Joys of Jaundice

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Fellow misplaced expat Karilyn hit the nail on the head with her recent comment. Indeed, I have come down with jaundice and I’m finally somewhat well enough to sit up straight and write about it.

Basically, I have succumbed to the second – yes, second – outbreak of jaundice in Bombay over the past three months. Hurrah! I can count myself among many of Bombay’s movers and shakers who also have the disease! My doctor believes it probably came from drinking ice. Apparently, none of the poorer people, or “servants,” as she called them, have contracted the disease – only the people who are able to go to nice clubs and let their guards down when ordering gin and tonics. Let’s just say I don’t think I’ll be ordering any of those again soon.

I don’t know if anyone is at all interested in what goes down when you have jaundice – actually, a result of Hepatitis E, in my case – but it’s pretty nasty. And, well, I think that writing out a laundry list of symptoms could help out travelers, as well as help to inform all the friends and family back home who aren’t quite sure what’s wrong with me.

I felt nauseous around mid-January, got some tests run for jaundice, and I was fine. Then, about two weeks later (the approximate incubation period), I lost my appetite and my nausea became more acute. From Thursday last until Tuesday, I couldn’t keep anything down nor could I hardly stand the smell of food, cleaning fluids, my medicine, anything. In the process, I lost about six pounds. I finally convinced my doctor to let me change medicines at that point because I kept retching at the thought of even taking the other meds. I’m eating fairly normally now, though there aren’t too many things that appeal to me just yet. Strangely, since I got back my cravings, the only thing I really want is an Everything Dog from Yum Dog in Greensboro, NC.

Throughout it all, of course, I became yellow. In fact, it was sort of akin to that mustard yellow color that Germans are fond of wearing. My eyes still are somewhat demon-like. They are a great source of amusement when I’m stupefied by boredom. It’s easy to imagine I’m in a horror film. The pigment from the “bilirubin,” as the toxic enzymes are called are also changing my hair color a bit – a bit lighter here, a bit darker there. Strange stuff.

I’ve been “bed-ridden” since last week, and am supposed to stay in until the yellowing goes away. That should at least signal that I’m not fully contagious. Though, I understand that it’ll take a good 20 weeks for my liver to fully recover. So much for killing my liver the old-fashioned way.

Of course, all of this is happening at the most opportune time. My in-laws arrived a night or two before I was diagnosed, so I had to cancel my part of a trip with them to the Golden Triangle. Now, my sister is coming next week and who knows if I’ll be fit to travel with her either. *sigh*

So, I guess this is a lesson to me and anyone else who likes to live dangerously: don’t drink the water and never ever let your guard down.