Got home on Thursday (a day later than I was supposed to, but that’s another story), with a notebook full of diary entries all ready to type up and post, and release notes to make, and all the usual post holiday stuff. But having been 40-odd hours without my toothbrush (yay for airport security that makes it more bother than it’s worth to pack toiletries in your carry-on, so when you hit a 24-hour delay everything is safely stowed away in your suitcase in the bowels of the aeroplane….) my first priority when I got home was to brush my teeth. So in the circumstances, and given the whole jet-lag thing, it’s kind of understandable that I managed to totally forget the number one rule of life in Christchurch these days: don’t drink the tap water. Oops. I didn’t actually drink it, but I did brush my teeth and rinse my mouth with it, and apparently that was enough (actually, a microbiologist friend told me that with some of the more virulent types of nastiness that currently live in our water supply (which still has raw sewerage leaking into it from thousands of cracked pipes across the city), a single bacterium can be enough to cause serious illness – so yeah, it was definitely enough).
I spent Thursday unpacking, journalling a few books, and generally trying to keep myself awake long enough to adjust my body clock, and went to bed not long after dinner expecting to wake up in the morning refreshed and ready to spend the long Easter weekend at the computer getting everything else done. Yeah, didn’t happen. Instead, I woke up with an urgent need to race to the toilet, and spent the next two days shivering in a pile of blankets with a nasty fever, and (to put it delicately) exploding from one end or the other at frequent intervals.
Luckily (never thought I’d say that!) I had dysentery many moons ago in Africa, so I knew it wasn’t anything that serious, just our local version of Delhi Belly. That experience also left me with a lot of useful information about how to treat it and what danger signs to look out for, so I gave MrPloppy instructions on how to prepare rehydration drinks (1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a litre of (boiled!) water, plus enough ribena to make it not taste completely disgusting) to keep me from dehydrating, and (just in case I did get worse) how bad would be bad enough to call an ambulance, and basically settled down to wait it out.
(I’m sure at this point in the story some of you are wondering why I didn’t just take something like Imodium? That’s another thing I learnt in Africa, from a doctor I was travelling with. She said she would never take Imodium, because basically, if you have diarrhoea or vomiting, that’s because your body is trying desperately to expel something it doesn’t want in its system. If you try and control the expulsion process, then you risk letting the contaminant stay in your body, potentially doing even more damage. So her advice was to wherever possible just let diarrhoea take its course, and concentrate on treating the fever and dehydration, which are the really dangerous bits. It’s advice I’ve followed ever since, through a lot of third-world countries. Never really thought I’d have to use it in my own country though!)
Anyway, as predicted no ambulance was necessary, and by yesterday the worst was over, and today I’m feeling much more healthy, apart from being incredibly tired (just sitting here typing this has worn me out) and a bit delicate about what I eat.
All of which is just to say I do have all sorts of stories and photos for you about my trip (which was incredible and wonderful and amazing (all except the last 40-odd hours)), but I don’t yet have the endurance to sit at a computer for more than half an hour or so at a time (and I have to be back at work on Wednesday, so I don’t want to risk exhausting myself) so getting them uploaded might have to wait a few more days.