Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Adventures in Medicine: Part 1

I woke up this morning to a spinning world. Even laying down, the room spun around me much too fast. I closed my eyes and hoped the morning would go away in ten minutes. It didn't. It didn't go away in half an hour either. Nauseous, I cancelled my morning class, found a substitute for another, and warned my afternoon class it might get cancelled too. (How did we live before the internet?) Five hours later, I was okay laying down, but getting up or any movement returned the feelings of vertigo and nausea.

So I lowered myself into a cab that took me to the AUN Health Clinic. Last year we had an Indian doctor who gave free service to the AUN faculty and took wonderful care of us. We loved him. Now he's gone and I get to meet the Clinic for the first time.


The doctor didn't look in my ears. Given that the most likely cause is water inside the ears (with which I was diagnosed this summer, and I told him that), I was surprised that he never glanced at them. Given that the second most likely cause had something to do with the pain in my neck and spine, he only told me to take some ibuprofen for the pain.

The doctor asked many questions to confirm that, yes, I had eaten breakfast and, yes, I did eat dinner. I recognize that is an issue for most of the people in Nigeria, but little does he know I fast 1-2 days a month and get along just fine. He confirmed I have pressure in my blood and that's it.

The doctor said it might be malaria even though I have no fever, no pain in my joints, and no other symptoms. So could they get a blood test?

This is where the adventure gets fun. The nurse had to poke me twice (the first nurse ever to miss my large, prominent veins), and then I got to watch him sterilize the needle for the next patient. He turned on this lovely device pictured to the right and stuck the needle into it. There was a whirring noise and occasional sparks flew out of it. I don't know if he was regrinding it or cleaning it by electricity, but then he put a plastic cap on the needle so it was ready for the next patient.

Am I worried about HIV? Ever so slightly. Am I a squeemish, pampered first-worlder? You betcha.

Now the Indian doctor warned me about malaria tests out here. He told me their microscopes must be infected or something because EVERY test he ever sends them comes back positive. So I was ready when the clinic confirmed that I tested positive for malaria AND typhoid fever - again, despite having no fever.

The nurse on the phone asked what my schedule was. I jokingly told her that if I have malaria and typhoid, my schedule is really quite open. Not understanding me, I told her I wasn't teaching any classes. They are sending an ambulance for me tomorrow morning to take me to the hospital so they can do a "proper" screening. Right now, my expectations are not high.

The dizziness finally wore off enough by the evening that I could sit up at the table to eat dinner and help put Prince to bed. I even could stand long enough to take a shower. I'm not 100% certain I'll be able to stand for my 8am class on Friday, but I'm hopeful I can at least sit for it.

To be continued...