What doesn’t kill you… Being ill away from home.

Every time I leave England for extended periods of time I manage to contract some form of serious throat problem that leaves me stuck in bed for a good few days at a time, so I have now had plenty of practice at being ill whilst stranded miles and miles from my insanely comfortable memory foam double bed and my mother’s attempts at tender loving care (she’s a terrible nurse but she makes great pancakes when I’m better!).

The last two weeks have seen two trips to the doctors. The fun was kicked off last week with a bad throat, head ache and general pain all over my body that appeared in different places when it felt like it. I spent two days in bed last weekend and after that was fine apart from a lingering sore throat and bit of a cough which by Saturday had morphed into major tonsillitis. Luckily I’ve escaped the fever this time, I just can’t swallow! Hoping the antibiotics (they hand them out like sweets here, you don’t have to be dying like in England) will kick in.

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So here you go guys, Katie’s top tips for when you get ill several thousand miles and several months away from home!

Firstly, tell the locals. You will be amazed at the way your new friends, or even just the local community, will rally around you. I know you have no idea what the word for tonsils in x language is or can’t even begin to explain the difference between an aching and stabbing pain, but you’ll get there, with the help of word reference and sign language. Everyone I’ve attempted to explain my illness to has asked if I need anything and made me promise to let them know if they can do anything for me. I have had coconut water and fresh orange juice delivered directly to my door! When I nearly killed myself with 5 consecutive nights out in Bali and then found myself completely alone with, yet again, tonsillitis, it was the owner of my home stay that insisted on taking me to the doctor, waiting with me and taking me to the pharmacy. The kindness of strangers is incredible. Wherever you are, you’ll never be truly alone.

You will however also have to listen to everyone offering you their own special remedy for the illness they think you have, because it worked on their aunt’s best friend’s niece a few years ago. My general policy is to accept such home remedies in the belief that what doesn’t kill me will hopefully make me stronger.

Get out of the house. Your bed is definitely a very good place to be and you need plenty of time there to get better, but (illness permitting) getting up off the mattress that will never quite be as good as the one at home will make you feel a lot better. Tempting as it might be to lock yourself in your cave, feel sorry for yourself and spend your time skyping home and flicking through all of your friends Facebook pictures, wondering if their year abroad is better than yours, it won’t help. Trust me, I have done all these things. You need to take your mind off it. Go out for a juice with a friend, go for a stroll, go to the park and sit in the shade people watching, and distract yourself. It’s amazing how much less things hurt when your not thinking about them.

My personal strategy was to spend my day off yesterday at the Balneario where I resisted the temptation of the water (getting wet is a complete no-no if you’re ill apparently, but then the other half of them recommend cold showers, the logic in that…?!), and instead rented myself a hammock and lazed in it all day in the shade, reading and dozing. Magic. And think positive, there’s nothing like the power of the mind!

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Now it’s time to go off topic, because it would be highly boring not to. I haven’t had too much time to get up to mischief between being ill (which has successfully ruined both my days of in the last two weeks). Still adjusting to Brazilian eccentricities and (I will be cheesy if I want to) learning a ridiculous amount about myself as a person. Nothing like being on the other side of the world on your own for nine months to make you really start growing up! Although I can’t decide if I’m actually growing up or just developing more of a split personality, as the angels and demons battle it out on my shoulders. Amazing what living several thousand miles away makes you realise about yourself!

So as you may have noticed I’m going all deep on you. So I will add insult to injury by telling you a bit about the incredibly beautiful things I did last week. Sunday night was spent at the farm of the lovely family that own the park. I balanced on the parapet of the veranda (never been one for a chair) and looked out at the fields that were literally sparkling with fireflies. They weren’t flying but stationary on the ground glittering away to themselves by the thousands. The bottle of wine I worked my way through (so delicious- there is a serious lack of wine in Brazil) probably heightened my appreciation, but it felt so luxurious to sit there sipping cool wine on a balmy Sunday night watching the earth sparkle. Why doesn’t England sparkle?! The following night I went night scuba diving!! I don’t think I’ll ever forget the way the full moon broke into a thousand rainbows when seen from below the crystal clear water of the River Formoso.

Bonito is definitely living up to its name!

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