Dual Entry #9
"And Then There Were Two"
feels a little bit like a bad horror movie. You know the kind
we're talking about. At the start of the doomed camping trip,
there are five happy travelers. However, as the movie wears on,
each one gets picked off in some gruesome way, while the rest of the
group, like idiots, decide to stay at the campsite. "Its
probably just a nasty june bug that nailed Bob to the tree with a
pick axe," they always say. Meanwhile, the killer lurks
in the shadows, eliminating cast members until only the worst
actress is left - saved by the fact that she looks good in running
shorts and a tank top.
it goes in the land of the Guatemalan volunteers. The five of
us arrived here nine months ago as relatively healthy U.S.
citizens. Today, it's a totally different story. In the
past three weeks, three of us have ended up in the hospital, each
with his or her own brand of gruesome health problem.
Will Be Next??????
In truth, Brian recorded the first
"Guatemalan volunteer hospital stay" long before
this. In his first month living with his host family, he
caught a nasty stomach virus and had to go in to be
re-hydrated. He knew he had a problem when he realized that he
had prayed to the porcelain God more times than the weirdo from your
junior high Audio-Visual class has talked about his imaginary
After recovery, Brian stayed
relatively healthy. Granted, he did have a close call that
required a doctor visit after scarfing down a chili relleno he
bought off a street vendor. He says it was filled with an
appetizing mix of cheese, meat, tomatoes, lettuce, and a
gut-churning parasitic worm whose name we can't pronounce.
Brian's new advice to Guatemalan travelers? Don't let the
jacket and tie fool you. That guy selling food on the chicken
bus is like the intestinal grim reaper. After a short
course of antibiotics, he was as good as new. However, Brian, being an
over-achiever, couldn't stop with just one hospital stay. He
was the first lucky contestant in the recent game of Hospital
Brian in fetal
(see blue knee covered w/
white sheet in corner?)
It seems that Brian has a problem
with something around his appendix. Not sure exactly what it
is, but when we saw him at the hospital, he was in an immense amount
of pain. He was lying in the fetal position, grimacing every
time he was poked by a nurse or heard the phone ring. Looking
around the private hospital in Xela, we hoped that the makeshift
signage was no indication of the treatment he would receive.
When the doctor finally got a peek
at the test results, it was determined that Brian would have to have
his appendix removed. They whisked him off to the operating
room faster than George W.'s descent in the opinion polls.
And they're off!
We need a new sign!
He finally got to his private room at
about 1am, where we were anxiously await his arrival by sleeping
soundly on the twin bed next to his new home for a couple of days. When the nurses wheeled the gurney
next to the bed, they saw that Brian was a bit taller than the
average Guatemalan surgery patient. You see, he filled the
entire gurney, head-to-toe, and the gurney was a bit longer than the
bed. The night nurse said, "El no cabe!" (He won't
fit!) After a bit more analyzing, they figured he might be
able to lay diagonally. They asked for our help moving Brian
from the gurney to the bed. So, a sock-footed Gabby gingerly stood on the
bed with a nurse, while Scott helped the other nurse lift from the
other side of the gurney. By the strength of four people, he
was finally in place for recovery.
Brian in his
Fast forward a week and a half to our
retreat in El Salvador. We were enjoying a nice time at
Hacienda Colima, when Charity began to complain of stomach
pain. Over a period of three hours, this worsened to the point
at which she was ready to operate on herself to extract whatever was
making her feel bad. Since we were a good 45 minutes from the
hospital, Julie began asking questions to try and diagnose the
trouble. She asked, "have you had any stomach problems
Check out the
Charity responded by saying,
"a couple of days ago I threw up a few times. Other than
that, nothing besides the normal Guatemalan diarrhea."
We learned this night that there
really is no such thing as "normal diarrhea", no matter how frequently
you get it here in Guate.
Charity was taken to the hospital
in San Salvador for a diagnosis and to get re-hydrated. It
turns out that she had a fun parasite and a bacteria having a party
in her belly. And, if these fellas are in your stomach long enough,
they will start reproducing with eggs
and stuff. Fun, eh? Gabby was explaining this to our
host dad, Martin, and said, "Caridad tiene huevos!"
(Charity has eggs!) The only problem with this was that, in
Spanish, the word "huevos" also translates as
"testicles". So, Martin thought he had himself the
makings of a daytime TV talk show.
Sure, she looks
we promise that she's just fine!
Wow! All I
have to do is puke
and they give me this cool dress!
In the end, Charity was put on a
course of meds to take care of the problem.
Unlike Brian's hospital, where the
night cleaning crew swept up so much trash it looked like they were
cleaning the floor of the movie theater, Charity's accommodations
were first class! She had a television, elevator, a pullout
couch, air conditioning, fake flowers, and even a guy in a tuxedo
who delivers your breakfast (we're not kidding). It was nicer
than 90% of the hospitals we've seen in the states. The
bathroom was really swanky. We considered getting sick
ourselves just so we could stick around. On the brochure, they
boast that if Prez Bush gets sick while in El Salvador, he too,
would stay the night here.
Jen was the last big winner in the
Hospital Hootenanny. She started feeling sick while we were
still in El Salvador. By the time we got to Xela, she had a
headache/migraine that hadn't lapsed in two and a half days. She also
had the added bonus of throwing up. When the problem didn't
get better, Jen decided she should go to the hospital, too.
Jen ended up going to the same place
as Brian. Even though our explanation of the place doesn't
paint a pretty picture, the truth is that Brian didn't even get an
infection, and was good as new in no time. So, Jen was in good
hands. They ran a battery of tests on her, took pictures of
her brain, got her an MRI, and even gave her a fun dexterity test.
The test involved lots of touching
your nose, raising your leg, wiggling things. Afterward, they still
didn't know what was wrong with her, but they DID know that she
wasn't drunk. The neurosurgeon took good care of her. After
seeing the results of the CAT scan and MRI, he surmised that the
problem was a bad reaction to Chloroquine, the medicine we USED TO
prevent malaria. They shot her up with lots more drugs
(interesting technique) and sent her home. Today, she is
getting better, with the exception that she can't feel her left hip
due to a misfired injection that damaged a nerve. Poor
Jen. She's been through a lot.
advantage of Charity's hand-me-down plastic flower from the El
Salvador hospital stay
Jen and Brian's
favorite Guatemalan night spot
Peanut butter and
crackers were smuggled in
to assist in Jen's recovery
Please pray for everyone to
continue to improve. Also, pray for us, as we went and got a
poop test as a precautionary measure. The tests came back
positive for amoebas (and probably giardia for Gabby). We feel
OK, but it's a little weird knowing that you're walking around with
a little bug colony in your intestines. We're almost done with
a course of antibiotics that should take care of everything.
It makes us tired and nauseous (problems we didn't have when we only
had the amoebas), but we're on the mend.
Take care everyone, and we'll be
bug free when we see you in August!