I’m currently based in Bangladesh as part of a team of community workers. Follow me over on Instagram (@madisonbeachphotos) and here on this blog to keep updated with the ups and downs of living in such a beautiful yet challenging country..
Coming to Bangladesh we expected that the new food and climate would at some point make us ill; nothing some sleep and antibiotics wouldn’t cure. But none of us predicted what happened at the end of October. On the very same day 5 members of the team including myself starting feeling odd but couldn’t put our finger on what was wrong. Then slowly but surely one by one we became worse; diarrhoea, sickness, nausea and headaches.
We first made a trip to our local village clinic. Despite obviously having the same problem the doctor prescribed us all with different medicines. A quick google afterwards showed that half our medicines didn’t relate at all to our symptoms. Something you have to be careful with as a foreigner, as our insurance pays for all the medicine they will prescribe as much as possible.
Over the coming days the group quickly declined and the decision was made to go to Dhaka. As we were so ill the organiser of the transport said we would go the ‘quick’ route. He failed to mention this included an incredibly painfully bumpy 10km rickshaw journey and that the rickshaw journey would end at the edge of a river where we would have to board a boat. To say we were unprepared to be in public boarding a boat was an understatement. We were all in pyjamas, wearing socks with flip-flops clinging to pillows and blankets. Thankfully the wobbly boat journey was a short one and there was just a short wait for our van to arrive the other side.
Despite being assured that the ‘quick’ route would take just 4 hours, 7 hours later we were stuck in traffic nowhere near Dhaka. Although light relief was provided when Hannah, sleeping at back of the van, sat up having had a life epiphany, unfortunately her joy was short lived when she had to grab a sick bag.
We arrived at the Hospital 10 hours after setting off. As the main hospital was now closed we had to go to A&E. We explained our symptoms were all the same and started at the same time but things appeared to get lost in translation. Along with two other team members I was hastily put in a hospital bed while the remaining two members were escorted upstairs to a waiting room. It was all a bit surreal, ironically my roommate from the village, Emily, was put in the bed next to me; we managed to keep each other sane as they put us on drips.
Halfway through the receiving the drips a women was wheeled into the ward. It became very clear very quickly why she was there: she was giving birth. At home I can’t even watch the end of One Born Every Minute and yet here I was 3 metres away from a women giving birth with just a curtain between us.
By the time I had finished the drip there was a healthy baby boy in the corner of the room being weighed by the nurses.
After 4 hours the 3 of us on drips were all discharged and given medicine to deal with our symptoms, it turns out the doctors here aren’t very keen on spending time working out the diagnosis they just give you the medicine. It took me two more visits and an overnight stay in the hospital to get a diagnosis. They found an infection in my blood, most likely caused by food poisoning. We then spent 3 long days in a compound in Dhaka starting our various courses of antibiotics, resting and eating. We are now very happy to be back in north Bangladesh in the village we call home surrounded by beautiful landscapes and reunited with our team. Hopefully the next time any of us will be in Dhaka will be when we’re flying home.