I booked a super early flight out of Vietnam heading towards Taiwan. Then I got my first signal: Sudden fatigue mixed with a sudden need to take a shit. See I was standing in line waiting for what should be a routine ticket pickup. Should’ve only taken 30 minutes tops but in Asia they’re airport ticketing and check bagging systems are all haywire and take twice as long.
I was the 3rd person up and I decided to deal with my body nudging me towards the bathroom. It sat there for a pretty long time really until I felt I had enough energy to drag all my stuff back out there. When I got back in line it was twice as long as when I had left it. Fuck.
There was a white family direct in front of me, highly neurotic. The mom waited patiently in line while the dad distracted their 2 boys outside in the fresh air. 30 minutes passed and they came back in to check on the status. They were shocked the line only moved about 3 spaces. As an entitled American, if I was at full strength I would’ve probably made a move even if only to talk to the ticketing counter to make sure we’d still make my flight but I was in too weak a state to make any sudden demands. Thankfully for my neurotic white american counterpart they went ahead and did it for me… it’s the American way afterall to complain and put your personal needs before those of others.
Apparently, the ticket counter was confident we’d make it. Call it a cultural difference as in America there’s no possible way you’re making that flight. The line itself looked like it still had an hour and the flight was leaving in an hour. That’s not counting the security checkpoint we had to cross then finding the gate. I wanted to make it but I was more focused on staying upright and looking normal for fear of being flagged a flight risk for appearing sickly. Turns out I made the flight no problems guess it all runs on asian time and although a bit frantic for the non innitiated it all somehow makes it on time.
Touch down in Taipei and head straight for the York Design Hotel where I booked one night. It was a concrete box which was measured for space minimalism. Didn’t worry me one bit as I just desparately needed a nap. Damn good one too. I woke up to my taiwanese cousin John asking if I’d like to meet for dinner in an hour. I knew this was one of my uncle’s last nights in town so I had to go see everyone. It was a great gathering, seeing uncles, aunts, grandma, grandpa, and all my cousins. I used all my energy celebrating seeing them that night. Then bam straight back to bed.
When your body feels cold and everytime you sneeze the soft spot on the back of your head hurts that’s a bad signal. I felt the need to close off all the airgaps in my blankets to make it as warm as possible which of course leads to a sweat box. So be it. I need to get over this fast. I looked over my symptoms and my conclusion was I was having caffeine withdrawals. Afterall god only know how many cups of coffee I was having everyday in Vietnam. They make a great cuppa joe in form factors we’ve not been introduced to in the west. This was my sentencing.
The next two days were as follows. Lots of time spent with my Big Uncle who was acting as host and caretaker. Things were up and down. Day 3 I finally decided to go to a clinic. They told me I was running a 100 degree fever which caught me by surprise as I didn’t feel hot at all just the chills. They ran tests on me and truth be told the night before I had trouble sleeping because the thought of having contracted the Coronavirus and giving it to my entire family was giving me nightmares. I knew I’d make it through whatever this illness is but the thought of giving it to my Uncles’ families, my grandparents! God damn that’d be tough to live with.
They took out a swab and in Taiwan people are so polite. The dear doctor was kindly telling me she was gonna shove something up my nose. I didn’t know how to just tell her i don’t care if she has to stab me in forehead just do it I really don’t care about the discomfort at this point. So she went ahead. And I’ve never felt anything to that far up my nose into some weird part of my skull and back out. I waited outside in the sun to warm my reptilian cold skin and made a few phone calls to friends. I felt partcularly bad because I was ment to meet a friend in the Philippines that next day but there was no way they would let me fly with a fever. I apologized, he was very understanding and wanting me to recover quickly. I heard my Uncle calling me to come in get my results.
The doctor brought me back into the room and I sat nervously and what she told me was possibly more confusing than what I expected. She basically said I had nothing besides a fever and diarrhea. I was suspicious about this as I had undergone all of the major symptoms of sickness outside of runny nose, phlemmy cough, or sneeze. Nonethless I was glad to accept a no verdict and grab some meds and get home.
At this point I had being sick down to an art. The apartment I was in had predetermined paths at all time of the day including a little time walk the streets to stay grounded to reality and test myself. Sometimes no matter how badly you want to feel well, only time can heal certain wounds. This was one of those trying times.
The next day I procrastinated in bed before going to National Taiwan University hospital. There must’ve been thousands of patients in that building. I thought it would take all day even with my appointment. I navigated through the hospital with the help of strangers. Finally found my waiting room and slowly sorted out how the system worked.
I was shocked at how quickly the line was moving and by the time my number was called I was in front of a doctor and explaining my situation. He was very understanding and a good listener. He prescribed me some new medication and sent me off. I went out to the main lobby and paid for the service and the medication. All said it only took 2.5 hours which is incredibly impressive considering it looked like hells waiting room in there.
That very next day i was still not better and at this point my paranoia was starting to grow. Could it be that I carried something insidious? How could I have diarrhea for 6 days straight? Today was the day I decided to go all in and eat until my stomach was forced to tell me otherwise. I ate 3 slices of pound cake for breakfast, followed by a big bowl of beef noodle soup for lunch, and 2 giant bowls of rice with dry pork.
The next day – the best news – i didn’t take a shit at all. I think I finally broke this damn case of the runs. Here’s the only strange bit. It’s that night now and I still haven’t taken a shit. I’ve never eaten a ton and not seen it come out. I guess it’s not entirely over but it feels like I’ve finally gotten a small victory.
I hope by tomorrow at the latest I see my first solid shit otherwise I have a whole other problem – I’m not pooping out anything! One day at at a time. Count every win where you can get them.