After five months on the road, our world trip may come to an abrupt end. Roman has been struggling with a stomach bug ever since we flew into Vietnam three weeks ago. It has gotten better, then worse again, then better again, and now…worse again. When we first arrived in Hanoi, we figured he’d caught the infamous travellers’ diarrhea which most tourists face in Southeast Asia. I felt ill too, but a few days later I had normalized whereas Roman’s troubles continued. Once we reached Hoi An, Roman took some antibiotics, and he recovered right away. We thought we were in the clear, but a few days later he was sick again. We went to the doctor in Danang (a large city near the town of Hoi An), and got blood work done and a new set of prescriptions. Again, Roman felt better, and all was well.
We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City this morning by sleeper train from Hoi An. I remember speaking to my mother on the phone after getting off the train, and we talked about how well the trip was going, and about our December plans in Thailand. A few hours later, we were sitting in a café eating lunch when Roman suddenly felt faint. Luckily the doctor was just a few minutes away – we went to the same private clinic in Ho Chi Minh that we’d gone to in Danang, so they were able to pull the information from our previous visit. After hours at the clinic and more tests, it looks like Roman has a parasite. He has gotten more, new medicine and he may need ongoing care to make sure he is completely healthy… which we can’t do effectively on the road.
The magnitude of the diagnosis didn’t sink in immediately. We planned to take the medication and get checked again in ten days’ time. We went food shopping and filled our lovely airbnb with groceries for the week. But as the evening wore on and we talked with family back home, we realized the responsible thing to do is to leave Southeast Asia, and to cancel our plans in Thailand and Malaysia. We will likely head back to Calgary to make sure Roman gets the healthcare he needs.
This is sad news. It is so sudden. The suddenness of is the most difficult part to wrap my head around. Just this morning we were telling the kids about Angkor Wat, and tonight we are looking at flights back home.
When we left on our year-long adventure, our family raised a lot of questions about our plans; there were a lot of “What ifs” – What if you hate it? What if the kids drive you crazy? What if there’s a terrorist attack? What if you don’t like the food? What if you get kidnapped? What if there’s a nuclear war? What if you get malaria? What if someone steals your passport? What if the kids fall behind in school? What if there’s a deadly earthquake? What if…
There are a lot of reasons not to travel. There are a lot of things to fear when you go to faraway places, from natural disasters to political unrest to crazy-making children and strange parasites. But there are so many things to fear in every facet of our lives. If we are driven by fear and limited by the What Ifs, we begin to stifle the possibilities.
In response to the fears (the fears of our family, and to our own misgivings) we always said that we would take reasonable precautions, and that we would not hesitate to return home if something went wrong. Something has gone wrong, and so we are returning earlier than expected.
It’s disappointing to return early, but it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.