Monday, August 6, 2007

Dengue Journal Day 6: Fever Dreams

Today was the day to get confirmation of my self-diagnosis at the local clinic. My friend Armando, in whose mosquito infested shop I was probably infected,

said they could diagnose and treat me with no fuss. Great, I thought, I can go there then go outside again without feeling like someone is resting their blazing-hot iron skillet on my head.

They were supposed to confirm my diagnosis and give me the necessary cure, but it didn’t end up working like that. When J and I got to the clinic, it was empty save for a family w/ small child getting a check-up and, judging from its offended sounding squawks, a shot. There was also an older gentleman who seemed to be waiting too but the nurse just shooed him away from time to time, perhaps he was merely clinic-curious.

Well, the nurse rapidly took my blood pressure, weighed me and took down some facts then led me across the hall to, the doctor? Whoever he was, he was mostly hidden behind a huge typewriter. He had AC in his office, unlike the nurse, and tons of medicine so I felt like I was in the right place—especially since I had read the big sign in the waiting room which says all treatment and medicine here is free.

He asked about my stomach and tongue and palpated my abdomen but since my symptoms haven’t extended lower than my cheekbones (mild rash), that didn’t seem relevant. Basically I feel fine except for a 6-day mild headache and some pain behind my eyes. Fine, that is, until I step outside, then comes the skillet and soon I face the choice of finding shade or passing out. The doctor pounded out a prescription on his typewriter and handed me some medicine and started to describe what and when I was supposed to take. During his mumbled spiel I caught the word “parasitos” and immediately I’m thinking, wait a second, this isn’t caused by parasites and isn’t that the prescription Armando got from this same clinic? Maybe this guy isn’t a doctor. Maybe he’s just a parasite eradication worker sent by the government of Jalisco to guard their pile of free medicine. I ask him if he thinks I might have Dengue fever and he says probably not because if you had Dengue you’d have pain behind your eyes…well, “I have pain behind my eyes,” I told him, and he then sent me back across the hall to the nurse. She jabbed my finger and then squeezed two drops of blood onto a glass slide to have it tested. She also asked where we live because, apparently, in a week or two, if the test is positive someone will knock on our door to let us know.

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