Well, I'm writing this from the departures lounge of Sydney's domestic terminal as I await my Virgin Blue flight to Cairns this afternoon. I made it here in the end, but the last 48 hours have probably been some of my roughest since the 'Typhoid in Africa' incident...
Firstly, home was great. Being back in Hatch End, if only for 5 nights was lovely - you really do appreciate home comforts so much more after being in a place so alien to your usual surroundings. My family were genuinely happy to see me (I'm confident they had doubts as to my returning from Senegal in one piece) and I just enjoyed the simple pleasures of bathing indoors, washing machines and a distinct lack of mosquitoes. I did have a lot to get done though - law school acceptances, fighting off the Student Loans Company, hostels and buses to book for Oz etc. - it was far from a lazy few days, though I confess, I failed to complete all my tasks.
Wednesday night Barney flew in and I went to pick him up from Heathrow (of which I am now a pro at mastering all the damn lanes etc). I intend to maintain a gush-free nature to my blog but obviously I was pretty damn excited to see him, it having been almost 8 weeks since he was in London. Anyways, all was well that evening, we got back home fine, had a lovely meal and an early night in anticipation of our belated Valentine's day of fun the next day. Alas, our fun-packed trip into town never happened.
Barney's company had been hit earlier that week with an awful stomach virus that had seen more than 30 of them off sick that day. And of course, Barney having not seen his girlfriend in almost 2 months, was doomed to get it too. So Thursday was spent with me faffing about on my laptop getting little done, and poor Barney in bed all day. Still, we were lucky in that he seemed to have mostly recovered by Friday night and we went for a lovely meal at Black Pepper restaurant in Hatch End (Harrow people - go eat there, it's lovely!), and on to two of his uni friends' wedding the following afternoon in town (NB. Malaysian weddings are infinitely more beautiful than English ones)!
Anyway, all seemed fine in the run up to my departure on Sunday morning. Barney was better, I had mostly finished everything I needed to do, and I had managed not to catch the bug from him... or so I thought.
I left London on Sunday morning for Heathrow on a Qantas flight that I was half nervous and half excited about (22 hour flight versus infinite choice of movies to amuse myself)! The first few hours of the flight were fine. I was lucky enough to have a window seat with no one next to me or in front of me (I hate when people lean their seats back), and I amused myself by reading my East Coast Australia Lonely Planet book and watching and laughing out loud at a few episodes of Family Guy (unedited and fantastic as always). However, I had clearly not earned my right to be disease free for this part of my travels, despite my fairly good effort in Senegal to get it out of my system.
I threw up. Lots. The plane was going through a particularly rough bit of turbulence at that particular moment and so I was unable to leg it to the bathroom. I did get to the sick bag in time though. Alas, being similarly unable to go to the bathroom to empty its contents, the bag eventually broke and spilled all over the footspace of the seat next to me - ew ew ew! I was absolutely mortified. I'd tried to get up and wave frantically at the air stewards to get them to throw me one of those fantastic, strong-looking yellow plastic bags they seem to have everywhere, however, I was met with shaking heads, gestures to sit down and a final "passengers are reminded that whilst the seatbelt sign is on..." announcement. The nice lady in the row next to me sympathised however. She threw me a newspaper to cover up the mess and passed me a box of mints. Still, I was so embarrassed.
The mess was cleared up by a poor air steward who insisted it was fine and happened all the time. Still, there was more to come. The leg to Singapore (our 40 minute stopover) was 12 hours long and I spent a good deal of it filling up various other sick bags that I acquired from the secret stash in the bathroom (though this time I was able to empty them pre-disaster spillage), and I became increasingly dehydrated and faint. I eventually told the chief flight attendant that I wasn't sure I could fly on to Sydney and what were my options re getting a later connection. He asked me a few questions, and after finding out that I'd just returned from West Africa the week before, seemed to air on the side of caution and advised me to consult a Doctor at Singapore airport.
After umming about the cost of it all, I came down on the side of not passing out on the 7 hour final leg to Sydney and infecting everyone else, and saw a doctor at the airport. The cabin crew were fantastic at arranging everything and I was met at the cabin door by a guy with a wheelchair to take me to the medical centre. After initially insisting that I could walk, after lagging behind the guy so much as I was feeling unsteady, I succumbed and went for the chair (mildly fun even when ill in case you were wondering). I was seen relatively quickly by the doctor there who said I had a high fever, was severely de-hyrdrated, had an infection of some sorts and was most definitely not fit to fly yet (you need an actual certificate to prove this for the airline).
So I lay in the medical centre for a few hours, calling my family/Barney to update them, inbetween falling asleep/drinking re-hydration salt solutions. Eventually I was transferred to a lounge with a bed, then a transit hotel within the airport, where I slept for lord knows how many hours, inbetween getting confused about what time it was (I hadn't anticipated needing to know what the time difference was in Singapore!) and when to take the million drugs the doctor had proscribed me. Still, I made it on to a later flight, and landed in Sydney this morning only about 12 hours later than scheduled. I still feel a bit dodgy but am so drugged up on stuff that I think I should be ok for my Cairns flight this afternoon. Not sure my bus tour starting tomorrow at 7:30am will be happening though...! Just a bit gutted at having to be on yet more medicine and not getting to see Maria last night, who (bless her) had planned to come and meet me at the airport.
Still, I anticipate fun times in Oz come the end of the week, when I hope to be back to some state of normal. We'll see though. So far Sydney is lovely, and everyone has been very helpful, except the crazy man from my flight in this morning, who on the way through to baggage reclaim, thought it would be funny to grab me and tell me I was under arrest, then waffle on about crap - weird. But yes, Australia = good so far. Hopefully Cairns will give me the sunshine I've been craving all this week too!
More soon, hopefully when I'm not quite as diseased!