Background: This month I'm in Cusco, seeing the city and volunteering at a school project for underprivileged, impoverished kids. This is an almost verbatim entry from the diary I'm keeping while I'm out here.
It’s the morning of Monday 21st May, and I feel utterly, utterly terrible.
I reel off the list of possibilities to myself. It’s not a hangover, because I didn’t drink last night. It’s got to be something dodgy that I ate recently. I can’t think of anything in particular. I’ve not eaten from the pasaje vendors in days.
I decide that it’s probably nothing and I should let it pass.
I spend the next hour running back and forth between the toilet. Okay, it’s not getting any better. Let’s go for a walk, have a drink of water and see. I walk up to the school.
It takes me twenty minutes longer than normal. I eventually get there, and crash into one of the sofas. I feel so, so ill.
Discussion with one of the other volunteers, a nurse, strikes up a scary feasibility: parasites. After ten minutes of lying in agonising pain, I make a dive for the bathroom, and proceed to throw up everywhere. Not pleasant.
Mary, the United Planet organiser, whisks me off to the hospital.
I get admitted quickly and taken up to the fifth floor. After throwing up I feel a lot better, but I still feel incredibly suspect. To my surprise, the hospital is clean and modern, and my room is comfortable. It’s not a ward; I get the entire room to myself, complete with television and coffee table. If I’m going to get a stomach infection I’m going to do it in style.
They begin to poke needles in me. They draw blood samples from three different veins and attach an intravenous drip. I don’t like needles and it hurts, but once the drip is in things are better. It’s a weird feeling. You’re distinctly aware of something flowing into your body, but you can’t feel it directly. My left arm quickly becomes cold.
I’m left overnight. A few meals, a re-run of Kubrick’s masterpiece, A Clockwork Orange (luckily, I carry my laptop everywhere) and a few episodes of Family Guy later, they come back. And they demand more blood. Vampires, the lot of them, I swear it.
After another day in hospital, biding time, writing my novel, watching the remains of the television and film on my hard disk, and making sporadic trips to el baño, I’m finally discharged.
I’m about to get a taxi back, but the hospital deem it appropriate to send me into town in the ambulance. I get into the cab and the driver speeds through Cusco traffic, sirens blaring. A very entertaining ride home.
I’m still not sure quite what the problem was. A stomach infection, or a parasite. Either way, I spend three days feeling like an absolute mess. I take it easy and sit in cafés, taking my antibiotics, not paying much attention to the world.
By Friday I feel human again.
An interesting week, to say the least.