One night during our training in Bolivia I got sick. I had the runs and didn’t think much about it since it happens to everyone eventually. I drank a bit more water like we were told to do by the doctors and went to bed. The next two days were more of the same so I finally called the office to talk to the doctors about it. The rule was that if you had diarrhea for more than three days you had to go to the hospital.
So the doctors set up the hospital stay and a friend and I went. Normally I’d go alone, but this was when my Spanish left much to be desired and I really didn’t want to deal with medical issues in a language I didn’t know. I went with a girl who lived in a house near me because she studied Spanish in college and was pretty fluent.
We get there and the doctor is talking to us, my friend kind of translating. All I caught was ‘comida sucia’ – ‘dirty food.’ Well that just meant I had a case of food poisoning, nothing important. I was hooked up to an IV to replenish the fluids I had lost from all the pooping and things were running well.
About an hour later they decided they needed a stool sample from me. So they gave me a little cup to fill whenever it was time to go. Just the cup, nothing else. In America if you need to give a stool sample you normally get a small bowl that fits on the toilet seat and a spoon to scoop it into the cup. Not here.
It was finally time to hit the bathroom so I brought my IV bag and cup with me. I didn’t know how to take the IV out of my arm and I couldn’t find a nurse, so that was that. I put the IV bag on top of a cabinet in the bathroom and with so much grace an aplomb, got everything right in the cup. I was so proud of myself. No mess at all.
On the way out I saw a nurse and mentioned I had it, she told me that someone would be around to collect it soon. I headed back to the room where my friend was waiting and left the cup of poop on the table. No one came for a long time, so the two of us just sat there making poop jokes.
Eventually the doctor comes in and takes the sample and is talking to my friend. They’re going on and on and she must have told him that she was a bit sick too. He wanted to help being a doctor and all. If she’d just let him give her a shot she’d feel much better. My friend hates needles, she had to turn away when the IV was put in my arm, so she kept saying no. But eventually she caved and said yes.
So the doctor takes her out into the main area and I’m along for emotional support. While he’s getting ready, my friend and I are talking trying to get her mind off of what’s going on. She refuses to look because she’s super nervous. I snuck a few glances but saw nothing out of the ordinary.
The doctor came over and got my friend’s attention. I guess she didn’t like what she saw. The needle was a bit bigger than normal, but not outrageous. I didn’t think there was a problem with it, but I wasn’t the one in the chair. She screamed and bolted out of her chair, screaming as she sprinted to the bathroom. The next sounds I hear are her vomiting out of sheer stress. This went on for close to fifteen minutes. It was wild.
After regaining her composure she came out and hid behind me so the doctor wouldn’t talk to her. At this point the IV had been removed and the stool sample was sent away to some lab for work so there wasn’t much use in us being around anymore.
So we went out for ice cream.