I guess before I talk about how I survived, I have to give a little information on how I got there right? Ha, wouldn’t you like to know! So my story isn’t a funny one. It’s actually pretty serious, but it goes to show that if you don’t take a break when you need to, your body will force you to take a break when you’re supposed to. In my heart and body I felt okay, and I wasn’t just being hard headed, but by the time you’re 2/3 up a couple of mountains and you feel congested, do you turn around or keep marching on? I kept marching on.
In the course of two weeks, I fought off (well I thought I did) a head cold, a flu-like bug, a sinus infection, a drastic fever, severe dehydration and an unforgivable migraine. Plus, during that time, I trekked up the mountains to Bouvier with my period and cramps. I felt okay for the most part. My knees ached and my back hurt a little from the cramps, but I felt fine. It was just hard for me to breathe and of course I think it’s the altitude.
We stayed at Bouvier for a couple of days and I kept warm, I took my allergy medicine and I did what I had to do. I got bit by a gape, which is kind of like a wasp and my wrist was swollen, but it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t get bit by something. When it was time to go, we packed up, and started heading down Mountain #1. Instantly, I was feeling harsh pains in both my knees and I didn’t know why. It took me two hours to get down the mountain and the team thought I was being a little dramatic, but what we didn’t realize just yet was that a terrible fever was slowly creeping in and taking over my body. My team leader gave me the strongest pain pills that he had and he iced my knees with spray ice to numb the pain.
At the bottom of the first mountain is my favorite river. We usually jump in, swim, have lunch on the banks and enjoy a break from the trek. The river wasn’t too inviting for me this time. I tried to slowly slide in and the water was intensely cold. It hurt like it never has before and I was confused. My friend, the river, had never hurt me. I tried to cool off and stretch my knees in what felt like an ice bath. Finally, I was ready to go. As I crossed the river and got out on the other side, I felt extreme heat come over me, quickly and fiercely. It shot up my arms. I was wincing in pain because my head was killing me. I asked somebody if I felt warm and before they could answer, I couldn’t feel anything except the throbbing in my head. I was numb. I felt useless. My knees didn’t ache. I had no strength. Two of the guys had to stand on either side of me and help drag me up the mountain. Of course my legs were moving, but I’m not sure how much work they were doing.
Finally, when we reached half way to the top, we hired a donkey to bring me the rest of the way (which seems amazing, but BOY, talk about more pain). I held on to the donkey as best as I could, telling myself not to be afraid and not to fall asleep. The donkey trotted with me on his back for a little over an hour (I have the bruises to prove it). When we reached my destination, I curled up onto the flattest rock I could find and I went to sleep as I waited on the others. We had an hour car ride after that which hurt more than the donkey. My migraine was becoming more and more intense and by the time we reached the house, I couldn’t walk or stand up by myself. I cried in agony. Somebody had to help me take a shower, and I tried to sleep for the rest of the night. My hope was that the next day I would feel better, but that would be too easy.
My fever broke and came back about three times. I couldn’t keep my temperature down. I decided that at this point, the only thing I could do was go to the hospital. I was completely afraid, but what were my other options? I packed a bag just in case. My dad always tells me not to go to the hospital without spare clothes. So I was on my way.
When I arrived, the nurse saw me right away and the doctor was only a couple of minutes behind her. He asked what was wrong, touched my arm and instantly knew I had a fever still. I received two big IV bags, antibiotic bags, and shots of different medicines into the IV. The IV hurt when it was placed in my hand. In fact, it ripped out and I bled all over the bathroom. Typical right? Also, they asked me to give a feces sample with no toilet paper and no soap. Absolutely not. Nobody in the hospital spoke English so I did my best to communicate and my team leader stayed with me the whole time. I was there for hours, in pain, trying to relax. They sent me home with more meds for a sinus infection that never went away and antibiotics for the bug I must have had.
The most uncomfortable part of my visit was the guy that came into my room pretending that he worked for the hospital. He checked my IV. He walked around the room and fumbled with things in the room. He kept trying to speak to us in English. It was actually pretty frustrating. He left, but he came back and tried to get my team leader to come outside with him for a while, allegedly to speak English. It was so sketchy. He wouldn’t go away, and no hospital staff was around. I felt like the guy wanted to kill us.
Overall, it’s been a couple of days now. I haven’t eaten or done too much of anything. My bed has been a safe haven and I’m working on keeping myself hydrated and properly medicated. I don’t wish that kind of pain like what I felt on anybody, but this has definitely been an interesting experience for me. While spending six months in Haiti, I was bound to end up in the hospital once right? Anyways, carry your own toilet paper, ask the nurses to wear gloves, always bring hand sanitizer, bring your own water bottle, and always ask for your IV to go into your arm.