Ben Stokes thought England may have been forced into an emergency toilet paper order after illness spread through the camp in what the team have nicknamed 'The Cursed Tour' to South Africa.
All-rounder Stokes spent time off the field – as did captain Joe Root and Jos Buttler – during a 107-run defeat in the first Test at Centurion, which Ollie Pope, Chris Woakes and Jack Leach missed due to sickness.
Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Joe Denly, Mark Wood and Dom Sibley have also been affected, so Dom Bess and Craig Overton, who were called up as potential cover at the start of the tour, have been retained for the second match in Cape Town, which begins on Friday.
"We've nicknamed it 'The Cursed Tour' so far because it wasn't a great time for us in terms of the team trying to build up to an important Test series," Stokes told the Mirror.
"In the dressing room we have really been battling through a tough time of it with sickness, and without looking for sympathy it is fair to say guys really put their bodies on the line to get out there and give everything they had to fight for England as much as they could.
"It was the dodgiest changing room I've ever been in and at one stage I thought we were going to have to get an emergency order of toilet paper in Centurion, it was that bad.
"It will never be an excuse, but I hope people can understand that physically and mentally it was a huge challenge, getting up in the night, not sleeping, not eating. It all has an effect and over the course of a match you really feel it."
Stokes' preparation for the opening match of the series was thrown into further turmoil when his father Ged was taken to hospital in Johannesburg in a critical condition, though he has since improved.
After starring in England's Cricket World Cup success and masterminding an incredible victory over Australia in the third Ashes Test this year, Stokes said the health worry over his dad showed that family is the most important aspect of his life.
"If someone could say, 'I'll take everything away from you that happened this summer, but your dad is happy, healthy and watching you play cricket,' then I'd say yeah, swap it," Stokes added.
"Thankfully where he is now to where he was when he went in has been an unbelievable turnaround, but he's got a way to go."