Pretty bad medical issues but broke, advice on how to proceed?

TL;DR down bottom

Hey guys, hope this post is allowed.
I am not looking for medical advice (unless you have some, a pm would be appreciated. If its against the rules, then no medical advice is required)
But I am getting pretty desperate, and am not really sure where to turn to for advice. Heads up if youre eating, I talk about my bowel movements in case I put you off your lunch :(

After getting food poisoning Thailand 8 months or so ago my stomach has been really bad.
Some days I go to the toilet about 7 or 8 times a day to do number 2. Its loose, like basically water.
Sometimes there is slight stomach pains (not as bad as really bad indigestion), most times I just feel tired and lethargic, sudden urges to go to toilet but no real pain in the stomach.

Some days are better than others. I can go a few days with relatively normal bowel movements (I still go 1-3 times), but it always comes back.
There have been periods of up to 2 weeks where I have loose bowels every single day, and I am on the toilet 6+ times.

I have lost my job because of this issue, too many sick days and nights staying up till 3am on the toilet.
While at work I took too many toilet breaks and left early too many times.

Every single day I am dehydrated and I feel weak constantly.

Things I have tried:
Edit: forgot to mention in original post the GP game me antibiotics already, I don't recall what they were
I have gone to my GP, he has ordered several blood tests.
(test for celiac)
Nothing has come back out of the ordinary, aside from high Iron levels.
He seems at a loss to what it could be.
I have been referred to a gastrologist however I cannot afford the colonoscopy and consultation fees as I am paying rent, bills, food with centrelink at the moment.
I have tried cutting out milk, in case I am lactose intolerant.
No luck.
Tried cutting out gluten, in case I am actually celiac.
No luck.

What are my options when I have no money right now?
Can I go to the hospital and ask for help?
Is there some kind of centrelink assistance?
I feel weaker by the week.

Thanks everyone for taking the time.
Sorry about the weird post, I am not sure who to ask.

TL;DR : Have loose stools 6+ times a day for 8+ months after getting sick in Thailand.
GP is not much help, lost job and unable to afford gastrologist consult.
What are my options?
Can I go to the hospital and ask for help?
Is there some kind of centrelink assistance?

Edit. Thank you for all the responses. I actually feel really heartwarmed everyone took some time out of their day to give me some assistance.

I will go to another GP tomorrow and explain my situation and get some stool samples to see if it is a parasite or bacteria.
I will also ask for a referral to a public health gastrologist.

Thanks again for all the replies.


  • +28 votes

    Aren't there any gastroenterologists at your public hospital? If so, Medicare should cover it.

    • +35 votes

      Get your GP to refer you to the appropriate Specialist Clinic at your nearest Public Hospital. There's normally a waiting list, but at least all costs are met by Medicare.

    • +6 votes

      This is definitely the way to go.

      How quickly you get in to a public hospital specialist depends on the seriousness of the problem!

      To give you two examples, I've been referred twice over the last few years - the first time for a problem that wasn't considered urgent, and the wait was 12 months, the second time for a painful kidney stone, which obviously was urgent. For that the wait was less than two weeks, and the operation only a few days later.

      So the public system works well when it's really needed.

      This was in Brisbane, BTW, I can't speak about other states.

    • -31 votes

      Hopefully he didn't vote Liberal/National/One Nation/Palmer as Labor put forward a very good policy to cover issues like this.


      I thought when you go to ED at public hospital and have medicare, they will just run tests for free if they are covered by medicare? Having this for 8 months is really bad.

      • +4 votes

        You're right. But Just hate the word "free" being perpetuated. Healthcare certainly is not free. Ever heard Of the Medicare levy? You pay for it.

        • +1 vote

          I know, free as in no need to pay apart from medical levy. Make sure you see another GP and go to public hospital. AND keep hydrated + probiotics in the meantime


        They are fully within their right to tell you to bugger off and stop wasting their time. It is called an "Emergency" Department for a reason. This is something that your GP should handle. If you don't like your GP, then find another.
        The ED has to see you. They don't havt to treat you.
        If they are nice enough to treat someone like this case, they will do the most basic gastro bug/parasite tests and then send the results to……his GP.


