Saturday, November 12, 2011

Live and Learn

One of the first things I was warned of when I first moved down here was "Don't eat the street food." I, of course thought, ok no big deal. I can defnitely stay away from street food. Who knows where that food has been, if the person has or has not washed their hands and so on. But my stomach got the best of me.

When we were in Copan, my friends and I decided the street food looked to good to pass up. I will be totally honest, it was some of the best food I have ever tasted. Delicious tamales and quesadilla's with homemade salsa. I mean it is hard to pass up cheap delicious food. 

Unfortunately, eating street food proved to not be in my best interest...

I had been experiencing cramping after every meal for the about a week after we got back from Copan. But I didn't think anything of it. It passed quickly and I soon forgot about it. 

That all changed on last Monday. I ate breakfast and immediately felt terrible. My stomach felt as if I had eaten a rock and it was sitting at the top of my stomach, not able to pass through to my intestines. It was a horrible feeling. I was unable eat or even drink. I was dizzy, hungry, nauscious and weak. I left school and went straight to bed in hopes that I would wake up miraculously feeling better. 

Unfortunately when I went home, but my stomach would not allow me to even sleep. The symptoms I was experiencing sounded like my roommates symptoms when she found out she had an Ameba. So I went to bed that night with stomach cramps and the fear that something was growing inside my belly.

The next morning I woke up and I actually felt a lot better. So I decided I had been cured and I was just run down. Oh big mistake!! I ate breakfast and bam the cramps were back. But this time in full affect. As I walked to school I actually doubled over in pain and started crying. How was I going to make it through the day? I could barely walk to school, what was going to happen when I had twenty third graders seeking my attention for academic support? Luckily the cramps decreased as my body digested the food. But this meant to make it through the day I couldn't eat, if I wanted to avoid being curled up in a ball in my classroom, while my students say "Meez Kate iz zeek (Miss Kate is sick)". 

After school, I put on my big girl shoes and reluctuntely went to the doctor. It wasn't that I had heard horror stories of the doctors here, I just hate going to doctors in general. Now add in a language barrier and the fact that it is in a foreign country and it makes for a recipe of avoidance. 

So Kristin and I went to the clinic. She was acting as my interpreter as well as moral supporter for whatever was coming my way. The doctor pushed on my stomach in search of the pain, but it every part she pushed on hurt. She indicated that she thought it was a parasite or an Ameba, but she couldn't be sure unless I gave a poop sample..... I knew that was coming, but I was secretly hoping she would see my symptoms and just give me medicine for a parasite. Nope!

As I headed to the bathroom to provide a poop sample, all dignity was lost. I was given a tiny cup, a bunch of toilet paper (they hoard toilet paper, which means that you better carry toilet paper everywhere you go because no one provides it) and I was told to walk out of the clinic to the bathrooms located in the middle of the property. So not only did I have to go into the bathroom carrying a cup and toilet paper, I had to potentially walk out with a sample of poop.

I will spare you the details, but I managed to provide one.

As I walked out of the bathroom, all I could do was laugh. Here I was walking around a clinic in Honduras carrying a poop sample. Kristin couldn't stop laughing at me. She also avoided any eye contact with me at all costs. I don't blame her. No one wants to make eye contact with someone else's poop.

I was later told that it was impressive that I was able to poop on command. Can't say I have ever been given that sort of a compliment, but I'll take it in stride!

Anyway, twenty minutes later I was given the grave news, I had a parasite. Now I had to go through the process of getting rid of it. First up, an injection in the ass. Now the initial injection wasn't what was painful, it was the aftermath that was terrible. I stood up and realized my whole left butt cheek and leg were in pain. I was limping as if I had a wooden leg. So as I limped out of the clinic half laughing, half crying, one of the families from Minerva school offered us a ride. This was a godsend since I could barely walk.
Next problem, getting into the car. I got the injection in my left cheek, so of course I wasn't thinking and I went to the right side of the car. I literally stood at the opened car door, paralized. I could not lift my leg up. ?It hurt so bad that I just physically couldn't lift it. So as this family watches, I back my butt up to the seat and slide backwards into the car. All I could do was laugh through tears and profusely apologize in Spanish.

Unfortunately, the uphill battle was only to begin. That night I was able to stomach a salad, which happened to be my first real meal in four days. It felt great to eat but I was unaware that part of the injection in my ass was a major pain killer hiding how much it hurt to digest that food. So the next day I attempted to eat breakfast thinking that I would be able to digest it. I couldn't have been more wrong. I was in such pain from eating an apple. To be honest I couldn't figure out why either. I had started my medicine and usually that starts to cure you. Well one known fact of parasites that is now clear to me. They don't go down without a fight. As they are being killed in your stomach they release large amounts of toxins into your body. This makes every part of your body feel like it is slowly dying. 

So I spent the next three days wishing I could just crawl into a hole and sleep until all the pain went away. The hardest part of it all was going to work and teaching. Down here, it just isn't possible to call in sick or get a substitute. Lucky for me, my students were understanding and seeing their faces each day made me somewhat forget about wanting to die.

It took the entire three days of medications to feel better. I can honestly say now, I will not eat street food. It was so delicious, but not worth the hell I went through for a week. 

Ahhhh you live and learn!!


  1. I find it ironic there are no pictures with this article. ;)

  2. I was hoping the mental image I portrayed for you was enough.... ;)

  3. I cant believe i just read this! note to self....bring poptarts