63. Taking a Chance on Local Medicine

Taking A Chance On Local Medicine: Some days are spectacularly difficult. A few days ago, on a day we’d planned to travel to a new location in the Philippines, I awoke to violent nausea. This wasn’t the kind of nausea you can bargain with, like,

Me: Ohhhhh, I don’t feel well.
Stomach: Yeah, I’m thinking about making you vomit.
Me: No no, let’s think this through.
Stomach: I’m not sure there’s any other option.
Me: We brought a really nice medical kit with us, let’s look through it.
Stomach: Ok, you’ve got one hour.

No, this was swift, decisive nausea, and it kicked off 10 hours of uncontrollable heaving, followed by a high fever and more days of sharp abdominal pain. Somewhere in the middle of that, when things were at their most frightening, we made the decision – Amy made the decision – that we’d make a run for the local rural hospital on the island of Bantayan. And by “run for the hospital,” I mean we climbed into the back of a van with a stretcher bolted inside and enjoyed a 15 minute high-speed ride on rough dirt roads. I made Amy take a video of it and when I watch it now, I feel the same sick terror I had during the ride. And when I look at this photo, I see only my fear. The hospital staff were sweet, if not a little bemused, and we communicated well enough to decide on an injection that stopped the nausea and started the healing. Yes it was a sterile needle, yes I watched them open the sealed liquid drug vial and yes, Amy did have to fight her way through some roosters in order to get to the detached pharmacy shed where she bought the injection. File this one under No Unnecessary Shellfish Risks For A Couple Of Months.


  1. I’m glad you survived — get well soon! Click below for a link to my column about Oaxaca.

  2. rja72 says:

    good lord! well that was bound to happen sooner or later i guess. glad you’re safe. i hope mikey doesn’t see this entry…

  3. Emelinda says:

    Another visit to a Philippine hospital! Does this mean you didn’t get to see the Chocolate hills?

  4. mikey says:


    disregard that “how you livin?” email I sent ya.

  5. S says:

    We did make it to the Chocolate Hills, although on a very compressed timeline. They were very chocolate brown, especially the ones that locals had set fire to(!). Dark chocolate.

    I basically didn’t fully recover until the day we left The Philippines, which meant lots of lying in a Cebu City bed watching last season episodes of crappy American TV shows. Boo hoo.