Monday, April 5, 2010

Excuse Number 1 Part 1: Intro to Ghanaian Hospitals

22 March 2010

Felt a little dizzy today at breakfast. I looked around and decided this wasn't too surprising. A heavy haze stuck in the air everywhere I looked. I've been told different things, but I think we're supposed to be moving into the rainy season right now. Instead, we're experiencing hamatan, the crazy dusty season, to an extreme. All this dust makes breathing trickier. Plus it feels pretty gross. As if there wasn't already enough dust around.
Later I went to class, grabbed a meat pie and plantain chips, and headed to the Shoprite at the mall to get stuff to make dinner. Shoprite sells all kinds of American type groceries. Tonight, I planned to make dinner for my friend Isaac and his friends, because when I've gone to hang out with them the past couple days, they've been making awesome Ghanaian food for me. So I planned to make some awesome American food for them. Gumbo, to be precise. As I wandered through the isles, grabbing ingredients, thinking got trickier and the dizziness moved into mild nausea. So I hurried on up, finished my shopping, checked out, and settled on an overpriced taxi to rush home (I paid almost $4 for a ride home from the mall!) The driver, Raymond, was very nice though, even if a bit talkative for me to handle in my current state. I got back to my room, fell on my bed and decided that only something very important was going to get me up. No cooking tonight.
A couple hours later I believe, Isaac came up to visit found me in my not so healthy state. I will add now that my sheets were at the time hanging to dry and not on my bed. Therefore, Isaac's original plan was to have me go over to his room (in the building next door) so I could sleep on a made bed and get some food.
We made it down the three flights of stairs reasonably well, but I think that rather exhausted me, and about halfway across the parking lot I decided I absolutely had to sit down. Which made us rethink the "just resting" plan. Isaac and his roommate Joe got a taxi to go to the health office on campus. Throughout the ride however, I very quickly grew much sicker and after I got sick twice we changed our route to head to the University hospital emergency room. (Sorry for the gory details, just being thorough. This *is* a hospital story.)
Contrary to popular belief, Ghanaian hospitals are not all candy and rainbows. They led me into a room, for some reason without Isaac or Joe. I had to ask to sit down. I don't know if they intended me to stand that whole time or not, but that certainly wasn't going to happen. Seconds after sitting, I put my head on my arm on the desk and nodded off. This happened multiple times, because they kept waking me up to ask repeated questions about my symptoms and what I had eaten and other things that I had a vague memory of but no clear ability to answer. I was OUT of it. They finally decided they got all the information they thought they'd get out of me and led me to a rubber mattress with a rubber pillow in a room with 7 other occupants.
I laid there alone for a bit and waited for the poking, prodding, and questioning to commence. And commence it did. The grand opening was an IV, one of my greatest personal terrors. That was followed by one rather large needle with unknown purpose in each thigh. After this, they asked a couple more questions, introduced me to a number of people I'd never remember, and finally let Isaac and Joe come visit. They made sure everything was okay (relatively speaking) and Isaac said he'd come visit tomorrow. For now though, they had to leave because it was late and visiting hours were over.
I knew I wouldn't sleep with that thing sticking in my hand to connect me to an unwieldy pole, so I thanked God that I had just put two weeks worth of minutes on my phone, because texting was all I had to distract me and keep me sane.
Eventually, nature called. I was still attached to a pole which had only vaguely effective wheels and no one was in the room to help. I could see some nurses a couple rooms away. I had a task ahead of me. I needed to get their attention but not that of the seven sleeping patients around me. Or get across the room on my own with my friend the pole. So I tried for the first by attempting the second, getting up my energy to drag the pole across the room. My plan worked perfectly. A man came to help and said that since the fluid had finished dripping he could simply take it off. So he attempted to do so with me just standing there. I started getting dizzy and told the man that I needed to sit down, but he told me he was almost done. Almost was not good enough. I took a seat right on the floor. He kept on doing what he was doing. When he finished I told him that I was hungry. He said, "At this hour? No, we don't have any food for you right now." Alright then. Washroom it is.
Got back to the bed still hungry, but also very tired, and though I still was quite aware of having a needle in my hand, at least it wasn't attached to anything that could fall on me, so I was able to get to sleep.

If any of you are still bothering to check, I have not fallen off the face of the Earth!

Hey all, it’s been a while, I know, and I’m sorry. I also know excuses are lame, but I’m going to give them. Because whether they are acceptable ones or not, (I think they are) they do make for interesting stories. Also, you may or may not know by this point that I’m near bald. That story’s coming too. I haven't really been recording the small details the past couple weeks so I'm afraid those that I don't remember are lost forever. You will just have to guess what I have been doing. Because I know you care what I have been doing every second of my life. Anyway, the next couple posts will be some snapshots of the past couple weeks.