Getting sick when you visit rural Africa was unavoidable, it would seem. Everyone came down with either dehydration, stomach infections, heat exhaustion, infected cuts or sores, you name it. Life was just tough.
Of course, I myself was not immune to the harsh climate of the Kenyan tropics. After a few weeks of jungle adventure and hiking in the forests, my immune system took its first hit.
I had been feeling really run down and overly tired every day. The hot, humid air of the forest zapped me of my energy almost instantly when I walked the trails to conduct research. The overall excitement of life I was feeling at the time helped mask how tired I truly was, which was nice. But not paying attention to my body was an epic mistake.
The constant dehydration notwithstanding, I was getting terrible stomach pain. Unbearable stomach pain. Some mornings, I was doubled over, clutching my stomach in confused and bitter agony as I fumbled to get ready for work. I walked with the group for a couple of weeks feeling this way, not bothering to mention it to anyone. Then the diarrhea started.
The day I decided to say something to the staff was the day I got sick out in the forest. I was hiking with everyone and suddenly needed to find a toilet. I ran behind a tree and nearly shit my pants! I was so embarrassed, demoralized and weak from lack of fluids. The walk back to base was a long, puckered one to say the least.
Enter, the Diani Hospital!!
The nearest hospital was in a coastal tourist town called Diani, about two hours’ drive away. And it was awesome!
Three meals a day delivered in bed. CHECK!
Your own TV and stack of DVD’s. CHECK!
A clean place to sleep all day. CHECK!
I arrived there looking like a hollowed out mummy with dark eyes and pale grey skin.
I was in bad shape. The doctor ran some quick tests and decided I had some nasty bacteria in my stomach causing my violent bouts of stomach rage. Two days in an air conditioned room with an IV in my hand to deliver fluids, and a regiment of antibiotics, and I was good as new!
I was so pleased to be feeling better. I rejoined my friends and fell immediately back in love with life, with Kenya, with partying and having a good time again.
This was good news because we were getting ready to leave for Tsavo, a rural town in dusty, central Kenya, 90 miles from Mt. Kilimanjaro!!
What I should have taken away from this experience was to drink lots more water, less alcohol and to never feel ashamed to speak up and ask for help. At the time, I guess I felt admitting I was sick and couldn’t participate was a sign of weakness. I don’t know. But this was the first however, of many lessons, Africa would beat over my head, till I stopped to listen.Never feel ashamed to speak up and ask for help #IntuitiveLiving Click To Tweet