Arusha Tanzania 2006 Day 20 - Waiting for death's sweet release
I spent the better part of yesterday sitting on the toilet waiting to die. I never though I'd start a blog post with that sentence, but you just never know, eh? Seems that I'd caught my first case of TD - Traveller's Diarrhea, Dear Reader. I feel I know you well enough to share my lower tract distress, we've been together so long. Four continents and never a problem, but there's a first time for everything. I've always been "prepared" for it to happen, but one becomes a little complacent when one has had no problems for so long.
When visiting another country, no matter how developed, there's always a chance you'll pick up a stomach bug that you're not familiar with. I believe I saw some statistics that said that 30-40% of folks who visit Africa will have at least a small bout with TD. 7-10% of folks who visit the US or Canada from another country will as well. It's just one of those things.
Here's some things you can do to prevent and treat TD. They've worked for me for years, until yesterday.
- Ask for your drinks with no ice. Very often, especially in the states, ice is more contaminated than water.
- Avoid unwashed fruits, or fruits and veggies without skin that can be peeled off. We've been eating a lot of bananas, but I've avoided mangoes because the skin's a hassle.
- Check the seal on your bottled water, and don't be afraid to ask a local what the preferred local bottled water is. Apparently here in Tanzania, Kilimanjaro bottled water is well thought of.
- Get a prescription ahead of time for Cipro. Cipro is the "Hammer of Thor" when it comes to TD. Just one day later and I feel 90% better. I don't like using antibiotics because I'd like to avoid creating a super-bug, but Cipro seriously works on just about anything TD related. I happened to have six 500mg Cipros with me on this trip and needed 3 to feel better.
- Ask for your meat cooked medium or well-done, and avoid fish if you're extra paranoid. My mom and dad (=paranoid) are also brushing their teeth using bottle water, although Mo and I aren't worried that much. Maybe I should have worried more. :)
When you've got this urgent little problem, especially if it's a short trip like a week or two, it can be very distressing and mess up the whole itinerary, so it pays to be prepared. In this case, it only cost me a day, so that's not too bad.