and get back to my room for a good sleep. I persuaded the Nurse to discharge me on the condition I would return should I take a turn for the worse. So I left with an assortment of drugs to take over the next few days and then stopped off for porridge on the way back to my hotel.
I took the rest of the day to rest and made sure I ate every few hours to get my strength back. My friend and her family came to visit me but never actually made it – on route she slipped on some rocks and ended up having to go get her wrist X-ray and strapped up…….this really was turning into an eventful couple of days!!!
Sunday was my last day on this beautiful island and we had planned to take a boat out to go snorkelling; I was still pretty wiped out but didn’t want to miss spending precious time with my friend. Mindful that I had a lot of travelling to do on Monday I did a little snorkelling but mainly stayed on the boat while the others swam…….I’m not the strongest swimmer and didn’t want to over do it. It was such a wonderful day and I have such sweet memories; I was so grateful that I decided to venture out.
Monday brought the next leg of my trip to Vietnam. Still feeling a little weak after my stomach upset I was really glad that I’d planned to break this long journey up. I started off by taking a car and ferry to get to the mainland. I’d booked an overnight stay in a hotel near the airport and very early Tuesday morning I took a flight to Bangkok and then another to Hanoi.
The first couple of days I took easy…….my body needed to recover from the travelling and still needed rest after my hospital trip. So I took my time exploring the sights and streets of Hanoi and by Thursday I was back on track and off on a 3 day boat trip round Halong Bay – a truly breathtaking place and one of the best experiences in all my travelling.
This first hospital trip reminded me how important it is to listen to our bodies; to not leave getting help for too long. I’ve been guilty of that back home and things have ended up being far more serious than they needed. In a foreign country and being on your own can make things more complicated so I would get to a hospital as soon as you can. After all the quicker you get it sorted the quicker you can get back to enjoying your trip!!!
There was a 2nd stay in Indonesia but will save that for another ‘foreign hospital’ post………….