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One expensive bracelet

Friday, April 20 – One expensive bracelet

11:50 pm-at home stay in bed, CABA, Buenos Aires, Argnentina

Where do I begin?  It’s probably been over a month now since I last wrote for my blog, which means that I’ve been really busy and pretty lazy about writing.  But there’s no better time than now to do a little re-cap of what’s been going on because I’m on house arrest for the weekend so I don’t have much else to do.  You’ll understand better in a minute what I mean by house arrest ( that might be putting it kind of harshly), but I was recommended not to leave the house for the weekend and it has nothing to do with being in trouble. :)

From here, I’d normally want to fill y’all in on my adventures in Mendoza, El Tigre, going to the theatre, asados, rugby games, kayaking, rafting, horseback riding, wine tours, classes, my internship, and all the other stuff that I’ve done since I last wrote.  But I’m not going to talk about the fun things, because, right now, that’s not the most pertinent thing going on here for me.  I’ll attach some pictures of all of these things and hopefully be up to putting in more detail later.  But right now, I’d rather talk about what has been probably one of the best/worst experiences for me in my living/cultural experience in Buenos Aires.

IFSA sponsored outing: sci-fi play

BsAs sunset

This morning around 9am, a happy bearded man (not Santa! hehe) came into my room, speaking English!, saying that he had heard about how pretty I was but didn’t realize I’d be such a natural beauty.  hahah what a flattering way to wake up, no? He came complete with an entourage of four or five others, and after asking me where I’m from (Arkansas), told me that he actually knows Bill Clinton and sees him when he comes to BsAs.  Aside from the flattery and kindness and popularity, this wonderful man gave me the best news I had heard in a while: that I could leave the hospital in a couple of hours.

Backing up a week, last Friday I was sitting in a park a few blocks from my house reading my book and waiting to go to my doctor’s appointment.  I scheduled it to follow up on a skin allergy I had and also to get some kind of decongestant because my head was full of pressure and I’d been coughing for the past week and a half-ish.  But as I was just sitting in the park, I started to feel this discomfort in my mid/upper left side of my back and I just couldn’t sit comfortably with it.  I assumed it was just a muscle cramp or something, but since it seemed to be getting worse as I walked to the doctor’s office, I let him know about it anyway.  He listened to my breathing and checked up on everything and then said I was good to go.  Since it was still a nice afternoon, I decided to walk home instead of figuring out which bus to take.

By the time I got to my apartment, though, the discomfort had changed to pain as I continued to cough on my way home and throughout the night.  My host mom recommended that I stay home to rest that night, and I agreed because I was only feeling worse (even though it was a Friday night!!).  She served me dinner in bed because, though I was still in good spirits, it hurt to get up out of bed and walk around with the pain.  I took some ibuprofen and had a stash of cough drops, and I remember, for maybe 15 minutes or half an hour, I felt like I was getting better and was really excited and even thinking about calling my friends to see what was going on.  But, after that freak incident of feeling well, the pain came back with vengeance and had spread to the middle of my back and a bit in my lower chest, and it began to be more in sync with my breathing and coughing.  It was difficult sleeping that night because it had become hard to breathe without pain, so I slept until around noon the next day.  I got short of breath walking to the kitchen to make a bowl of cereal that I picked at for a while, not having much of an appetite while my mind was focused on the pain.

I went back to bed for the day, hoping to sleep off the pain to later be woken by my host mom who came in my room almost hysterical because I apparently was really freaking her out.  I couldn’t lay flat anymore because it hurt too much, so I had shoved my blanket behind me and struggled to find a position without pain.  My host mom insisted that we go to the hospital because I was only getting worse, but I was afraid to go and didn’t want to because I had run out of cash after paying for the doctor the day before, and obviously hadn’t been able to go to a bank since then.  But she said she couldn’t just let me stay there in pain, so around 5:30pm we got a taxi to the ER of the Hospital Aleman (German Hospital), a private hospital on the list of recommended places by IFSA.  My host mom was such a doll because she, without question, put the initial expenses on her credit card.  I have insurance through the program, so it all would be refunded, but she definitely did not have to do that for me.  We waited for the doctor, and when we finally were able to go in after maybe 45 min, I let my host mom do most of the talking.  The first round, I got X-rayed and struggled to take a deep breath as they requested.  They told us we had about an hour before the X-rays would be ready, so we went to a cafe across the street.  I ate for the first time since my cereal that morning (by then it was around 9pm), and my host mom’s friend who lives only a couple of blocks away came to keep us company and brought me a sweater.  I’m really lucky to have had my host mom be such a big support during all of this because it definitely would have been a struggle without her.

