It was my second night in Nepal, I woke up at 4am with a rumbling stomach, and I knew right away I couldn’t escape it: traveler’s food poisoning. I rushed to the washroom as discreetly as I could to avoid waking my roommate. Last nights daal bhaat (rice and lentil soup) came right back up. I felt awful and had to inch my way back to my sleeping bag where I stayed crunched up like a shrimp till morning.
The next morning we made our way from the city of Kathmandu to our new home at the Vajra Varahi clinic. We were introduced to the rest of the team and started our interpreter training. I felt horrible but I tried my best to put on a happy face and tackle the day. Half way into training I couldn’t take it anymore. My stomach was not cooperating. I had to excuse myself because the sharp pains made it impossible to focus.
Half dying in my sleeping bag someone came in to offer me Pepto Bismol, then another offering herbs, and finally someone else forcing me to drink electrolytes. I was being cared for just like I would be at home in my own bed and I just met these people! I drifted off to sleep knowing that I was in good hands. (See? Not to worry, Mom).
The care and love my new team offered accumulated in my heart and I was able to treat with more compassion and care in the next 2 months than I ever had. However, the stomach problems never seemed to go away. Now I call it the "weekend special". It’s a must on the weekend. It’s not a big deal anymore, just the usual detox.
A month later, I dragged myself out of bed to go down stairs to the clinic. I did not sleep well due to the usual "weekend special". The first 3 patients walked in and I ask them how they are doing. They say they are improving and the pain is getting much better. The forth patient comes in with a huge smile on her face telling me her pain had decreased tremendously, which means she could work now. Her voice grew with joy while she explained how she is able to go for hikes, her appetite is back and she can sleep throughout the night without much pain. I was thrilled that all my patients were getting better and that I was successfully treating their conditions.
After I needled her she asked if I was okay and that I look tired today. I told her I didn’t sleep well. She suddenly yelled, “Look! He stopped shaking! I’ve been watching your Parkinson patient and his hands are not shaking anymore”.
With a big smile on my face, I looked at my patients and said “I felt sick this morning but I forget about my pains when I see that I am helping with yours.” ---Joey Chan