Medical Dispatch

Getting sick. It’s bound to happen.

With this in mind, as we were preparing for our trip we knew something would happen. We just didn’t know what it would be. We went to the travel clinic in Toronto and got all our jabs and malaria pills. We read other family travel blogs and picked up the recommended immodium, gravol, antibiotics. We had a bulky first aid kit from MEC lying around the house and, since there was room in our baggage, we even brought it along. Band-aids, tweezers, trauma kits, disposable thermometers, needles, syringes, afterbite cream (almost all gone), more bandaids. And then we set off.

This week, Saga has been fed through the wringer. Friday morning she woke up with a fever and generally feeling lousy. We hunkered down for the day, looking for lots of sleep and ibuprophen. Friday night the diarrhea started with trips to the toilet all night.

Saturday the fever gradually abated but the trips to the toilet intensified. We started calling home for advice every twelve hours from grandpa/our favorite pediatrician. Our plan A: keep an eye on Saga, get as much fluids and electorlytes into her as possible, take rest and ride it out. We identified the good local hospital and doctors for plan B: get help if we needed it.

By 1am Sunday, blood appeared in the stools and our patient was dehydrated. Diagnosis (from 11 time zones away): Salmonella or shigella. We hoped for salmonella, believing that it’s the lesser of the two. Off we went to a local hospital. Saga was put on a drip and had her tummy checked by the local MD. We were home by 4am, hydrated and happier (for the time being).

On Sunday our patient was able to drink some fluids and rest but all gains were reversed late Sunday night when she was no longer able to leave the toilet. Literally. By this time we were 72 hours in, our hero was dehydrated again and completely exhausted. So were her parents (exhausted).

We went to plan B; back to the hospital Monday morning. Although we got off to a shaky start (5 attempts were made before successfully finding a vein for the drip), the doctors did some tests, presribed antibiotics, put her on a drip and eventually diagnosed shigella.

It’s now Wednesday morning and everyone is back in our bamboo bungalow by the Kampot River. After 48 hours at the hospital, Saga is (almost) back to her normal self.

From our perspective, it was a scary combination (for those in the medical field, however, it might have been perceived as little out of the ordinary). Watch our daughter’s condition deteriorate before our eyes despite all our efforts. Mix in the physical discomfort of being tethered to the bathroom. Abort plan A. Escalate to plan B. Add sleep deprivation. Wait. Breathe. Hope.

They say that the greatest pleasure is relief from pain. Hearing the tuk tuk bring the patient home this morning was one of the sweetest moments. Saga gets the prize for being strong. Ida gets the best sister award. We are extremely grateful to our families who talked us through the experience. And the guest house staff was incredibly helpful and thoughtful.

We learned: make a plan and check it with a pro. Write it down. Review it as you get more and more exhausted. Figure out the local health resources: where the good doctors, hospitals and clinics are. Look after each other, making sure everyone in the family gets the attention s/he needs. Expect that everything will be ok.


15 thoughts on “Medical Dispatch

  1. Glad to hear little Saga is feeling better… I’m sure that is a relief for everyone after a bit of a scare! there is nothing worse than being away from the comfort of home when you aren’t feeling well. Hope this will be your one and only hospital experience this trip!


  2. Gosh, the wringer, indeed! So grateful to hear you rode out the storm together and got the help and assistance you needed. And that you haven’t needed your first aid kit more… Hope you all get lots of R&R!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. tried to read as fast as possible as I was sure that there had to be a happy ending – thinking that someone cannot be that descriptive in the midst of something like this – HAPPY to read that all is under control again. many hugs and kisses to all of you! M

      Liked by 1 person

  3. so happy to hear that ending!!! tried to read through as fast as possible because i was sure it was a happy ending – as there was an effort to writing something descriptive and detailed I was sure that the ending had to be good – it for sure sounds like you have passed some read hard days – kiss and hugs from all of us to all of you!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So glad everyone is on the mend. We’ve been thinking of you often. Please give the girls our love and tell Saga we think she is awfully brave and Ida that she is an awesome sister.

    We understand you are off to Hanoi and a new adventure soon. Rest well beforehand and enjoy!!!

    We love reading your posts!

    All our love,

    Christie, Kirk, Char, Fin, Dunc and Posy

    Christie Henderson, FCPA, FCA, CFP, TEP Managing Partner P: (905) 829-3701 ext.224 | F: (905) 829-1454 |

    Client Service Manager: Shannon Maguire, CPA, CA P: (905) 829-3701 ext.241 |

    Executive Assistant: Juliet Noronha P: (905) 829-3701 ext.235 |

    This email and any attachments may contain PRIVILEGED and CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION and is intended only for the addressee(s) named above. If you are not the intended recipient of this email or the employee or agent responsible for delivering it to the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that the dissemination or copying of this email is strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please immediately notify us by telephone to arrange the return or destruction of this document


  5. Wow!!! Judy mentioned to us yesterday, but what a journey and so glad you have turned the corner!!!!!!! Saga, your wonderful/the best paediatrician/grandpa is our wonderful/best paediatrician/friend. Is it not the best to have one of those in the family or in your close circle of friends??? We are indeed privileged and lucky. Then, wherever you are in the world, you are only phone call or an email or text away. And how small our world now is! Phew!! Get better really quicklySaga, and everyone get good sleep and lots to drink. huge hugs. Mp

    Mary Pat Armstrong 95A Roxborough St. E. Toronto, ON, M4W 1V9 416-922-4812

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my goodness, what an episode! I cannot imagine how hard this must have been for all of you and especially Saga! Bravo to all of you and to Grandpa Doug for advising from afar. Big hugs to Saga.xo


  7. Sounds really scary, especially when you don’t know all the ins and outs of the local medical system, but it glad everything turned out fine. I can’t believe you are on the move already. It seems like you just got there. Looking forward to reading about your next “home”.


  8. Oh Nige that sounds tough. Nothing is harder than watching your child go through that pain and struggle – and trying to help and support after being up 53 hours.

    And… in a far away land. Aye yaye yaye.

    Best to saga. Thanks for the blogs. Enjoy being along for the trip.


    Nick and fam.


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