Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Dry Run - The story of How I Got Out of Dodge

These last few days... these last few days have been days to remember. Or to forget. Perhaps I'd best remember to forget them.

April 20th, the day after my birthday, I woke up in Antipolo feeling sick to my stomach. I think I've mentioned this before. Well, Wednesday, April 25th, I still felt sick. The symptoms were unfamiliar to me, but I was certain I knew what I had: intestinal parasites. So certain was I, that I told several people, including my parents, that this was my ailment before ever seeing the doctor.

I went to Iloilo city, I saw the dr, he gave me meds and told me to come back on Saturday for a follow-up. I took the meds, I felt better, shouldn't that be the end of the story? Well it wasn't. Not by a long shot.

Although the medication had given me several days of decent health, I woke up that Saturday feeling ill again. When I told this to my dr, he was concerned. He decided that something must have been passed over in my last fecanalysis and made me take another.

Now, it's not pleasant to think about, and I won't go into great detail, but for the record I would like to remind everyone that a fecanalysis, AKA pooping in a cup, isn't great fun. It is nasty and frustrating to take one in America. But here in the Philippines, even more so. They give you the cup in the lab, the hospital bathroom is next door. This would be nice and convenient, except that the hospital bathroom lacks toilet paper and it lacks soap.

So you leave the hospital, go across the street, buy TP, buy soap, and return to the grungy hospital bathroom with a single stall that has no lock, and in between informing your fellow bathroom visitors that there is already someone in the stall (while you hold the door closed to keep their entry at bay) you try and figure out what the cleanest way to capture your own feces will be.

Fun times.

Anyway, that was the second time I had to do it that week, which is why I felt compelled to my rant. But completed it I did, I waited a few hours, and brought the results to my Dr, who was kind enough to inform me that there was blood found in my sample.

What does that mean? Well he had a few theories, but he didn't know. He wanted me to stay in the hospital that night so that they could "prepare" me for a colonoscopy in the morning (for you kids, that's the operation where they attach a camera to the tip of an unfortunately large hose, and insert it into your colon in a most unpleasant fashion).

This was saturday the 28th, 3 days before I had a plane bound to manila, my first stop on the way back to America. To say the least, I was not happy. But Marianne was with me, and agreed to be my Kasama. This is the best news I have to report regarding the last 3 days.

So they held me there saturday night, they "prepared" me for my colonoscopy. Sunday morning they woke me up bright and early to perform the procedure. "what were the findings?" You might ask? Well Sunday morning, I could not have told you, nor could my doctor, on account of the fact that I had been incorrectly "prepared" for the procedure and the camera could not see everything the dr needed to see.

So, the first time was something of a "dry run" (a little diarrhea humor there). I was to spend another night in the hospital. Having insufficiently "prepared" me the night before, the dr was not pleased with his staff, and took it out on yours truly by means of laxative-overkill.

The next morning, April 30th, one day before I was to embark upon the first leg of my trip to America, I was woken up bright and early to have the procedure perforned again. Just as unpleasant as the day before. But this time we had results!

And the results were *drum roll* Nothing Wrong! Nada! The Doctor's official opinion was that the initial test results were "false positive for Occult Blood Sample", meaning that I was entirely well and my entire hospital stay, all the "preparation", both those times they had to put me in adult diapers following the camera-insertation - well that was all really just one big misunderstanding.

By the way, time to go home and pack. Everything. Tonight.

So I had missed my last day of work over this (my last day of work before my vacation at least). I was sleep deprived, probably dehydrated, definitely stressed, and any of these or all of them might be why, by the time I reached home that evening, I had a terrible migraine.

But I had to leave 7am the next morning, and I had to be packed before then. I had been gone the last 2 nights, and hadn't begun my packing. Thus it was that I spent my night in the slowest and most excruciating packing efforts of my life. The night went something like this: I would go inside, pick 3 things up, put them hurriedly into a suitcase (the slightest effort and movement caused me head to pound 5X harder). Sometimes I would actually throw them into the suitcase, not caring how they ended up, then I would go outside to my porch for 5-10 minutes of leaning against the wall with my eyes closed, waiting for the pounding to decrease so that I could go back inside and pack some more.

I've had worse migraines, but never a worse-timed migraine. It effected my stomach, so I could neither eat nor drink. So I stayed dehydrated. It kept me from sitting / lying down for most of the night, so I stayed sleep deprived. Did I somehow become less stressed? I should say not. But gradually, sometime in the night, the migraine faded.

I woke up very disoriented at 6am, but at least my migraine was gone. And proudly, I write this to you from Manila. That's right, I made it here. I sure hope everything I need is packed, because there's no going back now. I'll be getting on another plane in less than 48 hours. What can I say about all this except "If it pleases you, sir, I'll have a Guinness"?

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