My lower back was killing me and my entire body was the sorest it had ever been from shivering non-stop the past four days. I was constantly sweating, which made me always feel cold, yet my skin was hot to the touch. My body was trying to fight off something strong inside of me and it was making me so tired yet I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat and had lost so much weight in just a few days. I couldn’t write, read or even have the energy to watch a movie. This was not fun.
I was exhausted but of course awake at 6am when our cook, Albertina, knocked on the door. She had agreed to take me to the doctor that morning because Jon couldn’t leave the property and I needed someone with me to help me around. She was perfect: a mother of 6 who had been taking all 6 of her kids to this doctor since they were born. Jon got up and spoke with her for a few minutes to plan out how they were going to get me there. At this point, I could barely walk on my own. They agreed that when Juancito, the shuttle driver, came to the property that we would just go with him because there would be enough room for me to lay down in the back.
When Juancito got to Paradiso, I slowly put my jeans on and layered up with sweaters. I had never been so cold in 90 degree Nicaragua before. Jon and Albertina came into the room to help me stand up. I tried walking on my own but when I did I almost fell and quickly realized I needed help to just walk to the car. My eyes started tearing up out of frustration because I had no control over my body–I couldn’t even walk on my own. Jon and Juancito grabbed me by the waist on either side, threw my arms around their shoulders and walked me into the shuttle. Jon gave me a kiss and a big hug goodbye–I knew this was hard for us both. I was scared and wanted him with me and he was worried and wanted to be there with me. We both just had to be strong.
I closed my eyes and before I knew it we were in front of the doctor’s office. It looked just like a big pharmacy from the outside. Albertina and Juancito lifted me up out of the car, helped me walk inside the office and sat me down in the waiting area. The assistants inside took one look at me and knew I had to be seen right away so they interrupted the doctor who was with another patient. The doctor was female and, right away, that put me more at ease. I was now surrounded by all women and mothers in the doctor’s office so I knew I would be taken care of. It was scary being so sick and having to go to the doctor’s in a foreign country–I just didn’t know what to expect. I had always been very healthy and had avoided being extremely sick my whole life in the States. And here I was in Nicaragua, the sickest I’d ever been. It was a little scary. Definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, but I knew that this was part of traveling the world. I would be exposed to things around the world that I had been in California. I was ok with that, I just wanted to get better.
The doctor came out, smiled at me and waved me in. Juancito and Albertina helped walk me into her office and sat me down once again. The doctor quickly started asking me in Spanish what was wrong and before I could even start thinking about how to translate my answer from English to Spanish, Albertina answered for me in rapid Spanish. I understood what she was saying and it was exactly what I wanted to tell the doctor, just done much faster than I could at that moment. I was relieved that I had her there to speak for me.
I watched the doctor’s reaction as Albertina told her everything. It wasn’t good. She looked at me after her conversation with Albertina was over and said, “Dengue”. My first reaction was, “What the hell is Dengue?” She saw the confused expression on my face and explained that it was a very dangerous disease from mosquitos and that they needed to take a blood test right away to verify. If the test results came back positive and I did have Dengue, then I would need to go to the hospital immediately the next morning as early as possible.
Just as she finished explaining all of this to me a woman came in with an empty syringe and tied a plastic band tightly around my arm just above the vein. Albertina grabbed my shoulders to comfort me in her motherly way and within a couple of seconds, the doctor had the needle in me and took my blood. I have a fear of needles, especially when it comes to the doctors, but in this situation, I had no time to even be scared. The doctor gave the blood test to her assistant and then explained to us that the test result would be ready early in the morning at 5:30am. She emphasized that it was important for someone to be there to get the results so that I could be taken care of as soon as possible. Albertina volunteered and told her that she would be there at 5:30am the next day.