          Nah, they would just let you wait longer if it is not emergency. After they do the test, they have doctors there standby you know… And they will explain the result. Obviously you never been to ED.


      Be prepared to wait for months to be seen for endo or colonoscopy though. I was admitted back in january and only now the hospital has contacted me to go in for procedure at end of June.

  • +2 votes

    What gave you the food poisoning?


      Probably street/stalls foods. You gotta always watch out on those.

      • +9 votes

        I actually found the western type restaurants and the hotel buffet to more suspect.

        At one of the centara resorts in Phuket I saw a kid vomit everywhere then his parents sent him back to the buffet to get more food.

      • +7 votes

        Quite often giardia is from untreated water or ice made from dirty tap water. OP is not really helping themself by not giving some information about the source.

        OP could try adding quite a lot of turmeric to the diet or apple cider vinegar for a cheap and natural attempt to fix it. That's what the third world use. During medieval times there are some wines they drank together with food to kill the bacteria knowing the food likely was contaminated.


          I'm pretty sure the mediaeval diet predated our knowledge of microscopic organisms… Any bactericidal activity of wine would be purely coincidental.

          • -2 votes

            @Strand0410: Babylonians used vinegar 5000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians used embalming fluid to preserve corpses. It's quite possible to understand benefits without knowing the underlying issue. We still do not fully understand the flight/lift generating properties of aeroplane wings and only quite recently changed the theory, despite commercial flight being commonplace for decades. Plenty of medicine used by remote Brazilian tribes is anecdotal and works quite well.

            It is a bit funny that in Henry VIII's grand feasting hall, the toilet was just the gutter near the walls. Must have smelled frightful.


              @Frugal Rock: They also did lots of other mad things in the pursuit of health with little knowledge of what they were doing - ancient does not mean knowledgeable or effective. While modern medicine is by no means perfect, it is highly effective in most cases.

              • -2 votes

                @singlemalt72: From Scientific American. I think they knew :p

                "In 2015, our team published a pilot study on a 1,000-year old recipe called Bald’s eyesalve from “Bald’s Leechbook,” an Old English medical text. The eyesalve was to be used against a “wen,” which may be translated as a sty, or an infection of the eyelash follicle.
                A common cause of modern styes is the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (or MRSA) is resistant to many current antibiotics. Staph and MRSA infections are responsible for a variety of severe and chronic infections, including wound infections, sepsis and pneumonia.
                Bald’s eyesalve contains wine, garlic, an Allium species (such as leek or onion) and oxgall. The recipe states that, after the ingredients have been mixed together, they must stand in a brass vessel for nine nights before use.
                In our study, this recipe turned out to be a potent antistaphylococcal agent, which repeatedly killed established S. aureus biofilms – a sticky matrix of bacteria adhered to a surface – in an in vitro infection model. It also killed MRSA in mouse chronic wound models."

            • -1 vote

              @Frugal Rock: Not saying ancient remedies were universally ineffective, but it's a stretch to say they drank wine to kill bacteria when the very notion of 'bacteria' is relatively modern. Plague doctors wore beaked masks as late as the 1600s, centuries after the medieval period, filled with crushed flowers to cover bad smells, which they believed was the cause of disease.

              Medieval therapy which predated germ theory was based on a combination of trial, error, and superstition; any benefit would be entirely coincidental.

              • -2 votes

                @Strand0410: I think it's non-controversial to say that more effort even now is spent looking to nature for inspiration for medicines than theory, and one of the key selling points of preserving biodiversity. We have a lot more theory now, but we resort to studying nature. The trial and error part hasn't really changed through the ages. A lot of the study of cancer is simply breeding strains of cancer prone mice and studying the resistant ones. If not that, it's creating semi-random drugs and observing the effects on test animals. If it were simply based on theory, that wouldn't be necessary. It's a scattergun, trial and error based approach even now.


                  @Frugal Rock: Dude you’re delusional


                  @Frugal Rock: I don't know why you're still arguing against a point I never made. I never claimed, nor do I believe that natural remedies are meritless; after all, antibiotics are derivatives of naturally-derived agents.

