Wednesday, 11 June 2014

I’m not the man I used to be! (Alternative title: Bog Blog)

Mouse tally: now 57. Even though we’ve been blocking up their little hidey-holes with duct tape....we still hear the occasional squeak. Number 57 was caught at night-time in our bedroom. I was blissfully asleep but poor Mickey’s death throes woke up Justine who wasn’t game to get out of bed. She only just remembered around 11pm the following evening. Poor Mickey was as stiff as a board by the time I got to him.

Now, I thought of prefacing this post with a PG warning. It does contain content that some readers may find distasteful. However, upon reflection, I thought about most of the children’s books published these days e.g. “The Day My Bum Went Psycho,” and “Farty Facts” - just Google children’s bum books and count them! Therefore, instead, this blog comes with an adult warning, kids will be fine with it but grown-ups of a delicate constitution may choose to read no further.

Of course, anyone heading to the Indian sub-continent would always be wise to take precautions with what they eat and drink. I’m happy to say that since we arrived in Bumthang, the Divers have had no significant gastro problems to report.....until now. 

We routinely boil and filter all our water. I’m not sure if our tap water is treated in any way but when it rains our water turns brown – not just a tint, I mean brown. It got so bad that we had to put the tap water into a ‘settling tank’ to allow much of the silt to sink to the bottom; we’d then scoop up the cleaner water for boiling.

Saturday night was a good one, the school warden Mr Lobsho had recently become a father and to celebrate a baby shower was arranged in the school hall. The food was buffet style and I must admit to breaking my ‘no pork in Bhutan’ rule. Beer too was on offer and the Bhutanese cannot stand to look at a glass that is less than full, therefore every time I so-much as sipped my beer, it was promptly topped-up and I quickly lost all track of how much I’d drunk.
On Sunday, when I awoke I didn’t feel too good at all. I initially dismissed it as having become a complete light-weight through rarely drinking beer these days and thought I’d be fine after a good-hearty breakfast......big mistake.

I rapidly went downhill and effectively took up residence in the smallest room of the house where I spent most of Sunday in a sitting position but, just to avoid getting bored, there was a bit of ‘big white telephone’ action too. I fully expected that a good night’s sleep would work its miracle and I’d be right as rain in the morning..... but I was wrong.

The next day things seemed to be even worse, I could hear my stomach bubbling and fizzing away like an Alka Seltzer (something I wished I’d had) I got heartburn and headaches to add to the previous day’s symptoms.  Maybe it wasn’t the pork, maybe it was the rain that wasn’t so right after all.

On Tuesday I was no better and headed off to the nearby Basic Health Unit. I was feeling quite weak by this stage and although the distance was barely 200metres it felt like a marathon to me, so Justine asked our landlord to drive me. When I got downstairs he told me he had lent his car to someone and so asked a neighbour to drive me there instead. I’d seen this neighbour around but I had never spoken to him before – nonetheless, he happily drove me there and insisted on waiting for me so that he could drive me back.

The BHU very thoughtfully have a board on the wall listing the top ten ailments they deal with from month to month. Diarrhoea (there....I’ve said it!) is number one, so I felt I should be in safe hands. The BHU is staffed by nurses rather than doctors but they are able to prescribe medicines and do all sorts of stuff that their western counterparts aren’t allowed to do. Another great thing is, they give you the meds you need there and then in a snap-lock bag with the dosage details shown in symbols rather than words. I imagine this is because many of the older generation simply didn’t get any schooling at all. All of this is completely free of charge. Now, it may not exactly be “Grays Anatomy” but it makes you wonder why a country as poor as Bhutan can provide such a service yet so many rich western countries can’t even come close.

They don’t take stool samples or any of that malarke, they simply give you antibiotics for the two most likely causes of the problem and send you on your way. I’m very happy to report that the meds worked their magic almost immediately; the bubbling and fizzing stopped and I was soon able to utilize some of the other seats in the house.

Of course, being a very small village, it was no surprise that of the two nurses that treated me, one was married to a colleague, the other was the father of one of the girls in my class - Pema. I’m glad I wasn’t at the BHU for anything embarrassing!
On the way out, I spied a pair of bathroom scales.
“Can I see how much I weigh?” I asked.
“Sure, go ahead,” said Pema’s Dad........ “72 kilos, the same as me!” he exclaimed.
“Yes, but I’m normally around 80kilos I replied.
I think my regular Bhutan weight is about 78 kilos so it was quite a shock to think that I’d lost around 6 kilos in little over two days.

Not surprisingly, when I awoke on Wednesday and got out of bed.... I got straight back in again, the sudden weight loss had weakened me and although I could now confidently stray more than ten metres from the nearest lavatory, I wasn’t sure I could walk it.

Thankfully as I write this (very current) blog post I’m feeling much better and confidently expect to be at school tomorrow. The toilets at school are of the ‘hole-in-the-ground’ variety and I simply cannot (and frankly don’t want to) imagine how people with a chronic case of the runs can cope with them. So, three cheers for western toilets!
(I wonder what photos I’ll put in this blog post.....)

We couldn't read the Dzongkha on this poster at school but with a diet high in lentils, we used our own imagination!


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