Friday, 17 July 2015

Part 2: Hospital in South Americas poorest country, Bolivia.

I woke up 30 minutes later suddenly feeling very very sick. As I jumped out of bed to run towards the toilet, my vision blurred and I collapsed to the ground, hitting my nose on the way. I lay in the corridor in agony shouting for Matt, but he's fast asleep and doesn't hear me. I manage to pull myself up and make it to the bowl, where I painfully vomit several times and begin crying my eyes out. I go back to the bedroom and wake Matt for help where he obliging jumps out of bed and holds my hair as I vomit. He hugs me after and tells me to stop crying, trying to regulate my breathing. We both assume it's altitude sickness.

I feel better and we both return to bed. If only.... I ended up getting up about 8 times in the night to vomit and cry more. I had nothing to throw up but my body insisted on forcing me out of bed to the bowl. At one point I grabbed my blanket, and just laid in the corner of the bathroom crying and shaking from the cold, wishing the ground would swallow me whole. 

In the morning, there is huge pressure building in the front of my head, it feels like I'm repeatedly being stamped on. We were supposed to begin our 2 night 3 day tour of the salt flats - but that looks impossible now. I beg Matt to go without me as we've come all this way, but he won't. We both head to the pharmacy to see if they can do anything for me, and they give me the usual altitude sickness pills. After 30 minutes I begin to feel better. I don't need to vomit and my head is pounding less. I decide I'm capable of doing a one day tour before going back to the lowlands that evening. We booked the midnight train (going anywhereeeeeeeeeee - lol jk, it's to Oruro) and a one day tour with World White Travel for 160 BOB (£16). 

My new hat to keep my ears warm!

The tour didn't start of great - 8 + driver of us were crammed into a Toyota Land Cruiser. A 4 year old boy was just sat on his dad's lap, nobody had seat belts on. The first stop though was great, and set high expectations for the rest of the day. It was an train cemetery where they had just been abandoned. The scenery was beautiful.

Next stop, a market. Suddenly, I began to feel ill again as my stomach churned. By the next stop, the salt flats, I dropped out of the car and began throwing up pink fizzy vomit - no idea how it got pink!! I still had nothing in my stomach to throw up anyway, so it was very painful. Not to mention embarrassing as everyone stared at me crying with vomit dripping out of my mouth - delightful! 

One of the girls who spoke Spanish and English tried explaining to the driver I needed to go back, I wasn't well. But he said he couldn't do anything about it as no other cars were going back to Uyuni and we were too far now. So, we ventured to our next stop. I had to yell at him to stop, and as he did I flung open the door but not in time... I threw up down the side interior of the car and collapsed to my knees on the cold and uninviting salt flat floor. I curled into a ball and grew disgusted as vomit saturated my clothes and hair.

The guide eventually agreed I could stay in the salt flat 'hotel' and told me in 20 minutes, someone from the agency would come and get me. A very glorified 'hotel', it was just where tour groups came to eat their lunch. It was freezing cold and I sat there shaking for 20 ,inured confused as to what was happening. I tried to buy some coca tea as advised by a girl in the car who said it helped altitude sickness... But the man wouldn't take my money or serve me. I tried a fanta instead... And he still wouldn't serve me. I had no idea what he was saying as to why.

Several groups came and went, some asking if I was ok - bundled in a corner shaking and pale as a sheet. Eventually, an hour passed and I began to panic - nobody was coming for me. I asked at the cafe, and they muttered in Spanish that I should go outside and wait, and if anyone came in, they'd send them to me... So, I followed as instructed (a Spanish-English guy translating for me), only to be battered by the winds. I just sat outside in the freezing cold, covered in vomit, chattering my teeth and crying. 

Another 3 hours passed, and my aimless wandering around trying to find my company, or someone who might take me back, failed. All the groups had now left and the hotel had largely shut up. There were 3 boys left who ran the place. One offered me a banana whilst I was crying because he didn't know what to do but wanted to help - bless him. He was about 17. He got out a translation book and tried asking me some things, some very broken conversation occurred. They told me it'd still be a while before someone came. 

One of them ended up getting me a blanket and some tea because I was shaking so badly. I actually worsened and was even colder, I thought I was going to die of hypothermia. They ended up moving me into a room with 2 beds in (the only room in the one-storey 'hotel'), and piled more blankets on top of me, but it didn't help, I couldn't feel a thing anywhere in my body and still violently shook. 

Eventually, my guide turned up to get me - he didn't say sorry, and didn't care at all. Everyone in the car just smiled as if they'd had the best day - meanwhile I'd been left in vomit covered clothes, freezing cold and wanting to die... Brilliant. I threw up twice on the way back.

Have some photos Matt took....

I felt so awful when we got to the hostel I decided I needed the hospital now. I hadn't eaten or drank in ages, and my body was clearly severely dehydrated. We walked to the hospital to find they spoke no English. An appointment was £25, in hindsight it was probably a private clinic but it was the only one we were directed to. She took some of my stats and we attempted to explain what was wrong - she informed me I had an intestinal infection and that it was food poisoning/ dodgy water or something like that. She told me that I wasn't allowed to travel that night and strongly recommended I had a drip put in. We weren't really sure what she was saying or how much it would cost, it was all very jumbled. Eventually I realised I was just too ill, I'd pay whatever, and hope my insurance would cover it.

They took me to a private bedroom upstairs, it had no heating in and was about -6, despite the layers, I was still shaking. It took her 4 attempts to find a vein, it was agony having her repeatedly stab me with a HUGE needle. Eventually she started pumping fluids into me, it was painful and ached, made me very drowsy. Matt was stroking my hair as she did it trying to relax me and stop me shaking from the cold. He tried feeding me this drink I was supposed to have, but I was so drugged up I couldn't do it. 

Yucky food they tried getting me to eat, but was too scared/ ill.

I woke up a few times in the night very ill, I didn't have the energy to get out of bed so just laid there in my vomit, still shaking. In the morning the doctors came back, with more and more medicine. I slept and continued to be ill all day. I felt a little better by night and just wanted to leave. I wasn't allowed to put my arm in the shower as it still had the drip on, and the water was freezing cold so I didn't want to go under anyway, but needed to wash the vomit off me... Matt ended up in the bathroom with me helping me to undress and having to try shampoo and condition my hair whilst I shivered from the cold.

We waited at the hostel 9pm - 1am and headed to the station for the 1:20am train. I ended up throwing up at the station as I tried to drink some water but failed. The train was to be delayed we were told.... We laid in the waiting room in our sleeping bag liners trying to spoon one another for warmth, we've both never been so cold in our lives - it was a weird experience to see Matthew shaking/ chattering his teeth too, white as a sheet. That was the second time in 24 hours I'd been left in the cold with no alternative. It eventually came at 5:30am. 

Feeling the cold.
At 1:30pm we arrived in Oruro, I felt ill on the train but managed to hold it in. When we got into Oruro station, and transferred to the bus terminal, I couldn't cope. I felt sick again, I had to lay spread out on the floor, and just cried and cried whilst Matt went and bought tickets. Before getting onto the bus I threw up again twice. I managed to sleep and just try forgetting about everything. 

My god I was so relieved when we finally got to our hostel. A four bed private room to ourselves and a bathroom. Just to lay in a bed that was going to be mine for the next few days with a bin next to me if I needed it was heavenly. All I needed now was my mother and father for a cuddle and to kiss me better. 

Worst 48 hours of my entire life. I wanted nothing but death at those low times in hospital. Overall, I didn't eat/ keep anything down for over 4 days. Made me really appreciate the ability to eat and drink what I want when I want! 

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