So,,, I SURVIVED!!! to tell you my story, once again.
I reached home on Saturday morning after 24 hours travelling and transiting through airports. It has taken me three days to recover from the fatigue… Hmmm, one of the perks of having Lupus, I guess?
I would have to say that the trip was another eye opener… and would I ever be able to get used to this? I’m not quite sure.
As much as I tried not to get Lupus to affect my holiday mood,,, there were a few times where I really failed.
This was a visit to the Hmong’s King’s Palace – near Bac Ha village in Sapa Hills region. It is summer season in Vietnam, and even though this is a mountainous area; the weather was still very humid, the afternoon’s sun was quite hot… If you have Lupus yourself, you would probably be able to pick out which one I am… Yup. In such heat, I had to cover myself head to toe. That’s me! The one in pink cardigan and super big hat and long pants… (The outfit was part of the extra spending I had to purchase – light weight summer clothes with SPF protection from Coolibar)
I was fortunate that Sapa was not as humid as Saigon or Hanoi… and if there is one single thing that I would recommend to anyone who has Lupus and Sjogren’s Syndrome travelling to a tropical country is – electrolyte drinks!!! Those drinks saved me from fainting and getting my energy totally zapped out by the sun and the heat.
Coming from Indonesia, my sister and I found that Vietnam has better hygiene level and is much cleaner compare to my own birthplace… So, being the foodie that I am… I wouldn’t let Lupus stop me from having fun… I did allow myself to eat those refreshing Vietnamese salads, Banh Xeo, Bun Cha and few other things… I really was doing well; no diarrhoea or food poisoning, no rashes and keeping up with the schedule of the tours :D!!!
…until just 3 days before the end of my tour… We were on the overnight cruise ship in Ha Long Bay. All meals were fully catered. There were a lot of seafood dishes and salads served as appetisers… maybe it was the hygiene practices in that boat, maybe it was the kind of food with higher risks of contamination – clams? seafood?
I woke up in the morning, on the last day on the boat with stomach pain… I brushed it off thinking nothing about it. But my body was already more lethargic than usual, I did not have any appetite to even have any breakfast and was the last one on the boat to come to the breakfast lounge… I should’ve had known and taken something first thing that morning… But I didn’t. I pushed myself to join the tour and get on the small boat to a nearby island to check out the cave there…. but by the time we reached the beach, I was feeling nauseated and I knew I had to just stop there…
For the next 24 hours; which includes 2 hours on boat back to the Port, 4 hours drive back to Hanoi, 2 hours flight from Hanoi to Saigon… I was in agony. I had diarrhoea twice and vomited twice in the boat, once in the car and once more when I was in flight when I thought it was already getting better!!!
I was very very lucky to have made it without going to the hospital… I really was thinking of the worse while trying to nurse myself to rest in the car. I asked my brother to take out the paper with my travel insurance cover, preparing for the worst… Which, I would have to add, that insurance cost 3x more than ordinary travel insurance – if you DO NOT HAVE LUPUS!!!
When we reached Saigon it was already 8pm but thankfully our tour guide and my sister was able to source out some antibiotics for the food poisoning bugs… By the time I reached the hotel though, all I could do was just shower, took the meds and went to sleep.
I guess next time I travel, I would be more of an expert at the A-Lupie-kind-of-Travel!!! It’s not the same kind of travel with the one that I wish I could do… but I am getting better at it and I know I can still have a lot of fun with myself 😉
I am so glad to be back home and for not having a flare because of the incident during the holiday \(^^,)/ . I owe it once again, to my own body – for fighting off the infections and keeping me alive, and to my family and comrades of carers – wouldn’t have survived without them!!!