No Pain, No Gain

By Crissinda Ponder

There is only one word that accurately describes my first few days in Siem Reap—pain.

Strep throat, inflammation in the ears, fever, you name it.

I noticed a few days before I left the states that my throat was a little irritated. Sunday morning before I headed to the airport, the pain got worse. Everything I was taking—Advil, cough drops, throat lozenges—would only offer me temporary relief. And by temporary, I mean one hour max.

I tried to ignore the pain, at least for my first flight from Atlanta to San Francisco.

The flight was OK for the first couple of hours. I watched some TV and listened to my iPod to kill some time. I flew Delta, and I was excited to see that every passenger had their own TV screens to watch. It made my experience more personal, I guess.

I really enjoyed flying over California. The scenery was amazing. I had never traveled here before, so now I could say I saw some landscape from the airport, at least.

Landing was painful. Not because of my motion sickness, that has gotten much better. My ears closed up on me. That pain in addition to my sore throat was enough to make an average person shed a tear or two. But I have a high tolerance for pain and can hold it together for a while.

I continued through the airport for my next flight to Seoul, South Korea. No time to rest—only two hours to get my boarding pass and duke it out with TSA.

Take my shoes and belt off? Really?!! Take my laptop out of my packed-to-capacity book bag and struggle to slide it back in? Come on!!!

I wish I could say I spent those 12 hours and 15 minutes resting and enjoying my Asiana Airlines flight. But I was ready to lie down in a bed until I got tired of looking at the pillows and sheets.

I think I may have ticked off one of the flight attendants. Every time she handed me food, I would pick over it and never finish it. It hurts to swallow, duh. Oh well.

The landings in Seoul and Cambodia did not ease up on my ears. Chewing gum proved to be useless and holding my nose and trying to blow air out my ears amplified the pain. My entire head and neck area was giving out on me. Very discouraging.

I was already thinking about boarding my flights back home.

When I arrived in Cambodia about 11:30 p.m. Monday, I was amazed at their “Customs” process. I just handed them a piece of paper I filled out on the plane, and I was free to exit the airport. It took me less than 10 minutes to get outside.

Once I got settled at Journey’s Within B&B, I hopped on my laptop and started looking up symptoms. Swollen throat, white spots on tonsils, trouble eating. Yeah, I had strep.

The next morning, Brian, the program assistant, and I got on a tuk-tuk (which is sort of an open-air taxi) and headed into town. The staff at the B&B told us that the “pharmacies” don’t have trained pharmacists available and you don’t need a prescription—you ask for it, you’ll get it.

I got 10 amoxicillin pills for $1.


I started taking the pills, but the healing process was slow and the relief was barely noticeable. I still didn’t want to eat or participate in anything, though I really tried.

Wednesday afternoon, Brian and I went over to the international hospital to get a better understanding of what was going on with me. I didn’t want to keep missing out on excursions and class time. I paid for this trip.

The doctor confirmed my sore throat and told me I had a fever and inflammation in the ears. The medicine they gave me at the in-house pharmacy was nothing like the cheap, generic stuff I got at the pharmacy in town. I paid a pretty penny for the meds but already feel a difference after a few doses.

I’m ready to get better so I can become a part of the group again. I’m at a guesthouse down the street from the B&B in a room by myself. Luckily, Brian is here as well, but the B&B is much nicer and the staff was taking good care of me.

I can’t help but feel isolated, but I do need time to get better and not pass on the infection to any of the other students.

Bad timing to be sick. I would have been fine with the onset of symptoms during my return home.


1 comment so far

  1. Rachel on

    Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa ( may be another choice. i know alot of people use it, its also non alcoholic, though it’s effectiveness is not as good as alcohol based cough medicine, but it’s still good to use on not so serious sore throat.

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