Travel medical woes

Travel does not mean you can escape, unscathed

I thought I'd write something up about my medical history while traveling. We all get bad stomachs e.t.c., but I thought a look at how I dealt with things might shed some light on things and help some others in case they come across similar situations.
Please be aware that any treatments listed here are in relation to me. If you are sick, my advise is to go and see a doctor.

Itinerary of Injuries & Ailments so far

1. Pinched nerve in back standing at urinal in Granada, Spain while wearing backpack:
Okay a warning. Never wear your big backpack while walking on slippery urinal tiles in Spain. Enough said!

2. Pulled right calf in Barcelona:
You would think that carrying a heavy backpack would have been the cause? Nope, just a random hop up to a sidewalk step. A pulling sensation on the back of my right calf that resulted in two weeks of hobbling.

3. Tore right calf muscle climbing hill in France:
So the pulled calf muscle felt 100%. But taking a quick lunge up a steep hill in France let loose a ripping sound and sensation from the muscle. It sent me crumbling to the ground and questioning whether the journey was over already. Treatment: one month of TLC whilst still traveling, anti inflammatory's and hope.

4. Hell spawned friction burns in inner thighs while walking in Budapest:

I think it had something to do with losing weight. It was miserable. Couldn't go far without grinding to a halt. I bought bicycle shorts, they worked for a day. Then lots of cream. I disappeared shamefully into many hostel bathrooms to apply both!

5. Pulled left calf muscle in Brasov:
If the right one doesn't get you, the left will. I guess all the over dependence on my left leg caught up on another hill climb. It began to tick me off. So I plain out ignored the pain, and never had a problem since.

6. Full of Gas and constipated constantly?!

Eastern European food, and a lack of fruit? I don't know. But it hurt, and required more bathroom visits. Some kebabs in Turkey sorted me out. ;-)

7. If you are destined for hell be prepared for Friction Burns, Ankara Turkey:

Look, it may seem like a small thing. But it was possibly the single most painful thing to happen to me on the overland trip. Imagine a fire between your upper thighs. Okay that could sound bad. It's nowhere near 'that' region. It brought me to a standstill. The fancy trekkers combats I was wearing went into a cheap wholesale clothing store bin. And I walked out with a cheap pair of combats made in turkey. I bandaged my thighs up and never had a problem again. The bandages came off in Iran.

8. Purple Projectile Vomit, in Peshawar, Pakistan:

Yes it was purple. Yes it was coming out both ends. Had to happen at some stage. I got dehydrated and used ORHS. It was food poisoning from a respectable Kebab shop. The purple, I think, came from the red cabbage and red onion. The bathroom was not a pretty place, and I was glad not to be traveling with anyone.

9. Suffocation in Nepal:
Read about this in travel blog from Nepal section at some stage. I never took the two days acclimatization in Manang on a trek. Woke up at 1am not able to breath. Pretty terrifying.

10. Tear Gas Effects in Katmandu:

Having never experienced tear gas, it was quite strange. From a distance, a little peppery and metallic as you breath. Your eyes sting as if in heavy pollution. Up close and it's nasty. Your eyes water and become very blurred as they sting like crazy. Rubbing makes it worse. Breathing it in is like choking on poison ... don't figure!

11. More Tear Gas in Lhasa:

Much like the above. Though this time mixed with burning smoke and general chaos. Once you experience it once, you kinda get used to protecting yourself.

12. Malaria in Africa:
This sucks. There was no way to get to the hospital for treatment as there was a military blockade in force. I self treated with three different varieties of medication. All of which made my a bit out of it. One week later I was better, it took about 6 weeks to be back to full speed. But nothing compared to the below.

13. Unknown virus in West Africa:
Okay. I was diagnosed with Malaria through a finger prick test. But, the blood tests were negative. At the time the nearest hospital had a great reputation for making people worse. So with a private NGO nurse I self treated. My fever rose to 104 degrees, and I was shivering and shaking like a bad actor. Then the stroke like electrical shocks started to hit my head, and I was mess. It's about as close to death though sickness I have been. The pain was as good as having a multitude of strokes. Each one sending me into a mini convulsion.

Left with little choice I was checked into 'that' hospital, and overdosed on everything from antibiotics, painkillers and anti malarial. The fever broke, but the head pain continued for a month, lessening all the time. I eventually managed to fly out, and get a head CT scan. All clear. I still had Salmonella, Typhoid and something else. But the brain was okay. Well ... some would argue ...

14. Typhoid - Africa:
Well, it lingered for ages. And I don't know how conclusive the tests were. But eventually it left.

15. Salmonella - Africa:
Okay, get ready. I had diarrhea for a solid year. Two days a week I was solid, the rest was not pleasant. Bottled water, bleach, disinfectants, different houses. They all ended up with me not being able to shake this. Living with this was not pleasant and totally wears you down to the point of exhaustion.

16. Giardiasis - Asia:
Not a big thing, but after the above, it leaves you a little unsure of what you have. Self treated, and was fine.

17. Giardiasis - Asia:
Okay maybe it is a big thing. Constant stomach pains, and bloating continue. Am thinking this is amoebic, and stemming from Africa. Research needed ...

18. Dental extractions - Philippines:
Yep, I saw this one coming. Wisdom teeth, too far back for a brush to reach. Self precautionary measure here. You can read more about my treatment on Finding a Dentist in The Philippines.

19. Liver enzymes go through the roof - Asia:
Okay so a routine full medical test reveal my liver enzymes are way too high ... no more alcohol for me.

20. Colon disease or not? - Asia:
Ongoing as we speak ... documented in my journals. And, still ongoing. Hard to beleive the medical establishment is so disjointed.

Medication I take:
IMPORTANT! This is what I have and it is personalized. I am not recommending you buy nor take anything on this list. It is merely an itinerary of what I have. Consult a healthcare professional before taking or buying anything.

  • Syringes
  • Assorted plasters Bandage
  • Lots of tea tree oil
  • Olbas oil
  • Decongestant -(xylometazoline HCL 1mg)
  • Paracetamol 500mg
  • My preferred sinus antibiotic - Amoxicillin & Potassium Clavulanate -250mg* three times daily for 7 days.(backup cefaclor 250mg) - both no longer taken due to bacterial issues in colon.
  • My preferred stomach antibiotic - Ciprofloxacin -500mg twice a day for 5 days. Or (norfloxacin 400mg) twice a day for three days
  • Strepsils
  • Malaria Treatment - Cotecxin (Dihydroartemisinin) One daily for 8 days.
  • Giardiasis - (tinidazole 2g) single dose or (metroniidazole) 250mg three times daily for five to ten days.
  • Amoeba Treatment - Metronidazole( 400mg & Diloxanide 500mg) 3 times a day for 5 days
  • Ear infection - treatment Ibubrofen - Otrivina (decongestant) - Acetonide flucionolona 0.275 mg, Sulfate polymyxin B. 11,000 IU, Neomycin base (as sulphate) 3.85 mg

Again the above should not be taken without consulting a doctor - the list if my own personal one.