‘H’ is for ‘Hypochondriac’

April 8, 2008 at 7:52 am (Uncategorized)

I’m currently wondering if it was really safe to drink the water…I probably should have erred on the side of caution, but I didn’t. I was told the water was safe to drink by a reliable source, so I drank it. Lots of it. Several litres per day of pure tap. And now… well, I’ve been unable to shake this weird frontal lobe headache and general sense of complete exhaustion. When I was in Vanuatu, I put this down to the humidity. It was probably exactly that. But now I’m back and this strange headache refuses to dissipate, I have entered the full blown paranoia stage. What if there was a nasty bug in the water? What if one of my many mosquito bites has given me something foul? I certainly gave them enough opportunity. It only very belatedly occurred to me that I should have asked someone if malaria was a problem.

You see, I had a sort of travel writer lobotomy before leaving. When Llew and I are travelling anywhere on holidays, I am supremely conscientious when it comes to getting all the appropriate jabs and packing all the appropriate medication. I am fanatical about safe drinking water. But I had a meltdown this time round, and I can only assume it was because I was there for work. As in, not a holiday, regardless of how it sounds. And because I was there for work, I blithely assumed I would have been forearmed with pertinent information like “Take malaria pills” and “Don’t drink the water” by the people in charge. Now I’m wondering if perhaps I failed the very first rule of decent reportage: do your research. I thought it would be fun – yes, fun – to arrive absolutely clueless about the place. I liked the idea of just being there all of a sudden, no preparation, no reading up on the plane, no copy of Lonely Planet weighing me down. Just me and my sunscreen.

Well, mission accomplished, genius.

Perhaps I should have been a little more conservative. I am, after all, someone who spent two weeks in hospital with typhoid, and this even after getting every conceivable jab, including typhoid, before leaving for India. Have I learnt nothing? This is one of those times when I’m forced to conclude that when it boils right down to it (boiled… boiled is good… boiled water is good…), I am a bit of a half-wit. Only a half-wit would so unthinkingly do as I have just done.

So now what? Well, I suppose there’s nothing else for it. I’ll have to pop in to see my doctor and explain my headache and odd lethargy and see if she thinks it’s worth giving me a blood test or something to wear around my neck that says I am certifiably mad, a dangerous hypochondriac and an all round pest instead. Either is infinitely possible at this point. Maybe the water really is perfectly fine to drink. Maybe the mosquitoes don’t go around spreading malaria. Maybe I’m just tired. Yes, it’s been a big day and I’ve filed my story at last (I lied – my REAL deadline was today at 3 o’clock), and now I’m feeling very, very sleepy…

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