A few weeks after I arrived in Indonesia I was diagnosed with typhoid. I didn’t even realize that this was still around as a communicable disease. But I guess it is in a place where the tap water is not potable.
I knew going in for an international job posting in Indonesia that denge was a threat. Balancing the risk of denge against the very real possibility of lung cancer from the various products available to fight mosquitos constitutes a daily decision.
Yet, what I haven’t had since living near Jakarta is even one cold. I’ve hesitated to post about this, because simply mentioning it will jinx this non-cold streak. To preface this observation, I must point out that I get colds all the time when I’m in the US. My sister, a nurse, thinks I’m a hypochondriac because when I hear about someone’s illness: H1N1 or a stomach virus going around–I’m inevitably the next to get it. Self-fulfilling prophecy.
In contrast to my personal neurosis, during the past 2 weeks real tropical illness has taken root all around. A colleague’s husband was rushed to the hospital because he couldn’t breathe. He has asthma in addition to a recurring fungal infection in his brain which is triggered by the mold that clings to surfaces due to the humidity. A good friend came down with typhoid. Her daughter also got typhoid which has morphed into denge. Another colleague has been hospitalized with tuberculosis. When I went to visit her, we wore face masks–Asians wear them in public when they are sick, but in this case TB is contagious through airborne contact. Finally, a colleague has been out since the beginning of the school year with a mysterious illness which no one can explain.
The various and ubiquitous stomach infections as well as the pink eye that is lurking, ready to flower at any moment due to the pollution are constantly on my mind.
After spending hundreds on shots in preparation to live in a different place, I’m crossing my fingers that the effects hold for a few more months. International travel can be exciting for many, many reasons. Adventure would lose its significance without a touch or more of danger, right?