Sunday, May 08, 2005

My Own Illness

Living in Pina Blanco feels like a dark paradise. You enter looking around at what nature has offered.... lush greenery, beautiful flowers, an amazing array of birds from the exotic to the plain, cute little lizards of varying shapes and sizes, all delivered on a river the color of emeralds which runs through the center of town. On the surface it's embracing, but just about the time you've got your arms wrapped around it you realize that it's all poisonous. The air smacks of mold and dust, the warmth on your face turns quickly to a burn, the water is polluted and the soil filled with worms just waiting to be delivered to your mouth. You must be careful who you shake hands with, forget about hugs and you find yourself praying they don't breath hard for fear of TB. Somehow or another I have passed through those phases and now have come to accept it at face value. I do hug now and I have eaten their food and yes I have become ill in different ways, but I'm not sorry.
I haven't written for several days because I became so ill they needed to take me to the hospital in Guatepeca. It is more north and about one and half hours away which is closer than San Pedro by a little, more importantly the road is much better so it can be reached in an hour and 15 in a pinch. I was pretty out of it when we arrived, Jenny had to leave me there because night was falling and the rains came...a bad combination for driving. It was a Christian evangelical hospital there were no bugs and it smelled of clorox. Both a relief. If you can imagine the hospitals of the 40's in the US with the nurse uniforms, ancient equipment and extreme formality it was much the same. My doctor spoke broken English quite well but not a single other person. He trained at a good school in Guatemala which was a second relief. It was impressive how efficient the hospital was run. The nurses each had a job and they had checks and balances with regards to medication. The student nurses came and helped you to the bathroom, they put your shoes just so and folded the blankets just so. Dinner was not possible the fist evening but I had three humble meals on the second day mostly tortillas with soup which was more than I had eaten in days. (I have been blessed with the feeling of going to bed hungry.... a feeling foreign to most of us, but not so foreign around the me when I say, thankful takes on new meaning). After a day of IV antibiotics and afraid of the cost of staying on in the hospital I decided to take the IV on the road and administer from home. We do it all the time in the US right.....true, but lets just say it's a little more challenging in Honduras.
First of all they said that we had all the supplies we would need....well I arrived home and much to my surprise in the box was only multiple vials of medicine and a single needle! Second of all they were kind enough to let me leave with a heparin locked IV in place (this is that little thing that sticks in your arm and hurts like hell when you bump it) but they didn't give me any heparin to continue it's use. Now a drug addict may have been psyched ...." ah, I got a needle some medicine I'll spit on it to clean it up between problem". As you can imagine I was not so elated.
Jenny and I tried to drive around in a down pour that evening and find more supplies (I'm sick as stink and not supposed to get that stupid little IV wet). After multiple trips we finally found ourselves knocking at one of the local doctors doors at 9 pm begging for at least heparin so I wouldn't have to get a new IV in the morning. That night I gave myself 15 injections with that one little needle and proudly hep locked the IV for the night. The next day went better and we were able to get the rest of the things I needed. I'll spare you the rest of the saga ending with I'm feeling much better and I'll pull the plug if need be, but leaving early will be a bit heart breaking as I have oddly enough gotten used to this place and my work is not yet finished.


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