Multi-Vitamin Irony

In our fastidious preparations for our grand trip, Erik and I tried to really take the preventative approach to getting sick and the proactive approach to staying healthy. One of the largest items in our portable pharmacy is a large ziplock bag of daily multivitamins. It’s not always the easiest thing on the road to eat a balanced diet and much of the time you’re not quite sure what you’re eating at all. For these reasons we thought that a vitamin a day might keep the doctor away, or at least fend off malnutrition. Well as it turns out, our ability to not get sick has been pretty dismal and led to some memorable situations.

While in Cambodia Erik and I had just sat down to enjoy a wonderful breakfast on the roof top terrace of our hotel, when Erik screwed up his face and quickly got up from the table and walked to the bathroom on the other side of the terrace. As with most bathrooms in Cambodia there is little privacy as the walls are made from thatched reeds and the stall has no ceiling. This allowed Erik’s retchings to echo across the entire terrace. Luckily I was the only person up there at the time other than one waitress that was blessed with Erik’s symphony of body rejections. To my surprise Erik returned with a smile on his face and said, “That had to be about the most pleasant vomiting I have ever experienced, just fruit and water.” He then proceeded to eat the rest of his breakfast and was fine from then on. Curious.

In a related story, in Phnom Penh Erik and I went out to dinner our first night there at a place we read about called Mama’s. While sitting outside, enjoying the breeze and discussing what we wanted to do while we were there, at some point I had a rush to the head and discreetly asked Erik to grab one of the nearby trash cans. I then “very daintily” as Erik describes it, proceeded to get sick to my empty stomach several times below the table. I then sat up and feeling much better, dove into my noodles in vegetables and completely cleaning my plate with no other problems, aside from some slight embarrassment. Luckily I was able to quietly remove the plastic bag from the bin and drop it in a trash can on the way back home. Curiouser and curiouser!

These two instances seemed almost identical and Erik and I launched on a mission to discover the cause of our quickly passing nausea that occurred both times on an empty stomach. After examining both cases the single common factor that we could isolate was in each instance we had just taken our multivitamin pill before leaving our hotel room. After a quick Google search we discovered that our suspicions were correct. Apparently taking a multivitamin on an empty stomach can cause vomiting usually due to the high concentration of iron that an empty stomach can’t always handle. So those labels on the back of pill jars are trying to tell you something, who knew?!


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