                  I merely corrected your original statement that ancient peoples drank wine to kill bacteria 'knowing food was contaminated.' This is ridiculous because it predates germ theory. Even if these people were aware of the notion of 'contamination' that wasn't grossly observable, they definitely didn't 'know' that disease was caused by microscopic organisms. So let's agree to that, without going off on bizarre tangents involving ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Brazilian tribes, or Henry VIII..

    • +1 vote

      It could have been anything really - food poisoning can have an incubation period anywhere between a few hours to several days. But it's most likely related to water.

      If it's freshly cooked food it's generally pretty safe. Many people avoid cooked meats overseas and go for salads/vegetables - very bad idea. More often than not, it's the water that is the problem, which they use to wash fruit and vegetables.


        I dunno. Every time I go to Bali, I would always order a watermelon juice whatever restaurant I go to and I’d turn out fine. I’m sure they would use ice to blend with the watermelon


      Not sure to be honest. I was put on antibiotics twice to treat the food poisoning but it didnt help

      I cant recall what antibiotics.

  • +4 votes

    Get sickness benefit from Centrelink. They have social workers - ask to see one if you can't get the ordinary Centrelink people to understand your predicament.

  • +6 votes

    Sorry to hear about your struggle. Getting in to the public hospital system as mentioned above is your best bet.

    My partner got a similar sickness for 3-4 months after being in India, there was limited things they could do and the specialists told her that the body just needs to pass the parasite.


      I'll look into it. Thank you

      • +3 votes

        I had the same problem for 8 months.
        Had lots of gas pushing out with small/medium amounts of diarrhea and clear liquid. (It was very uncomfortable with the gas)

        Diet and exercise (whilst difficult at this time) helps.

        I found that severely limiting my food intake helped a lot.

        I also buy the Aldi $2 yogurt cups and have 1 for smoko everyday which can make my stool go from runny to nearly constipated, which is great (take 1 a day for 3 days and see what stool is like on 3rd-4th day.)

        I know your pain, good luck with it.

  • +1 vote

    Has the doctor said you can take imodium? It won't cure you but might stop you going to the toilet so much.

    I was diagnosed with chrons 15 years ago so I know how you feel, luckily I'm in remission now but still have to go to the toilet more often than most.

  • +21 votes

    hi, possibly you have the Giardia parasite

    Years ago my wife had similar symptoms to yours. that what the doctors thought it was. it is treated with prescriptions.

    It seemed to work.

  • +38 votes

    Its unlikely you have a chronic bowel condition (like coeliacs) if the onset was associated with food poisoning.
    Diarrhoea like this is either caused by virus, a parasite or a bacterial infection.

    You dont have a virus, it would have cleared up long ago.
    There is a bacteria or parasite living in your gut.

    Has the GP ever tested a stool sample? If not ask for that to be done.
    Have you been on a course of metronidazole? Its an antibiotic that is used for parasitic infections. If you havent tried it ask the GP to prescribe it for you.

    This has gone on for far too long now for it to fix itself.
    You need a new GP, this one has no idea what they are doing, seriously go to see someone else that bulk bills.

    Like others have said, get your new GP to refer you as a public patient to a gastroenterologist at the public hospital. It will not cost anything. This is something your current GP would have done automatically if they were competent.
    Thats the only way to be seen at the public hospital, if you attend Emergency they will discharge you and refer you back to your GP because it is not life threatening or requiring inpatient intervention.

    Looks like you are in VIC. Call Nurse on call for advice on how to get seen by a gastroenterologist, there may be a way to bypass your GP.

    In the meantime, you could try a wholefood plant based diet to see if that helps, its like a vegan diet but no processed foods or refined oils. It will have a cleansing effect on your gut.

    • +12 votes

      You absolutely need to get your stool tested. Do this as a matter of urgency - I am shocked your GP has not done this already. "Blood tests" are not enough. You will most likely have a parasite or an atypical organism causing these symptoms. Chronic diarrhea has many health implications and it is very sad to hear you have lost your job and are feeling weak everyday. Your electrolytes are also probably deranged so this needs to be sorted ASAP.

      You can go to a public gastro but wait times are extremely long in the public system and this probably won't earn you a CAT 1 referral, I am afraid.

