Call it hubris, cockiness or just plain stupidity but I *honestly* thought I would avoid Delhi belly while travelling. I’ve never been ill because of food, I’m the person who eats with a group who all get food poisoning and remain unscathed, my stomach is legendarily strong.
That’s not to say I wasn’t careful, I didn’t eat meat for a month while in India, avoided tap water and religiously sanitised my hands – seriously, what more can you do? And I thought I was safe, I lasted one month feeling fantastic, so on the second to last night (in an expensive western restaurant, it’s never the street food) I indulged in some chicken.
On the afternoon before my flight to Bangkok I began to feel *really* sick, I was sweating, nauseous and confused and just had to go to bed. Then the vomiting started. Now, before that, the last time I vomited was 2 years ago after the Hotbox London launch party where I drank 435 free cocktails and ate a whole cow, and before that… years. I hate being sick, some people do it on a reg, but I have basically no gag reflex so in order for me to be sick, it means serious shit is going down.
Now I’m being sick, but did I mention, I was in a hostel? People everywhere. The first few times I was sick I managed to make it to the loo. The 27th time, I was so weak that I couldn’t make it down from the TOP BUNK BED I was on and so projectile vomited, from a height, all over the bedroom floor, Three times. Luckily it was just water and bile, but, gross!
I can deal with vomiting (just), but these episodes were every thirty minutes and were so violent they were jerking my body around like The Exorcist. Not great when you have an 8am flight the next morning. Convinced I was going to miss it, I slept next to my bag in the lobby (near the loo) to wait for my taxi. Not that I had any sleep.
Dehydrated and disorientated I thankfully made it on to my flight where I fought the urge to vom until we were safely in the air (there was no way I was getting removed from my flight). Once at cruising altitude I proceeded to be sick all down my front. I gave zero fucks. Zero.
By the time I landed in Bangkok I was a walking, stinking zombie – I looked such a sight that the customs officer saw fit to beckon over his colleague to literally crease at me. They had tears in their eyes.
As soon as I got to the luxury hostel my mum had booked me, which was a godsend because I wanted no human contact and a good shower, I washed and slept for the first time in 36 hours. And I felt a bit better.
Then the cramps started, and I mean like Alien ripping out of your torso cramps. Have you seen the scene in nightmare on Elm Street where the girl is writing across the ceiling because she’s being murdered by an invisible Freddie Krueger? That was me, yet again in a fucking bunk bed. These cramps were so bad that I had to bite down on a pillow to stop myself from screaming. When I lifted up my sweat-stained top I could see my stomach spasming. This continued for 48 hours.
The only good point in this saga was that I had avoided the shits… until I shat myself in the shower. Yep. That happened.
Tips For Preventing Food Poisoning/Delhi Belly
There’s nothing you can do. Unless you don’t eat anything except crisps… even then. Just enjoy the food, it’s all part of the experience. And wash your hands on the regs.
Tips For Getting Through Delhi Belly
Drink LOTS of water. Buy some ORS (oral rehydration solution) sachets to replace lost salts. If you have severe cramps, go to a pharmacy and buy some Spascopan, or Buscopan to relieve them. Rest. Rest. Rest.
You might lose weight.
Main photo: people bathing in the River Ganges, sure to give you Delhi Belly