Friday, September 16, 2011

Musings from the Sick Bed

I could have predicted that at some point during my Watson year this would happen, but I was hoping it could at least wait for a while. Wednesday I had been feeling a little off and sure enough that night I slept terribly and kept waking up with chills or hot sweats. By morning, it became very clear to me that I had a high fever. Poor Kadek came upstairs in the morning with her usual, “I make you breakfast?” And all I could say was, “Tidak. Sakit.” (No. Sick.)

If I am going to get sick during a year completely on my own, I guess it’s good it happened in a place that I know pretty well already, around people I know pretty well already. Made plopped me on a motorbike (103 fever and all) and took me to a nearby clinic that I had looked up online. Because I had a case of strep throat in early July, they did a test for that and also took some blood to rule out other possible illnesses. They put me on a broad spectrum antibiotic, fever reliever, and pain reliever for my sore throat.

The Doctor called with some results of yesterday’s blood test and wanted me to come back today for more tests due to a white blood cell and neutrophyl count that was double the normal amount (whatever that means). Because as my doctor said,” In tropical climate, could be many things wrong.” They should call in a few hours with the results of today’s tests, and to make sure that the antibiotics are continuing to do their job. In the meantime, my temperature has been rapidly improving. The Doctors are still not entirely sure what’s wrong, but they know it’s a bacterial infection rather than a viral one and things are definitely looking up (as evidenced by the fact I’m even writing this).

Dealing with this in Ubud is obviously not ideal. The man who took more blood this morning stuck the needle in my arm and then decided my vein was too small. He decided to switch to drawing blood from my hand instead. “Wow,” I said, “I’ve never had blood drawn from my hand before. Will this hurt?”

“Yes.” He said, and then put the needle in.

But although language barriers and different medical care makes this more difficult, there is also a level of individual attention and trust here. The Doctor personally called me last night (and then texted me when I didn’t initially pick up) with the results of my test. They let me leave the clinic without paying because they would call my international health insurance company (thank you Watson) to try and get the visit and medicine fully covered. They have a sign in their office that reads, in broken English, “Customer! You cannot tell s ccess without U!”

And while there is, undoubtedly, nowhere I would rather be than in my own bed in Burlington with some of my mom’s chicken soup, and even typing that is making me tear up right now in my feverish state, I am trying to be grateful. Grateful for clinics with bilingual doctors and grateful for health insurance. Grateful for medicine and grateful for a (usually) healthy body. Especially grateful for the old Friday Night Lights episodes I discovered were saved on my computer that have now occupied the last few hours of bed rest. (And let me tell you, there is great culture shock to be found from watching a show about Texas football in Ubud, Bali). Grateful for Made for taking me to the clinic two days in a row and grateful to Kadek for bringing me fruit and porridge. They have been so so kind to me.

This just not quite how I envisioned spending my last week in Bali.