Friday, February 11, 2005

Amelia Vs. The Bacteria

You will all be relieved to know I am alive. I won my first fight with bacteria this morning.

It began innocently enough on Wednesday afternoon. After working diligently all morning in my classroom to have it decorated and clean for the start of the new school year on Monday, I spent the afternoon relaxing in my room. On my way to hogar, I had a sudden bout of stomach cramps which prompted me to run to the nearest restroom.

That was the start of nearly 48 hours of misery: dizziness, achiness, diarrhea, stomach ache. You name it, I had it. From Wednesday night until this morning, I left my room only for the purpose of delivering messages to various important people as to why I would be missing their various, important events. My constant goal was to be near a bed (preferably mine) and a toilet (preferably unoccupied).

This morning, I wake up early, around 6 and find that I am feeling better. Yay! Since I had already informed the school I would not be at work today, I go back to bed, ready for a day of recuperation. I lay there in a luxurious mix of pleasant dreams and the slight recognition of being awake and remembering the dreams. My siesta is interrupted at 8 by a knock at my door. It is the pharmacist, a volunteer from Germany, who is in charge of the Ranch clinics.

She tells me that I should go to the clinic to be seen by the doctor as there are several other volunteers who have been stricken with this same illness. I explain to her that I am feeling better. She insists that I go. She is not one to be reckoned with, so I agree. She asks if I am okay to walk. Yes, I tell her, I am. I will go.

The external clinic is about a 15 minute walk (if you are healthy and long-legged) from my room. 20 minutes later I arrive, sweaty and exhausted. I spy my a nurse, my friend Elizabeth, let her know I am here, sent by the pharmacist. Elizabeth knows nothing of this and there are no other droopy-eyed volunteers clutching rolls of toilet paper in sight. Only the Honduran people who have come in from neighboring villages, waiting to see the doctor, watching me curiously. Elizabeth calls the pharmacist. I am at the wrong clinic.

I journey back, praying for a pick-up to drive along and give me a ride. 25 minutes later, sweatier than before, I arrive at the internal clinic which is located less than a block from my room.

(In case you are wondering why I didn´t´t go to the internal clinic in the first place . . . First, I have never been to the internal clinic and have been told it is only open in the afternoons. Second, I honestly had never seen it before today as it is tucked back behind the main office. Thirdly, and most importantly, I was truly delusional from being so sick and having walked so far.)

They are expecting me. They have done stool samples on all 4 of us and found bacteria of some sort. I am shown to a bed in a room with 2 other sick volunteers (the 4th sick volunteer is male and is therefore not permitted to set foot in our room) and told that I will be called when the doctor is ready to see me. It is 9 a.m. I feel fine.

Seven, yes, seven long hours later, at 4 p.m. the doctor arrives. She comes into our room, talks with us in rapid, mumbled Spanish, asking us our symptoms. I tell her. She leaves the room abruptly, saying nothing. My friend Annie (a nurse here, also sick) follows her and comes back a few minutes later having just persuaded the doctor not to give us IV´s! Instead we get a handful of antibiotics, some hydration salts, some liquid anti-cramping medicine, and vague instructions in Spanish on what to do with them.

I can tell you what I did with them. Left them on my bed and went and ate supper. After 2 days of oatmeal, those pancakes sure tasted good! (And so far, no mad dashes to the bathroom!)

Friday, February 04, 2005

Then There Were Seven

On Wednesday, after 2+ weeks of living in a room of 8 girls, I packed my bags. How amazing it was to see all I´ve accumulated in only 3 weeks. I loaded up rolls of toilet paper (a truly valuable thing), smushed my "new" jeans in my backpack, wrapped up my plate and cup, rolled up my blanket and sheets, and dusted off my luggage.

I put on my backpack and started my trek. I walked by Casa Eva (where the abuelos--grandparents--live), past Padre Renayldo´s house with its colorful porch and tidy garden, past the beloved internet house and main office, to my new home on the hill.

¡Que suerte! Hannah and I were fortunate enough to be assigned a room outside of Casa Personal where most volunteers live, 20 to a kitchen, for their year here. The privilege of living outside Casa Personal is usually reserved for the older (either in age or duration of stay here) volunteers, so we are really quite lucky. (Casa Personal is not a bad place, but definitely resembles a crowded college dorm at times . . . well, all the time, really.)

We have a gorgeous little room with a red tile floor and wooden ceiling and, most wonderfully, windows on 3 of the 4 walls. It is bright and airy with views of the mountains. We have "real" plumbing (translation: a toilet that you don´t have to manually fill with water and then stick your hand into to flush), lace curtains, and a walk-in closet (seriously!). My friend Elizabeth (college roomate, freshman year) and I currently share the room, and Hannah will move in after Elizabeth leaves next weekend.

I go back to Casa Personal to visit sometimes, but, is always nice to end my day in my new room. As Elizabeth puts it, bedtime is the best time of day. I will be heading there shortly.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

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