Well, I lost that game of Russian Roulette.
But let's start this story from the beginning.
(Disclaimer: No need to worry, I am now A-OK and can appreciate the humor of the entire situation.)
It all began two Wednesdays ago. The day started like any other day: I woke up and went for a run. I finished early since it was sprint day on the schedule, came home, showered, ate a good breakfast and started preparing for my 10:00 a.m. class. After breakfast however, I started feeling really tired. Abnormally tired. I attributed it to the fact that my body was still adjusting to the earlier mornings and longer runs that had become part of my schedule as of late. And at any rate, tiredness isn't a good excuse to cancel class, so I made my way back to Pucamaima to teach Academic Writing.
We were just getting through the first couple exercises when a wave of nausea hit me.
"Hey guys, I'm not feeling too well. I'm sorry if I have to run out of here real quick." That was the last thing I told my students and the last thing I remember.
I woke up on the floor with all my students huddled around me (apparently I had passed out): nothing more bizarre than blinking awake with all of your students worried faces looking down at you.
The young doctor/nurse/intern? (not really sure of her official title, but lets go with doctor) there helped me to lay down on a cot in the back and put a cool compress on my forehead while she asked me all sorts of health questions. Yes, I had oatmeal and an apple for breakfast. Yes, I exercise regularly. No, I don´t eat street food. No, I´m not under a lot of stress. She couldn´t figure out why I passed out but told me just to lie down until I started feeling better.
So after about a half hour of lying around feeling like a dork with an ice pack on my forehead, I decided it was time I should try to go home. I got up and told the doctor I thought I was OK to head out. But as she was talking to me I started to feel nauseous again. I sat down on the chair in front of her desk and then, Bam.
Ok so apparently there seemed to be a real problem here.
They helped me back onto the cot and decided I was severely dehydrated and that I needed an IV and drip bag. I asked if they could just give me some water, but they were afraid, since I had said earlier that I felt nauseous, that I would throw it up and insisted the drip bag would work better. I wanted to argue but wasn't really in the right state to do so, so I watched as they pulled out a needle and prodded my arm to find a vein.
Now the thing is, my veins are apparently kind of hard to find, doctors and nurses in the past have had trouble with them. And when you are dehydrated, your veins shrink even more, making them even harder to locate. So I could foresee potential problems ahead, which is why I asked again if I could just have some water.
The doctors were adamant though.
So they stuck the needle in my left hand, but to no avail. The fluid started creating a bubble under my skin instead of going into my vein. Not a super pleasant experience.
They decided my right hand would have a better chance.
They stuck the needle in my right hand, and dug around some, and then dug around some more. And it hurt. A lot. Finally they found it. But it hurt so much that I ended up throwing up. They should have just given me the water. Oh the irony. Anyways, with the drip bag finally attached they left me to re-hydrate.
Unfortunately, the needle was not actually inserted correctly. I know this because although part of the fluid was probably going into my vein, a very large painful bubble was slowly swelling under my skin where the rest of the water was leaking out. I called for the doctor who came in and promptly removed the IV.
When Lynne finally arrived, she helped me out to her car and we drove off to the lab to get some blood-work done (apparently a common way of finding out what's wrong with a sick person). At least the doctor there knew what she was doing and didn't have any trouble drawing blood on the first try. I was extremely grateful, as needles were beginning to scare me a little.
Lynne took me home, got me to my bed, mixed up a giant bottle of water with rehydration salts, and told me to drink as much as I could. She had to go back to work, but the results from the lab tests would be in at 4 and she would call me then.
I layed down, sipped as much water as I could without fear of throwing up, as my head and tummy were still doing flip flops at this point, and fell restlessly asleep for the next 4 hours.
That's when the phone rang.
It was Lynne. She had just received the lab results and had taken them to the clinic at Pucamaima for the doctors there to look over. My white blood cell count was extremely high, signaling some sort of infection, which apparently had the Pucamaima clinic staff all worked up because they told her to take me to the emergency room immediately. She was calling to tell me to pack a bag (in case we had to stay the night) and get all my documents in order since she was on her way to pick me up.
