Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Come again, Doc!

I have been to the doctor more in the last 2 1/2 months since I've been in India than I have in the last five years of my life. I think Monday marked the fourth time I've been to a doc since coming here. What's happening to me?! A look at my ailments thus far:

- toe infection
- wisdom tooth troubles
- infected ear
- eye infection

Am I missing anything? While I like to consider myself a pretty healthy individual, I can't seem to avoid doing stupid things here. Like slamming a heavy door on my toe and causing a "traumatic nail avulsion"- basically this means that almost my entire toe nail was ripped off. Ouch! Since I walk around everywhere either in flip-flops or barefoot- in one of the world's dirtiest cities- you can imagine it didn't take long for my toe to develop an infection.
Wisdom tooth troubles? Okay- this one was unavoidable. Just coincidental, I suppose, that within a few weeks of me arriving in India a few of them start to erupt... slowly, painfully, but surely. The pain has subsided since then, but since I am sans health insurance, I plan on getting them removed before I leave in India (the cost to do so will likely be one quarter of what I'd pay in the states).
Ear infection was, sadly, 100% my fault. I got the idea in my head that I wanted to get the inside cartilage of my ears pierced. Rather than waiting the idea out till I could at least discover an appropriate "piercing parlor," I chose the first place I found. Should I have left the moment the man said he had never given such a piercing before? Perhaps, but hey, everyone's gotta start somewhere! After checking out my new studs in the mirror, I left the shop thinking, "I look cool." 48 hours later, my ears were red, swollen, and irritated...I didn't look so cool. The earrings were short lived, as they survived only three days in my ears.
Lastly, the latest of ailments to come my way has been good old fashioned conjunctivitis, aka- pink eye. I didn't know anyone could get pink eye past elementary school! What do you know, though, I've proved all my prior misconceptions wrong. Woke up the other day with my left eye swollen shut- all the symptoms indicating the pinkest of eyes. After texting nearly everyone in my office in search for a good doctor, I was referred to Saktara Nethralaya, one of the largest eye hospitals in the city. I walked in around 11:30, thinking I would beat the lunchtime rush. While I have tried my best to get used to the crowds in India, I wasn't prepared to find myself waiting amongst 200+ people in the waiting room! Dear Lord.
I was suggested to go straight to the emergency counter so that I could be seen earlier. To be honest, this wasn't an easy move for me. I quickly learned that my "emergency" was relative. There were at least fifty people in the ampitheater-sized waiting room with blood soaked eye bandages. God only knows what happened to their eyes.
Interestingly, the old man I sat next to represented an older, twin version of me and my ailments. We both had pink eye and bandages over our big toe. His case was more serious, though; in addition to pink eye, he had cataracts and glaucoma. While I was just missing half a toe nail, he was missing his entire big toe as a result of an "encounter with machinery."
Is there a lesson to learn from all this? That I should be more grateful and less clumsy? More attentive and less whiny? You decide. As they say, "experience is the toughest of teachers; it gives the test first, and the lesson afterwards."

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