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Amoeba please…………..

May 27, 2009

When  you visit a country like India, you are bound to bring back some kind of intestinal souvenir. Call mine an Amoeba. The last month and a half that I was in Delhi, I spent a great deal of time with the god of porcelain. He is not a kind god. He kept me very busy.

I finally acknowledged that going to the doctor might not be the worst option. Dr. Chawla was highly recommended and I can see why. She is great.

There were two problems going on – I have told you that I can multi-task my illnesses and I was not kidding. I had lots of intestinal woes and a pretty significant pain on my left side. They seemed unrelated. So bring on the tests.

I ended up with lots of specimen cultures (yeah, sorry it was as gross as it sounds) and an ultrasound and a CTscan. Dr. Chawla initially  started treating me for an amoeba – I am not going to get all the medical terms exactly right – I was in no condition to actually pay attention to everything she was saying. You have a pill for that? I will gladly take it. And then we discovered e coli. Yippeee. Yeah, I was pretty sick.

My kidneys were also swollen and I have/had calcification spots on my kidney and spleen. Whatever.

I know, I know – I should have just brought back the elephant blanket.

Antibiotics have now become my BFF.

I feel much, much better.

And I lost about 10 pounds. So there you go.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Sharmishtha permalink
    May 31, 2009 5:48 pm

    Ke, I think many countries are struggling with the problem of water and public sanitation. China too has a massive public hygiene problem, away from the bright lights of Shanghai. Although I have to research more on this, but I believe China has a pretty significant air pollution too. As for Israel, it too faces a lot of problems with water pollution. Here is an article on that:

  2. May 30, 2009 11:46 pm

    I see. I wonder how China is handling their sanitation issues because their population is just as large.

    I don’t see an alternative to western style sanitation procedures in the long-run. India is not a landlocked country. Why can’t they use the ocean water, desalinate it, treat it and then use it? I’ve wondered about that with a country like kenya too, which is also not landlocked. The indian ocean is right there, but yet people don’t have water, while Israel, a desert country has found a way to use it’s meager water resources very effectively.

  3. May 30, 2009 10:20 pm

    holy crapper! And you’re just now telling us this? We worry about you…cause we love your crazy ass!

    Anyways…yo’ we be glad you’re on the mend! That was very hard to type out…LOL!!

    Take care please!

  4. Sharmishtha permalink
    May 29, 2009 6:42 pm

    Ke, it is the sheer density of population that breaks down every model anyone has for improving anything. Western style sanitation is too expensive and too water-intensive for a water-scarce place like India, to work on a large scale (Individual middle class houses will have this). I think Sulabh International (Dr. Pathak’s organization) has come up with less water intense sanitation methods but it will be a while before it all catches up with the enormity of the problem.

  5. May 29, 2009 12:47 am


    Why don’t they use pit latrines in India? even in the slums you can use them. All you have to do is dig or drill a very deep hole and I think it’s a better alternative than defecating in the open or in rivers or lakes.
    You will see men peeing on the side of the road in kenya but you will not see open defecation.

    I suppose this is the one benefit of remaining a pre-industrial society. You get the poverty, but you don’t get the pollution.

  6. May 28, 2009 12:43 pm

    Holy shit, girl! e-coli can kill you!. I can’t believe you never said anything. I’d have been whining my blog away. I’m glad you feel better, and ten pounds off must feel pretty good. Maybe I need to go to India…

  7. Sharmishtha permalink
    May 28, 2009 11:48 am

    Ke, you are right. The public hygiene situation in India is desperate – really, if one wants to do something to improve the average Indian’s life healthwise, it would be good to contribute to a public sanitation movement or something, including a public education programme to teach people how to use bathrooms. AR2W has already done a post on the toilet museum, so I’ll stop here.

  8. May 28, 2009 7:32 am

    Thats crappy.

    I hope you continue to feel better.

  9. May 27, 2009 9:46 pm

    I’m kind of surprised at how often people in India become susceptible to these food borne illnesses.

    I grew up in Kenya (a poor country) and these kinds of illnesses were rare and statistically, India is a richer country.

    My gut tells me that countries like Kenya, while poorer, are also less populated and less polluted so even with the poverty, you’ll find fewer food borne illnesses.

    They also use pit latrines in much of Africa, even in the cities, so you won’t find people using the bathroom in rivers, lakes or oceans. Might that have something to do with the extra pollution?

    Also, when washing, water will be drawn away from the rivers and carried off in pots and people will not wash openly inside rivers and perhaps that also keeps the physical environment cleaner.

  10. Rola permalink
    May 27, 2009 6:08 pm

    So sorry you had to go through all that. I am glad to hear you are feeling better. Sometimes just being home helps make things better:) I love your blog!! You are an amazing writer. If there is anything you need please let us know. Hope to see you while you are in town:)

  11. Sharmishtha permalink
    May 27, 2009 4:22 pm

    Sorry to hear about your illness! Yikes, amoebiosis (or whatever it is called) is just horrible. When you go back to India, just be really, really careful to avoid all water that is not bottled, no raw vegetables (except what you wash and eat at home) or salads, and no eating street food (not that you’ve tried that, I’m sure). And the washing hands and feet as soon as you enter the house – make that your religion. The most dangerous thing in sub-tropical and tropical climates is the very rapid dehydration that sets in – you know what the heat is like now – and that is what usually sets in after dysentery. Things can go downhill very quickly in the searing heat.

    Also, when we were growing up, there was an annual shot called the TABC (protection against cholera and typhoid). I don’t know if it is still available these days (since believe it or not, conditions are better now in India than when I was a kid). It is a pain in the b*tt (sometimes literally) but you might ask your physician if you and your family could get that. I never got typhoid or jaundice growing up because my parents were so insistent on annual immunization shots and because I wasn’t allowed to drink “outside” water. So, instead, I got all the childhood diseases like chicken pox, etc., after I moved out of my parental home and came to the developed world, ha, ha.

  12. May 27, 2009 2:08 pm

    Heather – it is wonderful to be home

    Bindu – that question lingers but I want my family together

    Caitlin – thanks

    Nancy – yikes indeed

    Settlers – denial is not just a river and thanks

    Baba – yeah, I know – I won’t wait so long next time – of course I am hoping there is not a next time 😎

    Laura – I feel much, much better

  13. Laura permalink
    May 27, 2009 12:10 pm

    I hope this means that you’re feeling better and that ameoba has moved OUT. Take care of yourself! Glad you’re home.

  14. May 27, 2009 12:02 pm

    So glad you went to the doctor. E-coli can be very dangerous. And the calcium build up in the kidneys can be extremely painful. Glad you are better.

  15. May 27, 2009 10:19 am

    Whoa… come there was never a post for this while you were in India?
    Get well soon. I do hope that you go back to India though. It has been a delight looking at India from your eyes.

  16. Nancy permalink
    May 27, 2009 10:08 am


  17. Caitlin permalink
    May 27, 2009 10:05 am

    So sorry to hear you were so ill!! I’m glad your on the mend.

  18. bindu permalink
    May 27, 2009 10:05 am

    Are you sure you want to go back to India?

  19. May 27, 2009 7:58 am

    Glad you’re feeling better! And hope you’re enjoying all the amenities of home. =)

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