Saturday I started getting a cough and a stuffy nose. I had a bad headache all day Sunday. Then at dinner on Sunday, I had no appetite and started feeling very exhausted and weak. After I wrote my blog Sunday night I just collapsed in my bed. I was feeling kind of queezy. I just wanted to fall asleep and wake up normal the next day. Bmb could tell that I was feeling sick and asked if I wanted him to go get me some water. I declined and said that I would be fine, I just wanted to sleep. Well, I didn't fall asleep. I was having stomach pain and had to start getting up several times with diarrhea. Each time I stood up my head felt like it was exploding and I would be dizzy and barely make it the 5 feet to the bathroom. My body started getting very sore and I started to get really cold. Remember, I am in Haiti, and it is not normal to feel cold here, ever. Instead of just shorts and a shirt, I added socks and sweatpants in bed. I just kept feeling weaker and weaker. Finally, around 11 o'clock, I asked Bmb to go get my water bottle cause I thought I really needed to try to hydrate, and he was still up working on his computer. He's a good guy. He went down and got my water bottle and asked if there was anything else that I needed. I said I was ok up to that point. I laid there in bed freezing and in pain all night. I would randomly take sips from my water bottle, not a lot at a time, but just keeping fluids entering my body. I was constantly getting up to go to the bathroom. I loathed having to go to the bathroom. It was just so painful to try to stand up and then make it over there. I got the point where it was even hard for me to open up my water bottle because my hands were so weak. I kept thinking about trying to go wake Autumn up to see if she could get me some hydration packs from the pharmacy, because she is our immediate medical help for staff, but it was around 2am and I decided I didn't want to wake her up and I probably wouldn't have been able to make it to her room. Bmb was already asleep and I really didn't want to wake him up. So I just waited the night out barely sleeping.
After 6 o'clock finally came around and people started waking up, I told Bmb that I was feeling even worse, and asked if he would get Autumn. She came in and I told her all of my symptoms and how I was feeling, so she went to find a thermometer. I can't remember if it was working correctly or not, but we all just decided that I should just go down to our clinic we have in our compound here. I stood up and had that pounding in my head and tried to start walking but I could barely move. Autumn helped me out of the room and down the stairs and to the clinic. As we went through the courtyard, all the kids that were on recess or whatever were down there and kept telling Autumn in creole that I was sick and needed a doctor. I seemed in pretty bad shape to everyone around. When I got into the clinic, they took me right in the first room and had me lay down. Autumn explained to them all of my symptoms. They started me on my first ever IV. That was their first priority, to get me hydrated. Before they hooked the IV up, they took a blood sample to run tests. Then they said they would need a stool sample for tests. Stephen B had shown up by this time, so he got to be the lucky person to go into the bathroom with me while I went to the bathroom and got the sample, because I needed my IV bad held up in the air. It was quite the bonding moment for us both, haha. We learned that I had blood in my stool and that wasn't exactly the best thing. It just added to my list of symptoms. They also took my temperature in my arm pit, and it was right around 103. They started giving me some medication for the diarrhea, and in case of a parasite, and tylenol to knock down my fever. After laying there for most of the day and 3 liters of IV later, the doctor didn't really seem certain of anything. My temperature had gone down to just under 100 for a little while, but had been back up to 102.6. Pastor Leon came to see me and had talked with the doctor, and they decided to take me to a hospital. I was able to stand and walk on my own by this time. I still didn't feel well at all, but I wasn't nearly as weak. So we all loaded up in Pastor Leons truck and left.
