Monday, November 2, 2009


Have you ever heard the cries of a petrified mouse in the agonizing throes of death? When I said to my host family that I wanted a kitten to rid me of the burden of personally dealing with all manner of creepy crawlies in my house, i never took into account the pitiful frightened shrieks of mice that that would entail. Cockroaches crunch, lizards are noiseless--When Scout catches them, I can handle it...but mice, that is a different case entirely. Maybe it's the fur (or that i had hamsters and worked in a vet's office for 2.5 years), I don't know why it bothers me more--I mean, i think lizards are pretty cute here, but i don't mind if scout kills them so long as she eats them all and doesn't leave half a corpse for me to clean up later. But as I blogged a few weeks ago, when for the first time Scout caught herself a mouse at night, I found it really disturbing to listen to her killing it.

And that is why I am in the med unit right now--because I'm the only freak volunteer in Benin that tries to save a mouse in her house, instead of trying to hit it with a shoe.

So last Saturday morning (the 24th) i woke up and it was pouring. It is the end of the short rainy season now in Southern Benin--the last hoorah before my life will grow decreasingly pleasant in direct correlation with the increasing temperatures until about May of 2010. I didn't want to get out of bed at all since it was so delightfully cool with Scout curled up next to me, and I love listening to the rain patter on my tin roof. But i did drag myself up because I was supposed to go to Come by 1 for a meeting to plan the English competition across CEGs in the MOno Kouffo this spring.

So I walked into my kitchen to open up my back door and when I turned around, I jumped back. There in my basin that I use as a sort of pseudo-sink, was a mouse, swimming and struggling for dear life, trying not to drown. It couldn't climb the plastic and kept trying to jump out but couldn't make it--it must have just fallen in because it didn't look like this itty bitty thing could keep up this effort for long. Scout hadn't noticed yet so I took a step toward it to lift the basin out and throw the whole thing outside. But then the mouse jumped again and i freaked out. So I got a second basine to cover it and took the basin outside in the rain, closing the door to keep scout in the house. I tossed all the contents out and this stupid little mouse that apparently can't take a hint, bee-lines it straight for me. I squealed and jumped backwards, kicking my foot against my wooden door by accident. It stung quite a bit, and i got a small cut on the back of my ankle that started to bleed, but I didn't really think anything of it. I rinsed it and put a bandaid on, and that was that. I certainly have dealt with much worse in Benin.

When I was up in Badjoude for the whipping fete my bandaid fell off. I didn't really care because the cut looked pretty much healed. i didn't even think it was open anymore. But toward the afternoon I noticed flies kept landing on it so I figured it had to be open after all, and asked Heidi for a bandaid. Too late, I guess. I came back to Dogbo, and everything seemed totally fine all week.

Friday evening i got back from my walk and the back of my heal was hurting me. I looked and there was a little lump that i took to be a blister--no big deal, I get blisters a lot here and I thought it was probably just because I chose socks that weren't thick enough. As the evening went on I started to think maybe it wasn't a blister since it didn't appear to be filled with liquid at all and was just red and inflammed, and hot. Well, maybe the rubbing of my sneaker just irritated the cut on my ankle...whatever. i went to bed.

Halloween I woke up sweating first thing in the morning and had a slight headache. I stepped out of my bed and immediately felt pain in my foot from a cramped muscle and my ankle. I went outside to look at it in the sunlight and it appeared that the lump had grown slightly bigger. It was really sore and tender when I touched it. But I didn't cover it up because it didn't even look like there was any sort of open cut at all TO cover. I took 3 advil and went to the orphanage. As the day progressed, so did the lumpage. It kept getting bigger, redder, and hotter, and i verified with Dennis, our infection expert, that I probably indeed had something. I knew I was supposed to be down in Cotonou this friday so figured I would just see the doctor then. The whole day though i felt rather hot, dizzy, and feverish and had a headache. I left the Halloween fete early with Michelle and found when I went home that I had a 102 temperature. I took some tylenol and figured i would just see if that helped at all. It didn't.

My fever went down a bit, but when i woke up in the morning i saw that the infection was circling my ankle--it was red, warm, and swollen, and it kept growing. By the time everyone made it over for breakfast, general consensus was that I had a rather disgusting looking club foot and considering the rate at which it was puffing out, I would be stupid to wait until friday to see the doctor.

So i was that volunteer that called the PCMO on a Sunday morning, and interrupted her day off. She told me i should come in immediately and I kind of had to kick everyone out of my house, close up, feed scout, and peace out. But I'm glad I came in. It had encircled my ankle even more by the time i got to Cotonou and was very hot and red. I still had a fever and the teeniest tiniest opening of the teeniest tiniest stupid mouse-induced cut had started to dribble nasty smelling ooze down the back of my ankle by the time i saw her. At least she wasn't annoyed that I came in, and seemed to be worried about it.

When she asked me if i had any allergies to medications and I told her Keflex, she looked at me like I was playing some sort of sick joke on her. Never in my life has that been a problem, but naturally, that was exactly the medication she wanted to use to treat the infection. So she put me on a different type and is making me stay 2 nights to make sure it works, otherwise I have to do some I.V. therapy...yippee. Fortunately appears to be working. I woke up this morning and after my first dose of the antibiotics last night the swelling had gone down and the redness had dissipated a bit. It is actually kind of incredible to see how quickly it turned around. At any rate, once again I am in the medical unit, but thankfully the crisis seems to have passed. By Sunday noon i was actually starting to freak out with flashbacks to osteomylitis, and Dennis teasing me about amputation, etc. so i am glad that I seem to be bien on the mend with no fever and back to post tomorrow.

But really, November wouldn't have felt complete if it didn't start out with some sort of medical crisis...I mean I am, after all, averaging about one a month at least since returning to Benin in late June, n'est pas? So, lesson learned. next mouse I find. no mercy. Scout can have at it. Bon freaking appetit.


Lynn said...

I hate when I have the desire and the time and the internet function to leave a comment because I just typed out a response and hit submit and it went away instead of being submitted. Not fair. I hope you appreciate my determination to leave a comment...

It's interesting about your infection, because I just had a Keflex adventure too - thankfully I am not allergic. I think I told you about the cyst on my tailbone and how I was laid up on the couch for a week out of work with that huge pain in my a** (literally) laying around waiting to see if the Keflex would take it away before the doctor would do anything about it - yeah, it didn't. So I ended up going to the hospital and the doctor took the scalpel to it -- let me tell you local anesthesia, might as well not have had anything, or at least a little liquor like in the old days, because that's where I felt like I was. I heard someone had a similar procedure the week before and actually jumped off the table; good thing I have a pretty high tolerance for pain - I felt that scalpel stab the gigantic tumor-thing at the top of my butt cheeks, and slice slice slice all the way down it, let me tell you. But that relieved it like nothing else, immediately, and by Monday I was back to work with no remnant of it except for a new hole back there. So, just in case you were wondering, I am much better now, no thanks to the Keflex, and I hope you get better soon, even without it! <3U! Lynn

Aunt Nancy said...

Gross darlin, just gross. If I didn't know that was your foot I would have thought it belonged on the leg of my 90 year old neighbor, Mrs. McCullough! Glad you went to the doctor. In hind sight you will also realize that you shouldn't have tempted fate by saying that you average a visit to the med unit once a month. It's like when we're flying up to Vt and one of the kids says "wow, we're really making great time"! As we round the next bend in the road, it never fails...TRAFFIC.
Love, Aunt Nancyxxxxxxxxxxxxxx