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Bali Belly

Bali Belly

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By Errol Lim, Physiotherapist

I didn't realize my last blog (sportsman's hernia) was going to be the start of a series of blogs about the same subject matter but my recent trip to Bali gave me another unique patient experience.

36 hours into our trip, my wife and I had our first and hopefully last experience of Bali belly. The best thing I can say about this is that our two kids made it through unscathed, if you discount having two “not so” functional and irritable parents for the rest of the trip.

Food poisoning or gastroenteritis from a bacterial infection or even a viral one can be extremely debilitating.

It can hit with such vengeance. My wife had just enjoyed a leisurely swim but then suddenly felt ill and had to lay in bed. Unfortunately, that is where she stayed for the next 48 hours if you don't count the half hourly trips to the bathroom. Hours later, I had finished dinner and the “bug” came for me as well. Violent vomiting and consistent diarrheoa were the least of our worries. The fever, stabbing stomach pain and aching legs were the persistent reminder we were not well at all.

With both mother and father literally out of action and not able to stomach anything, and with knowing the importance of hydration, doctors were called into action early. We were hit with a cocktail of drugs on top of what I already had in my travel kit. Anti-nausea, anti-diarrhoeal, anti-spasmodic medications as well as antibiotics in tablet and injectable form were used. I explained to the doctors that our main problem was dehydration and that both my wife and I needed to be rehydrated intravenously as everything we ingested was not being absorbed as it was going right through. Personal experience in the past had taught me this lesson. The doctors did not have appropriate facilities in-house and they wanted to treat us conservatively with medication. We agreed to call them if we did not make any significant recovery.

A day later, I insisted we were taken to hospital. I knew if we were hydrated, our bodies would function a whole lot better thus allowing us to drink and eat more normally. The medication would then also be absorbed more readily giving the expected outcomes.

We needed special help. This help came in the form of a bag of saline hanging from the drip stand. It was like infusing liquid gold straight into our veins. In our states, saline had the same effect as spinach would have had on Popeye. The immediate effect of being rehydrated was amazing. 45 minutes and one litre of salt water later saw my wife transformed from a person who required assistance to walk to a lady who strolled in casually into my cubicle asking me how I was.

We were by no means fully recovered but having the ability to stand upright and pick yourself off the bed was a wonderful feeling.

What about the kids you ask? We were very fortunate to have chosen wonderful accommodation in Nusa Dua where their service was second to none in terms of our care and that of our children especially when we had to go to hospital.

I hope you never experience what we went through but do tell if you have had a similar story.

Errol Lim is a physiotherapist and the managing director of BJC Health.
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