day by day india: the cipro effect

The stomach cramps started on Tuesday afternoon on our long drive from Mysore. At first I mistake the discomfort in my lower back to be a kink of sorts from scrunching my body up onto the carseat from the nap on the ride back to Bangalore but a trip to the lavatory upon our return to the hotel confirms my suspicion.  I consciously steer away from alcohol and spicy foods the rest of the evening, sticking to water, lime soda and rice dishes.

As the festivities of the Mehndi are underway I feel like I am outside myself looking in. My body is lethargic and any thought of twisting in any sort of direction causes a ghost spasm. Sitting on the periphery watching the dancing rather than joining in offers a new perspective of self. I take photos and enjoy the spectacle of the performances getting to know Priya and about her family life (married with two sons) in the North.  Tanvi from across the room, sees me yawning and suggests we leave early to catch up on some sleep.

Eleven hours later at brunch I play it safe with a simple dosa and more lime soda. And even as I pack for church, I add a bottle of water and pepto-bismol pills to my bag, just in case.

At Koshy's my hunger is noticeably absent as I sip a Coca-Cola to calm the bubbles in my stomach. I thank my lucky stars that I brought Johnson & Johnson baby wipes, a bidet is not going to cut it tonight.  I pace myself throughout the wedding reception, dancing a little, eating carefully and drinking lots of fluids. My body feels like an unsettled bottle of soda.  By 11, I feel slightly feverish and find a cool spot to sit and drink more water.  The night comes to a close just in time and I am fast asleep by 1am.

Early Thursday morning I run for the loo as an army battles inside my bowels. It is not pleasant and as with all bodily expulsions, physically exhausting. I remember the Cipro and find in rereading the side effects I am on the fence on whether or not I should take it.  It doesn't help that the directions on the bottle are vague: "2x/daily"--does that mean 2x daily until symptoms are gone or 2x daily until all antibiotics are gone. I email my doctor for clarification.  I wish I had remembered to pack a milder form of medication like Immodium-AD (as Andreas had advised). Of course like a fool, I go online to check out the medication and find a cache of symptons and side effects gone awry. I am most concerned about the "oversensitivity to sunlight" -- we leave for Goa, a beach resort on Sunday morning and I've been looking forward to some time in the sun and the sea. Looks like I have to up the SPF level (normally I don't burn but am now spooked).

2:30am and I'm still at it, I pop the first Cipro pill and drink a whole bottle of water with it, praying for the best.  I take the next pill at 4pm, after the Kerala ceremony, and find myself in and out of sleep, fighting a devil inside. It's a quiet thorn in my side kind of pain, the night sweats bring on the most horrible of dreams, nightmares of an alter reality where one can touch taste feel the demons in technicolor. I sleep through the evening and try to eat a spot of Briyani egg rice from room service but it proves to be too spicy. I fall back asleep and then wake again at 3am on Friday, my mind completely aware and alert. I start writing then and can't seem to stop, going through multiple posts, online searches, Facebook posts, hydrating with bottles and bottles of water. My next pill is at 4:30am, and then I try to sleep for another few hours--up at 8:30am for breakfast and more writing.

Lunch at the China Bowl hits the spot, I have a double serving of chicken wonton soup, a yummy burnt garlic fried rice, and even some chicken and broccoli. I skip the alcohol and anything too creamy, better to play it safe and rid my body of toxins and infection I honestly don't know how I got sick, I was super careful not to drink non-bottled water or anything with ice, shying away from the watermelon in the fruit bowl for obvious reasons. I can only guess that one too many spices did me in.

I feel 80% better, the Cipro I took yesterday afternoon knocked me out, any hopes of evening socializing vanished the minute my head hit the pillow.  I haven't had a movement since early Friday morning and then it was solid though an army green, reminding me of animal dung. My stomach is not gurgling or bubbling, I suppose eating the digestive cookies has helped some.

The doctor prescribed a minimum of three days on Cipro to fight the infection, today Saturday would be my last day.  I'm still hesitant to take the last two pills, will revisit post-morning meal.

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