So after wasting enough time at the cafe, we went back to see what the doctor had to say about my insides.  Seeing basically nothing exciting, he sent me in for a CT scan and blood work.  Because my insurance is for travelers, we had to pay for everything beforehand and just keep receipts to file for the refund later.  So when we were going up to pre-pay the CT scan bill, I told my host mom she couldn’t pay for it because it was around $500USD, and I didn’t want her to have to pay so much.  We went back to talk to the doctor about it because by this time I was kind of freaked out about all of the expenses and how much the insurance would cover, but he said it was absolutely necessary, so my host mom said she couldn’t not do it for me.  So I went to get the CT scan, which was absolute hell having to lay down flat because that was when it hurt the most.  Then we went back to wait to discuss the new results with the doctor, me pathetically hunched over and crying off and on from the pain and the stress, and my host mom running around asking everyone who worked there different things to make sure everything was running smoothly for me.

Because they originally thought I had pneumonia (because that’s what all the symptoms pointed to), the doctors were really confused when again nothing different/exciting showed up on the CT scan results, which they said normally never fail to show the signs of pneumonia.  So this time around, the doctor requested a different kind of CT scan that would show the contrast of my insides by injecting some weird stuff in my IV.  But when we went up to pre-pay for this one, I was super freaked out by now because I knew it was going to be around the same price as the first one, if not more.  When they told us the final bill for this round, it was just under $1,000USD.  I told my host mom no way, and this time she actually agreed because she was afraid her credit card would max out and it wouldn’t work to pay for it anyway.  My pain was just getting worse as the time was going on because I was having to walk back and forth for the tests, and I was only getting more stressed about my host mom spending so much money on me.  So when she suggested we call the IFSA directors to help us figure out what to do, it was a big relief.  For some reason, I hadn’t even thought of that before because I didn’t think that it was really that serious.

But I whipped out my emergency numbers card that they gave us during orientation, and we called Mario, the head of everything IFSA in BsAs.  My host mom talked to him first to explain what was going on, and then she passed the phone to me.  I was reluctant to take it because I could barely hold back the tears from pain/stress/being scared out of my mind because they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.  But Mario surprised me by talking in English to calm me down and to tell me that the insurance would cover all of it.  This came as a great wave of relief, because I was afraid that they would only cover $500, which we had passed a while back.  So, I guess word was spread to Daniel, one of the program directors, because he showed up within the hour with a giant stack of cash from the IFSA office to pay for the next CT scan.  It was definitely a relief to not have to think about the money anymore.  When I was in the CT scan the second time around, with an IV in my arm and in pain because I was laying flat again, they injected something that hurt A LOT to make the picture come out in contrasted colors (or something like that).  But with pain on top of pain, I started shaking and crying in the tube.  When I finally was let out, I think I might have scared Daniel and my host mom because it probably looked like I had been in a torture chamber (which is what it felt like, at least).  This time they finally took me back to an observation bed to wait for the results so I didn’t have to go back in the waiting room.  The final test they took, and the easiest, was just a pee test, which turned out to show more than anything else had before.  They decided I had a urinary tract infection, which to me really didn’t make sense because it didn’t burn when I peed (sorry if that’s TMI), and I couldn’t see any way that that was related to the pain in my back.  The only thing I fought for was to get stronger painkillers than just the ibuprofen they were about to send me home with, but other than that, I was more than ready to get out of the hospital.  So Saturday night around 2:30am, we finally taxied home after picking up my antibiotics and painkillers at a 24 hour drugstore nearby (all of which Daniel/IFSA paid for).

