I rolled out of bed and looked at my clock it was 3am. I felt exhausted and weak. I needed to go pee though really bad. I sat there a moment and finally found the energy to get up and walk to the toilet down the hall from my dorm. I went in and instead of peeing ended up throwing up. I had no clue what I was throwing up because I had not eaten in the past 3 days. I then peed and walked back. As I was walking back I felt my eyes roll back and I hit the floor hard. I had fainted and for a brief second had no clue what was happening. I got up and could barely walk. Then I heard someone ask if I was okay. I said, “no I just fainted”. He jumped out of bed to help me to bed. It was the German who has been on the bunk above me the past few days. I don’t know his name or much about him. He knows I’m sick and ask me how I’m doing every time he comes and goes from the room. He’s only seen me in bed sick. I’m glad he got up. He told me I had to go to the hospital. I told him yes please. While he searched for the nearest hospital I gathered my things. I put all the medicine I was taking in my backpack along with my passports and credit cards and cash. I didn’t have insurance so knew this wasn’t going to be cheap. I didn’t care though I had been sick long enough and wasn’t getting better. I honestly thought I was dying. Lucky for us the hospital was a few blocks away. He helped me walk outside and we took a cab and arrived at the hospital.
—Christ of Redeemer and I.—
Before I continue with what happened after I arrived at the hospital let me explain how it got to that point. I arrived in Rio de Janeiro and was so excited to spend a week there. I had plans to do all the tourist stuff during the week to enjoy the weekend on the gay beach. Yeah that didn’t happen. I arrived and the next day I went to see Christ of Redeemer and it was a huge let down. It was so many people up there you couldn’t get a good shot of it without anyone else in it. It was also quite exhausting being surrounded by so many people. I did get a selfie with it and that was the best I could do. I went back to the hostel after a few hours up there. Later that night I felt a fever coming and went to bed early.
—The Lapa Steps and I.—
The next day I felt a little weak, but had made plans to meet up with a friend I made years ago while I was on a Sahara Desert Tour in Morocco that lives in Rio. He took me to the famous Lapa Steps and around downtown Rio. I wasn’t feeling well though so asked him if we could call it a night early and go back to the hostel. I felt horrible for calling it a night early, but I wasn’t kidding. I wasn’t feeling well and felt a fever coming again so went to bed early again.
—The submit of Morro Dois Irmãos and I.—
The day after that I woke up drenched in sweat, but was feeling well. I felt good enough to go on a hike with the hostel to Morro Dois Irmãos a huge rock next to the famous Impanema and Leblon Beach with a summit of 533 meters above sea level. The views were stunning. The craziest thing though was we had to walk through a favela to get to it. On the way back down I wasn’t feeling so well and threw up. I was happy though that I did it anyway because that was it. That is basically all I did while I was in Rio for a week. The rest of my time there I was sick in bed and feeling like death.
The following day I felt like shit and needed to change hostels because the one I was at was booked for the weekend. I didn’t realize I was in Rio during Easter Weekend. So before changing hostels I decided to put on a pair of the tiny trunks (you can see a photo of me in them here) I had purchased when I first arrived in Rio and go to the gay beach. I was there for a little bit and threw up again. I knew something wasn’t right then. I went back to the hostel and cahnged hostels and moments later things got worse.
—A photo of all the meds I took while I was dying in Rio.—
I realized I wasn’t eating at all, but throwing up and was feeling weak. My fever was back. I checked in and just slept and made plans with my friend to go to a clinic the following day if I wasn’t feeling better. I woke up and was still very sick. We met up at the clinic and the nurse saw me. She seemed very unprofessional, but diagnosed me with Intestinal Infection and prescribed me a few medicines to take. I bought them, but had a problem with the pills because I wasn’t keeping anything down at all. That night I went to sleep and its when it happened I woke up at 3am to use the bathroom and fainted moments later.
