February 5, 2013
Overnight my temperature spiked at 103.3 and gradually started to go down, reaching 101.5 by the next morning and then leveling out at 100.2 about midday.
Through the morning, everyone kept checking on me. One of the missionaries made me some Pedialyte, which I drank, but 15 minutes later I vomited it back up, and the experience was so unpleasant I found it difficult to motivate myself to drink again. I tried little sips every few minutes, but every few minutes ended up being more like every hour, and by 2:00 I had only drunk about an inch from the glass.
The missionary men came to my room to pray for me early in the morning, which I greatly appreciated. Then I just slept or listened to sermons for a while. They came back about 2:00 and asked if I would like them to pray for me again, which I said I wouldn’t turn down.
I have to be grateful for the watchfulness and initiative of Ryan F. He had made some calls and found out about a clinic outside of Cabaret where there were some American nurses. He got the phone number for them and arranged an appointment for me. He was tired of taking people to St. Marc and watching them be stuck 15 times before they got the IV in. So he drove me down there, with our interpreter along, and me lying feebly in the back seat, hoping and praying that I wouldn’t have diarrhea too many times on the car trip. If it weren't for Ryan, I would probably have languished for another day or more before I got any medical attention, and who knows how much worse I would have gotten by then?
The first part of the drive, the part on the paved road, was fine, but then we got onto the dirt road. The clinic had sent a Haitian named Frank down to meet us at the turnoff where we connected with the dirt road, so he hopped in the car to guide us, and I had to sit up. He was an older guy, dressed in a red shirt, and he had such a pleasant face and genuine smile that even in my foggy, semi-incoherent state I appreciated it.
The road was very bumpy, but it took us way up into the mountains, to give me a glimpse of rural Haiti that I had never seen before. The vegetation was very dry scrub bushes and sparse brown grass, covered all over with a thick layer of dust near the road. Haitians rode by on thin horses, their backs laden with burlap sacks full of market produce. A little girl, walking along in the middle of nowhere, stopped to smile and wave. Goats and cows grazed along the sides of the road, un-fenced-in and untied. The houses were built of poorer materials, and they were so few and far between, I wondered how in the world anyone subsisted up here. There was no visible agriculture going on, no cultivated lots or crops, just stony dry ground and thorny bushes. How did they get their supplies? I wondered. Even getting bare rice and beans seemed a bit difficult to imagine. There weren’t exactly tap-taps running up and down this road. And how in the world is it possible that there’s a clinic back up in here? I wondered. We topped a little rise and I could see the sea in the distance, which meant that our switchbacks had turned us around temporarily to face the way we had come. This was the first time I had ventured over the mountains in any way. It was like a great hike with the vehicle doing all the work.
We drove on and on. What I was told would be 30 minutes felt like it took 2 hours, because every jolt and bump took its toll on my miserable abdomen. Finally I could stand it no longer. “I think I have to go to the bathroom,” I said. “Can you pull over?” The place was remote. There were no houses or cars or motos or people. I would rather go on the ground, outside the car, than go in a bag in the car with 3 men, and then have to smell it the rest of the way. I waded gingerly through the thorns and down a steep bank to a place of relative privacy, but by no means hidden from view. Thank the Lord for skirts, I thought, which permit you to do something like this relatively modestly. I was just squatting down when I heard a slight rustle. A Haitian was slowly riding by on a horse. He stared at me all the way, this apparition of a white woman in a long white skirt with a roll of toilet paper in her hand, obviously about to use the side of the road as a toilet. I waited until he was gone and then tried again. Thank the Lord I could hold it! I thought. This time no one happened along, and I finished my business with as much modesty as I could and got back in the car, trusting that the guys had kept their eyes forward and not looked around backward to where I was. Nobody made any comment except for “We have about 6 or 7 more minutes to go,” and we went on. That 6 or 7 minutes felt like 20, but finally we made it, parked the car, and got out.
I walked slowly in with Ryan and Jack accompanying me, and immediately, Lori and Alicia, sisters, saw me, got me into a room, and started treatment. They took a malaria test and a cholera test, gave me some anti-nausea medication, and put me on an IV. The cholera test came back positive, malaria, negative. They answered all our questions and gave us as much time as we needed and were very flexible with what we wanted to do. I could stay overnight in their cholera house, or go home with an IV and medicine, or just stay for a few hours, or whatever I thought was best. I opted to go home with the IV. They showed me how to change the IV bag when mine got empty and were overall very helpful. They also filled a tote bag with 4 extra IV bags, a whole bottle of Cipro, a whole bottle of Zithromax, 5 parasite treatments for kids we have here, lots of bandaids and alcohol swabs, tubing kits to install two IV bags, some anti-nausea pills, syringes to measure the proper doses of everything, and some bleach powder to mix with water for sterilizing things properly. They didn't charge us a penny for the care or the supplies. Amazing. We wanted to do something to bless them back after they treated me so helpfully. Ryan said, “You can take me here anytime if I ever keel over.” I heartily agreed.
We had to do the drive back in the dark, which Ryan heroically did. I lay in the back seat all the way home, holding myself as still as possible despite the jostling. I fell asleep once we got to the paved road and could scarcely wake up enough to discern which was the way back to the apartment building once we got home at about 8:00 pm.
I walked back to my room, went to the bathroom, and then lay on the floor for about an hour, trying to work up the energy to take a shower before I went to bed. Finally I did. I got up, showered, got ready for bed, and gratefully snuggled between the sheets with my IV bag hanging above me, dropping the life-giving fluid into my veins. I slept sweetly.
Continued tomorrow at 9:00 AM EST
Continued tomorrow at 9:00 AM EST