Honeymoon in the Hospital, Part 2

21 Oct

Previously, from Honeymoon in the Hospital, Part 1: I needed medical care, but the resources on Little Corn Island were very limited, just a single nurse who seemed ill-equipped for the emergency. We had already missed the last water taxi off the island. It was the only way back to the mainland of Nicaragua, so we were stuck on Little Corn until morning. But as the hours passed, my situation became more and more serious. I soon lost all feeling in my arms and legs, and I could feel my lower body start to go numb. Would I make it? Would I even be able to travel the next day?  My husband wasn’t sure. It looked like our honeymoon in Nicaragua might end in tragedy.

I have to admit, I recall very little from the next 18 hours on Little Corn. In my semi-conscious, fevered state, I caught only snippets of what was going on around me. I do remember some sort of healer — another guest, I think — wrapping me in damp sheets and massaging my appendages until the numbness subsided. And I also remember the outdoor shower.

Under normal circumstances, the bathing area at Derek’s Place is actually pretty nice. It’s open air, by which I mean there’s no roof. The whole thing is very breezy and organic feeling. But now, with a fever, it became the scene of my greatest suffering. Several times during the night, OtherC pulled me out of the bungalow and into the shower, where he doused me with buckets of cold, cold water. I wailed and begged him to stop. But committed husband that he is, OtherC kept the buckets coming.

By the time the sun came up over Nicaragua, it looked as if the worst had passed. I still shivered with chills, but I could hobble around the bungalow, and I had mostly recovered use of my mental faculties. Now we faced a long travel day — two boats and a plane ride — back to Managua, Nicaragua’s capital. From there, we would take yet another plane to San Diego, with a layover in Mexico City.

But as we sat in the Managua airport, waiting for our flight, I realized I just couldn’t make it. We still didn’t know what was wrong with me, but obviously this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill travel illness. I mean, I had lost feeling in half my body. So my chivalrous husband hoisted both our backpacks onto his shoulders and led me out to the curb, where he quickly flagged down a cab. I’ll spare you most of the details of our wild taxi ride, except to say that the cab driver may have taken my condition a bit too seriously. Between all the jostling and swerving and speeding, I puked two times before we reached the hospital!

But reach the hospital we did. The initial diagnosis, based solely on my symptoms, was appendicitis. This was terrible news; it meant we could not fly home. The nurses shuffled me off to the bathroom for yet another freezing cold shower, while the doctor ran tests on my blood and urine and studied the ultrasound of my internal organs. The doctor returned with a serious but much more treatable diagnosis: I had a kidney infection.

I spent three full days at San Juan Bautista Hospital in Managua. And I have to say, I got pretty good treatment. I had the hospital room to myself, and the doctor checked on us often, always staying a few extra minutes to practice his English. I tried my best to overlook the pink mystery shakes (blended meat?), the sandbag-like pillows, and the gecko that shared the room with me. The important thing was that I got better.

On the third morning, the doctor announced that I would be released that day, after one last dose of ciprofloxacin. We looked at each other with triumph in our eyes. Home! We could go home! But the IV drip took forever to empty. By the time we left the hospital, we only had 35 minutes to catch the flight from Managua to Mexico City. We jumped in the first taxi we saw, only to realize the vehicle sported a lawn chair in place of a driver seat! The taxi driver did an admirable job getting us to the airport, but we were too late. No big deal, we thought, we’ll catch the a later flight, right? Well, it was Monday, and the next flight wasn’t until Thursday.

I’m normally a very engaged traveler. That is, I like to stay in hotels run by locals, rather than large multinational corporations. Nevertheless, that afternoon we checked into the Hilton Princess Managua Hotel, arguably the fanciest in the city. I grinned with satisfaction as I watched Little Manhattan and ordered room service from my king size bed. A crazy honeymoon? Yes. But all in all, a damn good time.

Photo Credit: SeanCopeland

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