On the way to the hospital in the cab I literally thought, “I’m dying in Rio… fuck. This can’t be how I go and fuck I haven’t told anyone I’m dying because I don’t want to worry them.” – We arrived at the hospital and filled out the necessary paper work and within minutes an English speaking doctor saw me. He let me know it sounded like I did have an intestinal infection. He saw what the nurse had prescribed to me and said he would have prescribed the same thing. He mentioned he would change one of them to a stronger dose since that wasn’t really working on me. He said I was feeling like death because my body could not longer handle the fact that I had not had anything to eat for 3 days and was dehydrated. He said I should get an IV of saline in me. I asked him how much that would cost, since I didn’t have insurance. I wanted to know even though knew I was going to take it no matter what. He said about $300. I wanted to kill myself there for not having insurance, but oh well said lets do it because I literally felt like I was dying and this was my health we were talking about.
—I didn’t have much energy but enough to take crappy photos.—
He sat me down and as I waited to be hooked up I threw up again. I couldn’t believe it… seriously what the fuck do you throw up when you haven’t ate for 3 days? He finally hooked me up and no joke within minutes I was already starting to feel better. I asked him if it was okay to fly the following day? I had a flight to Iguazu Falls I didn’t want to miss. He said I should be fine by then and would be okay to fly. he let me know I am not dying and that I’m not contagious and to just rest until then. I was out of the hospital before I knew it. The bill for the hospital visit was $300, but if you add everything I spent on meds I know I spent well over $400, but oh well I didn’t die.
—Hooked up and feeling better.—
I went back to the hostel and guess who visited? My good friend Brandon. Yes the friend I had been following all over Patagonia. Well we had been following each other through Pucon, El Chalten, The W in Torres del Paine and even in Ushuaia. It was so nice to see a familiar face and even more so since he was a Dr. He told me to drink a lot of Powerade and Gatorade. He brought me so acai (Brazilian drink/ice cream) and salt rocks to bring my salt levels up. We talked a bit and gave each other a huge hug and he carried on. I kept resting. The next day I woke up not feeling great, but feeling better. I took my two flights to get to Iguazu. I arrived and because I now really had no rush to get anywhere spent my first day there in bed and the next catching up in my journal. By the third day there I was actually feeling better and normal that I went to the Brazilian side of the falls.
It’s now been over 2 months since all this happened and looking back I can honestly say this is the sickest (is that a word?) I have ever been on the road. This trumped the week of diarrhea in India. At the moment I honestly felt like I was dying. I look back and actually get upset at myself because I didn’t tell anyone about it while I was sick. I did let my oldest sister know that I wasn’t feeling well, but that’s it. I think about it now and the fact that if something had happened to me what would my family have done? The truth is though I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want to worry them and didn’t think it would be this bad (oops). Plus what could they do for me millions of miles away in Houston? Yeah nothing so I just let it be. I did though buy travel insurance a few days after this nightmare and now am insured.
What I remember most of all was feeling so lonely in a fucking dorm room. I laid in bed 3 days straight and it was just horrible feeling alone. I felt like no one cared. Of course they didn’t need to… they don’t know me after all. I am thankful for the German guy for helping me and staying with me the entire time I was in the hospital. That morning he had a flight to catch, but stayed with me until the end. Some people are angels and you don’t ever find out who they are. Anyway now I am just rambling because I am sitting here writing this thinking about that week in Rio. I also remember that the 3 days I was really sick in bed on the weekend it was so damn sunny and I had been having very shitty weather in Brazil. I was a bit pissed about that… because my plans were to frolic with the gays on the beach bajajajaja.
Ahhhhh now this is just another crazy story I have that I can share with others. Now I can laugh about it too… a little. I laugh because I honestly was so dramatic, but it’s who I am and I can’t help it. I did think I was dying in Rio. Fuck that would have been a horrible ending to my life. Even though shit I don’t want to think about how I go. If I do though… know that I am happy & life is good.
So have you ever been that sick on the road? Sick to the point you thought were dying?