Over the next few days, my host mom was the best nurse ever, constantly checking if I needed any food and just coming in to talk and see if there was anything she could do to make me more comfortable.  But, I know she could tell I wasn’t getting any better because I barely had any appetite, I only felt decent enough to talk if I had taken a pain pill within the hour, and I would get out of breath getting up just to go to the bathroom.  The pain was unbearable, but with the pain pills, at least it was slightly dulled enough so I could breathe a little better and maybe sleep for a bit before it came back to wake me.  I stayed in bed like this at home all weekend and into Tuesday early afternoon, when Mario and Daniel from IFSA came to check up on me and see if I was getting any better.  I guess they could tell that little had changed for the better because they insisted that I go to see a doctor right then.  Getting up and moving around was the last thing I wanted to do, but I couldn’t resist either because all I wanted was the pain to go away.

So Daniel cabbed back to the hospital to pick up the results from my all of the tests from Saturday, and Mario and I took a taxi back to the doctor I went to see originally on Friday.  I had to walk at such a slow pace because I got out of breathe so easily, that I joked with Mario that I felt like a granny, trying to keep the mood light even though I was slightly terrified.  After having spent 9 hours, NINE hours, in the hospital, only for them to send me home to feel worse, by this time Tuesday, I was scared they wouldn’t figure out what was actually wrong.  But when Daniel arrived with the paperwork, we all went in and as soon as Dr. Sarquis saw that we were there, he waved us back.  He went through the routine checkup tests, checking my blood pressure, heart rate, etc., but when he got out his stethoscope and asked me to take a deep breath to listen to my lungs, I teared up with the pain of trying to perform such a simple task.  He immediately sent me to get an X-ray, and one of the nurses brought me a fleece jacket as she directed us down the hall.  The X-rays were also gruesome, as they wanted me to stand up straight and push my shoulders back to take a deep breath, which seemed like one of the hardest tasks in the world at the time.  Mario and Daniel waited patiently and, with the nurse, they all walked me back down to Dr. Sarquis’s office.

There, Sarquis told me that he was sure that I had pneumonia, but he only was able to detect it because they had taken an X-ray from the side.  He said that it didn’t show up like normal on the front X-rays, which made more sense as to why they didn’t see it Saturday night at the hospital. Just to be safe, Dr. Sarquis still wanted a CT scan to confirm it.  The attentiveness and personal service that I received at his office was incomparable to anything I had gotten before.  He made the same tests that I had done at the hospital on Saturday in 9 hours happen in maybe 90 minutes.

Even so, no amount of attentiveness could have prevented what happened while I was in the CT scan, but it was their great service that helped me recover from it.  As I said before, laying down flat was an absolute nightmare; so having to do the CT scan flat on my back was no exception.  The pain was unbearable, but I wanted to be sure that they got everything right so I could finally start to feel better.  But after laying down for maybe a minute, I started shaking and tearing up from the pain.  I was laying flat with my arms stretched above my head and the tube around my chest when I began coughing, which I couldn’t control, though I wished I could because it only made the pain worse.  As I began coughing, I was unable to breathe through my mouth and my nose was stuffed from crying, so I couldn’t breathe at all.  I was holding my chest trying to stop coughing to catch a breath, and the doctors came out to see if I was ok.  I could barely muster up the words in Spanish to say I couldn’t breathe and that I had to sit up.  They quickly pushed the button to get me out of the tube, and as I sat up I continued coughing and bawling and shaking, trying to get some air.  They brought in tissues, water, and an oxygen mask to help me regain some sort of composure.  I remember a male nurse walking by the room with the door partially opened, and when we made eye contact, I could tell from the look on his face that I probably looked as terrified as I felt, as I was wheezing and shaking with tears running down my flushed face.  After that incident, they didn’t try to take another scan, but rather told me to sit and rest for a few minutes with the oxygen mask still on.  When I came out to walk back to Dr. Sarquis’s office, Mario said I looked like a different person after having the oxygen.

When Dr. Sarquis came back into the room, they had a bag full of medicines and hand sanitizer and tissues for me.  He told me that he thought the best idea from there was to admit me to the hospital so I could get better faster, seeing as I got out of breath just getting up to go to the bathroom at home.  Having an IV with the antibiotics, he said, would speed up my healing process a lot.  Being that it was Tuesday and I had already missed my class from the previous Thursday, I was concerned about how much class I would be missing.  But I also knew that I wanted to get rid of the god-awful pain sooner rather than later.  So we loaded back up with all of the new X-rays and CT scans and information in a taxi back to the hospital.  With Mario’s help, I slowly walked down to the ER, trying to keep my breath.  It didn’t take too long for us to see a doctor, but when we did, she seemed almost offended that we were coming in to refute the diagnosis they had previously made.  She coarsely asked where the report was when Daniel showed her the new X-rays, and getting upset that the hospital’s pride was getting in the way of my treatment, I struggled to tell her that, because I’m obviously in need of urgent care, they probably didn’t have time to write up a report in the past half an hour.  After she looked over all of the results and consulted with other doctors, she came back in a much nicer mood to show me to the observation bed of the ER where I would be staying until a private room opened up.  Little did I know how long I would be staying in that hot, uncomfortable bed.