      Don't talk to nurse on call - this will be a waste of your time. The priority here is finding a GP well versed in travel medicine (spend that $60 for the consult - seriously) if you cannot find someone worthwhile who will bulk bill you. Request a stool sample. Your health is important.

      As for diet, eat low irritant foods such as plain white rice, bananas, white bread etc. Top up with gastrolyte if required.

      • +1 vote

        I reckon it could if the symptoms are confining the patient to a 2x2 space 8 times a day.

        Acute dehydration and (I'm guessing) severe weight loss should qualify OP for some urgent attention.


        Meho2026 and Sdog8 have a valid point.

        It is critical you go see another GP that will get your stool tested pronto.

        It's likely you have PARASITIC WORMS (Giardiasis, Ascariasis, etc) or less likely BACTERIA (H.Pylori, etc). It is unlikely to be something else as your troubles started right after your Thailand food poisoning episode, and your blood test coming back normal. It is unlikely viral as it would have sorted itself out by now. Once the culprit is identified, take the meds to kill it and you'll return to normal.

        If a cause cannot be found, still check with your doctor to get you a broad spectrum anti-parasitic medication to rule that out. Not all stool test come back positive as the worms or its components/eggs may not be found in that particular sample of stool…but may still reside in your gut.(There's a very high chance it will show up in a stool test and get treated).

        Good Luck and Take Care.
        Please do see a doctor that is sympathetic and will advice you accordingly.
        Folks here like myself can only do so much, only your doctor can order that test.


      I would place bets on this being the case. Good luck finding a doctor that will listen to and take you seriously though; these cases usually only get attention when you're in the ICU as the parasite has traveled through the bloodstream to another organ that it shouldn't be in and causes a complete shutdown of the organ (more rarer cases though). Do the stool tests as others have said and make sure it's being tested for parasites. Most cases like this I've found involve pork, seafood, ( inc shellfish,clams etc) and unwashed salads / vegetables. Best of luck to you and your recovery.


      I'll look into finding another GP tonight. Thanks for the advice and info


    I agree its likely a bug but just think, do you pee often or sweat much? If not it could be kidneys


    Would a colonoscopy help? My friend had this and found out he had some allergy to a specific food.

    Pity your employer couldn’t have had sympathy and just made u work 5 hours a day over 8 hours, and byo dunny rolls

    • +1 vote

      Potentially but scopes can only see visible problems within LoS of the scope.

      If I hadn't had a bloodtest and a stool sample and a few possible diagnoses, there's no way I'd let someone stick a camera up my keister as a starting point.

      OP sounds like he has been to a very average GP as others have pointed out - you don't develop a chronic condition like Coeliacs after a binge eat on the streets.

      Blood tests are quite specific. You have to test the blood for something and if the GP was testing for Coeliacs, then I think what OP has had done thus far is equivalent to nothing (not OP's fault) and a trip to emergency is warranted.

      Firing out the rear end and being dehydrated to the point of incapacitation is grounds for being seen in the ER.


        Thanks I will look into it.


        Colonoscopy prep could be dangerous if he is already dehydrated and defecating liquid. that stuff destroys your anus.


        Tshow, not that is not grounds to go to ER. He needs to go see a different GP, not clog up ED with non-urgent issues, we see this enough. I guarantee he will be waiting in the waiting room for 8hrs minimum as a cat 4/5. OP needs to take some responsibility for not seeing someone else sooner too. As stated, some GPs just dont get it so best to move on if you feel like things arent going in the right direction after even just a few consults. Good luck, stool sample is the right advice, i suspect if youve had antibiotics already it was metronidazole which would treat the most likely suspect in this scenario - giardia. Its likely you have somethign more obscure, go see a GP that has a niche in infectious disease. Not an infectious disease physician per se, just a GP with a clinical focus in the area, lest youll be charged physician (specialist) rates. Good luck.


          Not that I agree with people suggesting faking symptoms and like you said, there are grounds for presenting to ED.

          OP said they lost their job so the 8 hour wait isn't the issue. Also, finances are constrained so finding a bulk bill GP and knowing who has an infectious disease interest is going to be unlikely.

          With all that in mind, personally, I'd go sit in the hospital for a bit… and the hospital toilet also.


