Thursday, July 12, 2007

Getting Sick

So it’s summer, in Nicaragua, generally highs of 90 degrees, lows of 80, humid. And I was bundled up in my fleece, still cold. That’s when I was sure something was wrong.

Up until 9 o’clock my fever got worse until I decided I needed to take something to bring my temperature down so I could sleep. And then there was the diarrhea. I hate talking about it, but this would be far from an actual account of life in Central America if I didn’t mention it.

I was lucky, the next morning, I felt much better. But it did make me more sensitive to the statistic that approximately 4,000 children had died on Monday (and every day) because of diarrhea.

Getting sick here is part of what reminds me that I will always kind of be an outsider. Between the healthcare I had growing up that has made me healthy to resist disease today, and my knowledge that if anything really bad happened, I have health insurance and access to doctors through NPH, I will never live like a true Nicaraguan.

I also have an arsenal of medicinal technology available to me. I have had vaccines for the hepatitises, typhoid, yellow fever and rabies as well as the regulars for the US. I have malaria pills (while some will debate whether they’re worse for you than actually getting malaria), ibuprofen, a general antibiotic for short term use and other over the counter medications that can be prohibitively expensive for those without enough for food.

I have a dry home, a clean bed and the ability to stay there if I need to rest.

And most importantly, I have information. I self diagnosed myself on the internet with gastroenteritis (not always the best way, but it worked fine in this situation).

One of the boys that grew up in NPH recommended I take a shower to help bring my fever down because when he gets a fever, he takes a shower. But he takes a shower because, well, that’s just what you do. I understood the concept behind the idea, but I also knew that ibuprofen would bring it down for more hours helping me to sleep longer.

Whether it’s a family being taught how to minimize standing water to decrease their chances of malaria or a village learning how to stop the spread of AIDS, education is the key to improving health. And in a nation that spends $33 billion per year on weight loss products alone, obviously we hold health as an important value, maybe we should do something about it in a way that will help all of us.

1 comment:

Aubrey said...

Glad that you're feeling better, Nicole. I know that when I get sick I want someone to fuss over me a bit; like bring me some water and maybe a couple of cookies. ;) Can you snuggle beneath your covers and read a good book for a while?