Though I absolutely hate needles, after they got the IV in me, I was beyond grateful for it.  They gave me a drip-bag of some sort of painkiller, and, for a few hours, I felt like I had been healed and was ready to go.  Mario and Daniel kept me company in between organizing everything with the insurance and the hospital to get me into a private room.  The dinner they brought me was a lovely piece of baked chicken and white and orange mush, which they told me was potato and pumpkin purée.  Even though all I had eaten all day was an apple, my appetite was not rushing back at the sight of this food.  I picked at the chicken and decided the mush served better for artwork, so I shaped it into a lion instead.  Mario told me I was horrible, but it was obvious that we both were happy to have the mood lightened and pain-free for a bit.  After entertaining me for a while, Mario and Daniel had to get going since it was getting late, which was probably for the better.  Not long after they left, the painkiller began to wear off and my fever and the pain in my lungs came back full throttle.  I remember the worst thing about the fevers I had at my sickest was how hot my face would get while my hands and feet were frozen.  I could feel the heat radiating from my head, even in my eyes.  And as soon as the fever broke, I was in cold sweats.  Obviously it wasn’t too comfortable sleeping in the same clothes and sheets after going through that a couple of times before they started my antibiotic drip.  I struggled to sleep after the pediatric ward down the hall quit crying and in between people moaning or puking on either side of me.  Needless to say, I didn’t get a lot of sleep the first night in my glamorous emergency room bed, with its plastic-covered mattress and pillow that looked/felt like it was made out of a chunk of wall insulation.

The next morning, my hopes were high to be moved into my own room, where I could take a shower and not have to walk down the hall carrying my IV bags just to go to the bathroom.  Mario and Daniel had put in so much effort to get everything cleared away between the insurance and the hospital to be sure it would be paid for, and now all was good to go.  Aside from the minor(aka HUGE) fact that there weren’t any beds available.  The hospital was overpacked.  And my spirits were shot down a little more when we found out that someone else had come in after me and was going to be getting the next available bed in front of me.  The director of the hospital even came to personally apologize and explain to me later that day that, because it is a private hospital and they receive donations, certain people have to have priority when they come in.  I understood his intentions in speaking with me ( he also said that they are doing all that they can do, but not all that they would like to do), but it was slightly upsetting that I was being pushed down the ladder just because I wasn’t from the right family.

Aside from the horrible food which happened to be the same thing again for lunch and dinner, during my second day in the ER bed, something happened that I think I will never forget.  At the time it was pretty traumatizing, but looking back now, I think all I can do is laugh (in horror).  Some time during the day on Wednesday, the bed to my right had been cleared out for about the third or fourth time since I had been there, and it had kind of become my entertainment to see who would be next.  But this time, they took the whole bed out to get the next patient, which I hadn’t seen happen before.  When they wheeled it back in, it was occupied by a very old lady who didn’t move at all and was laying there with her mouth slightly open and eyes closed as they were wheeling her down.  Maybe I was a little over attentive, but I was getting really bored and uncomfortable sitting in bed attached to an IV all day, so I had to find something to distract myself.  I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t hear much through the hanging sheet dividing us for a while until her daughter came in.  I didn’t see her daughter at first because I had given up on that for entertainment, until I was just around falling asleep for a nap and I heard the daughter’s voice trying to talk to the old lady.  She sounded really nice, but either way I was kind of annoyed that she was being so loud when all I wanted was sleep.  On top of that, I never heard a verbal response from the mom the whole time.  What I did hear was more guttural and scary sounding.  At one point, I think the doctors came in to give the old lady a nebulizer, again when I was trying to sleep, but after this started, sleep was the last thing I wanted to do because I was sure I would have nightmares.  Everyone was talking a lot and the nebulizer sounded really creepy, but the worst noises came from the old lady who still hadn’t responded in words to any of the people talking to her.  This might sound bad, but the best way I can describe the noises is in comparison to The Exorcist.  It was really scary to hear and not really know what was going on.  This obviously only made me want to get out of that hell even more.  Also, I soon realized that, though she had sounded nice through the curtain, the daughter was not so friendly.  While the doctors would come in to do stuff to her mom, she would stand back to where I could see her, and at one point I offered a sad smile when we made eye contact, but she quickly look away angrily.  Also, when my phone slid off my bed onto the floor of her side of the curtain, I assumed nobody was there to help because I didn’t hear anything.  I had to wait several minutes for a doctor to come by to help me because I couldn’t reach it with my IV in my arm.  But after the doctor helped me, he went over to talk to the daughter, and I realized she had been there the whole time, meaning she had to have seen it fall.  I wasn’t really upset, as much as frustrated, because I couldn’t do a lot for myself, and she was in no way willing to help.

