Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Sprouts Holiday Wrap Up and "El Gripe" Came To Visit

If you have been following me on Twitter, then you know that I have been dog sick the past week. With that and the Holidays being busy I haven't taken the time to sit down and write.

The holidays went by with places to go and family to visit. Christmas was a grand fiesta like the 4th of July in the states. Fireworks going off all night long. Literally all night long. Everywhere. On every street. We decided to stay in San Pedro Sula and celebrated with a cousin of Papa's and that cousin's wife's family. Most of Papa's family goes to another town where the matriarch of the family lives and where the family comes from. There they all crash in this simple little adobe house with a few extensions built on for bedrooms. They party until the wee hours and then knock out on the floor or couch or chair or probably in cars or anyplace they can find to lay their heads. And this is how they have been doing it for years and it's tradition and no one seems to question it. Don't get me wrong, I love it there. It's a beautiful quiet town and the home is simple and welcoming. But sleeping on the floor doesn't sound the most comfortable and since we have kids (and many other reason too), we skipped this year but went to visit Christmas Day. When we got there around noon there were lots of people still milling around in the clothes they were wearing from the night before, cleaning up after a shower and eating tamales and chicken sandwiches. There were kids running around, playing and having fun. It seemed to be a nice relaxing day for everyone.

With the cooler weather and with Honduras being generally pretty humid and lots of rain in the "winter" there seems to be quiet a bit more mold in the air. I never knew I might be allergic to mold. I know I'm allergic to dust, some trees and grasses that grow back in MN, but didn't know I might be allergic to mold. By my best guess, this is what has been bothering me since about November when the rainy season got underway and it's been slowing getting worse and worse. By New Years my allergies were bothering me quiet bad and on New Year's Eve I needed to take something which made me pretty foggy. I made it until midnight when 2008 came in. I made the rounds of kissing a ton of people I didn't know or barely know, or just know because they are family, but we haven't ever really talked because of the language issue. At about 12:10am poor little Brother was really starting to become cranky from being kept up about 4 hours past his bedtime. So I found a spot on a couch next to the pretty red ribboned, lit up Christmas tree and we both passed out for a good hour or more while Papa visited with family and Sister was having a grand time hiding in a bedroom with a few other girls dancing their tails off to music so I didn't see much of her. Brother and I were firmly knocked out on the couch and I didn't care one bit it felt so good to finally let my eyes sleep.

The next couple of days were spent just taking it easy from the rush of Christmas. Then last Sunday, Papa starts to have a bad cold. It came on pretty strong. It lasted about 2 days and then he was on the mend. No worse for the wear. The middle of last week a cold front came in. The weather turned chilly, for Honduras anyway, and lots of rain. My allergies started to go bizerk. Literally. On Thursday the allergies went from a mild/moderate irritation, to absolute misery by night fall. What had happened was I had caught the virus that Papa had and on top of that were my allergies. It sent me over the edge and I became more sick than I have in years. I barely was able to get our of bed for 3 days. And to make matters worse, Brother caught the cold too. Now who knows when a cold is actually the flu, but for me it seemed pretty clear that I had the "flu". Here in Honduras they call it the "gripe" (gree-pay) and it was not pretty. It was a pathetic state to be in.

By Sunday I asked Papa to take me to the doctor. I couldn't see my way out of the misery and I seemed to have developed an ear infection that was really starting to hurt. I was having a hard time sleeping from everything that seemed to be plaguing me. Fever, pain, congestion, coughing, dizziness, nausea, chills and I was desperate for relief.

The start of my first doctoring experience in Honduras was...well, I guess you could say I'm not used to the way things are handled here. We weren't sure where we could go on a Sunday and Papa got recommended to a doctor that runs a 24 hour clinic out of his home. It was like going back into a bygone era where doctors ran things out of back rooms of their homes. It was not something I was used to nor ready to deal with. But I made it through with a shot in the butt of a steroid to help with the swelling from everything (virus + allergies). It did bring the relief I needed.

The hard part was dealing with the medications that the doctor wanted me to take. I'm not sure how things are handled in general here. But I was a bit surprised. The language barrier and needing a translator didn't make it any easier to deal with. I'll share one little tid-bit about the medicines I was prescribed. I got this one called "Vontrol" and I asked Papa what it was for after we left the clinic. Everything was a whirl so if he had told me, I may of forgotten. He seemed a little unsure but told me it must be for my allergies. Then I asked further, "then why would he prescribe me the Zyrtec-D? Isn't that for the allergies? Do they want me to take two allergy medicines?" Then he got irritated and told me that I should just trust the doctor and continued "why did I take you to the doctor if you aren't going to follow his recommendations?" I just told him that I wanted to understand what the medicine was for and I didn't understand. He said, "I told you. It's for the allergies." Man, I miss the little info packets you always get with your meds in the states.

