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Do not eat the chicken!

After having spent 10 days at the coast it was time to get back to the city. On Monday the 29th of April our driver, Valerio, a young and very friendly Malagasy guy, who had driven us here as well, was back to pick us up.

Because it was going to be a very long drive, we left early in the morning, at 7AM. The fact that it was cloudy and raining made it a little easier to leave.

We drove to Tamatave where we had some breakfast and got money out for the drive back. In Madagascar people get paid at the end of each month, and most get their money out straight away, so the queue for the ATM was extremely long. We waited for over 30 mins. in line! From Tamatave we drove back to Feon ‘ny ala, where we had stayed the first 2 nights in the jungle and had some lunch before our final stretch to Antananarivo.

After a 12 hour drive we finally arrived back at the house. Upstairs, on our beds, was a card and two boxes full of chocolates from the Art teacher and her students, thanking us for the presentations we gave during our first week. It was so sweet!

The day after, on the 30th of April, we celebrated the Dutch Queen’s Birthday. It was a very special day, because our queen, Beatrix, stepped down and her son, (now) King Willem Alexander became the new King of The Netherlands. The entire day we spent watching it on TV and my aunt had even bought pastries to celebrate.

On Wednesday I started feeling sick. By the time I went to bed I was in such a bad state, I couldn’t sleep, I had a fever, severe aches and pains in my lower back, vomiting and extreme diarrhoea. I felt so miserable, I didn’t know what to do or where to go. As soon as the sun came up and my aunt and cousin got up to go to school I told them how sick I was feeling. We were afraid it might have been malaria. My uncle had a at-home-testing-kit, but it had expired in 2004 and came back negative, so off we went to the hospital. The drive was horrible. The potholes and many turns wasn’t really helping my stomach, so I was glad I brought a bucket with me.

The wait for the doctor seemed to take forever. I had a blood test done and gave ’em a lovely poo and pee sample. I got another 2 injections for the nausea and pain while we waited for the results…. no malaria! It turned out I had an extremely aggressive infections in my intestines. A normal white blood cell count is 4000. When it’s up to 18000 it’s very serious. However, mine was up to 26000! So the doctor immediately got me upstairs for observation and on a drip. We think it might have been caused by the chicken I ate at the restaurant we stopped at on the way back from the coast, although I could have also just jinxed it. After the “rat situation” I told my mum I’d rather spent a night in hospital then having to go through that ordeal again….I was wrong!

My first night was one of the worst I’ve ever had. I shared the room with an older woman, possibly in her 70’s. She was very ill and had been vomiting as soon as I stepped into the room that morning. She was also on a drip and seemed very fragile. Her family was with her throughout the day and night. One of them even asked me if I was hungry and wanted some food. I kindly declined his sweet offer, considering that was the very reason I was in hospital for. A large group of people had come and prayed and sang with her. It was beautiful. They smiled at me and all seemed very nice. But the old lady needed her rest and within a couple minutes they had left again. During the night (I presume) her daughter stayed with her, sleeping on a mattress on the floor next to her. The old lady went toilet probably every 30 mins or so. At 21.30 I turned my light off to go to sleep, as did she. At 2AM I woke up when she went to the bathroom. I had had a solid 4 hours of sleep and was now wide awake. Her daughter stayed in bed, while she (what sounded like) “shat her intestines out”. She had left the door open and after maybe 15 mins I could see her shuffle to the sink. What happened next haunted me for at least another week. She started to lose her balance and collapsed onto the floor. I was paralyzed with fear as the bathroom is all concrete, she had a drip in her arm and was so weak and fragile. Her daughter jumped up and tried to lift her and help her to her feet, but because she had fainted she was too heavy to carry. The look on her daughters face was pure fear and it scared me so much, I couldn’t move or yell for help, but as soon as she looked at me and in broken English asked “DOCTOR!?” I managed to get out of bed and drag my own drip with me my calling out for help. The nurse came in and helped her get her mother back into bed. She thanked me and I tried to go back to sleep, but the image of her falling and the possibility of her ripping out her drip or smashing her head onto the hard floor or toilet bowl kept playing over and over in my head. The old lady fainted another 3 times that night. Luckily it was in her daughters arms, but it meant I had to constantly get up and ask for help. I barely slept after that. After fainting for the fourth time the nurse insisted she did her “business” on a poop stool next to her bed, which was horrible as it stank and I could hear every single noise. Luckily at 8AM I was moved into a different room all for myself. I couldn’t have been happier! At this stage more family had come in to see the old lady. They thanked me and apologized for the disturbance.

Later in the day my aunt, uncle, cousin and Lance came over, bringing lots of food. I felt so luckily to have been taken care of so well. Lance stayed over that night. We ate pizza (against doctors orders, but I wasn’t feeling sick anymore and really craved it!). We watched TV and movies on my laptop and went to sleep.

The day after, I tried staying busy by editing photos, watching TV and walking around in my room, looking outside, feeling great and ready to leave.

Taken great care of by my family!

The medication, besides the 6 times daily dose of antibiotics, to get my stomach back to normal.

Lance staying the night, watching movies in bed.

Ready to leave 🙂

What 3 days of not brushing your hair and lying on it looks like :/

After 3 nights in hospital I was finally well enough to leave Sunday morning. I had a final blood test, which came back normal. My white blood cell count had gone down from 26000 to 5300. I had my drip taken out and was given some more medication for the following week. Back at the house I was so glad to be able to talk to my parents again. I had really missed them and it was so good to hear their voices again.

Because we were leaving Madagascar Monday night at 2AM, I spent the day trying to pack my stuff. Being off the drip and without antibiotics 6 times a day I realized how weak and exhausted I actually still was, so it took me the entire day to get my stuff ready, packing for a few minutes then lying down again. We went to pay the hospital bill later that day, which was a huge relief as I had imagined it to be MUCH higher and despite not feeling the greatest we drove to the local mine, which I had been so excited to visit. Here, hundreds of local people work very hard to make a living. They hack rocks out of the mountain side, cutting it into many different sizes and shapes. People of all ages work here, male and female. I was holding 2 cameras and to be honest I felt very out of place. It made me look so superior and I hated that feeling. Soon an older man approached my uncle and I telling us to get off the site. Despite my uncle insisting I’d keep taking photos I couldn’t bring myself to staying there any longer. I felt like the rich white person with her fancy camera and lenses and wasn’t enjoying it at all. I had taken a few photos and walked back to the car.

 

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