A sordid tale of wretchedness and misery

Today I am in the midst of an encounter with the most hideous and painful shigella bacteria one might ever have the bad luck to face.

Typically, this bacteria was picked up in the most expensive hotel I have ever stayed in, although its effects were not so genteel. I don’t know if it was the goujons of fish, I don’t know if it was the chicken in sweet tomato sauce, I don’t know if it was the salad or the soup or even the water. For all I know it swam into my mouth of its own accord while I was diving in the Coral Gardens off Mafia island.

Whatever it was, it allowed me one more dive, gave me a few warning kicks before I went on a snorkelling trip (excellent puffer fish), before surging through me as a 10°F fever and diarrhoea determined to expel every drop of moisture from my body.

I writhed under the mosquito net, hoping the stomach cramps would desist, and only found solace in changing position from right to back to left and back again every 15 minutes. Thus would be my fate for the next 7 nights.

On that first night the hotel had called a doctor from the capital of Mafia, as at least two other guests were reporting illness (so much for my Shigella Marines assault theory, one hadn’t dived). Dr Bob came into the room and greeted me gently. He took my temperature by placing his fist onto the side of my throat (next time you check for a fever try it, it works better than a palm on the forehead), then my blood pressure, and confirmed that I was sick. He gave me some rehydration salts, some Erithromycin antibiotics and some anti-spasmodics to take, and said he would come back in the morning.

I tossed and turned all night, the first night of feverish dreams of war, SCUBA equipment, and a proud old London family of traditional pornographers who live above a high class Italian restaurant which uses their stairwell for cheese production and spaghetti drying. Surreal yet vivid.

Read on


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