Sick

Noah Hapke - Ecuador


October 16, 2015

This article I bring to you is exactly as the title states: sick. The medical, physical, and emotional level of having lesser strength, mental capacity, and/or understanding of reality. However, yesterday was quite the opposite.

On Thursday, during one of my English classes, I noticed I started feeling a little…yucky. My nose was runny, my throat felt weird, and I was more tired than my usual-tired self. Then, as explaining the past tense of the verb ‘to be’ in class, my voice went out. Silent. I ran outside, chugged my thing of tea, and walked back in to class fine.

Fast forward to yesterday, Sunday, when I woke up a zombie; I had never felt this sick before. Obviously, my sickness had grown from Thursday to Friday to Saturday and I hadn’t noticed much a difference. However, this day I woke up at 4:30am with knives in my throat. Snot dried all around my nose to the point I could just snap pieces off. My energy was so low all I could think was “I’m dying.”

I went over to the kitchen, which is a five minute walk down the street, to make myself a pot of tea. I could barely even talk, let alone explain in Spanish that my throat hurt so bad I needed a hot drink. And it did nothing. It felt, actually, worse to drink anything at all.

Patricia noticed I was not good and, after I called Steph (my Azuay team leader), we decided it was time for me to go to the hospital. Another five minute walk down the street and then we waited for my name to be called in the office. As I waited in the nurse’s room, I started feeling really (and I mean really) anxious. I needed to constantly be moving and couldn’t sit still. I would put one leg over the other and immediately switch positions because I was so antsy. When I went into the doctor’s room, Patricia was luckily able to explain everything to the doctor and assign me the right kind of medicine. Three shots and two pills. Great.

I moved back to the nurse’s room and waited longer, still feeling this urge to be moving. I got up, walked around, and felt the possibility of vomiting on anyone in sight. But I don’t have the Spanish proficiency to say “if you don’t move I’m gonna throw up all over you,” so I just sat back down in my chair. When the nurse came in with the needle (or needles I should say) I was ready. I had gotten five shots before Ecuador; three was nothing. But when the first one went in I was somewhere else. I felt sick. Nauseous. Light-headed. “Woah” I thought to myself. “What’s happening.” The second shot went in my arm and I lost all my vision. I couldn’t see, and knew I could possibly faint at any moment. “No puedo ver” was all I could make out in Spanish, but Patricia just laughed. “Puedo ir a la cama?” I asked and, without an answer, threw myself on the doctor’s bed. What was happening? A panic attack? Was I going to faint? I had never felt this before, and couldn’t explain it to anyone.

I lied on the bed for ten minutes or so and got another shot in my butt. “You are so brave” the nurse said, but I knew she was only saying this because I had just acted like a crazy person five minutes prior. After another shot, I got my medicine and we left. I apologized to Patricia for my behavior, unable to even understand it myself. The next hour I just rested on the couch, watching TV. Then I took a nap. And when I woke up I ate a little, took a hot shower, and went for another nap in the living room. And another in the guest room. Then relaxed back in the living room with the family, watching “Destroyed in Seconds” which, ironically, summed up my morning.

The reason I’m writing this blog is not to scare anyone (sorry Mom if this scared you), but to rather talk about the after-result. While I had been dying, or dead asleep, Patricia was constantly there for me. There was always a pot of warm tea ready for me. She treated me like a princess, always putting more blankets on me to make sure I was good. She checked up on me when I was sleeping and, when I woke, would ask how my throat felt. This is a woman who had multiple other duties to finish around the house: cooking dinner, cleaning, going to Gualaceo to purchase restaurant materials, and helping Cinthia with her homework. But, instead, she watched over me. She sat with me and watched TV. She fixed me dinner. She even brought me my medicine on a fancy, little plate with warm tea.

And I think I learned a lot from this experience. Not just that being sick sucks (because it does…especially in another country), but that the people of Azuay are willing to stop what they’re doing and help one another. They will ensure that the person not feeling 100% is treated and kept well. Family is so important to them and observing their kindness and empathy brought me closer to Patricia and the rest of the family. They were there for me, and it felt just like home.

Noah Hapke