I spent a lot of this week nervously watching over Zac, mopping his sweaty brow and dashing out to the pharmacy for a different variety of pills and potions to try and help him feel better.
Thankfully, after some fresh air and thrill seeking moto stunts in Kampot, he was just about back to Zac.
And me? Let’s just say my illness was more self inflicted.
Sweating and feeling queasy, Zac got in to bed after his lessons on Tuesday afternoon and didn’t move again until the weekend.
Zac is never ill, he just doesn’t get sick. Besides digestive ailments, he’s the one that has an immune system you can rely on, so seeing him wiped out was not only completely bizarre but also entirely concerning.
That afternoon he asked me if he’d got a temperature, that he was feeling a bit feverish.
I kissed his forehead, clammy and hot and then smiled at him, telling him he was fine.
Placebo effect, right?
We’d pushed the beds in our room together so we could feel like we were sleeping in the same bed, but he was pumping out heat, sweating through his sheets, I couldn’t get comfortable lying next to him.
Then the shivering started. Uncontrollable shivers racking through his body, the bed was shaking as he curled up trying to get warm. He would slide over to me and try and hold me tight to regulate his temperature, but it was unbearable being near him.
After an horrific night’s sleep, I left him restlessly dozing in bed and told the teachers he wouldn’t be teaching for the next few days.
They were concerned, grilling me about his symptoms. It had all happened so quickly and he’d been complaining about some mozzie bites from his gym sesh.
Then Cindy asked me if he had a rash, to keep an eye out.
Aaaah…they think he has dengue fever.
Suddenly the exotic disease we’d laughed about catching before we left seemed much more serious. We’d never seriously considered we’d have to worry about it, and given there’s no immunisation or cure for it, assumed it couldn’t be that bad, otherwise more work would be done to protect against it, right?
Kimlay came round and told me Zac would be fine because his lips weren’t blue, but I should get him to drink some lemon juice.
Classic traditional Khmer medicine.
We then got delivered a packet of miscellaneous drugs from Sokhea, quickly followed by a warning from Cheata not to take anything he gives you as she always gets more sick after his ‘help’.
That night he was actually sick.
Which was the point where I shifted from causal concern, to seriously worried about him. Zac never vomits. He’s like me: usually any digestive disagreements are expelled bottom end, so for his body to be rejecting pizza up top made me feel uncomfortable.
At least I think it was that and not the fact he has the loudest gag and retch I’ve ever heard.
Thursday night he came to the intern dinner, a little wobbly, wearing his new happy pants – a travellers staple – but it was an early retreat for us, and then back to his high temperatures and nightly expulsions.
Unsure what to do about Zac being so crook, I ended up teaching some of his lessons, allowing him to have another morning off and we headed to Kampot, as per our original plans in the hopes some fresh air and a weekend out of the city might help him feel better.
My main concern was him making it through the bus ride.
4 hours cooped up in a mini van, and no amount of glam or free wifi would ease his freakishly long legs.
While an early night was undoubtedly in order for Zac, the hostel we were staying in has a reputation for being a bit wild, and a disgusting number of free shots later, I was hugging the toilet.
Poor Zac, who’d never had to deal with me drunk before, wasn’t quite sure if I was going to die at some point in the night, so ended up keeping vigil over my affectionate relationship with the bathroom floor, before eventually dragging me to bed.
I was still drunk when I woke up, and despite a tactical chunder before, during and after breakfast I suffered for most of the day, clinging on to Zac for dear life on the back of our shared moto.
I almost felt better after our zip-line across the river, but coming back down to the thick, hot air hit me hard and it wasn’t until we bathed in the icy cold waterfall that I felt better.
Turns out that’s the ultimate hangover cure. Shame they’re so hard to come by when you need them.
No regrets, I’d had a great night badly dancing to YouTube songs with Nina, Nicole and Molly and it was nice to just let my hair down for once.
But it was one of the most painful and most magical hangovers I’ve ever had.
On the one hand, I needed to sleep. I wasn’t sure if I was about to pass out, or throw up and I had nothing left in me to do either. I needed food but was too scared to eat, and had to settle for sipping warm coke all day. Sweat was pouring down my back and I felt like a wobbly peach blob, not quite fully formed into a human.
Zac would peak and trough with his sympathy, having never had a hangover in his life, he wasn’t quite sure what to do.
But when we were riding through those limestone mountains, and I was holding on to Zac, there was nothing more magical.
It was just stunning and we both fell in love with Kampot.
Seemingly, it was just what Zac needed to get back to himself, too.
We watched the sun set on the river and feeling full of romantic tingles, decided to peel away from the rest of the group and have our own little date night.
Kampot, you’ve stolen our hearts.
We’ve had a lot of really great weekends together, but this one has to go up there as one of the best.