    Have you tried psyllium husk to make your stools more firm? It'll help a bit. They test for Giardia by getting you to blow into a bag and sending it off to pathology. Ask specifically for a referal to a public specialist like others have suggested. Try to get a bulk billed sleep study done as well to see if you need medication to help you sleep better. Medical issues really do snowball! Good luck.


    Definitely get yourself on the public hospital waiting list

    Besides that, have you tried probiotics/ probiotics? Could it be that the initial food poisoning has seriously messed up your gut bacteria? (Disclaimer: Not a doctor myself)

  • +8 votes

    try a different doctor?

    Preferably not Dr. Google

  • +2 votes

    You should be able to get fixed on the public system. Your GP needs to arrange a stool test, you could have some parasite, which you need to get treated with drugs as it would be doing you damage. If your GP won't do this go to another one
    I had a similar situation after travelling though Africa and was diagnosed with Bilharzia - I ended up with referall to a specialist at the hospital and got some drugs.
    I was then retested 6 months later and they found it still wasn't 100% clear, so had another course of drugs. Tested again another 6 months later and all clear
    Whole thing didn't cost me anything

  • +11 votes

    Hi Ken. This is a really bad situation you are in. Please go back to your GP and demand that he refer you to some help that costs you no $. You cannot go on like this. You will get seriously ill soon. I think you picked up some negative bacteria or parasite. In the southern states of australia they do not specialise in tests for the tropical bugs, this is your problem.
    I work in the alternative field and see this a lot after travel. If the GP can’t help just go straight to the emergency department of your nearest public hospital. You will have a long wait, but my guess is that you may need to be put on a drip soon for dehydration. Please do something NOW. This has been going on too long. Good luck

  • +2 votes

    Definitely think the best advice here for starters is to get a stool sample test done. If your current doctor won't do it, find one that will. Insist on it.

    For keeping hydrated (and from a bargainers perspective) I've found the packs of Hydralyte at Chemist Warehouse to be the best value at $18.99 for three tubes:


      Here's my pay off from the comments. I'm a hydralyte fiend and never bothered to do better than Coles by checking out CW.


  • -2 votes

    It certainly sounds like some sort of IBS. Chrone's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, something along those lines.

    The only way to know is to get a colonoscopy. It's something I went through when food set it off initially.

  • +2 votes

    I just want to reiterate what others have already said, get a second opinion from another GP and look at replacing your current one. This going on for 8 months is unacceptable.

    • -3 votes

      There is no further reason to see a GP as OP already has a referral. Issue is cost.

      Time to sit in the ER waiting room. If OP's condition is as dire as he has (potentially unknowingly) worded, he'd be attended to very promptly even if it is just for rehydration but that's a foot in the door. They can't discharge him without ensuring the issue isn't going to recur shortly after.

      • +1 vote

        you're assuming the GP OP has seen has conducted all appropriate investigations before referring for the non-GP specialist - which is a big if. Never hurts to have a second opinion especially if OP seem to imply he hasn't had a basic stool MCS/OCP


    Ideally try a new GP and see if you can get referred to a specialist in a public hospital. Save you a heap on appointment costs.


    Get referred to a specialist that is listed at your local major public hospital. Explain your financial situation and that any hospital visit you want to go public. Initial consult will most likely be bulk billed and you will go on a waiting list for colonoscopy at the public hospital (zero out of pocket). Wait could be 1 to 6 months but is better than sitting around stressing out. A decent gastro specialist will ask very specific questioning during consult too, to try to narrow down the problem, and may order a range of other tests prior to colonoscopy.


    My mum went to Bandung and she had a very similar experience to yours - parasite. Once she took meds, it went away fairly quickly.


    Google Helicobacter pylori.
    Your Symptoms sounded like mine. Kinda Sick, but just very vague, and people start to think you are just whingeing too much.

    If this is your problem, then it is cured with a week of many pills.


      H Pylori can also cause hyperplastic polyps which require more invasive treatment than pills.

      H Pylori on its own doesn't cause such grief. Most people have H pylori but it is the combination with other conditions that causes noticeable symptoms. The big question for OP is what are the other conditions.


    This happened to someone i know 10 years ago, is still suffering the effects today, they has gone to speclialists around sydney, noone could figure out the issue specialist or otherwise.

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