I got home and looked up Vontrol on the internet. I'm just like that. I just have to know. Yeah....I didn't take the medication. Click on the link to read more. The medicine is an anti-nausea medication. I needed to take some of those when I was pregnant with Sister due to severe morning sickness. One of the big side effects for me was severe anxiety attacks. I just don't think Papa could take it if I had a similar reaction, let alone start to hallucinate! Here is the info on the medication:


Generic Name: diphenidol
Dosage Form: Tablets

'Vontrol' may cause hallucinations, disorientation, or confusion. For this reason, its use is limited to patients who are hospitalized or under comparable, continuous, close, professional supervision. Even then, the physician should carefully weigh the benefits against the possible risks and give due consideration to alternate therapeutic measures.

Hello. It says that about 1 in 350 will hallucinate from taking this medication and that is not the only other side effect. And it wouldn't even be thought of being given outside of a hospital setting in the US.
And this isn't everything either. Remember that we have been dealing with Brother being sick as well. But all I will say is that this doctoring experience is much different than one I would ever have in the US. So, so, so different. I am now on the hunt to find a good, English speaking doctor here in Honduras for both me and the kids. I realize that I don't want to be caught again without a doctor that I feel I can trust or can communicate with.

I feel I'm on the repair now, but I can tell it's going to be a little slow to be back at 100%

Oh! And if anyone has any history or knowledge about why it is thought to be bad to drink anything cold when you are sick, I'd love to hear. I've never heard this before and two doctors have told me that I should not be drinking anything cold nor should Brother because of our colds.


Joanna said...

Jeez, Your last 2 weeks sound exhausting. Glad you're starting to feel better.

The cold water thing seems strange. I have no idea.

Angela - TN girl going to Olancho in '09 said...

Sorry to hear you have been sick. Sounds a little scary about the doctor visit. My fiance,Federico, says the same thing! I've ask him why & he just says "Trust me, you will be sick longer!" Ha! Ha! Does your husband also say "no showers when your sick"? We have an ongoing battle when the kids get a fever, here we believe in a tepid bath & he believes no water on the head at all. Who knows why, cultural differences, I guess. Hope you'll feel better soon!

Ranty said...

I'm glad to hear you're starting to feel better, it sure sounds like it's been rough!

About the drinking cold water, I don't know where it comes from but I think it's a wive's tale. The Greeks say this too, and in fact my own husband doesn't like to drink cold (or hot) anything, ever.

Honduras Sprout said...

I do think the cold water thought is a bunch of hokey. I think if any doctor says that to me again I'm asking for a scientific explanation and wait to see what they say.

I did have to switch antibiotics for the ear infection. That really bummed me out. I felt frustrated because I was so sick of being sick - you know? I wasn't getting better so had to go back to a "real" doctor. But he spoke English and it was great to be able to communicate.

Honduras Sprout said...

Angela -
No, my husband doesn't really say no to showers when sick. But he does think it must be bad to drink cold when sick.

One thing I have concerns about is that many put too much trust in bad doctors here and think there is a liquid or pill that will make it all go away. I was dealing with a slew of way too much medication being prescribed for both me and my son. And everything comes in a cocktail and antibiotics prescribed at the first sniffle. It's way too easy to over medicate kids. I know parents want to help the kids feel better but...

Clare said...

My mother in law told me that drinking hot heats up your body and then your brain will tell your body to "cool off,"which will start up the body's cooling mechanisms (like sweating, blood circulation to the skin's surface,etc).She told me to drink hot tea in humid weather to cool off. It really does work. So, maybe, drinking cold works the same way, telling your body to "heat up." That's the only explanation I could think of in regard to science. I suppose it's possible that drinking would have something to do with reducing a fever. Good old fashioned chicken soup still helps me recover. Hope your feel better soon. Clare

Jill said...

Just passed by your site again via Aaron's at Pensieve. I read your site when you first moved to Honduras but lost track since then.

Anyway, when I went and visited Honduras (my son's father's family) my son had a little bit of a cold and they would NOT let me bathe him while I was there until like 4 days later after he got over it. Also, up here in the states his dad always yells at me for giving him a bath while he has a cold or ear infection or anything. I told him I could understand in Honduras where I was bathing him in the outside air, but here in the US everything is inside so it isn't going to bother him.

But as far as the drinking cold water, the only answer I ever got is "Mi abuelita dice." His grandmother must know everything. :)

La Gringa said...

Sprout, don't trust the doctors blindly no matter what anyone tells you. Some of them do a lot of bad prescribing -- ask Trish. That med specifically said not to take it unless you were under strict medical supervision!

They way over-prescribe antibiotics and some things, it is hard to figure out why on earth they prescribed them at all as they seem to have nothing to do with the problem at hand.

I've also found that some doctors act insulted if you ask what a particular medicine is or what it is supposed to do. How can you know if it is working if you don't know what it is supposed to do?

Most Hondurans will never question the doctor about anything. A doctor is GOD! It's a very dangerous situation, in my opinion. In fact, El Jefe's brother was killed by a doctor giving him a huge overdose of the wrong medication. That isn't speculation. It was confirmed by another doctor. He was only 18 years old.

I always look up prescriptions on the internet, too.