Monday, August 8, 2011

East Africa Day 79 (Sun July 31): S-I-C-K sick.

I won't chronicle my symptoms here on my blog, but the first one probably appeared on June 29, when I was down near Kibale National Forest in Uganda. At that point I was still drinking water from the tap, filtered by the Steri Pen Adventurer, which cleans water via a purple UV ray.

I stopped using that filter on June 29, when I found what I later learned were most likely tadpoles, swimming in the water in my nalgene bottle. I recorded this video, to send to the manufacturers of that Steri Pen ...

After that, I started drinking tap water that had been boiled on a stove top. That, too came to an end today. The only time that I left the compound today was to head to the nearest grocery store to purchase a very large container of bottled water. This was in response to recent health developments.

I felt sick this past Wednesday, on the way back from the Mara. I got into bed as soon as I got home. That night I had a high fever and some other symptoms. It was the worst I've felt in a long time. The next morning (Thursday) I went to the Nairobi Women's Clinic in Hurlingham, for a malaria test. A friend had recommended it. I didn't see a doctor - just went directly to the laboratory, had my finger pricked, and the lab reviewed the sample. I had to pre-pay for the test (200 ksh) at the payments desk, and then take the receipt back to the lab tech, before I could have the blood work done. They don't fool around in Kenya. I guess this ensures that you don't leave the hospital without paying. No one asked me if I have health insurance. You just pay out of pocket (in advance of receiving services) and then there's no question about the bill. I waited forty minutes for my test results. No malaria, but I knew that something with my body was not quite right.

I couldn't go back to the hospital the following day, because Maria, Laney and I had made plans to go to Nairobi National Forest. But yesterday, after Art Club and the meeting at Angela's apartment, I went back to the Clinic. I sat there for four hours, saw a doctor, had another test done, and left with a diagnosis of likely amoeba dysentery, and a medication to treat it.

I was the only muzungu in the hospital. Wish I could have taken a photo, but it really wasn't that noteworthy anyway. As for the setting, there was a TV hanging from a corner of the room in the waiting room, and I finally got to see one of the Spanish dubbed soap operas that Kenyans love so much. (I don't know why - it was rather amusing and I couldn't take it seriously:)

The doc that I saw told me that I should come back if it didn't clear up. The pharmacy told me that I should be drinking bottled water while I had the amoebas. I had to call a taxi to take me home, since it was already after 8pm by the time I finally got out of the clinic and it's not safe to go anywhere after dark, by myself. Ah, at the mercy of East Africa.

I started taking the med immediately, last night but I had this feeling that I had been misdiagnosed, or at least not completely correctly diagnosed. Just feeling very tired. Staying in today and relaxing wasn't so much a conscious decision, as much as a demand from my body.

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