By this point every muscle in my body was aching and I felt so weak that walking was a monumental effort, all in addition to the unpleasant feeling of having to vomit but not being able to...so emergency room didn't sound like such a bad thing.
Now it's important to note that Lynne took me to a "clínica" (which is a private hospital) verse a public hospital, which is apparently where the poor go to die. An extremely disheartening thought. Although I have to admit I was grateful we were going to the clínica.
Now I don´t have much experience with emergency rooms, so I don´t have a lot to compare it to, but the private clinic emergency room was packed, and I mean jam-packed with people. There were no actual chairs, instead everyone was sitting on collapsible plastic chairs that the nurses would set up and take down as people came and went, and there were a few cots out in the open where young children were curled up. There were also about 8 curtained off rooms containing cots, which were all full, and which is where, I am assuming, the worst cases were being kept. Nearly everyone was hooked up to an IV or medication of some sort. And everyone looked miserable. Nurses rushed around hastily asking questions to the new patients as they entered, patients grimaced as shots and IV bags were administered, and children whimpered and wailed in equal measures.
After about a 20 minute wait, it was my turn and a nurse came by to ask questions and get me started with my own IV bag. Perhaps out of fear of the needle digging into my hand again, or perhaps just because I felt really sick, I told her I needed a trash can.
"Ok," she said.
"No, right now."
She pointed to a red, toxic-waste, garbage can behind me, which Lynne swiftly pulled over and into which I proceeded to vomit. A lot. Right there in the middle of the crowded emergency room (that cleared up the seats around me fairly quickly). Embarrassing. And gross. Not to mention, the garbage can was filled with bloody cloths, which I am sure only helped me to vomit more. Anyways I felt better after I had finished and the nurse got me all set up with the drip bag, which she was able to do with the skill of a professional, and for which I was over-joyously thankful. She then disappeared back into the crowd and I would only catch glimpses of her sweeping by over the course of the next 3 hours.
1. Sitting in a plastic chair for more than 2 hours is probably one of the least comfortable things in the world for a sick person who just wants to lay down.
2. Nobody knows how to work themselves into a state of hysteria like a 5 year old child afraid of needles.
3. Apparently it's socially acceptable to try to hit-on sick girls in a hospital. Even as I was sitting in the emergency room, minding my own business while the IV delivered the precious water, looking pale as death, a man still tried to pick me up No joke. His leading line, "What happened to you?", followed by an "Are you married?"
Seriously? I wanted to laugh.
Obviously he had missed my Exorcist throw up scene about an hour ago. Had he witnessed that he might have re-thought starting a conversation with me.
In any case, after nearly 3 hours of waiting, the doctor finally made it by to see me. She talked to me for all of about 3 minutes. Apparently my high white blood cell count was not much of an alarm to her and she prescribed some anti-nausea medicine and acetaminophen with B vitamins and told me to go get another lab test done on Friday.
Well, I can´t say I wasn´t relieved to hear that I didn´t have some sort of life-threatening infection, and the IV bag had definitely been a necessity, but come on! 3 hours waiting to receive a prescription for acetaminophen? I was not impressed.
Oh well, I was relieved to go home.
Well if you are wondering how things ended up. Turns out the Pucamaima clinic was right and I did have an infection of some sort. The test results seem to have been a bit unclear but it may have been Salmonella (who knows where that came from). Anyways, I spent the next 5 days recovering and went back to school on Monday. However my weakened immune system must have picked up another lovely little bug on campus because I woke up Tuedsay again with a small fever and a pounding headache. Can't seem to catch a break, can I? Don't worry though, by Saturday I was feeling better and now and I can finally say I feel back to my old self! Thank goodness. And for the worriers out there, no need, I am 100% A-OK, healthy, and happy once more.
In the end, it wasn´t all bad. I got to see a Dominican emergency room first hand and learned some new Spanish medical terminology
Me desmaye= I fainted
Suero= drip bag
Mareada= dizzy/ nauseous
Not exactly win-win, maybe more like lose-win?? Who knows, lol.