I've been asked some questions, not only via my blog comments but also via a couple of forums I subscribe to, specifically about my infection. As it's raining heavily outside and I'm rapidly becoming an expert on this subject, I thought I'd answer them for your enjoyment.
You've had a couple of infections, how did you get them?
The first was a staph infection, which I caught from grappling/clinching with someone else who had staph. Staph infections are not to be fucked with and it's important you get medicial attention pretty damn quickly.
I was blessed with the second infection from cutting my elbow practicing upwards elbows (sok cheng) on one of the heavy bags where it was ripped. I made the mistake of washing it with soap and tap water, and not a sterilising solution from the chemist. The quality of tap water here is awful so don't drink it, and don't wash open cuts in it! Not even for a dare!
Was the infection due to an open wound sparring?
Well, open wound yes, sparring no. However, Staph infection is contagious and can be spread spread by skin/blood contact so if you have any open cuts, cover them up with bandaids or tape before you spar to avoid any nasty surprises.
Is the gym unhygienic?
Yes, but nowhere near as dirty as a lot of other Thai gyms I've seen. If you're worried about hygiene there are some things you can do, (have your own water, use anti bacterial soap etc) but I've always been a fan of letting my body fend for itself, which in hindsight probably wasn't the best strategy.
Is your infection a boil?
No, and I did consider this when I got the first one too. Back home when I was very young our house got burnt down. We lived in the bush so we kind of had to made do with a tin shack for a while. Anyway, our water wasn't the best and caused us to get boils, which is a fond childhood memory. Actually the infection felt like a pimple for the first couple of days, which is why I ignored it.
How can I avoid infections when I train in Thailand?
Well, you can't. Even the Thai's can't avoid them. My doctor said there's nothing I can really do to avoid them either, and it's a common problem amongst us foreigners. Honestly, if you're only coming for a short time you probably won't have any problems. I only starting having problems after the first month. If you have problems with your lymph node or have a weakened immune system you may need to take extra precautions however.
Thailand isn't a bad place to get sick, especially if your apartment has free cable tv and room service. The hospitals can be expensive (average 1,000 baht for a first time visit inc medicine), but your trainer/gym should be able to point you in the direction of a decent/cheap one.
The medical attention I've had from the docotors and hospital here has been excellent, and I have no fears about going to a Thai hospital. They do like to prescribe medicine though, so ask what the doctor is giving you and make sure you understand why before you take and pay for it. Once your medicine runs out, it's always cheaper to take the empty packet to the pharmacy/chemist and get a refill rather than paying hospital prices.
That's all until I think of something to write about next time. On the plus side, the nurse I said today said it's looking better so hopefully I can still fight 13-15 April at Sing Buri, even after a week of doing absolutely nothing.
And Dan... I feel so sorry for you mate, to have the same thing on your ass. I can't imagine how painful that must have been. I hope your ass made a full recovery and thanks for letting me know about your similar experiences. I'm also a fan of just cutting the damn thing open and draining it but with a fight coming up hopefully I won't have to go down that route.