Nathan Mendelsohn’s American BJJ Player Blog: Getting Sick in Ipanema!

 Hey guys!

I’m writing you from here in Ipanema in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as we are nearing the end of the two weeks that I will spend here with my girlfriend Sarah Ospina and the both of us have just survived a horrid Brazilian sickness, her three days ago and myself one day afterwards. As anyone who has traveled in a foreign country knows, getting sick is a very real possibility. Out of the six times I’ve been here I have been seriously ill four times. Now this is not to say that it will happen for sure, but its a definite possibility. One time it happened after I had separated my shoulder and was out of training for a month during which time I took advantage of the only thing I could do here in Rio while injured which was party and drink, leaving my immune system weakened and I inevitably contracted some sort of foreign Brazilian bug. I spent nearly a week laid up in bed, shivering while sweating and was only able to get to sleep after wrapping myself in blankets while wearing two pairs of sweat pants, a sweatshirt and a beanie. I would awaken every morning completely drenched in sweat. I had a nearly identical experience the year before as well, which had been the year of the Copa do Mundo and I remember being on the beach in Copacabana at the Fifa Fan Fest on a day of blazing sun where everyone around me was half naked because of the heat and I was shivering and wearing a sweatshirt and a beanie. Another time I made the famous old mistake of drinking the tap water. Many places in Brazil have two faucets in the sink, one of filtered water and one of unfiltered and I made the mistake of confusing the two and drinking from the unfiltered one for about a week until my entire stomach started to jam up and churn for about a day where I was left bedridden and unable to eat anything until it passed.

This time it began with my girlfriend. She began to complain that she wasn’t feeling well but I thought she was just being dramatic. Like the a$$hole I can be sometimes I continued to try to drag her out on the town but she insisted she was really sick. We stayed in that night but I still wasn’t convinced. The next day I woke up with the same symptoms she had been complaining of. Needless to say I was convinced. I spent the whole day in pain, my stomach churning, my whole body feeling sensitive and painful and weak. It felt almost like a combination of the flu I had felt years ago and when I had drank the tap water. Luckily my girlfriend is more caring than I am and she took care of me all day. I slept as much as I could all day and night, but I could only get to sleep once I had wrapped myself in blankets and began sweating profusely. I knew it was gross but unless I was pouring sweat I could not sleep. I took some anti nausea medicine and ibuprofren as well as some herbal remedies and by nighttime I was able to eat again. By the morning I was feeling much better and now I’m back to one hundred percent. Thank God it didn’t hang on for a whole week this time because it was much more intense than last time and it would have been quite a heavy experience.

If you’re a traveling gringo in Brazil here are a few bits of advice: bring Emergen-C and other wellness supplements like vitamins etc. and take them religiously to keep your immune system up. Make sure to wash your hands frequently, your dishes as well and be more cautious about cleanliness than you would back home. Also a very important rule: never drink the unfiltered tap water!!


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About the author

Nathan Mendelsohn