SATURDAY, MAY 1, 2010 4:17 PM, CDT
Alone, scared, in abject pain and occasionally vomiting mass quantities of green bile (too much information, I know, but now I bet you’re thinking you are glad you are you and not me at this point in time!) I sit in a hotel in Pretoria, South Africa.
Is it possible that five days ago my 40 students and I had completed a heart wrenching tour of Soweto, the slums of Johannesburgh, trying to understand the great need for the micro-credit lending projects we were working to support? And we had we visited the Apartheid Museum, gaining a better sense of the trials these friendly people had endured? And was it real that we touched the grass on the World Cup 2010 opening stadium…went right into the dressing rooms and ran down the ramp to the field that would welcome the world’s greatest soccer teams.
A few days ago I peacefully laid my head on my pillow, dreaming of the social entrepreneurship program we were to visit the next day – okay, not true, in all honesty, thinking about how old age provided me the wisdom to know to stop after only a couple glasses of wine while hanging with the students after our day of touring.
Two in the morning I felt an awful pain. First thought? Crap – all this travelling and I didn’t eat enough fiber. (Look, I’m nearly 50, it just happens at some point.) After tossing and turning for an hour, I finally took a bath. Felt good. Didn’t help.
My body said that it was time to call my doctor back home. “I know you can’t diagnose me, but if I was constipated, what should I do?” A reasonable query, I thought.
“Don’t take a laxative.” Seriously, these were his first words. And yet…I already had.
“Get some apple juice – something gentle on the system, listen to your body.” Not able to stand the pain on my own I thanked the doctor and called a student to come sit with me. The office manager was frustrated by the noise and disturbance complaints caused by my pain-filled yells.
Right choice #1 – South African style ‘911’ was our first call, and our first big decision was whether we preferred private or government attention. Uh, oh. A little voice in the back of my kicked me, told me to get a doctor to come see me first. I had just watched “It’s Complicated’ on the plane and can’t help but think it wise to find a doctor to make a house call. “This is South Africa,” a tiny voice inside reminded me. It would take 45 minutes for him to get to me. Each agonizing minute made me question my decision. The team that had filled the hotel room all agreed. Five more minutes. No doctor, fine, we’ll call the ambulance.
Fingers were perched above the keypad when my son Phil called from the front desk (traveling as a student on the trip) Phil had placed himself at reception to quickly escort the doctor to my room. When in comes Dr. Lelow…who called a private ambulance and sent us to a private hospital where we were charged a 10,000 Rand ($1,354.65) entrance fee. Thank heavens. I shutter to think what might have been had we called the government ambulance to take us to a government hospital.
Up next: Right choice #2.