But the phone incident gives a good example of how that second day and night went in the ER bed.  To get up to go to the bathroom, after a certain hour of the day, it would be useless to wait for a nurse to pass by to help me get my IV bag down, because they never passed by.  So I would wiggle up onto my knees in bed to reach the hanging bags to get them down, and then carefully wiggle my way back around so I could get out of the bed to walk down the hall to the bathroom.  I remember at one point feeling absolutely miserable, and I’m sure it showed on my face, while I was sitting in bed during the day.  I needed to move the incline of the bed back down, but, of course, the control didn’t work unless you pushed on the plug a certain way, which I obviously couldn’t reach.  While I was struggling to figure out what to do, I remember two different nurses walking by and glancing at me, but not taking the time to stop when I attempted to ask them for help.  Eventually, someone finally stopped to help, but I think the ER nurses/staff just weren’t used to attending to someone who is there for a longer period of time like in the private rooms.  That evening before my second night in the ER bed, after getting my IV down myself to go to the bathroom, on my walk back from the bathroom, I asked my doctor, on the verge of tears, if they could possibly change my sheets since I would be having to stay there a second night.  She obviously said of course, and that was the fastest I’d seen any of those nurses get anything done.  So, I struggled through another night in the ER, trying to catch a couple hours of sleep after the babies quit crying and before the people around me started hurling up their guts again.

Around 6am Thursday morning, a nurse came to check on my IV and change the drip bag.  When he realized that I was flinching when he moved it, and I told him that my puffy, red arm that I could barely move indeed did hurt, he checked the needle and the area around it and told me it was infiltrated(?). (I thought I heard him say infected, because that’s what it seemed like to me, but when I said that to a doctor later, he quickly corrected me and said it had to have been infiltrated.  Mind you, all of this was in Spanish…)  So he left for a minute and then came back with a syringe full of something, and I was horrified that I was going to be stabbed again.  I asked him with huge scared eyes what he was going to do with that, and, thank god, he said was only going to inject it into a line that was attached to the IV.  But, just as I was feeling relieved to not be getting any more new holes in my arms, that relief was quickly taken away by the burning of whatever it was that he injected.  I winced as tears rolled down my cheeks, and he said he was sorry but that it should help with the swelling and pain.  The red swelling that had been growing above the IV did cool off a little and seemed to quit growing, but it still hurt like hell to move my arm.  I had even taken off my ring that I normally wear on my right hand because my fingers had gotten so puffy with all the liquids they were pumping in me.  I ended up having to ice my arm for the rest of the day after another nurse decided it best to just take it out.  It took around a week for the soreness and redness to go away and now I can finally straighten my arm out again without pain.  Just another adventure in La Guardia (ER) of Hospital Aleman.

