The first detail that simply must be clarified about said “Emergency Room” is that it was exactly that: a literal room in a clinic in downtown Dakar with the word “emergency” clearly labeled on the door.
But let’s back this train up and talk about how it came to pass that at eleven PM on Friday night, I found myself being carried into that dilapidated little room in that ghetto-fabulous little clinic, staring at the single most gargantuan roach I have ever seen in my life crawling menacingly across the floor and begging the nurse on duty [read: the ONLY medical professional on duty] to lull me into a coma with copious amounts of Mexican narcotics.
…or something like that.
About a month ago, I noticed a big red bump on my leg. It felt like a bruise, but only hurt if I touched it-so being the child-prodigy that I am, I decided not to touch it and went about my life. I mean, when you live in Africa, you become intimately acquainted a host of foreign maladies disrupting the course of your day-to-day–most of which eventuallywork themselves out given enough time and Cipro. [And THAT is only funny to you if you’ve spent time in Senegal before.] I simply assumed the thing that had taken up residence on my shin was some sort of spider bite that would eventually fade.
Unfortunately, that blasted little bump decided to unpack, hang up curtains and stick some garden gnomes in the front yard. I mean, it moved in. And last week in the days leading up to the best Christmas party EVER [not to be confused with the Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which is an absolutely phenomenal book that you should RUN to check out of the library], all of it’s redneck cousins showed up for the holidays
with their double wide trailers and coon dogs, and seven new bumps appeared on both of my shins.
The night before our party, I typed in my list of symptoms to webmd, and pushed a handy little button that was supposed to deliver a diagnosis. That exceedingly helpful little website promptly informed me that I had herpes. [Which, I assure you, is entirely impossible.]
Now, let’s talk about what I was really concerned about, here. On Friday morning, I threw on a dress for our Christmas party, and came to the startling realization that my legs and feet more closely resembled swollen polish sausages uncomfortably stuffed into an all-too-small flesh-colored casing.
Don’t. Don’t you dare go back and look at the pictures from the party. Just take my word for it and let’s move on.
Well on Friday, by the time the drag queen angel had announced beanie baby Jesus’ birth and the wisepeople had delivered his .99 cent light up Walmart snowman, I was in a pretty significant amount of pain. I made dinner, and then sprawled out on my living room floor with my feet propped up on a chair, as short bursts of fire began to shoot up my throbbing
sausages legs. Three hours and half a bottle of advil later, the pain was absolutely dizzying and I was in tears. My force to be reckoned with roommate [Christy] was on the phone with SOS [our emergency medical care provider] to try and figure out what on earth you do with a medical crisis at eleven o’clock at night in the middle of third-world-Dakar.
Nothing fazes that girl. Not a thing.
What happened next is a bit of a blur for me-I remember Michelle finding my passport, Ben ignoring my vehement protests and scooping me up to carry me downstairs to the waiting taxi, and Christy calmly acquiescing to my
impassioned declarations that under no circumstances would I consent to being stuck with any sort of needle [though at that point, I might have made an exception for the aforementioned Mexican narcotics], or staying overnight in the hospital.
I spent that taxi ride doubled over as waves of pain rolled up and down my legs. For a million dollars, I wouldn’t be able to tell you how long we were in the car-but eventually, we rolled to a bumpy stop, and Dayton, Christy and Michelle dragged me into the clinic.
Where, if you’ll remember, there was a dingy gray hall with a dingy, gray door clearly labeled “EMERGENCY”.
Accuracy in labeling is so important, don’t you think?
I eased onto the gurney, and the aforementioned [and clearly unconcerned] nurse sauntered in and asked me what the problem was.
My legs are on fire. I think I have gangrene. And leprosy. And apparently herpes. Is this real life?
He poked and prodded, with me moaning and an irate Christy standing watchfully over me looking for all the world like she was ready to deck that man in the face. [Which, she later confessed, she very nearly did.]
And then without taking my medical history, asking for allergies, or running a single test, the brilliant man proclaimed, “Well, that looks like it hurts. You should see a specialist tomorrow. Want a shot for the pain?”
Begone, Satan. I think webmd was more helpful.
Michelle took over and got me a prescription for an African narcotic [safe!] to tide me over until my doctor’s appointment the next day. [A man who proved to be only slightly more helpful than webmd.]
We’re still in the process of figuring this thing out-but I’m on bedrest [or given the fact that I don’t have a bed, matrest] and thus, not in nearly as much pain anymore. My greatest concern at this point is being able to run in the reindeer trot on Friday-because let me tell you, my costume is fantastic.