“My body hurts,” I complained to Tal, a water volunteer who was visiting my site. He asked me what I thought was the cause. “It’s probably just my bed. It’s too soft.”

The next day, Sunday, AimieLisa rode her bike over to enjoy ‘a day of rest’. I started noticing that I might be getting a fever as I felt chilly in the blazing sun or sweating as a cool breeze blew in. I blamed it on the craziness of my weekend and thought a long night’s rest would be the cure.

In the middle of the night I got up to search for a thermometer. It was in Celsius. Damn it. Why didn’t I memorize the conversion rate?! I’ll make a sign of it and keep it on my wall. I went through my backpack and found the one I’d brought from the States. More than 100. I waited a few hours in a delirious state of non-sleep. 102. I sat up, at the sudden knowledge that my high fever, the body aches that had never left, and the ripe headache and pain behind the eyes, met all the symptoms of dengue. I stumbled through my drawers of books and files to verify where I’d written the symptoms of dengue in an old notebook. Apart from body rash I matched everything. At 3 in the morning or maybe 4 I walked to where I had signal, host mom trailing me, to call a PC doctor. She asked me to come in that day and so I spent the next few hours packing or lying in bed with a sheet over my head. My host mom asked if she also should go with me and I too quickly replied, “No!” The only thing worse than suffering from dengue by myself would be suffering from dengue with my freaking-out-overprotective host mom.

I sandwiched myself in the front of the van heading to the capital alongside the driver, a woman with a huge pot, and some guy. I was on the crack of two seats and had no head rest and when the guy told me to make myself comfortable I didn’t think twice about lying my head on his shoulder. He was kind of a buff guy but still pleasantly plump. It was the closest thing to comfortable on that whole ride. I started getting car sick and I noticed other people sweating in tank tops while I had goosebumps under my jacket and long sleeve shirt. I cried a little bit from the pain and the nausea and the discomfort of being lodged in with all these people and not having the energy to communicate with them because of the different language and my complete lack of energy.

My project partner, who was on her way to the capital anyway decided to accompany me in a taxi to the office. I’d been planning on taking the metro but luckily didn’t as I felt that it might be too much travel time. I threw up out the window of the taxi and then into a plastic garbage bag.

I was sleeping in the medical office when Boriana, the doctor, came in and immediately hugged me as I lay curled on my side. She kissed my face and I was shuddering just from the loveliness of human touch. She sent me with a driver to the lab where I got blood drawn and then went to stay at a hostel a few blocks away.

Then everything runs together. I must have been feeling okay because I bought some food and even writing about it now makes my stomach twist. That night though I couldn’t sleep. The headache became a migraine and I wanted to vomit at the slightest noise, movement, or light. My body hurt so badly that I couldn’t sleep and I called my parents in a panic at 1 in the morning. I couldn’t imagine an end to the discomfort.

The next morning I took a pill to line my stomach so that I could keep down my medicine but I threw that up. I turned on the shower and flipped the switch in order to take a bath. The thought briefly crossed my mind that, since I was only operating in the dark, the bath could easily be disgusting and  I’d normally never bathe in a shared bathtub. Then I looked down at myself, sweating and shaking, wiping water vomit from my nose and realized I was probably the grossest one who’d ever used it.

The hot water only lasted long enough for an inch and a half and I laid back in it before it hurt to lay down and I got out of the tub. After a while I tried taking another pill to prevent vomiting but I threw that up too so in the afternoon Boriana came over to give me a shot so that I wouldn’t throw up. My fever broke at some point that day but the migraine didn’t leave for another three days. I couldn’t talk, read, write, watch TV, listen to music or watch movies. I was SO bored! The complete loss of entire days was frustrating.

 

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I did get the comfort of opening the first of Lisa’s ready and waiting letters.

The next day, given my proneness to vomiting all forms of liquid I headed to the Peace Corps office to be hooked up to an IV. Because of the virus my blood wasn’t clotting very well and blood eeded up spilling out all over my arm while hooking up the IV. It was pretty gross but I couldn’t make myself care about it. By the time I finished with the fluids my fingers were like ice.

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I finally started eating again on Friday and after a breakfast of peanut butter and jelly toast (swoon!)

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I headed to the bus stop to wait for Pancho to drive me back to Bananas. I literally swooned on the side of the road, passing out from what I assume was a combination of heat, crowds, and a lack of food. I’ve never fainted before in my life. So as it was happening I just kept thinking, How strange! But didn’t really put together what was happening until it was too late. Luckily a nice older gentleman helped me cross the street to wait on the shady median. And he didn’t murder me either, so that was good.

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