However, Thursday morning was made much better with the news I thought I’d never hear: there was a private room available!! FINALLY! Even so, it was still kind of bittersweet because I thought as soon as I got up there and took a shower, they’d tell me I was good to go home.  However, when a cute male nurse came down the ER hallway to take me in a wheelchair to my new paradise, I was still grateful to get out of there.  He asked me a few questions about where I was from, why I was in the hospital, etc., but when I told him I had been in the ER for the past three days, he looked at me in awe.  So, I’m sure when he saw how excited I was to be in my own room, he didn’t think I was that crazy.  I told him it was like paradise compared to downstairs.  Another cute male nurse came in to check on my IV before I could finally take a shower (the first time in about three days), and he decided just to take it out because I was attached to empty bags anyway.  He came back later after I had showered to put in another IV in my other arm, but after having it in all day and nobody coming to attach a bag to me, I finally asked a nurse and they said I didn’t actually need it anymore–another unnecessary hole :( but at least this one didn’t hurt nearly as bad as the other.  Backing up in the timeline a little bit to the best shower of my life, after flooding the bathroom and a little bit into the room the first time I left the water on, I figured out how to work the shower without making a river, and it was absolute heaven.  All of the soap/shampoo/conditioner provided by the hospital smelled like different kinds of fruit/candy.  And once I was squeaky clean and in the lovely hospital gown, I was welcomed by Mario and Raquel.  Raquel brought nail polish so I painted my nails and she painted my toes for me because it was still difficult for me to bend that far over.  I’m pretty anti-feet, so I really appreciated that from her :)  After a nutritionist came in to ask me what I like, the comparison to the ER was only made that much more drastic when they brought in my lunch.  It was practically a four course meal: delicious vegetable soup, some kind of salad with ham/tomatoes/green beans, the main dish of some kind of meat with amazing sauce and rice, and for dessert a puff pastry with chocolate sauce.  This time I didn’t eat all of it because I couldn’t fit anymore in my tummy, not because it looked/tasted worse than baby food.

I spent Thursday sitting on the couch visiting with Daniel, Mario, Raquel, and my host mom, as they all came and went.  Some nurses came in to check my vitals a couple of times, but it was strange because for once I was pretty much being left alone.  When Mario first came in and saw that I hadn’t touched the bed, he joked that there was no point in getting a new room if I wasn’t even going to use it.  But I stayed away from the bed for as long as possible because I had already spent plenty of time sitting in one and it was the last place I wanted to be.  I’m not sure why, but sitting on the couch felt like a freedom/luxury that I had been deprived of for so long.  Simply the fact that I had options of where to sit and could walk around a little bit made it again that much better than the ER.  While Daniel, Mario, and I were watching some news program, Daniel and I looked over to see that Mario had dozed off.  Daniel joked that they were going to charge us double if someone else was sleeping in the room too.  Later in the day, a specialist came in to do some kind of fancy massage on my lungs that made me cough up some stuff (gross, I know), which actually felt better than having it stuck in my lungs.  But overall, the day was peaceful to finally be able to enjoy a little bit of quiet, watch some TV, and even be able to open the window to the beautiful jungle-like hospital garden with giant trees all around.  I could hardly tell I was still in the same building.

Thursday night, I slept much better, though it was still hard to get to sleep.  This time though, it was because it was hard to get comfortable and I was only kept awake by my own coughing.  I finally didn’t have to listen to the exorcist or babies or puking.  I even fell asleep to a movie on TV in English, which seemed like such a luxury.  Even so, I still didn’t get much sleep because the last nurse left my room around one in the morning, and the first one Friday came in around 7:30 to change my sheets.  Even if I could have slept well, it still wouldn’t have been for long.  But it just amazed me that after being in the room less than 24 hours, they came in to change my sheets without me even having to ask…a different world from the ER.  After I took a shower and crawled back into bed to try to sneak in a nap, another nurse came in with my breakfast.  I poured some juice and then started to fall asleep, until I was again awoken by another nurse with my antibiotics.  She insisted that I eat, so I took a bite and then shut my eyes again.  This game kept going on until we’re brought back to the beginning of this story with the happy man waltzing in speaking in English.

Soon after he came and gave me my prescriptions for two different antibiotics and a handful of other things, my host mom arrived to take me home.  I thought I would be so excited to finally get out of the hospital, but in the cab on the way home, everything just seemed so overwhelming and with every bump I was reminded of the pain in my chest.  Though I was a thousand times better than when I was admitted to the hospital, I soon realized that I was nowhere near well.  I was out of breath after walking the half-block to our apartment building.  I got to googling and talking to friends and found out that it can take several weeks to be completely healed after pneumonia.  I was going to easily tire for a while because my lungs still need time to get back to normal.

