Image Source: Kathryn M.
The biggest mistake I made was not consulting with my doctor about travel medicine before taking off to Peru. The only medication I packed in my backpack were ibuprofen pills and Pepto-Bismol tablets. BIG mistake!
As luck would have it, I became severely sick the first night of the hike. At the time, I wasn't sure if I had caught food poisoning or some sort of virus. All I knew was I had never experienced this level of sickness before, and it was miserable, to say the least. Not only were there no private bathrooms along the hike, but none of the public stalls had toilet paper. I only had the one roll I'd remembered to take from our hotel before we embarked on the trail, and by the time we were reintroduced to civilization at the end of the trek, I kid you not, I was down to my last square. To top it all off, there were no showers along the trail, which made me feel even worse.
Looking back, I still don't know how I was able to finish the hike. But then again, what choice did I have? Not only did my sickness last all throughout my time in Peru and during the 10-hour flight back to the US, but I also did not fully recover until several weeks after returning home. Because we could not pinpoint the cause of my sickness, my doctor referred me to a gastroenterologist, who finally proclaimed I had been infected by a parasite.
And to think this entire experience could have been avoided had I been proactive and consulted with my doctor before the hike, instead of the other way around.