Ecuador Unplugged #1: Surviving Salmonella

Marissa Emerson - Ecuador


November 16, 2017

“Ecuador Unplugged” is a blog-series aimed to recount experiences in Ecuador in an honest, (hopefully) humorous manner in a format non-traditional for my style of blog posts and more reminiscent of journal entries. Common courtesies of omitting graphic details, sugar-coating, and proper grammar/sentence structure will not necessarily be followed in this series; proceed at your own risk.

 

One of the best things I’ve heard since I’ve arrived in Ecuador has not been at all what I expected. It must have been a week or so ago when I got the news: “You don’t have Salmonella anymore.”

The information managed to elicit a joyous laugh of disbelief that could translate into any language, making other patrons in my local farmacia awkwardly grin and stare at the shop owner, Monica, obviously questioning what good news I’d received. But now that you know how the story ends, let me tell you how I got there.

 

October 4, 2017 –  AKA “The Hardest Morning of My
Bridge Year So Far”

 

1:27AM – I wake up. The need to go to the bathroom is real, but it’s on the other side of the second floor of my house and the three rooms surround it hold my host mother, brother, and sister. I don’t want to wake them up, so I’ll just do what I usually do and go back to sleep. I’ll be up in about five hours anyway. But geez, why am I sweating so much? Let me take a couple blankets off though. Four seems like too many right now.

 

3:12AM – Man. Up again. I’m gonna be so tired at work today. That’s gonna suck. AGH! And I’m freezing! Why am I not wearing any blankets? Whose silly idea was that too take them off? It’s under 40 degrees here. And my stomach is definitely not feelin’ right. Maybe I should lay off the dairy for a few days.

 

4:00AM – GET. UP. NOW. The need to go to the bathroom is strong in this one. My stomach is killing me, and I can already tell I’m gonna be wrecked, but at least I already know it’s gonna be a quick visit…I hope they have Febreze in Ecuador.

 

4:25AM – Definitely not a quick visit. I feel like I’m gonna vomit, but I better not cuz this bathroom is too small for that. One word: volcano.

 

4:40AM – Laying on a cold bathroom floor while sweating profusely and having to manually breathe, while refreshingly cool on my skin, is a new low for me here in Ecuador. Hopefully my legs work when I go back to my room, cuz I feel like I’m gonna pass out.

 

4:45AM – The fact that we live in a world where the word “volcano” can apply to more that just nature is officially atrocious.

 

4:55AM – Time to walk back to my room. There’s no hand rail along the hallway to my room, so hopefully holding onto the wall will keep me from pancaking the first floor. If I pass out it’s game over, but honestly being unconscious is sounding really nice right now. Just preferably in a bed, ya know?

 

5:00AM – Cool. I made it. Sweating up a storm, but I made it. Hopefully I can sleep a little. I have to get up for work in an hour.

 

5:05AM – Huh. I don’t remember breathing being this hard. I’d sit up but that lovely vomiting feeling is back and I’d rather not wreck my floor.

 

5:10AM – My hands and feet are tingling. Maybe I’m just laying down kinda funny…Who am I kidding? I’m laying on my back. I should probably be on my side in case I throw up or pass out (not necessarily in that order).

 

5:12AM – Yeah. My upper lip is swollen and so are my fingers and feet. Is this an allergic reaction? I don’t even have allergies to foods. What if I discovered one?

 

5:15AM – I officially am not breathing that great. My throat hasn’t been this tight since I cried onstage back in May. And now that I really think on it, that doesn’t compare to this right now.

 

5:25AM – Since when did tongues get swollen? I feel like I’ve got a giant, flabby fruit roll-up in my mouth and I can’t eat it. That sucks.

 

5:30AM – I was born in the wrong time. For the amount of shaking I’m doing right now, I bet I’d be pretty good at the shimmy. OR maybe the hand-jive. Or the twist…If I could stand.

 

5:40AM – EVERYTHING. ITCHES. AND. I. DON’T. KNOW. WHY. If you think this is a sweet generalization of just arms and legs, you are horribly mistaken. EVERYTHING (I truly mean, EVERYTHING) ITCHES. Things I didn’t know could itch, itch. Who ever has to scratch those weird, webby spots between their fingers? What is happening to me?

 

5:43AM – The amount of energy, it’s taking to even stay awake right now is too much. I just want to be able to breathe and sleep. My first alarm is in 17 minutes though. How am I gonna walk to school like this? I don’t want to worry the kids when I get there.

5:45AM*buzz buzz* Why on earth is JuliaGrace up? AND messaging people right now? *reads message* Aw man. *new wave of stomach pain and light-headedness hits* Okay. I gotta tell her what’s going on.

 

6:00AM – Aaannnnd now we wait. It was really nice of JuliaGrace to offer to call her team leader, who could then call mine. Now I just have to wait for my host mom to pick up the phone once my team leader, Lucia, calls.

 

6:08AM – I can hear the phone ringing and my host brother calling out from his room for my host mom to pick it up. Lucia told me to try calling out to my host mom from my room since I can’t stand up, but when I try no sound comes out and I feel light-headed and out of breath. Yup. School is gonna suck today.

 

6:14AM – Whelp ya girl is in the clear. I may have had to use Google Translate to get my ideas across, but hey, you try communicating that you’re sick in a language you’re not fluent in while struggling to breath and not pass out. I’d say that I only had two typos is impressive…and that bit was in English.

 

Needless to say – I didn’t go to school that day. What followed that morning was a series of visits in Monica’s farmacia, featuring a blood test which involved three failed attempts to draw blood, a close call with an attempt in my foot, a successful withdrawal from my left wrist, and several tears as I experienced my first time crying in Ecuador thanks to my fear of needles. I also had a rigorous regime of pastillas and increased water intake. Luckily I was able to have a few good laughs about the situation with my host family after they insisted that I keep a handful of healing herbs in the waistband of my pants for a few days. #CulturalDifferenceAlert

I wouldn’t wish Salmonella, nor the unfortunate, small scars that accompany it, on even my worst enemy, but all in all I have to say it wasn’t a completely awful experience. If anything, it’s made my immune system stronger and actually gave me the opportunity to get to know people in my host community – namely Monica, her family, and the doctors that helped me out. After the experience, I actually felt closer with part of my host community because of the new people I’d met and places I got to go.

 

As strange as it sounds, I’m thankful this wild experience happened.

 

 

 

Farmacia – Pharmacy

Pastillas – Pills

 

Marissa Emerson