A Low Point

Just when I thought that things were settling down into a good kind of normal, the sh** hit the fan again. Saige woke up grumpy yesterday. By lunchtime, she was cranky and by early afternoon, she was screaming and touching her right ear. We rushed her to the local clinic, where an uninterested looking pediatrician waited until Esteban paid the COP20,000 (roughly US$10) to the cashier before she would even look at Saige, despite her screaming. Then she proceeded to do a full intake (even though we just did this a week before) with questions like: “How many pregnancies have you had?” I was livid! My baby was screaming from pain and this doctor was typing away in the computer like she had all the time in the world. I was PMSing pretty bad too so my patience level was at zero.

Then the doctor asked me to undress Saige for a full exam. It was freezing in that room. Saige was still screaming. Can she just look at her ear first please?

Then we had to weigh her. By this point, I could not hide my irritation. Esteban said that he had never seen me so openly hostile in all the years he has known me. I didn’t raise my voice but I guess my tone and looks said it all.

The diagnosis came in as outer ear infection. “Easily treatable but very painful.” You don’t say Doctora, we didn’t notice! The Doctora proceeded to prescribe four different medications to be administered at the same time and told us to go to the nurse’s station so that Saige could get some medicine and a nebulizer treatment. I really didn’t understand the need for the nebulizer treatment since Saige was breathing just fine and nursing without any problems, but the Doctora insisted that Saige’s sinuses must be swollen inside where we can’t see them. I wasn’t very keen on all this and wanted to know what the medicine was that she would be given. Esteban, however, was getting impatient with my lack of faith in the medical system and Saige was screaming, so I acquiesced against my better judgement. Well, the medicine was given and then a mask with foul-smelling gas was put on my baby. She screamed and flailed and I couldn’t imagine that all this crying was good for her sinuses. The nurse just sternly told me to hold her still and tightened the gas mask against Saige’s little face, as my baby gasped for breath in the face of this foul-smelling gas. By this point I could take no more! I took the mask off despite the nurse’s annoyed protests that “she will have to tell the doctor.” Like I care!

We got out of there as quickly as possible and called the homeopathic pediatrician who amended the prescription to fewer medicines and smaller dosages. We didn’t even tell her about the medicine given to Saige in the clinic but when we got home and Esteban googled it, he found out that it’s banned in the US due to the high number of fatalities from the medication. Great! Valuable lessons learned: never again will I go against my better judgement! And we need to have a computer with us to google prescriptions on the spot (time for an iPhone?). And we need to find a good local pediatrician. And we need to get top-notch international health insurance. Enough of the local clinic.

So you might think that all this is enough for one day but no… Jade woke up and vomited four times last night and then proceeded to vomit most of the day every time she ingested anything, including water. By bedtime, she could hold down some water and a few spoonfuls of chicken broth without vomiting but she started running a fever. We will have to see how she is doing tomorrow morning but I am assuming that we will be taking her to a doctor in Bogota. Meanwhile, Saige has diarrhea again. This could be from the ear infection or something she ate or the medicine (apparently if it doesn’t kill you, it can give you diarhhea) or amoebas (this has not yet been definitively resolved).

And while all this is going on, Halloween parties about here. Halloween is big in this country! Partying is big as well. The neighbors directly across us had a party last night. It started at about 7 pm and ended, guess when? I bet you will never guess…. at noon today! Yes, they blasted music all night and sang along!! I heard them every time that Jade got up to vomit and I heard them when Saige woke up way too early this morning. And our dear next door neighbor who had finally abandoned setting off her alarm, retaliated to this party noise by setting off her alarm again! Oh, the sounds of Colombia! Music and alarms pretty much sums it up.

I guess you can say that I am at a low point here right now. A lot of things are really getting on my nerves. Pretty much everything. I know that it’s a normal part of the expat experience but it doesn’t feel good right now. Hopefully things will feel better as we sort out all of the health issues. In the meantime, every time I complain about Colombia or Colombians, Esteban asks ” Do you want to go back to Boston?” No, I am not a quitter. And I am definitely not up for snow and cold this winter. However, we watched a movie set in Southern California last night and everything looked so good… clean and neat and perfect.

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