This morning I woke up with a clenching in my stomach and nausea so severe I couldn’t stand up straight; I meandered Quasimodo-style to the nearest bathroom. Thankfully, it wasn’t far (I’m enjoying the luxury of a Filipino resort in Manila for a few days prior to my swearing-in ceremony) nor occupied; my two roommates appeared to be peacefully sleeping in our air-conditioned room without the sounds of roosters to wake them. I’ll spare you the gruesome details of what happened when I made it to the comfort room (the term for bathroom in the Philippines, a little ironic, eh?) but I was clearly ill. After some time I announced to one roommate who was awake that I would be spending what was left of the morning on the bathroom floor.
When I woke up hours later, the morning was practically gone. I opened my cabana door to the deserted grounds of our hotel (most trainees went to Manila for a day of exploration) and a midday sun that sent me doubled over from heat and brightness in a matter of seconds. When I came to my senses, I heard the soft lullaby of English-speaking voices from the next cabana over. I sauntered across the road, stumbling like the lone surviver in a post-zombie apocalyptic world and knocked briefly before I pushed open the door. It turns out, I was not alone.
There were 9 others (that I was aware of at the time of writing this) who are also battling this potential food poisoning, stomach bug, virus, amoeba, dengue outbreak, plague or what have you… And there was something bizarrely comforting about not being sick alone in a foreign country. I swapped horror stories of the last 12-hours with my compadres and though I felt more nauseated from talking about what food source potentially made us ill, my spirits had lifted. I was bummed that I had missed out on our day of fun in Manila, but I was not alone and felt bittersweet relief at that. As a fellow feverish trainee said: those who are sick together, stick together. Albeit, after a while we dispersed to our own rooms to rest, but the feeling of comradary remained.
I wrote the above section while I was awake and not too queasy around 1pm. It’s now 8pm, and I’m feeling better, but still weak, achy, and dehydrated. Some fellow batch mates are on the up, some are on the down, some are miraculously healthy and ordering pizza from fear of food poisoning. I’m eagerly awaiting a delivery of saltines and Gatorade from another Trainee and the arrival of our Medical Officer who’s come to see the 20+ of us who have come down with The Bug.
Anyway, spirits are tired but still positive; I have had so many people ask if I needed anything, likewise, I’ve tried to look out for others. The fact is we’ve become this large extended family, our struggles are paralleled and no matter where we came from we are here now and we look out for each other. Dengue might get us down, but it will not break us. 🙂
(Don’t worry, we don’t have dengue. Will update when I’m feeling better tomorrow; I’ve a small fever and am sending myself to bed)