Monday, January 11, 2010

Swimming With Amoebas

Friday, January 8

Day #7 of the 2010 Jamaica Medical Mission Trip

If you ever go to bed with a very, very bad tummy ache - you just know that it probably won't be a good night. And such was mine. I wake up at 1:00 a.m. and half-stumble and half-run to the bathroom - where I am violently ill. Ugh. I then wash up, brush my teeth, stumble back to bed - and I don't think I ever fully opened my eyes. Seriously. I did all that with my eyes shut.

When I wake up at 6:30 a.m., I almost wonder if I've imagined getting sick in the night. But unfortunately - it did happen. I feel okay now, though, and it's my day to work at the Clinic. I am SO not missing this.

So - I pull on my beautiful pink scrubs (of course - pink IS my favorite color!) and head off to the Clinic, where I work in Intake all morning. My job? I bring the patient into the small Intake room, where I take their chart, quickly review it, and then begin taking the patient's chief complaint, their medication history, allergy information, and then I measure their height and weight and record it in their chart.

A shot of some of the hustle & bustle in the waiting room of the clinic

It is busy and it goes very fast. My last patient before lunch time was a Mr. Edmondson - who, a few minutes into our conversation, asked me, "By chance, are you British?"

I blinked, and said, "No - why do you ask?"

He replies, "Because you're so charismatic. I find British people to be so charismatic."

Well. Color me pink. What a compliment. The next think I know, Mr. Edmondson is writing down his name, address and phone number and handing it over to me. I DID wear my wedding ring on this trip, so I'm not sure what he was thinking - but he was actually very nice and very charming and extremely intelligent. He's a retired school history teacher/principal, and he told me all about the history of the island. Mr. Edmondson, if you're reading this? You're charismatic, too, my friend.
With my Jamaican "boyfriend", Mr. Edmondson

After a quick lunch of fried chicken and potato salad, we head back to the clinic for the afternoon shift.

And then....disaster struck.

1:00 p.m. Exactly 12 hours after I was ill in the bathroom at the dorm....I get ill again. Cold chills ran down my body - I dropped the chart I was working on - told the patient, "Excuse me!" - and barely made it to the restroom in time. What is going on??!!!

The doctors and nurses quickly tell me I must go back to the dorm and lay down - and I reluctantly trudge back... disappointed that I am unable to finish for the day, and hopeful that this, too, shall pass.

A few hours later, it is increasingly clear that it is not passing - just my LUNCH is passing, unfortunately - and by now, I am shivering, sweating, and developing a very bad headache. I am not the first person on this trip to be ill - for the last 2 days, we've had 2 other members of our group become sick. And then, after 24 hours, they're fine.

I am in bed all afternoon and evening - at which time, Dr. Bob checks on me, determines I am, indeed, running a fever, and pops some medicine down me. At this point, I am pretty much delirious with pain - headache, tummy ache, joint ache, chills, fever...just shoot me.

I missed the planned trip to the Luminous Lagoon with the rest of the group that night - always an adventure and another thing to NOT miss if you're ever in Jamaica. I, instead, manage to fall into a fitful slumber and I pray that life will be better on Saturday.

Dr. Bob jokingly calls the Luminous Lagoon "swimming with the amoebas". Well, Drama Queen was swimming with the amoebas that night. Or rather - the amoebas were swimming in her.



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