A Glimpse of Eternal Snows
How to Shit Around the World
The Essential Guide to Travel Health
Lemurs of the Lost World
Your Child Abroad: a travel health guide
People fascinate me. Perhaps that is why I love working as a GP. When I travel, I always want to ask questions and know what life is really like for everyone I meet. Sadly, I am not much of a linguist but I smile and gesticulate a great deal and make the effort to communicate. Given enough time, it is remarkable how connections can be made
I explore, try to understand and write about difficult issues including corruption, prejudice, exploitation, caste and poverty. I know that for some this makes uncomfortable reading and even risks demystifying and undermining the image some travellers have of the simple natural existence of the rural poor in emerging nations. Nevertheless I fervently believe these issues should be understood by all who travel so my aim is to present the facts as sympathetic engaging stories about real people. I am frustrated by the look-and-point approach to travel, but I hope I don't preach. I write of my adventures and enthusiasms and of colour and beauty so that my readers can enjoy my travel experiences as much as I do.
Within minutes of arriving in the sleepy town of Khairpur in Sindh, I was faced with a medical crisis. I'd been qualified as a doctor for a few years but was new to expatriate life, and I was travelling with my firstborn, three-month-old son. A guy who was expecting to work with my husband announced that he needed to be evacuated because he was desperately ill. I introduced myself as a GP and offered help. Quickly I realised that my new friend was not suffering from some horrendous tropical pox but that he just had a nasty attack of sinusitis. It made him feel awful with frontal headache that recalled having a screwdriver rammed into his eyeball. Labelling it with a diagnosis made it less scary, though, and we found that the correct antibiotics were readily available over the counter in the local bazaar. By the next day my patient was well on the way to recovery.
That was the first time I really had to think about travel health. What this, my first real travel medicine ‘case’, made me realise is that even the calmest and most sensible of travellers will nearly always become disproportionately worried about themselves when taken ill. In my friend’s case, he didn’t know much about the local health service and didn’t know where he could find a doctor he could trust. He just wanted to get home to his friendly British GP. That experience showed me how liberating and empowering information can be and motivated me to start writing accessible straightforward travel health advice. I began work on a manual that was distributed amongst expatriate engineers, and soon after wrote my first travel health feature for Wanderlust magazine. It was - of course - on diarrhoea.
When I read the media release for this book I thought “Oh no, it’s going to be a real tear jerker” and I put it aside to concentrate on other more worldly tomes. I could not have been more wrong, and it will be a very long time before I forget this book. In fact, I hope I never do.
David, Dr Jane Wilson-Howarth’s second son, was born with serious neurological disorders. Battle after battle with the medical profession, who had diagnosed David as severely retarded, forced the family to make a life changing decision. To stay in England, where David had access to the best medical services or return to Nepal, where they could make his short life one worth living.
Against huge opposition, they returned to Nepal and that’s where this story of courage, love and beauty really begins. It’s a shared story of adventure, colour and humanity. The shining thread that pulls the book together is their love for their ‘beautiful boy’ and the disparity between the embarrassment they encountered back home to the Nepalese people’s huge love and admiration for David’s differences.
It is a celebration of life, beautifully written with clearness devoid of any self-indulgent grief or blame. David’s differences are woven tenderly within the descriptions of the vibrant Nepalese culture and the family that adored him. It’s a story of triumph and a glimpse of eternal snows. I’m very glad I read it.
“We found your book on traveling abroad with children extremely useful and inspiring.... thanks for writing such a wonderful resource for those of us that choose to travel with our kids. For all the discouraging advice we encountered when we told people we were traveling with 10 month old Ann, she was the healthiest one of the group! She loved the attention, and really thrived in the Malagasy forest.”
My friend in Holland to whom I'd sent a copy of "Shitting Pretty" in Dutch was thrilled with it. I thought it might be of general interest to her as she's a keen traveller but something you, Jane, had written about warm food reminded her of a distinctly dodgy breakfast she'd eaten in Tanzania years ago. She reckons that at last she may have got to the root of long-term digestive problems.