My Stomach Returned to Taiwan

One irony of the pandemic is that my lungs are healthier than ever. As far as I know, I haven’t had a single respiratory infection for over two years. That’s unprecedented.

By paying more attention to my nose than before, I figured out that I have low-level chronic hay fever. Xylitol-saline nasal spray is cheap and increases airflow. Wearing masks which screen out nasal irritants might help too.

Then there’s my stomach.

When I lived in Taiwan, I had stomach bugs about twice a year. I accepted them as an unpleasant fact of life. After I returned to the United States, stomach trouble happened much less often. Since the covid-19 pandemic started, I’ve been catching stomach bugs about as often as I did in Taiwan.

I wonder why.

(Note: I wrote the first draft during a bout of stomach trouble, but at the time I’m publishing this, my stomach is fine).

Maybe my immune system is getting out of practice because I’m no longer catching respiratory infections. (I hope that it’s giving my immune system ‘workouts’ which will keep it ‘in shape’, it would suck if these stomach problems had no silver lining). Maybe some quality control in the food ‘supply chain’ is broken, so more contaminated food reaches my bowl. Maybe the public health workers who used to intervene in norovirus and other stomach bug outbreaks are busy dealing with covid. Maybe it’s a coincidence.

Every covid test I’ve taken gave me a negative result, but the rapid tests give a lot of false negatives. Maybe this repeated stomach trouble is covid after all? I doubt it; the symptoms don’t match, but covid symptoms are varied enough that I can’t be sure…

Thorough handwashing stops norovirus, but hand sanitizer doesn’t. I don’t know whether norovirus is responsible for any instances of my stomach troubles. If the increased popularity of hand sanitizer to stop covid replaced handwashing, allowing norovirus to spread… that would be ironic.

I’ve learned that, when I have stomach trouble, it’s best to switch to a starch-heavy diet. It reduces symptoms and allows me to eat more food, so I’m less drained while I recover.

Anecdotes of other people getting more stomach bugs than before go around. It’s not just me.


I’m taking a deep breath of fresh air.

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