Beck Eleven: The trans-Pacific relief effort to salvage my upset tummy

Nothing can spoil a foreign holiday quite like an upset tummy.

Nothing can spoil a foreign holiday quite like an upset tummy.

OPINION: Providing international aid is an important part of the privilege of living in a first world country.

There are many ways of performing this duty. Some are legislated by government. Some come via aid organisations who rely on fundraising initiatives, such as Unicef NZ's recent Skip to Save Lives campaign, where you can forgo a coffee or muffin for a minimal amount, or instead skip smashed avocado on toast and stump up a reasonable $1000.

Having returned from a glorious holiday in Rarotonga I can say I have been a recipient of international aid. Just of a more personal nature.

An international mission was launched to track down some Imodium on Rarotonga.

An international mission was launched to track down some Imodium on Rarotonga.

I got the squirts. Look, it could happen to anyone.

Read more:
Feeling anxious before your holiday?
When travel goes wrong: What happens when you get ill
8 simple measures to avoid sickness overseas

You visit somewhere that's not home, your diet changes, you drink different water or maybe, like me and my long-suffering holiday friend, Paula, you avoid tap water altogether but you still use ice made from tap water, or brush your teeth. Perhaps you pat all the cats within reaching distance – even if some of them do look a tad diseased.

Anyway, you have now contracted something that makes your tummy go bump in the night (and three or four times during the day).

Next thing you know, you are the victim of intestinal cramps and an overriding need to visit the smallest room without much warning.

The worst time I recall this happening was on a trip to Cambodia where, again, I had the squirts. I was with a boyfriend. We had not long been together and were exploring the temples around Angkor when I was abruptly overcome by cramps signalling an impending emergency defecation situation.

There was nothing around except ancient trees, sacred temples and a 20-something Kiwi tourist pulling her pants down with a contorted expression on her face – a mix of horror, shame and pain.

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Luckily it was a phantom and I just blew off.

I no longer have that boyfriend.

Anyway, Paula and I had decamped from our rented house to a fancy resort where we each had a room and no shared "facilities".

I was on my eighth day of diarrhoea. It was causing me no serious problems more than a sore tum-tum and its related issues roughly four times a day.

However, it started causing Paula problems when I hastily commandeered her bathroom.

I did my business and left for my own room where I had a little lie down.

I soon received a text from Paula which I will not recreate verbatim here but the upshot is that she had to light matches everywhere but not before almost being sick on her own porch and planning a hospital route for me.

It became known as The Serious Incident except she was the only one wearing a serious face while I got the giggles any time I thought about her getting out a map and plotting the shortest distance to the hospital.

I would have carried on in relative silence but we'd booked a trip on the open seas, (later cancelled due to weather).

Paula insisted I needed Imodium if we were to be on a boat together, for my sake, for her sake, for the greater good of any fellow passengers and in case I crapped on a marlin.

Step up to the plate, TVNZ Pacific Correspondent and accidental international aid agent, Barbara Dreaver.

Having lived in Rarotonga for some time and being a good journalist who knows contacts are vital, Barbara leapt into internet action.

From New Zealand, she messaged her friend Shannon, a pharmacist in Raro who she suspected would have a well-stocked home supply of the necessary poo-stopper.

Shannon was actually on holiday in New Zealand but in turn, Shannon messaged her house-sitter, requesting she check the medicine cabinet.

The medicine cabinet was bare but the house-sitter had her own supply.

Barbara then messaged her friend Peter, who lives on the island. Peter raced over to collect the precious medications and delivered it to me by (hopefully sanitised) hand, already doubled over laughing by the time he got to my door.

And that, my friends, is how international aid works (at its most basic but necessary).


 - Stuff


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