Sunday, April 30, 2006

Where's a matzah ball when you need one?

It was bound to come up eventually.

On Friday, I ventured, for the first time since arriving in deep, dark Africa, to the doctor.

I got her name from the US Embassy website for Americans living in Dakar, (and found her again on the French Embassy website) and I called first thing in the morning to make an appointment. This was, by far, the most difficult part of the operation, as the receptionist kept asking me whom the appointment was for, and I kept saying, “for Dr. X. I want to make an appointment with Dr. X.” Apparently she knew that part already.

I’d been sick for nearly a week, with what I kept insisting was “just a cold.” I don’t really like going to the doctor or taking medicine, because I’m young and healthy and antibiotics are overprescribed and that’s why God gave me an immune system. Also, I have an unreasonable fear of being told to quit being such a big baby, there’s nothing wrong with you. But that might (possibly?) just be one of my Issues.

So instead of going to the doctor, I chose to whimper and whine my way from Saturday through Thursday, with a fever, a sore throat, and a cough. I alternated between pretending there was nothing wrong (of COURSE I will still go to the outdoor dance party until 4:30 am on Saturday night. Why wouldn’t I?) and writing out my will (to the intestinal parasite in my belly, I leave my favorite sandals, because they’re BROKEN, and it serves you right you wormy bitch!**). On Wednesday, I felt enough better to go to dance class and to go running on Thursday morning. On Thursday afternoon, I learned that had been a Bad Idea, as by lunchtime I was back in bed lamenting my fate.

Thursday night, I moaned to Suzanne, “when will I feel better?” and despite having listened to nearly a week of such charm, she managed to refrain from kicking me in the shins. She merely replied, very sensibly, “when you go to the doctor.” And then she went back to watching the Columbian soap opera we’re both addicted to.


And thus we return to the beginning of the story, in which I confuse a receptionist, read about crocheting a dress in the latest summer 2004 styles, and finally see a doctor. She was kind, competent, efficient, and charmingly understanding as I attempted to explain my symptoms in French.

“What does it sound like when you cough?” She asked.
“Err.. It sounds like… [cough]…. That. “
“Ah yes. Of course.” And she nodded and made a note.

She looked in my ears, nose, and throat, and said, yup, you're good and sick all right. She even pointed out (warning: grossness ahead) that I had white spots on the back of my throat, which constitute Not a Good Sign. I, of course, had to get my flashlight and look for myself as soon as I was home and in front of a mirror, and sure enough, it was like I was incubating horrible, white, people-eating mold back there. Turns out it was dead white cells from my immune system's futile attempt at Operation: Heal Thyself, and not evidence of a losing battle with death (thank you Google) but all in all, I was not pleased.

So she (the doctor) prescribed me some antibiotics and some antibiotical throat lozenges which are doing wonders, and also some unnecessary Other Stuff which I have promptly stopped taking (why she felt I needed an antihistamine for an infection is something I don't really understand). I am, however, taking aleve (pain killer/fever reducer), echinacea (to boost my immune system), Halls Mentho-lyptus, and chicken noodle soup (home made!), so I've got all my witch doctoring ducks in a row. But the end result is that I can now swallow without wanting to scream, and I even have the energy to type this blog post. Which is perhaps unfortunate, because now I no longer have an excuse to avoid my work.

So voila. I was sick, but now I’m feeling better. And I promise a more exciting post soon.

** I do not have an intestinal parasite. But tell that to a girl with a fever, a cough, and a stomach ache who lives in Dakar and you might get a kick in the shins. Tell her that when the stomach ache goes away and you might have a more receptive audience. I’m just saying.


Blogger 21st Century Mom said...

Wow - getting sick in a foreign country located on a far away continent sounds a little intimidating. Glad you are on the mend.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Scooter said...

One of my cousins was in the Peace Corps. During her stay, she began to lose a lot of weight. After seeing the doctor, she got treated for the tapeworm. Your belief in intestinal parisites isn't without some degree of validity. (BTW - it wasn't Africa where she was.)

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Kate said...

Yikes! Glad you're on the mend. Continue to take care of yourself!

(Besides, if you continued to be sick, where would I turn for exciting blog entries about Africa?)

12:13 AM  
Anonymous Kate said...

Wow, I totally just copied what 21st Century Mom said. Her commment must have entered my subconscious or something. Oops.

(Um, imitation is the best form of flattery?)

12:15 AM  
Blogger Irene said...

I've been following along since your first marathon but haven't commented in a while... Ugh with the sick stuff! I'm glad you're on antibiotics and back to feeling better! And the handwashing thing from your previous post... it was like that for us when we went to a small city along the Amazon river...

Take care and continue to feel better!

4:02 PM  
Blogger jeanne said...

um, ugh? and I never had a cousin in the Peace Corps.

5:23 PM  
Blogger David said...

We have a lot of stubborness in common. I can always Heal Thyself until it just knocks me flat on my butt. I am in week 4 of my latest crud. At least they didn't put you on steroids (my latest).

10:14 PM  
Blogger a.maria said...

white spots? over here in the states that usually means strep. and since you got antibiotics.. it probably was strep.

and since i was the QUEEN of strep growing up (every stinkin february. seriously. wtf?) and can now self-diagnose myself (that was redundant) i am all to familiar with the pain you endured, and am glad you're "on the mend"!!!!

this was a very rambling on comment. sorry! hmm...

12:33 PM  

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