Day 202 - Death from Dysentery

Trip Start Nov 07, 2010
Trip End Jan 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
Green River Valley Guesthouse

Flag of Nepal  ,
Friday, May 27, 2011

Today was not a good day. All night I tossed and turned with fever dreams and a terrible churning in my stomach.  My insides seemed to be eating away at themselves, and every other minute sharp stabbing pains would drown out the dull ache that seemed to resonate from my core.  This morning I had planned to wake up before dawn with the guys and hike to the top of Kalak Pathar for panoramic views of the valley and Mt. Everest.  As desperate and adamant as I was to make that hike, my body simply wouldn't let me get out of bed.  I gave Dane my camera to take pictures and tried to go back to sleep curled up in a painful twisted fetal position to cradle the incessant gnawing in my stomach.  I knew what had happened, and I should have known better.  These past few days I’ve seen my appetite decrease to the point where the thought of food sounded nauseating and noticed some symptoms of stomach troubles, but just wrote them off as effects of the altitude.  Well this is definitely not from the altitude.  All along the way up the mountain we’ve been drinking "tap" water fed into guesthouses from the nearby stream and treating it with chlorine drops.  Since I didn’t have any drops, and water is exorbitantly expensive up here, I’ve risked my luck a few times and drank untreated water.  I must have chanced it one too many times because everything I’m feeling now is classic symptoms of dysentery.  Weak, doubled over in pain and hardly able to stomach any sort of food, we had to press on today.  Another six hour hike lay between us and Dzonglha, and already missing out on the Everest viewpoint this morning I’ll be damned if I’m going to hold up the rest of our plans because of this.  The guys said they’d take it slow, but I insisted we keep our normal pace as long as I could stand it.  We had a long way to go and didn’t want to get caught on the pass when night fell.  Besides, for some reason when I’m moving and my body is in motion the pain seems to subside, but the minute I stop I’m huddled over again trying to fight off the sickness.  We stopped in a slightly larger village town about halfway through our hike and somebody must have been looking out for me because a sweet old Nepalese woman who ran a lodge for sherpas had a stash of medical supplies and was able to spare some Ciproflaxin.  I can’t say enough about this miracle antibiotic on this trip.  It cured my infected shoulder wound in India, treated some lingering illness in Cambodia and here, in the highest reaches of the Himalayan mountains, it was about to save me yet again.  I immediately popped the first of the ten day supply and pushed onward.  By the sixth hour, as the blue tin rooftops of our destination loomed in sight, I could feel any remainder of energy slowly drain out of me.  The lack of food and the weakness in my body had taken their toll.  We had one final steep incline to climb to make it to the circle of lodges that promised respite and warmth.  I was drained.  My body literally did not want to move another inch up that dusty rocky path.  Collapsing on a boulder in a heap I jokingly said to my friends, “Go on without me!”  The laughs and smiles from my companions lifted me up in that moment and gave me the tiny bit of energy I needed to hoist my gear up onto my back, raise my head in the direction of the village and trudge inch by inch up that godforsaken hillside.  It was literally one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and sheer willpower and determination were the only things that carried me through the door of that musky lodge and onto the bed that was calling my name all day.  I forced down some hot tea and noodle soup and was asleep by 7pm.  Here’s hoping tomorrow is a new day and finds me in better spirits.

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Laura Butler on

Oh my god Everett, stop running into all these infectious micro-organisms! I hope you recovered quickly from that and that don't grow antibiotic resistant to that medicine! Incredible that there was a Sherpa guardian there for you with it when you needed it! I love you, stay safe!

everett.butler on

Haha, don't worry about me sis. Hazards of spontaneous travel and all :) I'm always cautious (for the most part) and have friends and fate to help me out when times get tough. Love and miss you and talk to you soon!

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