So I’m not at Danum anymore.
The second day there I started – and I swear I’m not making this stuff up and that I’m not a hypochondriac whatsoever – coughing up blood.
There’s some signs of ill health that you can easily brush aside as the cost of travel – an infrequent cough, a bit of extra fatigue, stomach cramps, headaches – and then there are some things, such as discovering that the phlegm coming up through your throat is an intense bright red color, that make you head for the nearest hospital and email your doctor.
Apparently, it was a fluke.
The chest xray came out clean. (“We can’t entirely rule out TB,” the female doctor in Lahad Datu told me from under her voluminous head scarf, “but it is an extremely early case if you have it.” To be fair, I was the one who had suggested TB in the first place.) She wrote me a request for a TB test at another hospital as well as a prescription for antibiotics – to cover any sort of lung infection – and cough syrup; I filled the prescriptions and opted not to bother with the TB or sputum tests. I don’t really have any other symptoms and, besides sleeping a lot, I’m fine. I think. Just irritated the lining of my throat by coughing, burst a blood vessel – or something.
I left Danum Valley Field Center, though – and chose not to return. It’s costly and, to be entirely honest, I didn’t really belong there. I feel bad for not having given it a better try – but – well.
So now I’m in Sandakan, holed up in a bright and cheery hostel (Sandakan Backpackers), lazing around the waterfront and feeling a bit foolish. I’m going to Sepilok tomorrow, considering some less rigorous and more guided trekking/camping with Uncle Tans, and shopping for village homestay programs – I’ve got a week-and-a-half-or-so left in Sabah, two days in Jakarta, and a few days in Bangkok before I meet Kristin. We’ll be making a run to Angkor Wat and then down to the Thai islands – and then I go to Nepal – plenty to do, but I’m already feeling the end of the journey approach and I can’t entirely quiet the silly voice in my asking, insistently, just what I think I’ve been doing all this time.