By the time I arrived in Mumbai, I had a fever of 102f (I keep a thermometer and a small first aid kit in my toilet kit). Every deep breath and cough caused a powerful, sharp pain in my lower lungs. I was sweating and shivering at the same time. I was panting and slightly delirious. I suspected pneumonia – or worse.
The delirious aspect of my symptoms scared me because I was traveling alone. The situation required that I have a clear perception of what was happening so I could make a sound judgment as to what to do.
Without being dramatic about it, I was aware that I was dealing with something that could kill me in just a few agonizing days. That was a disappointing prospect.
To die in a two-star hotel on the other side of the world is not at all what I have expected ever since my wild 20-somethings and turbulent 30s. I’ve always assumed I would be shot in flagrente by a jealous husband. Now that I am in my mid-70s, opportunities for that encounter have become fewer and fewer ever year that passes.
Was Keats right? Would things end for me, ” . . . not with a bang but a whimper” ???
When the taxi from the train station turned the corner to my hotel, I’d noticed a pharmacy. As I walked there from the hotel I was aware I was staggering a bit. On arrival, I realized the pharmacist was sizing up my disheveled appearance. I guess I looked like a junky with a monkey. She was leery until I finished explaining my symptoms.
She pulled a head set from under the counter, stuck that cold plastic cup under my shirt and listened to my lungs, front and back. She agreed with my self-diagnosis of pneumonia. I accepted her suggestion that I buy a ten day supply of Amoxicyllin.
In India, antibiotics are cheap and available without prescription. She charged me only for the medicine. The diagnosis was free, as she explained, “Because I didn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know.”
After two days of that medication, plus bed rest and liters of water per day, my appetite returned. On the third day I was strong enough to go out walking. I was shaky but clear headed, the fever and cough were gone. My first stop was to return to the pharmacist and thank her.
I had to re-schedule my flight and delay my departure a few more days until I was strong enough to fly. I saw virtually nothing of Mumbai beyond the few blocks around my hotel. Things seen from the window of the hour-long taxi ride to the airport hinted at how much I had missed. Mumbai looked to be a far more cosmopolitan and varied city than New Delhi.
My next trip to India will start with at least a week in Mumbai.