About 13 years ago I returned from India with a case of Giardia which, for people who don’t know, is basically a stomach parasite That’s not uncommon for visitors to the sub-continent. Visiting I knew the popular dos and don’ts. I only drank bottled water, and generally, I was careful about what I put in my mouth. I chafed that against that. For me, there’s an inherent risk whenever you travel, and the greater part of the experience is to do it authentically. I was happy to drink bottled water because that made no difference, but I remember a day going out for lunch and coming across a street stall selling chapattis and the like to about a dozen eager customers.
Now, when I say street stall, I mean a youthful-looking bloke cooking on a grate placed over the top of a 44-gallon drum. I was curious and enticed by the aroma and look of the food, and I stopped. The crowd there opened for me, as it does in India when you’re western and attending something close to them. They began to ask questions of me and fought to get my attention, ultimately urging me on to eat with them. It didn’t take much. It was the sort of experience I crave when I’m travelling, and I was hungry. I knew it was risky, but what the…
I figure that’s when I got Giardia. The youthful-looking bloke served me with some delight, pleased to have my custom as a form of endorsement for his place.
I got diagnosed once I returned and was put on a month-long treatment – a ‘bomb’ – during which I wasn’t allowed to drink. It was tough work.
So anyway, 13 years on, I began to feel similar symptoms as I did back then – a squirly gut and general discomfort. I didn’t feel it al the time, nor was it as severe as what I suffered then – and so I endured it for a while, expecting it to go away. The irony is that I’ve been nowhere for ages, near enough, let alone somewhere like India. The opportunities to catch any kind of stomach parasite are very limited.
But, six weeks later, it still hadn’t gone away. On Monday, I had one of the new-fangled tele-health sessions with my doc to have it checked out. He prescribed me something similar to what I had 13 years ago, only this time only for three days. This is my third day, and while there’s been no squirliness, the side-effects from the tablets are getting to me: general nausea and a shocking taste in my mouth. From what I know, it basically kills every bacteria in your gut, which is why it’s called a bomb.
Let’s assume it does the trick. The question now is, how did I get this? I guess I’ll not worry too much if it’s properly cured, but it’s unusual, I reckon.