Thursday, February 19, 2004


I was *so sick* after writing that last blog. First there was the washing machine effect in the stomach, the lightheadedness, the sweats and chills and the frothy, superstinky diarrhea. As the night wore on there was more weakness and dizziness and fever and nausea and chills. I set up everything in bed with me, under my mosquito net (much like being in a porous pink tent) -- I had books, earplugs, glasses, water bottle, Advil, and, most important, a big ol bucket. After waking up with loose motions [see last entry] every hour on the hour I broke the pattern and awakened with severe nausea -- and reached for the orange bucket just in time. It was the violent, hellish, sweaty, emotional, why-can't-I-die-now-who-am-I-to-go-to-India type of vomiting but all that came out was a dissolved Advil, some acidic liquid, lots of air and, curiously, a singly curry leaf. After the heaving was over I felt better of course and grabbed the bucket, lifted one end of the tent and headed for the bathroom. I turned on the light and saw something move. It was a serving spoon-size cockroach and when it saw me it started coming towards me! I set down the bucket, grabbed my shoe – remember, I’m weak, dizzy, disoriented, covered in a cold sweat and in stocking feet -- and after several tries killed the thing, peeled it up from the floor and put it in the toilet. Then I heard the telltale crunch-crunch and saw another one coming towards me! They are brazen here! This one was just tablespoon-size and after a couple of tries I killed it, too (why do I hate cockroaches so much? They don’t bite). I peeled it off, dropped it in the toilet next to its mate and filled the big silver bucket with water – because the f-ckers float and won’t go down if you flush ‘em. I emptied both buckets and put poison chalk around the window, drains and bathroom/bedroom threshold. Then I went to wash the stuff off my hands – and what crawled out from under my soapdish but a third cockroach! It was a baby (ie just a couple of sizes larger than the ones we have at home) and I killed it, too. Bad lady. Then I filled the silver bucket again and made it disappear.

Later I woke up and threw up again, just as violently and with the all the negative thoughts, only worse. This time I hallucinated that my cat was there on the bed with me. The next day I was awfully weak and miserable and dizzy etc. plus I had a splitting heacache. I took some Advil, which stayed down, and had some chai and called Prashanth, who came over and took me on the scooter – not fun when yr in that condition -- to Apollo Hospital (voted one of the ten best in India, and where I went in ‘02, to treat my amoeba). In fact I still had my patient card and didn’t have to re-register. I saw a nice doctor (my old one was off duty) who looked at my tongue and pinched my skin and took my BP and heard my symptoms and kept asking if I would consent to being admitted to the hospital, because I might be dehydrated. “I’d prefer not to,” I kept replying, just like Bartlby. The repitition seemed to work and he prescribed some meds and said if I didn’t improve to come back in the morning and he’d admit me. Then he ordered some lab tests and said to return next day with the results – apparently this sort of thing is done manually, by the patient, even though the lab is just down the hall and everything is computerized. In any case they required a stool sample – something that was easy for me to do at the drop of a hat -- and a blood test.

I got the meds, took them and was tired/dizzy/etc but at least I wasn’t vomiting. I read an entire novel – Ladies Coupe, about five women on a train from Bangalore to Kanyakumari -- and slept all night and woke up late and felt a little better as the morning wore on. After chai and a plain dosa I drove Bindi and myself to the hospital – I finally figured out how to get there! And was well enough to drive myself! I learned that there was mucous and blood in my stool but my kidneys are fine – no dehydration after all – and that it was a simple (?) case of dysentery (not amoebic)....... and that if I hadn’t caught it in time I could have become seriously ill (ie kidney damage, etc). Later we went with Prashanth and Jammu & Kasmir to see a movie. Or do you say fil-um.

We have three days in a row off from yoga (Shiva Ratri, new moon, Saturday) so most students have gone out of town. Before getting sick I researched going to the wildlife preserve at Bandipur but it turned out that the bandit who reigns there is back, as his cohorts are about to be executed and they expect him to do more kidnapping (which is why I now call it "Banditpur"). I looked into the adjacent preserve, Nagarahole, and then it caught on fire; they've lost 5,000 acres so far. Then I investigated Kodagu / Coorg, the coffee region of Karnataka, where Sean and I went in ’02. Turns out coffee prices have plummeted and the growers have called for a bandh / strike (in which everything is closed, period). GLAD I stayed home, near the phone and the western toilet and the good hospital...

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