Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Calling in sick.
Looking at the date on this post you may be thinking that you’ve missed a day here. Well actually four days to be exact. But you’re not – I am. I didn’t expect to miss those days. In fact when we woke up Saturday morning, we started to plan what to do. Another day trip to a indigenous chocolate farm or perhaps to the other beach. But almost as soon as those words came out of my mouth, I was rushing to the washroom where I was holed up off and on for the next four days (I’ll spare you details). At first I thought it was food poisoning and blamed the shrimp dish I’d had the night before. But after 12 hours, I still couldn’t hold water down. I was worried. Adrian was worried. And the owner of the little hotel was worried. So worried that he sent Adrian off to the pharmacy to get me some medication. The rehydration salts, keg of gaterade and horse pills he brought back stayed down for a bit. But that night was still rather unpleasant.
I’ve been struck suddenly before by these lovely stomach upsets on the road. Once in Tunisia and the other time in Gambia. And as violent and horrible as they are, I remember them clearing up in 24 hours. So the next morning, I assumed I was better. I had some bananas and crackers while Adrian went out for breakfast and to check out the music festival going on the park. When he returned I told him I felt well enough to go out. So we headed to the other beach. We had to walk quite a way down it to get to the green flags. Within 5 minutes of being out there, I realized perhaps I wasn’t well. While Adrian played in and got pummeled by the huge waves, I dug a small whole in the sand and promptly deposited those bananas and crackers in it. (ew gross, but it was a loooooooong walk back to the entrance of the national park so please forgive me). I tried to signal to Adrian it was time for me to leave, but he had lost his sunglasses in the last wave and was blind and too busy looking for them. Finally I got his attention and we went back to the hotel.
I wasn’t sure if my stomach was now off because I’d basically eaten nothing in three days or the bug. I thought I’d try some soup. But there was none on the menus nearby but the nicest man in the world (at the restaurant next to the hotel) let Adrian warm up a tin of soup for me. I tried to eat it but just the smell turned me off. So I went to bed at 6pm and slept for 12 hours.
The next day, I was still nauseous but able to hold down a banana milkshake and some toast. I was so optimistic I began making plans for us to get the heck out of lovely Cahuita. Of course that night it was back to abnormal. Very abnormal. I knew I was really sick but the kind people of Cahuita soon came to my rescue.
That morning the hotel owner told Adrian to take me to the clinic in the next town and even arranged a cab to come pick us up. The driver didn’t speak English and realized that we didn’t speak much Spanish. So when we got to the clinic (essentially a tiny hospital), he stood in line, talked to the admitting desk and nurse, and filled out the forms for us. He waited for an hour until I told him it was okay to leave. He said he’d come back in three hours to pick us up. After puking a few more times, I finally saw the doctor who thankfully spoke perfect English. She immediately sent me to get hooked up to an IV because I was badly dehydrated. But the good news is that it was just a really bad stomach bug made worse by the drugs the pharmacy gave Adrian.
When I looked around the hospital ward, I noticed that everyone else was in the same state and recognized the wife of the owner of the internet café in an adjacent bed. Apparently, this bad bug was going around the area. The IV also contained a heavy duty anti-nausea drug that knocks me out for the next four hours. When I woke up I felt better but a bit dead to the world. The super nice taxi driver had come back and Adrian paid him for his time and told him we’d call him when we were done. I had to get another IV and then it was time to settle the bill. As we paid the $40 for 6 hours of hospital care, I was also handed a baggie full of free drugs (photo above) to take for the next 8 days. I have to say that was the best $40 we’ve spent on the trip.
Once back in Cahuita both the hotel owner, the internet café guy and the restaurant owner asked how I was doing. They were all concerned and are relieved to hear that I feel like a new person. And it was true, I was still nauseous but I wasn’t throwing up, so we went out for the first meal I’ve had and held down in the last 4 days. I couldn’t eat much but I felt like my health had finally turned. Now I was looking forward to moving out. Cahuita was the best place I could have possibly gotten sick in but I thought a change of scenery and country would help as much as the drugs had.