We figured out how I became ill...See our many photos below in the second half of this post...

 
Views across the Huon River.
There's no doubt we're running low on photos.  Having been increasing ill over these three months, I wasn't feeling well enough to go sightseeing once we arrived in the Huon Valley, five weeks ago.  I've barely been well enough to do much of anything. 

Tom's makes the bed, does the laundry, washes the dishes and helps make dinner.  The cleaner comes once a week leaving us with not much more than tidying up after ourselves. 

I had mentioned that I wouldn't continue to discuss this health issue.  This was prior to having a diagnosis anticipating that our readers would tire of my whinging.  But, now that I have the diagnosis of Helicobactor Pylori (the bacteria that causes ulcers and gastritis, we both felt it was important to share this information for other travelers. 

These conditions may become prevalent for travelers to certain countries and after eating certain foods.  After all, to the best of my knowledge, I may only have exacerbated this condition while living in Bali for four months. 

These comments are by no means intended to criticize or berate the two lovely cooks, the property or the digligence of the owners or managers.  They were very conscientious to ensure our visit was safe and sanitary. 
 
Rolling hills in the Huon Valley which apprently were bright green in the spring, before we arrived.
However, certain climates with ultra high humidity and rampant insects and ants may be a breeding ground for illness.  Also, one never knows the handling conditions when purchasing produce, fish, meat, chicken and eggs from vendors in farmer's markets which we've done regularly.

We often hear of infectious disease as a result of bagged lettuce and other produce purchased in the US and other highly developed countries in traditional chain supermarkets where one may easily assume everything is safe to consume, only to discover it is not, in some circumstances. 

When looking back and discussing where we've been these past few years and when in fact this illness may have started we reviewed many of our past posts.  Most of us carry the H. Pylori bacteria which may be activated over a long period of time, often exacerbated by certain conditions.
Sailboat on the Huon River on a cloudy day.
When we received the disgnosis a few days ago, we both racked our brains trying to recall when, in fact, some of these symptoms began.  Without a doubt, the symptoms started with an outrageous and uncomfortable sense of fullness after eating a normal sized meal, once we arrived in New Zealand where we lived for three months on an alpaca farm.

Most of our meals consist of medium sized portions of protein, one or two cooked vegetables and a salad.  Eating none of this foods should or previously caused any intestinal distress. 

Previously while in Fiji, where we spent three months living on the island of Vanua Levu we literally cooked every meal.  During this period we didn't consume a single portion of seafood when we'd discovered all local fish was caught close to the shore.  See this photo below and our post from December 29, 2015 for our mention and fears of eating fish in Fiji.

Photo and caption from December 29, 2015:  "We'd been warned against purchasing locally caught fish when its often caught close to the shore where bacteria is heavy in the waters from sewage disposal.  As a result, we never purchased any fish during the past four months (in Fiji).  I'm looking forward to cooking fish once we arrive in New Zealand."  Eventually, I did eat the fish.  See text below for details.
At the end of the three months we left Vanua Levu to fly to Viti Levu where we stayed for one additional month.  This was during the busy holiday season that we dined out a few times, once on Tom's birthday on December 23rd and again on Christmas Day.  On each of these occasions I ate shell fish and/or squid both of which meals were consumed in a five star hotel. 

Here's my dinner on the night of Tom's birthday in this photo below with more seafood.  Here's the link to that meal:
My fresh plate of food on Tom's birthday on December 23, 2015.
But, here's the one that tops it all from Christmas brunch December 25, 2015:
This is what I ate for Christmas brunch at the five star hotel in Vanua Levu, Fiji; baby octopus all of which are caught close to the shore.  Please see this link for these facts.  Those heads were a bit tricky to chew.  I ended up eating four of them, less one head, never giving it a thought since we were dining in an upscale environment.
Once we left Fiji on January 4, 2016, we cruised from Sydney, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand where we lived on the alpaca farm for three months. It was during this period the bloating symptoms began, most likely the onset of full blown H. Pylori.

On January 11, 2016, I posted this story with a seafood photo on a cruise, here again exacerbating my condition by eating bottom feeding, caught-close-to-the-shore seafood.
This is the entrée I ordered for four evening meals in a row on the cruise to new Zealand, seafood on a bed of cooked cabbage and vegetables.  Here again, more high risk seafood.
How many times did I mention the risks of eating seafood caught close to the shore which is often infected with a wide variety of bacteria, including Helicobactor Pylori?  More times than we can count. 

Any yet, foolishly, I continued to eat squid and bottom feeding fish which seems to be the biggest culprit in causing my illness as shown in these photos. At the time, I made the assumption that dining in upscale restaurants and aboard cruises would eliminate these risks.  How wrong I was!

Today, as I experience some side effects of the massive doses of two different antibiotics, one of which includes 2 grams  (2000 mg) of Amoxicillin per day, twice the recommended dose for strep throat or penumonia.   The other antibiotic is Clarithromycin at 1 gram (1000 mg) per day.  The third drug is a PPI (proton pump inhibitor) always taken in combination with these two antibiotics is intended to reduce the acidity of the intestinal tract during the treatment and for two months thereafter (by continuing the PPI).

The course of treatment ends next Monday at 7 pm.  Thirty six hours later we'll board the cruise in Sydney.  I can only hope I've learned something here:  that the cosumption of squid and other close-to-the-shore and bottom feeding fish will now be forbidden in my diet, eliminating one more of the foods I've enjoyed over the years. 

We're grateful for our almost 1700 daily posts.  Through researching our photos, we were able to piece together why, when and how I developed this bacterial infection.

However, no food(s) is ever worth a serious health condition of any type.  We hope this post may have provided some insight into what may be recommended to eliminate from one's diet while traveling.  One can never be too cautious, a lesson I've learned the hard way.

Be well.
__________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, February 22, 2016:

These foals in NZ were hard to get close for more detailed photos when they're very shy  If you click on this link, it will take you to last year's post where, if you scroll to the bottom on the page, you'll see a hysterical horse photo we'd taken in Hawaii.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jess, thanks for all this information. Contracting an intestinal bacteria is one of my concerns when we embark on our home free lifestyle, having experienced it once before in Peru, it is not pleasant. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. Susan

Jessica said...

Susan, thank YOU for reading our posts and of course, your thoughtful get well wishes. Hopefully, this will all be behind us when we sail away on March 1st. Please stay in touch so we can hear about your travels!

Warmest regards,
Jess & Tom

Unknown said...

Hi Ms Jessica,

I'm happy to hear that you got a treatable diagnosis for your condition - I know that while unpleasant, it is a relief! Are you able to have access to probiotics? I learned the hard way the importance of taking them with high doses of antibiotics! I continue to take them daily and have had a remarkable improvement in my gastrointestinal issues!! If not, my offer to bring something in my purse for you still remains open!

I hope you are feeling well enough so that we will be able to meet during our Fiji cruise!

Hoping for you continued improvement and recovery!

Laura

Jessica said...

Laura, you're too sweet! Surprisingly, Tasmania has everything I need. I'm doing unsweetened, probiotic goat yogurt twice a day in the smoothie recipe I just posted today, plus the pills. During this entire three month period of illness I ate both the yogurt and took the pills as I always have.

Thank you so much for your kind offer. We've been amazed at how almost everything we previously found in the US is also in Australia including many new products that have recently entered the market. Can't wait to meet you soon! Please look for us at the "Meet and Mingle."

Warmest regards,
Jess & Tom

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