March 4, 2014 by melcogger
You may have noticed that we have been getting sick a lot? Well, it turns out that for 3 weeks now, Jonty has contracted typhoid twice and I have once. In this post we explain that journey. It baffles me, however, that despite this enduring illness we have managed 500km so far and completed the first leg of our Philippines cycling adventures.
After Jonty’s high fever and delirium of feeling like he was a rock in Siqujoir and knowing how uncomfortable and difficult it is to cycle while sick we had to decide whether to get Jonty tested for something more serious. We had both been sick gradually on and off since our first week in the Philippines which we shrugged off as being separate illnesses. However, after a bit of research we concluded that we both had many tell-tale signs of typhoid fever. Typhoid fever is contracted through contaminated food and water. It is difficult to detect and can be misdiagnosed as a viral infection. Some of the symptoms were: (Jonty’s first Typhoid attack) sore throat in the first week (which we thought was normal due to all the pollution) followed by a cough (a usual chaser of a sore throat) with red spots on Jonty’s chest for one day (we thought that this must be due to the climate change). The following week we thought he both had a tummy bug (Jonty’s second wave of Thyphoid and my first, hopefully last) that we concluded was either because of too much fried food or the free fish we were given, followed by my fever for 2 days. The biggest wake up call for me was Jonty’s high fever and delirium in Siqujour.
However, after arriving in Manila, Jonty and I felt considerably better and getting tested seemed to both of us to be a considerable inconvenience because we would have to stay longer in Manila and it was very expensive. For some reason, our judgment (or mine and my fear of Jonty dying leaving me all alone in the rural north of the Philippines – our next leg of the trip) got the better of us and we decided to fork up 6000 pesos (nearly a weeks budget) for Jonty’s blood, urine and stool samples. It however did not cross my mind at this time to get tested myself as my symptoms have been less severe than Jonty’s and I had been feeling very well for the last week. At the time, I did not know that the reasons behind this were because of Jonty’s double dose of Typhoid.
After leaving the hospital we felt really depressed, not only were our pockets considerably lighter, but Jonty was feeling just fine. We bickered down the streets of Manila as to whether we had done the right thing and we both had a feeling that he had undergone expensive tests for a silly viral infection or flu that had now subsided. The only thing that perked us up a bit was four ice-creams between us and a sense of humor. We had to turn our frowns upside down and we tried to convince ourselves that we had made the right choice. We did this by making a joke out of the whole situation, admitting that we were much poorer and affectionately calling Jonty ” Typhoidus”when he got us lost or could not remember something (“that must be the typhoid talking dear, are u a rock?”).
After accepting our decision as being uncharacteristically over precautious and Jonty affirming me that I was only being a loving wife by insisting on the tests we were both shocked when we received the results. Positive for Typhoid. Instead of feeling disheartened, I felt complete relief. Not only did the money not go to waste, but we had found out this news in the third stage of Typhoid fever before a more serious and potentially fatal stage if left untreated. Strangely enough, the same day that Jonty’s results were released, I fell really sick again with fever, sore throat and confusion. This raised the alarm that I too had unsuspectingly contracted Typhoid fever which would explain both of our on and off illnesses. After retuning to the hospital with Jonty’s results the doctor concluded that I had probably contracted Typhiod at Jonty’s second phase since we both eat the same food and drink the same water and he gave us both a course of antibiotics.
We had almost decided to give up on cycling in the Philippines and to only continue cycling when we reached Vietnam. However, after a short chat with the only other person who we know had Typhoid (my father), he assured us that after a day or two of receiving treatment we both would be feeling much better and we could regret leaving our bikes in Manila while exploring the North of the Philippines. We felt relieved that he also felt a complete fool for going to hospital for what might have been a viral infection.
Had Jonty not undergone the tests, we would have unknowingly been putting our bodies under immense physical exertion by continuing cycling in the north of the Philippines, away from the city hospitals and doctors and leaving a potentially serious disease untreated. We thank God that he had moved in us and made us take what seemed at the time as a hypochondriac reaction to a usual travelers bugs. We have officially joined the Typhoid fever club, which has unfortunately made us stationary in Manila for the last 6 nights and perhaps more, until our recovery. On doctors orders we won’t cycle for the first week of our treatment and will only cycle back from the north to Manila.