D and V (diarrhoea and vomiting) is what this post will mainly be about because that has unfortunately ruled my life the past couple of days. Luckily there are no photos included in this post 😉
I had a surprising wake up call at 6am on Sunday, I put this down to having lived mostly on boiled eggs and dry bread the previous few days. I ignored the fact that several of the volunteer group had been struck down with a terrible stomach bug recently whilst I ate my breakfast.
I was due to be going to a rural pharmacy for the day, where villagers present with a wide range of ailments, which would be an awesome experience. However, traveling 45mins to get to a rural village (with probably only one very basic toilet) and finding out then that I was in fact very sick, would not be an awesome experience at all! I decided to stay at the hotel on my own, and this was a very wise decision.
Whilst my roomies were out working I suffered a bit of an upset stomach, but nothing I couldn’t handle. When they came back excited and telling me about their day watching tooth extractions and diagnosing patients with fractured hips, I took a turn for the worse. Lynda went for a refreshing shower and I rudely interrupted with the first of many violent vomiting episodes. This certainly helped breakdown some boundaries between me and my room mates, who share just a small bedroom and bathroom with me 😳
And so the afternoon continued, with me apologising as I stumbled to and from the bathroom every few minutes. The perks of sharing a room with student nurses is they know how to be compassionate 😉 luckily I don’t take life too seriously and I enjoyed a bit of gentle bullying from them too. They devised a new song,
“Nicola, she has the Ebola”, it is quite repetitive and catchy (very like my stomach bug).
After a few hours and many litres of water, I was still no better, there was no end in sight for this horror. I was dizzy, my heart was racing, my hands and feet were cold and tingly. My blood pressure was obviously low because I was rapidly becoming dehydrated. I couldn’t believe how quickly I had deteriorated.
I started having terrifying thoughts of being admitted as a patient to the local very unhygienic hospital we had been working in. They would probably poke me with all kinds of horrible needles, I would have to lay on the dirty floor next to patients suffering TB, who would cough in my face….my dehydration may have been getting the better of me at this point.
My roomies were awesome and gave me some anti sickness tablets to take, but I couldn’t hold them down. Then they took it in turns sitting with me whilst the other had dinner. Then they went to go get more meds from the local pharmacy, on the back of another volunteers motorbike.
Millie turned up with some intravenous ondansetron and a couple of medical students who were ready and willing to administer it. Cleverly Lynda had packed a lot of sterile needles, syringes and gauze in her suitcase, which were greatly appreciated. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t even usually take paracetamol for a headache, and I am certainly not a fan of needles. On this occasion though I was quite happy to offer up my arm.
They used a headband as a tourniquet and wrestled with the vial of medication to get it open. I was a bit nervous the med student might have to stick me with the needle several times to get a vein as I’ve been tricky for people before taking blood etc.
I didn’t express this though, I was just so grateful there were people able and willing to do this for me. I needn’t have worried anyway, turns out he is awesome at giving IV meds and hit the jackpot first time! They wished me well and said they were happy to come back if I needed cannulating and fluids putting up. Which was super kind of them! And I’m sure they enjoy every opportunity they get to practice their skills 😉
Half an hour later and I hadn’t vomited, not even once! It was a beautiful miracle! I gradually tried to rehydrate. I spent the rest of the next day stuck in my room, not eating and suffering abdo pains, but I could drink, and I was gradually improving.
Since coming to Nepal I have learnt a lot about health, just in a very different way to how I had planned. Hopefully my luck changes soon