Thursday, May 13, 2010

Accra: Sick

Last night was our last in Ghana. We had a big party in one of the hotel rooms. At one point during a particularly exuberant drum solo by Ray, the hotel staff knocked on the door. They said that many of the other hotel visitors were very upset that we were playing drums. Turns out that for a week out of the year the Ga people outlaw drumming, in order to ensure a plentiful harvest. Reactions can even get violent if the ban is violated. So we ended the party and went to bed, making sure to be quiet and lock our doors.
Some of the girls had started to feel malaria symptoms. Nicole was achy and really cold, and Marissa started to feel the same. I had been feeling some back and abdominal pain since dinner, but I thought little of it, because cramps are common over here. I had also gone swimming that afternoon, and maybe I had pulled a few muscles or something. The pain started to get worse as the night progressed. I woke up at 2:00 am in excruciating pain. My right shoulder was throbbing, and every time I breathed in I would feel a stabbing pain in my side. My abdomen was also aching, and it started to spread to my neck. I was taking quick, shallow breaths and moaning every time I had to move. Pretty soon I started to feel chills and was drenched in sweat.
I lay in agony for hours, drifting in and out of shallow bouts of sleep. When 6:00 AM finally came around we called a nearby doctor. He said that it was not malaria, since I didn't have a splitting headache, and that I should just tough it out until I get back into the states.
I'm miserable: stuck in Africa, immobilized in bed, with hotel checkout in a few hours. I have no idea how I will make it through the day--I can barely move. We're going to the airport this evening and flying all night to Amsterdam. After a night there we'll fly back to Salt Lake. I don't know what to do.
I did some digging around online, and there's a strong likelihood that I have amoebic pleurisy. Amoebas are common parasites that live in the water here. You can even get them from eating stalky vegetables like lettuce. The amoebas can inflame the lining of your lungs, causing pleurisy. Symptoms are excruciating pain when breathing, dull shoulder and abdomen pain, chills, and sweating. The pain can lessen when you lay on your side or apply pressure to your rib cage. For some reason I have that Piggies song from the White Album in my head, and I know that's a symptom as well. It's really starting to get me down.
I just took four Artrin for malaria, two albendazole for worms, and four secnidazole for amoebas. If that doesn't knock it out, I don't know what will. Let's just pray that I can breathe and move around by the time we check out of the hotel.

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