July 3, 2016
Another warning: This post has been censored for the weak-stomached, however, it does allude to less than desirable events involving a toilet and shots in the butt.
Two nights ago, after spending 10 hours up on my feet exploring Mexico City, I was laying in my bed at Hotel Canada thinking about how much I was looking forward to a great night’s sleep. However, Mexico City had one last adventure for me.
While my roommate and I were relaxing and absorbing everything from the day’s events, more than just my feet began to hurt. My stomach felt a bit off…. Now, this is a feeling that one does not want to have at any time, especially not while in Mexico, for that matter. I didn’t think too much of it at first. I figured my stomach was just digesting the Gordita that I had eaten for lunch. Let me make the note here that my roommate and I ate the same exact meal for lunch at a restaurant that was clean and well established with many customers inside (see below). We did not stop by some shady road-side stand for lunch. Nonetheless, the off feeling in my stomach grew into an “Ohh nooo…” feeling that escalated quickly.
No less than 10 seconds after sitting up and telling my roommate, “I think there is a 90% chance that I am going to puke tonight” I was hugging the toilet in our hotel bathroom. I really should have said there was a 100% chance, but I suppose I was trying to be optimistic. However, unfortunately even the best attitude about puking your guts out in Mexico doesn’t spare you from what is to come. I did feel better after the first time that I got sick, but once didn’t end up being enough.
I will spare you the explanation and myself the memories of the details, but the gist is that after multiple flees to the bathroom, things were not getting better any time soon. Let’s just say, I was projecting out of both ends and lying on the cold tiles of the bathroom floor in-between. I bet this sounds dramatic, but I could hardly sit up without feeling like I had been spinning around on a not so merry merry-go-round for much too long. But, I must say that my aim is much better than my suit-mates’ aim was all last year while living in the dorms at Oregon State.
My poor roommate, who herself got very sick our first weekend in Mexico, was understandably terrified of getting sick again and concerned for my own wellbeing. She contacted our program directors, who really are more so our study abroad mothers, and within minutes there were having me sip a very strongly flavored apple juice packed with electrolytes along with water, in between additional trips to the baño.
They decided that it would be best to call a doctor to the hotel to see me. How neat is it that Mexico still has traveling doctors that are on call 24/7?! I surely was grateful. I do not think I could have made it by foot, taxi, or even magic carpet to a nearby Urgent Care without exploding.
Within half an hour, the doctor had arrived. He took my temperature, measured my blood pressure multiple times as it fluctuated, excused me while I stumbled to the bathroom, handed me a cotton ball soaked with rubbing alcohol when I was feeling very faint, and in the end, gave me a shot in the butt of what I am not exactly sure and wrote me a prescription for three different medications.
After he left, I took no more trips to the bathroom, to everyone’s relief. My roommate traded beds with one of my study abroad mothers and I did my best to sleep through the night. Unfortunately, my fever increased and I became freezing cold. The hotel bedding consisted of a sheet and decorative blanket the same thickness as another sheet. At one point, Vero, one of my study abroad mommas, woke up and gave me all of her bedding to sleep with. I feel bad to have left her with nothing, but I know she would consider doing nothing different again for me or another student.
The next morning, I woke up feeling much better, although still weak and dehydrated. I ate some jello and fresh bread for breakfast as I continued to sip water and electrolytes so that I could take the medication that I had been prescribed. I also called my parents to fill them in that I was getting better after my first bout of food poisoning in Mexico so that they would not be completely caught off guard while reading this post. After proving to myself and everyone else that I had enough strength to get myself ready for the day, I was able to stay with the group and travel to Teotihuacan. I was hoping to have enough strength by the time we arrived to at least go and see a bit of the ruins from a distance. However, it turns out I was not as well as we all thought.
During the course of the 45 minute drive to Teotihuacan, I awoke from a not so pleasant nap feeling very, very sick. I tapped Vero’s shoulder and told her I didn’t feel well. I could not even translate the sentence that she spoke to me in reply as my head whirled. I only repeated again that I reallllly did not feel good.
The next thing I knew, I awoke quite suddenly. As I looked around, I saw Vero relieved to see I was awake. She was holding another alcohol soaked cotton ball under my nose and I could taste the bitter liquid drying on my lips. She said that I only woke up after she poured a handful of the cool rubbing alcohol on the back of my neck. I also saw that we were pulled over on the side of the highway with a police car parked in front of our mini private tour bus. I knew that the cop didn’t pull the bus over due to our driver’s driving. I was informed that I had passed out for at least five minutes and that there was an ambulance on the way to check my condition.
Fue mal suerte (it was bad luck) for sure! However, I am very thankful for all of the people around me to take care of me. When the paramedics arrived, I tried to answer their questions as best as I could comprehend and string together replies in broken Spanish; and when I could not, I simply looked to Vero and she filled them in. The medics did all the same things as the doctor, minus the shot in the butt. They changed my diagnosis from food poisoning to a stomach virus, but thankfully said that I was stable and able to continue with the group. As I said “Adios” and “Muchas gracias,” everyone loaded back into the van and I laid down along the seat and fell asleep.
I slept for about four hours while everyone else toured Teotihuacan. I am a little bummed that I was not able to see the ruins, but I know that I was in no condition to do so. Plus, now I have something new to come back and see another day!
I ate a little chicken and rice soup and half a tortilla for lunch and was able to sit in the restaurant with everyone else while they ate and enjoyed tequila shots. Some of them said it was the best food of the trip. I could tell I was sick because simply looking at their food made me more nauseous; something that the sight of food never does to me!
On the way back to Querétaro, I slept the entire way. And, after arriving back to my host parents’ house, I slept for 12 hours straight. I cannot remember the last time that I slept for that long without awaking at all, but it sure is nice!
I woke up this morning feeling much better. I missed class today, which is unfortunate as that is equivalent to missing about a week of the material when taught uncondensed in the states. However, I am still a little weaker than usual and don’t want to try walking all the way to the bus stop unless I feel 100% better.
So, having survived a stomach virus in Mexico, I think I can say that I am having quite the well-rounded study abroad experience. We won’t ever really know how I caught the bug. I do not think it was where I ate lunch, and I can assure you I did not drink the water or too much tequila. My only hopes now are that my immune system is now resistant to this virus in Mexico and that I, nor any of my class mates, get ill over our next three weeks in Mexico.