Pastor Leon planned on taking me to a hospital that he knows, but I guess it is very expensive, so we didn't really know how we would pay for it. So both he and Stephen B were calling other american contacts here in Haiti to ask where they would go or take an american for hospital care. They decided on taking me to a Doctors Without Borders place. Stephen B had remembered driving by on around Delmas 31 (street address) and so we went to find it. After asking several people and getting closer and closer, we finally found it... It was inside of a tent city. Bad sign. But we drove in anyway. They allowed only Bmb to come in with me as a translator, otherwise no one would have gotten to come in. All they had were tents set up, no buildings. It was not very reassuring. Then, when I walked into the tent, I told them I had to go to the bathroom, and they pointed to a bucket behind a divider. So it was my first day to have an IV and my first day to go to the bathroom in a bucket. They then took me back into different compartment of the tent and had me lay down on a little cot. A doctor came in and pinched my stomach, pulled down my lower eyelid to look at the bottom of my eyes, and looked at my tongue. Then they hooked my up to another IV and I went through another bag pretty fast. Then they had me lay down on a stretcher where they carried me outside to a van. I could have just walked, but I let them do their thing. They put me down and I stood up and climbed into the van. They had already hooked up a new IV bag to me but hadn't started the flow. Bmb asked them about it and they just said they would do it later. So I was in the back of this van with three Haitian patients that appeared in really bad shape, and a nurse. There was also one person going along with each of them, including Bmb coming with me. They said they were taking us to their hospital in Tabarre which was suppose to be "much nicer". It was dark by the time we pulled out of the drive way. They wouldn't let Bmb bring the bag of stuff that he had packed for us for the night, which turned out to be a real bummer.
As we were on our way to Tabarre, it seemed as if we were taking as many back roads as was possible. We were avoiding paved roads, and we on some of the sketchiest roads I had been on, and some might not even have been roads. Bmb didn't even know where we were, which made it ever more weird and uncomfortable. Finally, Bmb saw the MSF sign, and knew where we were, and we were there. They back in and we all unloaded. I stepped out, and saw only more tents. We had to step in a tray of clorox and wash our hands in heavily cloroxed water before entering the gate to the first tent. We then walked in and Bmb started talking to the doctor there about me and told him my symptoms. My stomach was very upset and I had to go to the bathroom pretty bad. So I told Bmb to let the doctor know and find out where I need to go. They took us out of that tent and into the next tent over. They pointed to my "bed". The bed was a piece of tarp stretched over a metal frame with metal crossbars running criss-crossed under the tarp. There was also a hole cut out in the middle, with a bucket underneath the hole. There it was. That was my bathroom. That was also my bed. There were no sheets, no pillows, no mosquito nets, no privacy barriers. There were 11 beds in that tent. I was the last one in there. It was me and 10 sick and dying Haitian. And I had to go to the bathroom! Knowing that I had the one option, I decided that I would just have to do what I had to do. I sat down on my bed, and pulled my pants down and went. I had never been so far out of my comfort zone. The bed was horrible anyway. It was so uncomfortable with the metal underneath, and I kept getting circulation cut off from different parts of my body as I kept trying to get comfortable. They hooked my IV bag up to a rope running across the tent, but STILL hadn't oped it for any flow. Bmb even asked them about that again for me and they said they would start the flow. They didn't get around to it for another half hour. By then, all I can think of is that my blood had already started to clot, because it was going extremely slow, and I was getting hardly any fluids in me. It did that for over an hour before the nurse realized that my bag was still full and that I wasn't getting hydrated. So she took the IV out and went to give me another. I have decided that I don't like IVs. My body was already in so much pain, and then she stuck that into me, and missed the vein... So she kept trying to find it. That hurt. She then realized that one wasn't going to work, so she took it out and tried to find another. She didn't hit it again, and this one she dug around longer trying to get it to work. It hurt so bad that I was getting nauseous. She stopped trying there, and went on to the third. I had to look away this time. I just couldn't handle much more. Luckily this one went right in. So then I got started on my 5th bag of fluid for the day.
Not only did I feel horrible because I was sick, but now I was put in the worst of conditions. It hurt so much to lay in that bed, and it started getting kind of cold in there. Other people had sheets and pillows that they had brought with them. Bmb had a blanket in the backpack that he packed... that they wouldn't let him bring. So I was stuck. The other thing that sucked was that there didn't seem to be any real medical attention given. At this point, we called Stephen B. I told him to come get me because I could not make it the whole night. He had Bmb go try to find doctors or someone in charge to let me go. They all said that I couldn't leave until they had run tests on me in the morning. I was not happy. I thought about breaking out. I kept telling Bmb that I wanted to just get up, walk out, and walk home. He kept saying how far away it was and that it is dangerous at night. I explained how I really didn't care. I would rather take my chances instead of having to put up with this all night. I didn't win the argument unfortunately. I was staying the night. Luckily, Bmb found me a roll of toilet paper, haha. I used the roll as a pillow on my cot.
