What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ah yes...

Can I get back in the saddle??  So it's been an eternity since my malaria encrusted mind saw light enough to turn into electronic words.  Where to begin...

So I got off the plane on Tuesday the 23rd of November and was vomiting not much after walking in the door in New York (Could I be allergic to America!?! lol.).  A couple days later, more of the similar but of the less pleasant variety.  Come Friday I was in the hospital, but was sent home after a couple of bags of IV and an apparently botched malaria test.  Sunday I awoke on what felt like death's door with a decent fever, horrible sickness, and an ambulance ride back to the hospital.  By mid afternoon I was in the Critical Care Unit (CCU) and signing papers for possible blood transfusions.  They hadn't yet figured out if it was malaria, lasah fever, or something else.  Things from there for me though are pretty fuzzy.  They started pumping enough antibiotics and meds into me to look like Chris' cow.

They also came across a positive malaria test and some other mysteries at some point.  Of course then come the medications - which I ceremoniously threw back up after 45 minutes.  The next night was even worse.  They gave me the pill at 8:45 in the evening and I was determined to keep it down no matter what.  I fought with ever ounce of strength I had.  Every meditative thing I'd ever learned, breathing, energy movement, acupressure, whatever.  But the pain...  I was determined to make it 45 mins.  I wanted to throw it up for every single one of those 45 minutes, but I concentrated and pushed past it the best I could, trying to get to an hour and be certain.  The nausea started moving from my stomach into my digestive system though and turning into cramps and pain.  I think then and there is the first time I ever blacked out.  I was in agony, concentrating on my breathing, just trying to handle it - then all of a sudden it was later, where was I?.  Not sure what happened.  But regardless, I had started seeing things.  Not real things, but they were way to vivid and multidimensional to be dreams.  Rumor has it they were hallucinations, and I kept hearing this frog behind me in my right ear...  Funny though, no one else seemed to hear it.  Not sure why, what isn't normal about having frogs in hospital rooms...  What a horrible night.

To top it all off, in critical care each nurse has two patients and no one else can sign off on anything/has responsibility.  No nurse tech or helper.  The women next door had just come in and had to go to emergency surgery, her/my nurse left with her.  There was no one to help me.  I ended up naked, writhing in pain, and cursing belligerently about ancient Chinese medicine and listening to that damn frog sing his/her tune!!  Finally, I called my mother.  It was 11pm and I'd lost it!!  Lol!!  Miraculously, by 11:30 my mother (and maybe brother) and four nurses were in there helping me.  Funny how that works, a naked man writhing in pain and talking of a strange Kermit type comrade doesn't bring help, but a mother sure can!!   

I expected much the same the next night.  But I had gotten them to drop the antibiotics that day in hope of not having a reaction.  Wonderfully so, it worked.  I took the malaria meds and slowly drifted off to sleep an hour later.

I got moved out of critical care a day or two later and then was home a bit after that.  It was quite an experience.  Since then I've been dealing with the after affects.  For the next month I had a tremendous amount of weekness and dizziness.  Pretty much debilitated for all intents and purposes.  Sequestered to my house, bed, and couch, using the walls for balance and movies to keep time. 

I started getting better though, enough to be motivated to look for work.  Non-profit jobs all over the country.  I need to get something meaningful to do, put some cash in my pocket, and allow me to try to move forward with the projects found on this trip.  I have a lot of thoughts on things and some options to hep get things started here in the US.  The problem obviously is that my health has not put me in a position to function at full mental and physical capacity - or even at half capacity much of the time.  But I am getting there. 

I got to a point where I was out hiking: elevation, millage, even some trotting and walk/run trail trips.  Things were looking up, until I got some other kind of sickness.  This seems to have put other things over the edge, or have been the edge itself.  I had been getting follow up doctor visits and blood work, and as it turned out, things were going in the wrong direction.  The tests were showing problems with my liver, spleen, and kidneys.  Each visit things were worse.  So off to the specialists I went.  And that gets me right up to today. 

All this while I've been slowly getting an increasing amount of abdominal pain.  Sharp, bend you over, type stuff at times of late, coupled with a light hazzy film covering all physical and cognitive functioning.  I've still got that of course, and apparently will for quite some time.  But my blood work has turned around and is going in the "right" direction.  So theoretically - while there was a concern for things like liver disease - I really am just "hurt", not "injured".  Which in American football terms means: if your hurt, you can play; if your injured, you can't.  So it seems I can't make myself worse.  The pain is there, and the organs are still not functioning properly, but the body is cleaning itself out and I'm apparently headed in the right direction.  That of course is all I can ask.  They said it may take several more months to get back to full strength, but rest assured I will, and I will come back much stronger than ever before. 

I would do it all over again.  Every bit of it.

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