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Finally,…Getting Sick in India

Amoebic Dysentry“.

Sitting in Dr. Marwah’s office, a stone’s throw from the Dalai Lama’s estate I stared at the picture he drew before me This was my diagnosis. I had a parasite in me– no wonder I’d been feeling like I was eating for two people!

I was told to take my Cipro, along with a six-day supply of Metrogyn (aka Flagyn) and given a food list of No-No’s: NO milk, NO chocolate, NO fried or oily foods, NO butter or cream.

Was it from eating bad food or accidentally brushing my teeth with the water?  My morning burp had a suspect.

Behind the curtain, Nicole, another friend was receiving the drip, weakened to the state of needing help to walk. She couldn’t hold anything in her stomach for long. Her diagnosis?

Bacterial dysentery.

Perhaps it was inevitable that I’d be a statistic– it was Mother India’s initiation. We were all dropping like flies in our yoga teacher’s program-  if it wasn’t the rigorous daily schedule and two Ashtanga asana practices that injured us, it’d be a stomach bug or parasite.

Yogi friend Nicole required more urgent aid, dehydrated and weak, she received the drip

Dr. Marwah’s clinic in Dharamsala

Flashback.

My first trip to Dharamsala’s Delek Hospital brought a superficial verdict. Food poisoning. No medication was prescribed. “Just let it pass”, I was told.

The body purges the best way it can — I was grateful to be coming out of only one end.

Just before I left, they gave me a tiny microbe vial in the case I wanted to bring a stool sample into the lab for testing. It was the size of a peanut, with an entry hole the size of a dime! A feeling of dread came over me.

Fortunately, the next day I was better (no microbe vial for me, thank you!). Yet weakened, my stomach felt like rubbish for the next two weeks. Fresh veggies, clean water and familiar foods were all my stomach craved. They were the only things that weren’t easily accessible in my environment (and living at the bottom of 300+ stairs of a steep hill, didn’t help). My body felt like a hostage. It wanted freedom… it wanted health.

The mind thinks but the body knows.

I vacillated and then relapsed.

If Indian toilet bowls could talk, they’d probably tell you they no longer want to be toilets.

Six days of taking Metrogyn as Marwah prescribed and my stomach still felt “off”. I was supposed to be cured but something still wasn’t right. My stomach wasn’t mine, just yet.

By now I was hearing horror stories from others about living with parasites and contracting tapeworms.  Fear does something to you– it gives you the courage to face possible humiliation with microbe stool sample bottles. I shot down to the hospital lab with a sample for testing (a mere 100 rupees for the diagnosis!).

Amoeba wasn’t gone and an extra drug was added, that Marwah had missed. Dyrade.  10 days on Dyrade was my prescription.


Hopefully this is last visit does the trick, but I think when I get to Bangkok, I’ll take myself to a clinic for a follow-up.

24 Comments

  1. fileeep! says:

    Great read, very similar to what happened to me, not very nice but another adventure in India was had…..what a place!!!

  2. gordsellar says:

    I know this post was from long ago, but I wanted to thank you for bringing back memories of my stay (out at Harri Khoti, near the Dalai Lama’s sister’s estate) back in 2004. The clinic looks exactly the same, from the outside at least. (Though, funnily enough, I never got sick in Dharamsala, maybe because I was there in the winter. For me, it took a short trip to Jaipur, Fatehpur Sikri, and Agra to make me truly ill… and it was dhal that did it.)

    Anyway, thanks for the short trip down memory lane.

    • @GordSeller: I’m glad it revives good memories although perhaps not the Dhal. ha ha. Wow, it’s interesting that you chose Harri Khoti as your nesting ground. I’ve never heard of it. What made you choose it.

  3. WanderTooth says:

    “If Indian toilet bowls could talk, they’d probably tell you they no longer want to be toilets” – I almost spit out my latte with that line! I just found this blog through twitter — love it so far. And I’ve so been there in India – I think I was sick for the entire three months. It was exhausting, but still amazing! Get well soon!

    • @Wander Tooth: Thanks, glad I invoked a good response! 😉 3 months?! Yikes… you’re a champ, pro and India survivor! I’d probably want to die after the first month. So now what… care to go back again?

  4. travelyn says:

    Must be a travelers worst nightmare getting sick in India. Pretty scary. Do follow up with a thorough check up when you get back home.

  5. Sophie says:

    Tapwater could really be your worst enemy as a traveler. I had a similar experience on a long train ride, it was hell.

  6. Knut says:

    Hi,
    can you recommend the yoga school you are @mcleod ganj? I ll be there for a couple of days and 2 daily Asthanga asana classes sounds nice…

    regards and all the best

    Knut

    • @Knut: My teacher’s training was with the Himalaya Yoga Valley & really wan’t based in McLeod Ganj (post should be coming soon). They’re only there for the TTCs, but there are a handful of other walk-in classes around town. You’ll see signs. The names are failing my memory but there’s an Iyengar school– a bit removed from MLG– Aryan, Om Yoga, etc…. Enjoy & good luck- don’t drink the water!

  7. Gray says:

    Ugh. So sorry to hear this, Christine. Honestly, I’m starting to wonder if anyone has ever visited India and NOT gotten sick. I don’t think I’ve read of anyone like that yet. It doesn’t encourage me to travel there. Getting a parasite is one of my worst nightmares–just the IDEA of it freaks me out. I really, really hope you get rid of it soon. Hugs.

  8. megan says:

    Oh no! Hope you’re feeling better and the new meds kill it…I think a checkup in Bangkok (or Delhi or Mumbai if you’re headed that way!) is a good idea.

    And your comment about Indian toilet bowls talking…made me giggle, because it’s sooo true!

  9. Andrew says:

    Oh my gosh! This is the worst but I’m glad you got it diagnosed and are treating it. I had a bad case of the runs while going through South America and after a couple weeks of it my friend’s mother stepped in and got me something that got rid of it. Mine was probably a simple bacterial infection which was solved fairly easily with the right medication… Yours, you had a creature, or have, inside of you! Crazy. I hope you can get it out. Save it for a picture? No, maybe not… Heh. Get well soon… Where would we be without you to travel for us?

  10. Tom says:

    Bleargggggh! That sounds gross. I got really sick in Turkey last year from drinking the tapwater…and yes, it was coming out of both ends.

    Very well told, I love your line, “If Indian toilet bowls could talk, they’d probably tell you they no longer want to be toilets.”

    I hope you feel 100% better soon, so you can chow down on all that scrumptious Thai food! Mmm, green curry!

    • @Megan: Thanks for dropping by and glad I could provide the giggle!
      @Andrew: Ha ha.. thanks Andrew! We all have travel war stories–a bug in South America sounds equally intense. And yeah, I don’t think a picture of my “little pet” would be a good idea.
      @Tom: Hey Waegook! and Yikes- the “both ends” part scares me! Hope that sickness passed quickly. Incidentally, thanks for the get well. My stomach is actually looking forward to Thailand a LOT. At this point, I’m just craving veggies and fruits! Now that you’re in Korea, you’ll be hitting the travel road soon.

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