May 23, 2012
Cholera: My Personal Experience
Being a writer sometimes requires me to dig deep into my personal psyche or cache of past experiences, which occasionally can leave me awash in memories or emotions I had long forgotten. I had an unexpected episode of this just towards the end of the last week while researching and writing an article for a client. The subject of the article: cholera.
Most people in first world countries like the United States likely will never experience Cholera. Consider yourselves lucky. I had an unfortunate bout with it well over ten years ago while living in Central America. You can read about Cholera and its effects does not even begin to tell how hellish of an experience it can be.
The bad thing about my experience was that it took place just weeks after I arrived in Tegucigalpa. I never figured out how I became infected, although with the poor sanitary standards there were plenty of opportunities. I basically felt like I had a really, really bad flu. I could not keep anything in at either end and my appetite completely left me. It got to the point at about day five that I could not keep water or even Gatorade down. My body was weak, I was delirious and then I woke up on a table in a Honduran emergency room. Doctors and nurses were screaming all around me as I could feel an IV inserted into my arm, along with other injections of unknown substances.
Once I was home I was given another IV, and then I slept for several hours before awaking to a syringe being plunged into my posterior. I had to put up with daily posterior shots every morning for a month. The doctors also had me take a vial full of vitamins and minerals in a glass of orange juice every morning for two months. I didn't truly feel myself for about two months after my Honduran ER experience.
I cannot tell you how much the infection hurt. The day I went to the ER my whole body just coursed with pain, which echoed through my muscles, tendons and even my bones. I have never felt so much pain in my life; it was so much that I could not even hold still out of the sheer agony of it. They actually had to secure me to the table in the ER.
So that is one of the fun experiences of being a writer (and having lived in a third world country): I get to relive the past in a most vivid way on a regular basis. I actually think doing so helps me be a more balanced and well-rounded person as a result. Like the old saying goes, writing is the cheapest form of therapy.