So, when I called my dad sobbing about an hour after I got home, begging to come back to the U.S., he made me realize something I hadn’t thought about before.  Obviously I knew I was emotional because the whole experience had been really stressful and scary, but he told me I just needed to rest because I was clearly sleep deprived.  Even though I knew it, I didn’t think about how little sleep I had gotten over the past four days.  I talked about it later too with one of my friends: I guess hospitals aren’t like you see in the movies, with people sleeping all the time.  My dad was beyond correct when he said hospitals are the last place to get good rest, but because I had been in bed the whole time, I hadn’t thought about it like that.

Today, Sunday the 29th, over a week out of the hospital, I am finally starting to regain hope for what I can do after I get better.  I have spent the last week mostly in my room, watching a lot of Mad Men on Netflix and not feeling so well, physically and mentally.

Monday, I went back to the hospital for my checkup.  Raquel came to get me in a taxi, and after a few hours at the hospital to hear that everything is progressing well, but that it’s still going to take a few weeks, I went to the IFSA office to talk to Mario.  I was basically dead-set on packing up and going home, and Mario could see that.  He was sad that I was so sad, and he told me it would ultimately be my decision, but he thought it would be better to wait it out a little bit.  He let me call from the office to my study-abroad advisor at Tulane, who I ended up talking with for quite a while.  Though my advisor, Josh, was telling me exactly what I didn’t want to hear, he really helped me at least take a step back before I jumped on the next plane home.  He reiterated that nobody here wanted me to leave, and that if I do stick it out, it’ll only make me that much stronger in the end.  I guess my pride got in the way a little bit after hearing that, because I didn’t want to feel like I failed at studying abroad.  hahaha

Even though everyone I talked to, my parents and advisors included, said that it is ultimately my decision and that  they understand why I would want to go home, I think it came down to my own disappointment in myself that I think I would have if I didn’t put in more effort to at least attempt to stick it out.  If I went home after two months with nothing to show of it but a bottle of wine from Mendoza and a mate gourd, and ended up wasting a whole semester, I think I would end up being disappointed in myself.  So, even though in the IFSA-sponsored cab ride home Monday from the office I almost fell asleep, and I didn’t feel up to going to my classes this week, I am going to do my best to take my time, but stick it out.

After all, I might be able to visit in the future, but my time now is already paid for, so there’s really no reason not to stay.  It is getting colder, which sucks because I hate the cold, but my tomorrow I’m Skyping with my stepmom to go through my closet and get a couple more things that they are going to send down to me.  I still want nothing more right now than to be home in the Spring weather, but I can finally see fun after sickness.  hahaha kinda corny, I know.  But maybe having a little bit more of my clothes here and a bottle of hot sauce will suffice for now until I can start enjoying myself again.  Last night (Saturday), I went out to eat with a couple of my friends, and probably ended up walking a total of six-ish blocks, and I didn’t feel like I was completely going to die when I got home!  I was definitely tired, but I saw an improvement from this past Monday.  I know it’s not going to be the easiest journey, but at least now I am ready to take it on.  Also, it doesn’t hurt that Mario calls me most days to check up on me, and he even invited me to come back to his Colonia plantation for a weekend (remember from one of my first posts?), which I am definitely going to take him up on.

I guess that’s all for now.  I wonder if anyone will actually read this whole thing… But for those of you who do, thanks I guess, and I hope I don’t scare anybody too bad.  I’m just here to share my experiences. :)


2 Responses to “One expensive bracelet”

  1. Daddy Says:

    Thanks for posting the detailed update. I love you!


  2. Catherine Hintz Says:

    Elizabeth, From the moment you described your symptoms before you went to the doctor with your house Mother, I knew you had pneumonia. Your symptoms were classic. I’m a Registered Nurse from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1979 to living now in Ohio for the past 12 years. I worked in medicine, cardiology, Urgent Care and Family Practice. I hope you do well with your classes. Talk with your prof and see if anything can be adapted or ammended during you program. Take all you antibiotics at the right time ordered, rest (as often as you can) drink lotsa fluids. Hang in there! Make sure that the other students are informed of the medical services. I wish Mario and Jaqueline were involved from day 1. Take extra good care of yourself and feel better soon. Charles’ Mom – Catherine E. Hintz, R.N.

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