I Skipped a Week Somewhere / by Janet Eckles

Hello again!

My time here is halfway over! It’s crazy to think that I’ve lived here for over a month, and that I will be back home again in only a matter of weeks.

Here’s the rundown since my last update (yeah sorry I know I’ve been slacking…):

Today, I spent the majority of my afternoon/evening in a Kurdish hospital receiving 3 IV bags of fluids while sharing poop stories with a coworker.

Let me back up a bit.

So I’ve had some digestive issues for the past few weeks. I’d have terrible stomach pain, night sweats, and the runs (tmi? Get over it. I watch footage of open heart surgery on the reg.) every couple days. My symptoms have been so off and on that I just wrote them off as me adjusting to the different food here. I didn’t think they could mean something more serious (cholera is a thing here) because they weren’t consistent and I wasn’t throwing up. So, naturally, when I was strongly encouraged to see a doctor, I refused.

But when skipping meals here and there didn’t help reset my stomach, and only made me lightheaded and weak instead (I’m actually really stupid about these things), I finally gave in. Of course, the doctor needed a sample before he could really diagnose me with anything, and of course, I can’t just poop on command, so I’ve had to wait these past few days for my body to cooperate.

But it finally did last night, and yes, you know what that means, I got to poop in a jar. And I got to bring that jar, wrapped tightly in an inconspicuous pink grocery bag, to the hospital today. Our supervisor has a friend who’s studying to be a heart surgeon, and he met me at the hospital and ensured that I would be seen (he’s so selfless!). After a quick check up with a physician, I was informed that I had a fever and was dehydrated, and my symptoms were too chronic and severe to be associated with a general traveller’s illness. They wanted to admit me so they could run various tests and get an IV in me.

And that’s how I got to spend my afternoon getting 3 bags of fluid through an IV while I waited for the results from a blood test and from my sample. My lovely coworker kept me company as I waited in the hospital in the women’s section. She told me stories to distract me while I got my blood drawn, and took silly photos of me pretending to be dead (seriously you guys, I am so blessed to work with such awesome people!!). I shared with her my experiences with the stomach flu (like that one time I crapped my pants), and she had an amazing story of her own that left me gasping for breath on the hospital bed, tears streaming from my eyes from laughing so hard. We must’ve been quite the entertainment for the women there, because they all looked at us with amused, and puzzled, looks on their faces. One of the technicians kept chuckling to himself, but later pretended he didn’t know English.

When our doctor friend returned with my results, he said that my white blood cell count is high, which means there’s probably an infection somewhere. He prescribed me with an antibiotic and told me to come back Saturday morning.

But don’t worry! I’m in good hands here! Really, really.

In other news:

Ramadan is upon us! For an entire month, Muslims across the world fast from sunrise to sunset to purify their hearts, minds, and bodies. Most of the restaurants around here are closed during the day, and not a lot of people are out after dark because most of them are at home eating with their families. Other than that, you can’t really notice a change here. Everyone is still kind and hospitable, even when they have to deal with a weird American girl’s poop. I honestly don’t know how those who practice Ramadan here can survive without eating or drinking water during daylight hours for an entire month. And in this heat, too! Their dedication and commitment to their faith is admirable and inspiring. If I were in their situation I don’t think I could manage to not eat everything in sight, and I would probably freak out on everyone from being hangry. Just more things I can learn from the incredible people here!

I’ve also been working on some exciting projects that have kept me busy. I had the opportunity to edit a video that tells the story of a Syrian father and his journey to find life-saving heart surgery for his daughter. His story is crazy, and just another example of the sacrificial love that is so evident among families here. You can view the video here.

Another funny thing: I was walking home along the main road one evening, when a little girl ran up next to me. She began lightly tugging my sleeve, speaking rapidly in Kurdish. When I didn’t respond, she said, “Money. Money.” over and over. When I didn’t respond again, she said louder, “Money! Mister! Mister! Money!”

Mister?

Ok, so apparently that’s a thing here, too. #shorthairprobs

(No, I’m just kidding. Apparently it’s common for people with limited English to call women “mister” here, so I was ok with it.)

I also took some more photos, gave a taxi driver correct directions in Kurdish (go me!), and continued to trip on maxi skirts. Ok, but that’s actually becoming a problem…

Thanks for reading this long, and disgusting, (you’re welcome) post!

But before I sign off for the night, I want you all to remember one thing: 

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-June 25, 2015