The night was just completely miserable. The place smelled strong of clorox mixed with poop, vomit, and body odor. It was not helping my stomach at all. The lights stayed on all night long. Plus it was noisy in there. People were randomly crying out in pain, some continuously. Plus, the noises of people using their buckets. Which I obviously had to add to that noise, as I still was sick and had no other option. Miserable is just the only word to describe it. I have to keep taking breaks as I write this because it annoyed me so much and it gets overwhelming.
Bmb stayed up all night and didn't sit down. He would go walk around outside and then come and check on me and keep me company. I was still so tired from barely sleeping any the night before that I would still manage to somehow doze off for 10 minutes or so at a time. We were constantly updating each other on the time whenever he would walk back in the tent and I was awake. He was in there with me a lot. I really appreciated him. I could tell that he didn't like the place at all either. But he was still willing to stick it out to keep me company. We just wanted the morning to come so that Stephen B could come pick us up after the doctors said it was ok. Finally 6:30am came around and Bmb had talked to the doctors. They told him that they should be able to make it by to make sure I was ok by 7:30 or 8. It was ridiculous. A doctor had walked around during the night, and he did the same thing the last one did. He pinched my stomach, pulled down my lower eyelids to look at my eyes, and looked at my tongue. That was it. That and having a second IV bag, which Bmb had to wake up the nurse to let her know I needed another, was all the medical attention I had received at this "hospital". Finally around 7, the doctor came in to talk to me, and I told him that I was ok and just needed to go home. He said they still had some tests to run, and they wanted a stool sample. I told him I had done that the day before at our clinic. So of course, he said they would need those results before I could go. Bmb texted Stephen B to bring them and so he grabbed them and then was on his way to get us.
I finally unhooked from my IV and walked outside. It felt so nice to get off of that bed. My body was hurting even more though because of staying there for so long. We waited for a little while outside and then Stephen B pulled up. He walked around the fence line to the place where we would exit and we met him there. There was one of the doctors right there and Stephen B voiced his dissatisfaction with the medical treatment that they were providing. She did not take kindly to it and said she didn't have time for people like him, which he responded by saying we didn't have to either, and we weren't going to wait for the doctor to give him my tests. So we just walked out. The doctor then came and ran along the fence line saying he needed the results, and so Stephen B gave them to him and said keep them. The doctor had been so nervous that I had cholera that he didn't want me to leave without knowing. We (us at HOM) knew I didn't have cholera. We already had the clinic check the day before. We kept telling the doctor I was fine. Then he opened it up and said I was fine. Which we responded that we already knew that. It was just a ridiculous mess. The funny thing about it, is that morning, the nurse had told Bmb that I needed to get out of there because I would get infected because all of the sick people around me. Great conditions for a hospital.
Apparently, the problem is that because of this cholera scare here, if anyone has diarrhea, everyone just jumps to conclusion that they have cholera. That's what happened to me. They shipped me off to what seemed like a concentration camp to be quarantined. To them I was just cholera patient #_. It was horrible. The worst part is, those people going there for treatment aren't really being helped. Doctors and nurses are not paying enough attention to them. Most of the time it took way too long for people to get their new bags of fluid for their IVs. Plus, they should have been started on some kind of drug to start killing the cholera. They just didn't have adequate care. Bmb found out that the night we stayed there was the first night that they didn't have someone die. Promising.
Moral of the story: don't get sick in Haiti.
Like that is possible, haha. I've been sick like 3 times already. However, if you get extremely sick, like me, don't go to a Doctors Without Borders clinic. I know I won't. Ever again. That was quite possibly the worst experience in my life. But it makes for a great story.