Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Physician, Heal Thyself

Being so far away from good medical help means we have to become fairly proficient at reading symptoms, determining treatments and deciding what is serious enough to merit a trip to a (unsatisfactory) nearby medical facility or a (better, yet) more distant clinic or hospital.

We have a good clinic set up, medicines at hand—even IV medicines that a visiting doctor or nurse can administer—and reference books that help us to research and know the best course of action.

Aside from medicines, and medical books we also use as many natural remedies as we can: herbs, essential oils, good old fashioned salt water, whatever it takes to get a result.

When a child or loved one is sick or injured I am usually pretty good about keeping a level head (one of the few times I ever lost it was when my daughter was diagnosed with small pox—but that is a story for another day) and I can assess symptoms with a level head, look for solutions and lay out a treatment plan—working as much as possible with local medical personnel.

But, when I am the one who falls ill this all flies out the window. How can I logically and accurately assess my symptoms when I’m flailing around on the bed in pain while simultaneously trying to hold still because all movement causes intense nausea?

When I got sick this past weekend with horrific stomach cramping and all that goes along with that, I wasn’t sure what to do. Tom tried to be helpful but like most men, when he couldn’t fix me, he preferred to stay away.

I got on the internet and attempted to figure out what was wrong and what I should do (all of this being done from a prone position, I might add) but most websites suggested you talk to your doctor and he could prescribe an antibiotic.

I diagnosed myself with salmonella based on a questionable piece of meat I ate on Friday but once I tracked down the suggested antibiotic I had no way of checking if we had that antibiotic available in our clinic. Jasmine brought me one that I thought might work but at the last minute I chickened out of taking it (pun completely unintentional).

Even though I was writhing in pain I hesitated to take any pain medicine because I didn’t want to upset my stomach even more. Again, with any other ‘patient’ I would have been rational but I was not thinking clearly at all.

This was all taking place on a Sunday so I didn’t want to call our doctor friend in the capital city. Finally, I endured the pain long enough and on Monday morning, called our doctor and she suggested an antibiotic that could be taken in injection form. I grabbed it out of the clinic and Tom drove me down to the rural health center where we very rudely jumped the line (or queue as it’s called here) and got the medical officer to jab me.

Holy Mother of All Things Good and Pure!! Those two! injections hurt like the dickens. At least my mind was off the stomach pain and on to whether I would be able to ever use my limbs again. I was pretty brave and let out barely a whimper (I may have called out for God’s mercy at one point, though), limped out of the office, rode home in a fetal position, and crawled back into bed.*

The good news is that the injections worked like magic and I was feeling much better by the evening. Tuesday (yesterday) I was able to walk around a bit and eat a couple things. I still broke out in a cold sweat if I did much at all but at least I was nearly pain free.

Today, I’m still not 100 % and my arms are both bruised but life is beginning to look up again. I have no idea what malady befell me but I learned that while I may make a good makeshift doctor or nurse,  I’m a terrible patient.

*Lambaround, I didn't even get a milkshake out of the deal.


  1. Yikes! What an ordeal. I've had BAD stomach pains before and I've probably been salmonella poisoned several times. I usually just ride it out. OH! One great home remedy I've found that works like magic is just a spoonful or two of mustard. The acid in the mustard settles the acid in your stomach. I've had terrible stomach aches disappear in about 10 minutes, which is VERY fast.

    I'm glad you're feeling much better now!

  2. Ooh, I'm so glad that you got yourself better. Why do we always take such good care of everyone except for ourselves?

    Hugs & love,

  3. Honduras is a bit more advanced than where you are. My friend got violently ill with suspected food poisoning on Sunday in the night. I took her to a clinic on Monday morning ( we live in the capital) and she got an injection and further testing. But one gets sick easily here. The same day, my other American friend was in bed with a severe infection and my housekeeper's son was in the hospital with hemorraghic dengue fever. Thank God he is expected to live as 2 people died just this weekend from that disease, and almost 100 this year alone.


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