Asia Cambodia Personal Blogs

How Koh Rong gave me Reactive Arthritis

Say what? I know, the title of this blog might sound a little far fetched, especially when you see the beautiful image above. But with a few stages in between Koh Rong is the reason my life currently consists of watching Netflix and writing blogs whilst I’m stuck to the couch. And that’s a bitter fact considering I should’ve been walking the streets of Singapore and Sydney right now. So what happened?

Koh Rong: paradise and little devil in disguise
Koh Rong is an absolutely stunning island, but looks are deceiving as it is also one of the dirtiest places I have ever been (read more about the two sides of Koh Rong here). Apparently every two out of three backpackers get ill at this tropical Cambodian getaway, which unfortunately included me. Fluids were leaving my body rapidly from every possible exit and the toilet and I took our relationship to another level. Koh Rong doesn’t have a hospital or doctor, so as soon as I arrived in Kampot I took a trip to the doctor (read about that unusual experience here). The antibiotics that were prescribed only helped a little. I had been sick for almost a week by then so after 14 months of being on the road I decided the time had come for me to go home to The Netherlands for a couple of weeks.

Home sweet home!
Being home was awesome – hugging your family and friends again after such a long time is just priceless. I felt great, but unfortunately my intestines hadn’t fully recovered yet. I still had severe cramps and had to run to the bathroom many times a day so I decided to pay a visit to my own doctor in Amsterdam. They tested me and found I was infected with the Shigella bacteria for which they gave me some more antibiotics. About five weeks passed, and slowly but surely I was feeling better. The cramps disappeared and my bathroom visits weren’t as frequent anymore. I also booked my flight for some new adventures in Singapore and Australia which would commence on April 9th. I was so excited!

A painful knee
A few days before I would fly out again I started feeling very stiff and my knee started to ache badly. We went to the ‘weekend’ doctor (regular doctors are not on duty during weekends in The Netherlands) who advised me that if I was unable to fly if things would get worse. Unfortunately they did, I developed a fever and my knee started hurting more and more. With pain in my travel heart I called Malaysia Airlines to cancel my flight. The next day I went to my own doctor in Amsterdam. They ran some blood tests and eventually diagnosed me with reactive arthritis.

What is reactive arthritis?
Reactive arthritis an autoimmune disease and a form of inflammatory arthritis which develops as a response to a previous infection in the body. Even though the Shigella infection had been cured by the antibiotics, the dead bacteria were still present in my body and my immune system reacts to it by inflaming certain joints in my body. Reactive arthritis is very painful and because amongst others my knees and foot are infected I need crutches to walk. If you’d like to know more about reactive arthritis you can read it here.

Unfortunately there is no cure for reactive arthritis; other than taking some pain killers there’s nothing you can do. It can take a few weeks up to six months to recover from reactive arthritis. As you might understand the thought of doing nothing for six months drives me absolutely insane. I therefore went to a homeopath who is going to guide me on my journey to recovery and I have faith that soon I will be exploring again.

Shoutout to my mom for taking such good care of me 🙂

❤ Eef

Update 5-5-17:
Unfortunately I’m still stuck at home recovering slowly. The good news is that the pain is a little bit less and also the swelling seems to decrease, but it doesn’t look like I’ll be back on the road anytime soon. Last night Scoot Airlines delighted me with the news that they will give me a Travel Voucher to use within the 6 next months so I can book a new flight from Singapore to Sydney. Thank you Scoot! 🙂  Bad news is that Malaysia Airlines only sends me cold hearted standard replies about my missed flight from Amsterdam to Singapore saying the doctor statement I sent isn’t good enough and that they have to follow their rules and regulations. So much for customer ‘service’…

Update 9-6-17:
I’m doing muuuuuch better! The homeopathy is really doing it’s job and I’m able to walk like a normal person again – yay! I hope to return to Australia within a month or so, and before I go I will visit Domburg (Zeeland, The Netherlands) and Antwerp. I’m still talking to Malaysia Airlines about the refund/flight credit. Their higher customer service department is now looking to the issue. Let’s keep our fingers crossed…

Previous Post
April 22, 2017
Next Post
April 22, 2017


  • desiree


  • Chaja Mayer

    Heel veel sterkte! Hopelijk kan je snel je droom vervolgen! Liefs

    • eefexplores

      Lief van jou Chaja! 🙂

  • Samantha Zanevra

    OMG Eve this is crazy. I really hope it isn’t 6 months to recover. That really sux you have been set back by this but with your positive attitude you will beat anything. xx

    • eefexplores

      Thank you dear Sammie! Messages like these help me stay positive <3

  • Sjim

    Jemig Evelien wat heftig. Ik wens je alle gezondheid, geluk en herstel van de wereld toe. Liefs!

    • eefexplores

      Thanks Sjim! Heel lief 🙂

  • Richard Ensel

    Jeetje wat een verhaal. Sterkte en beterschap Evelien

    • eefexplores

      Dankjewel Richard! 😊

  • Suzie

    I am happy to know you are getting better! I myself too have reactive arthritis from bad meat and made my foot super swollen. I was put on steroid jab and pills since 2014. But since 2016 I was clear and stopped my medication entirely. I did juicing and clean eating. Unfortunately that wasnt enough. Now i am having a relapse and it is pretty bad. My hand, palm and wrist is swollen and I tried acupuncture but its a super slow process for me. Could you DM me how the hollistic theraphy doing for you and what were the steps given/taken? I never tried hollistic before. A skeptic maybe. Perhaps you could share so i can figure out if alternative method could help me too!

    • eefexplores

      Hi Suzie, I’m so sorry to hear you had a relapse 🙁 I’m not sure if homeopathy is the same as holistic therapy. I went to a homeopathy consultant here in The Netherlands and she gave me different types of medicine. First I was taking medicine to stop the inflammation. After that she gave me medicine to reduce the swelling of my joints. Where are you based?

Leave a Reply