Sunday, February 8, 2009

Oh my poor stomach, Cara

After traveling for over a month through all of Bolivia and Northern Chile, and some of Peru with persistent gastrointestinal problems, my condition worsened. I couldn’t even get out of bed for the terrible stomach cramps and my whole body ached. I thought for sure I had a temperature and asked John to find a doctor for me. John returned with the news that a doctor would be here (in my hotel room) within an hour. I peeled myself off of the sweaty sheets, shivering, to at least brush the morning breath from my dry mouth. The doctor arrived at my door with the owner of the hotel, Juan Carlos, who would serve as a translator (hey, give me a break, it’s hard enough to think in your own language when you’re sick let alone another language).
The doctor sat on John’s bed and listened to my complaints as John and Juan Carlos listened and helped as needed. When the doctor started the exam, Juan Carlos slipped out of the room. The doctor did all the normal exam things, including taking my temperature which was ‘bastante alta’ at 40oC (104 oF) and decided to give me a shot. I watched him prepare the syringe which contained a liquid that I couldn’t help but compare to the SamSong Rum John and I drank in Thailand. I held out my arm for him to give me the cocktail but he just smiled and said, ‘en la nalga’. In the buttock! Oh good grief. So there I was, with my bare butt to the doctor, John (who is probably getting used to me embarrassing him like this), and Juan Carlos who just happened to check in on us at the exact same moment that the doctor inserted the needle. So much for modesty, but I didn’t quite care at that moment because the shot took a lot longer and was a lot more painful that I had expected that I had to fully concentrate on not passing out or vomiting. But, for as much pain in the butt the shot was, I felt the heat leave my body and my temperature went down almost instantly. The doctor explained that he was 98% sure that I had typhoid (for which I had been vaccinated) and he wrote out a list of meds and dosages for me to take. Juan Carlos offered to go pick up all of the meds and cook all of my meals according to the doctor’s orders. We thanked and paid the doctor ($30) and Juan Carlos for the meds and I fell right to sleep. It wasn’t long before there was a knock on the door and Juan Carlos entered with all my meds and some cherry gelatin. Later on in the evening, again there was a knock, this time with a tray with the Peruvian form of chicken noodle soup, then again with mint tea. The next morning I was awakened with a tray of dry toast, anis tea, and gelatin. This continued for every meal around the clock for three days during which I developed a love-hate relationship with the toilet. I couldn’t believe how kind the hotel staff was to me and I was definitely lucky to be in such a nice place with our own bathroom (thank God) and cable TV.

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