Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Grain of Sand

I went through my ablutions in preparation for bed; teeth, face, hands, eyes, check! I donned my PJs and looked forward to an early night to bed after a rocky introduction to Mozambique. Brett came into Miki and my’s room complaining of pains in his side. He was looking for anything that we might have that would take the edge off of his  throbbing woes. Miki and I dug in our packs and produced whatever we could from our personal pharmacies. He swallowed a handful of painkillers we offered him and headed to bed, hoping that they would take effect soon and allow him some sleep. The word hospital was mentioned, but he passed it off as something to look into in the morning if necessary.
In fact, the painkillers did not do a thing. Brett wiggled and flopped on his bed, but the pain just got worse. Ten minutes after I had turned the light off, Brett was knocking at our door again. He was ashen. The pain was worse. He wanted to go to the hospital; Now. We scrambled back into our clothes and hurried to the van with vague directions to the hospital. Luck was not on our side this evening though. We hustled into the van, but Arnie refused to budge. The van would not turn over at all. We pushed it half-way down the street huffing and puffing all the way, with Brett writhing in agony in the driver’s seat. Our commotion caught the interest of several passersby and Miki managed to flag down another motorist for assistance. She scooped Brett out of one vehicle and into another and they were gone. Oliver and I were left to tend to our inept vehicle. There were others that had noticed our plight though, and we soon had a gang of street kids help us push Arnie back to the motel for the night. Of course, their ministrations came with a fee and we found ourselves ripped off handing over R10 and 50 000 metical (it should have been more like 5-10 000MT). In the grand scheme of things, it equated to a pittance, but Oliver argued with the youths, as I sprinted off in the direction of the hospital.
Now as you might recall, we had just arrived in Maputo that afternoon. We had wandered around the area surrounding our Pensao a bit, but I was far from familiar with the city. A lone, white female sprinting through a run-down city after dark is probably not the smartest plan to undertake, but my vision was clouded with Brett’s tortured visage. After losing myself momentarily, I miraculously found the hospital. The next step was tracking down Brett within the walls of the hospital, but that too was achieved. When I finally came upon Brett, the doctors had hooked him up to an IV. The problem; kidney stones. The doctor explained that the hiking that he had done in Mbabane had probably served to dehydrate him, which aggravated the stones. He administered pain killers and explained to us about kidney stones. They are often fairly small and found in the urethra. They can be similar in size to a grain of sand, but their power is much more potent. The doctor explained that kidney stones are one of the most painful experiences one can go through, akin to heart attacks and giving birth. The pain comes from the crystal-like stone passing through the urinary tract system. Most times the only thing that can be done for someone suffering is to hydrate them to help the stone pass more freely. Ultimately, the only solution is for the stone to pass. That required time. It was advised that Brett spend the night in hospital to rehydrate and monitor his pain level. After watching Brett relax with the effects of medication, Miki and I headed for home. We would be back in the morning.


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