Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Parasite, I think we should just be friends.

Yesterday morning, after dreaming I was in Indianapolis, I woke up in Belize and wondered who I was and what I did with myself.

And then it happened (it was bound to): I cried.
I cried in bed.
I cried while I was getting ready.
I cried all the way to school.

Europe felt like a dream—I had to look at the blog to see that it was really me.
My friends felt imaginary—I had to text to make sure they still existed.
I wanted a hug from my dad.
I wanted to understand one entire, full conversation.
I wanted to digest food.

I’d been sick since Friday and “caught a pain” every time I ate.
(I had only eaten one cucumber and one tomato all day Saturday, which is the day I hiked Xunantunich.)
One old lady said it was air.
Another lady said I don’t eat in time.
Another lady said I don’t eat enough.

They gave me boiled garlic.
They gave me lime water.
They gave me Pepto.
On Sunday night, when nothing worked and I turned down CAKE, Alice said it was amoebas.

Antonia said, “Come Brooke, right now,” and she hitched us a ride to Cayo on Monday morning.

We went to the Post Office and, incidentally, paid 95 cents for a package that came regular express mail—got here in 3 weeks, and had a blanket, crackers, PB & chocolate: perfect. (Thanks, Denise ☺)

Then we went to the lab.
They took two blood tests and asked for a stool sample.
I cannot produce stool on demand.
(Not even explosively)
They told me blood results would be ready at 2pm and would tell whether or not I had a bacterial infection. It would also rule out salmonella.
The stool sample was most important, the man said. It would confirm and diagnose the right treatment for the right amoeba. He gave me a little container and told me come back at 2.

Poor Antonia.
We ate huge burritos and walked around for 2 hours trying to provoke the problem I’d been trying to avoid for 4 days. I had 3 false attempts and sent out a mass text asking for prayer that God would supernaturally “move” me (which is ironic, since all weekend I was begging God to stop “moving” me—or to at least stop “moving” me in public places). But nothing.

I had given up all hope and started to feel crazy, like I’d made the entire illness up, and decided I probably didn’t have amoebas anyway…

When lo and behold, in the computer lab, I moved.
Antonia stood up in suspense, so did the lab worker and the 3 other people checking their email—and I gave a victorious thumbs up.
It was 2:15.

“Right now, Brooke,” she said. We gathered our things and went straight to the lab.
I handed over my sample proudly (and all but bowed and curtsied), then waited 15 minutes for the results.

2 Amoeba (parasites)
1 E. Coli
1 blood infection

We took the lab results, thanked the man, and headed for the doctor—an internist Antonia’s sister works for. First, though, we stopped at the furniture store to pay a bill. It wasn’t until we were leaving that I realized we paid an electric bill, and that the electric office was in the back of the furniture store…

The doctor looked at the lab tests, stuck a thermometer in my armpit, and conducted a physical-like exam. He answered all my questions and gave me 3 antibiotics: two for the amoeba, one for the blood infection.

We paid about $200 BZ (which is about $100 US) for the blood tests, stool samples, Dr. visit and antibiotics.

Sidenote: Antonia’s father told me that the water filtration/cleansing machine broke recently, and, No, they do not have little scrolling “boil water advisories” at the bottoms of the TV screens here. You either know those things or you don’t. We don’t drink the water, but all of us bathe in it, and I definitely brush my teeth with it.

My issue (we think) has more to do with no refrigerator and eating food that has been sitting out but not reheated. Its too hot for that. Bacteria grows. I tried to explain the bacteria to Ms. Ida, but she doesn't believe me. She thinks my stomach is just allergic to cold things. She insists that I shouldn't drink cold water or sprite. Only coffee.

Bottom line: they do not have a refrigerator, and you just don't waste food here.
Bottomer line: there is no hand soap to be found among the kids. I don't prepare my own food, and I play with the kids all the time.

*Interesting insight, an email from a friend said: “Pray that God uses this to help you understand what people there go through, and that maybe they don't always have the means to take care of it like you do, or as quickly.”

When I got home, I called Hillside (a clinic in PG with doctors CFI knows and trusts) and double-checked everything with Patricia. She said they are taking good care of me and that she would have prescribed the exact same meds. She told me to boil my water bottle and toothbrush, and then echoed everything the Dr. said. She told me I’d be feeling better in a few days, fully recovered in about 2 weeks.

Then she invited me down to PG for a weekend in March!

I took the meds, slept all night, washed my sheets this morning and have enjoyed a nice relaxing day in front of the fan with my trusty little MacBook and gmail chat. Thanks for the concern, and for chatting with me today, friends!

In the meantime, I have decided to name the parasites Samantha and Jon, after our first cats. They died.

Pray for a quick evacuation of all things buggy. Also, I couldn't help but remember the Kirsty Alley episode where they tell her to go to a developing country and get a parasite to "reduce" and I laughed about it all day. Funny. I'm definitely reduced.

Week four, look out! You’re almost over.

(In all seriousness, your e-mails and comments and phone calls mean a lot. I have been really homesick this week. Thank you.)


Anonymous said...

What??!! Not even a slight reference to the library idea? Oh well, I'm glad you're going to be okay...that everything is coming out okay :) I remember you quoting a passage from Ecclesiastes recently, "...a time for everything...". Ain't that right!

Anonymous said...

No pictures of Samantha and John?

Allison said...

Oh, Brooke. You have such a great attitude about your less than perfect experiences! I remember sitting in the doctors office with my empty specimen jar. What a terrible feeling! I lost a ton of weight and felt awful for weeks. Then I took some meds and felt like my old self within days! I'm praying the same for you!

Anonymous said...

I have had this VERY parasite that you speak of - i got it in Guatemala - it was awful and I totally feel for you. You are a good woman and you are handling it well! hang in there! (weirdly enough I named mine too, it was Pete. Pete the parasite. Sometimes I miss him.)

Anonymous said...

Ok so the parasite and the moving kind of sucks...but the real question is did you get skinny? I feel like the ameoba diet is comparable to the mono diet!

lori said...

my number is 260 760 7067, i will take the text's

mexico- that parsite got me too

i feel for you

you are being thought about

Anonymous said...

i'm glad you chose this title for the blog. it was my favorite.

linde and josh said...

hey brooke! i just had a chance to catch up on your blogs. sounds like you are on an amazing journey! i'm praying for you today...for the parasite pain to vanish, strength to be away from all things familiar, and encouragement from the Lord that you are exactly where he wants you to be. keep you're head up friend, the Lord is walking with you! Can't wait to keep reading :)