Poisoned in Patong
I have been on antibiotics for four days now. Lonely Planet says take them for three, the Thai pharmacist says five, so I compromised.
Back up: I ate a hearty lunch at my favorite restaurant, then dinner there again in the evening. At my room I had four gin-tonics, then went out to a bar where I had nine glasses of bourbon. By closing time at 2AM, I had killed the bottle (I think it was about half-full when I started.) Wobbling back to the hotel, a girl in front of another bar shared some barbequed chicken hearts on a bamboo skewer with me. I slept soundly for 8 hours and awoke feeling a bit fuzzy in the head, but otherwise fine.
For breakfast, I had a cup of Nestle yoghurt (3 wks. before the expiration date). Within an hour, I was taking my usual morning crap. A few minutes later, I crapped again, and a few minutes later, AGAIN. And again, and again,…It was getting looser each time and I was getting more and more worried. By 2:30 PM, I knew I had to get out of the room so the maid could do her cleaning and I could go do my chores- mainly shopping for groceries. I took an Immodium to plug me up.
By 3PM, I felt good enough to venture outside. I had lunch at the same place (duh. I still didn't suspect. I thought it was the chicken hearts.). I shopped. I returned. I HAD TO GO AGAIN! And again, and again,…It was shooting out of me with the velocity and viscosity of water from a garden hose on full-blast. It felt like my guts were dissolving. I was drinking plenty of water to rehydrate, but it just kept shooting out. And my asshole BURNED! Liquid hellfire. I don't know if it was from all the chillis in Thai cooking or if I was shitting out fresh stomach acid. Probably both. I'm not kidding. It hurt so bad it took all my willpower to keep from screaming and alarming the neighbors (hotel walls are thin). I had to do something.
My LP book said "Norfloxacin, 400mg., twice daily for 3 days OR Ciprofloxacin, 500 mg,…." I had to get to the drug store just a couple blocks away, but HOW? What if I soiled myself in the middle of the street! I thought of sending the bellboy, but I didn't know how much the meds would cost and there might be decisions to make: what if they had one med and not the other, etc? I'd have to give him a lot of money and explicit instructions which he'd very likely fuck up. He might not return all the change. Thai stores often don't give receipts. To hell with it- I'd have to go myself.
I took another Immodium and waited a while. Waited on the toilet mostly. I finally felt I could make it. I put a roll of toilet paper into my backpack along with a bottle of water and sallied forth. They had Norfloxacin and Ciprofloxacin both. I got the Norfloxacin. The pharmacist said "take after meals- breakfast and dinner." To me that means I'd have to eat something first. My stomach was empty and I didn't feel like eating. I didn't even want to LOOK at food. I asked, and he said it would be "OK" to take on an empty stomach. I popped a pill immediately. (The next day I did some internet research and found out this medicine MUST be taken on an empty stomach AND, that furthermore, antacids and vitamin/mineral supplements will BLOCK absorption because of aluminum, iron, zinc, calcium, etc. contained therein AND that you MUST drink LOTS of extra water while on this shit or fucking Norfloxacin CRYSTALS will form in your urine and you won't be able to pee and it will hurt when you try and you'll run screaming to the doctor wondering why…WHY THE FUCK DIDN'T THAT ASSHOLE MORON PHARMACIST TELL ME ALL THIS!!! Because this is Thailand. Dumb question.)
Anyway, the medicine works. I feel much better. I found the bar gal with the roasted chicken hearts the next day and she was fine. It wasn't the chicken hearts. I consider it extremely unlikely it was the yoghurt. I am now and forevermore BOYCOTTING my once-favorite restaurant. Those bastards poisoned me! I think the problem is that business is way, way down here in Patong now. Restaurants are almost all empty. The temptation is just too great for them to hang onto spoiled meat and serve it long after the use-by date.
By the way, just last night I dined at a cheap chicken-rice stall. I ordered the speciality, "kow mahn gai" (chicken over rice), and when almost done eating it, in the dim flourescent lighting, I noticed that the chicken was decidedly GREEN!!! Now, flourescent lights give everything a rather greenish hue, thus my delay in noticing. But when I peered closely, I could definitely see green streaks running through the meat. My girlfriend agreed. She said it was "mai soht" (not fresh) and "sokaprok!" (dirty!). Luckily my hotel was nearby. In five minutes I was bent over the toilet with my finger down my throat. With the antibiotics in my system I probably could have eaten out of a garbage can, but why take a chance? On that note, I've decided to eat at McDonalds from now on, and that says a lot. I do not like McDonalds!
On my first time in Thailand I got really nasty food poisoning and ended up at a back street Thai quack who in all truth and fairness, seemed to give me all the right meds and fix me up. Getting a nasty dose of the trots, or even food poisoning, is simply part of the Thai experience – not that that makes it any easier.