A lot of people tried to scare me before I went to Asia. They told me stories of tropical illnesses, food poisoning, diarrhoea, travel sickness, you name it. However, I wasn’t really scared of anything. I guess I am pretty naïve. The only thing I said before I left was ‘as long as I’ll be safe and healthy, I’ll be fine.’ Well, I failed. I failed to take a good care of myself and it was scary.
2 months into my travels and I got hospitalised with not one, but… two infections. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. It wouldn’t be a big deal in Europe. However, this is a totally different part of the world and things are handled differently here. I would lie if I would say that I managed to keep my strong independent woman’s guard. I wish. I never thought that I can feel so hopeless and vulnerable. And believe me, you do feel hopeless when you’ve been suffering from severe pain, nausea, fever and no one really cares whether you’ll live or die unless you have enough money in your bank account. Wasn’t it supposed to be really cheap out here?
I spent 8 hours in the waiting room. 8 hours with no treatment other than two tablets of paracetamol. And this is simply because my shitty (and I am not taking this back) travel insurance didn’t want to guarantee the payment of almost $3000 and of course the hospital wasn’t going to admit me until they receive the confirmation. After 6 hours of waiting and multiple calls between Siem Reap and London, they told me that they can’t do anything about it unless I drag my ass to another hospital which they have a relationship with and in a polite British manner added ‘we understand your frustration’. (I don’t think that you can be frustrated when you can barely get up from your bed but I understand that this is what they taught you to say during your two-week training).
I won’t deny this, I lost my shit. So many thoughts were running through my head. I am alone in Cambodia. Yes, in a third world country. How good/bad their healthcare is? Are these doctors going to misdiagnose me with something? Just stop reading online comments and close WebMD. Will I have to be taken to Bangkok? Could I survive a 12-hour flight home in this condition? What’s when? Do I have enough money in my bank account to cover this if my travel insurance won’t agree to pay the bill? What am I even doing here? Why am I on the other side of the world completely alone? Will they just leave me on the street with all the strayed dogs?
Eventually, my travel insurance agreed to pay for my treatment and I spent two blissful days on a drip.
The problem with this is that I am 25 years of age and I am so shit at taking care of myself that I drove my body to this point. It’s no one’s fault but mine. I failed to listen to my body and give it what it needed the most. I am not gonna preach all the crap Instagram fitness babes preach. There’s enough of that in the online world. All I want to say is that this taught me a lesson. Damn our bodies are more fragile than we think they are. We think that we are so young and feel so invincible sometimes, but actually our bodies might not be as capable as someone else’s and actually no, it cannot drink beer for 7 days in a row and eat pad thais all day long. You know… I’ve tried and my body clearly told me to f*ck off.
So before you end up like me, do yourself a favour and go back to the BASICS:
- Remember that water is life. Also, invest some money in electrolytes and DRINK them every day!
- Watch what you eat. And I’m not saying this in terms of ‘watch your figure’. No, just make sure you eat good, nutritious food and you get all the vitamins you need. I am serious about this. It will do a world of good. And no, beer doesn’t count as food.
- Listen to your body and learn to say NO.
- Get some sleep. Parties, overnight buses, hours exploring new destinations, all will take its toll on you. Sleep as much as you can!
- Get a decent travel insurance and READ the small script.
Lesson learnt. Let’s carry on.