Saturday, February 11, 2012

Letters from Matt #2: Tulum, Mexico: Medical Emergency!

Letters From Matt are letters from my brother, Matt, from various of his domestic and international travels. The letters span decades, and I share them on Living Rootless at intervals, in no particular order.

Mexico. Credit: Matt

1 August 2003. Tulum, Mexico.

Dear Mzuri,

I have been caught up in the powerful windy vortex of beach life, mesmerized by the sea's vast emptiness and captivated by the constant adventures and treasures that wash up on the shores.

It is a big day if I learn a new Spanish phrase, meet a new friend, snorkel on the reef, find a shell, swim in a freshwater sinkhole called a cenote, and cook a wonderful meal with my improvised kitchen on the beach.

I have the best cabana on the beach, Cabana 13. It is a natural magnet, a gateway, a garden of beauty, and I am its king, and it is my palace. I lay in my hammock and court visitors, vendors, vagabonds, vegetarians, vegans, and varmints.

The night before last, my palace was invaded by the return of an agonizing pain in my kidneys [that] I'd experienced 10 years ago. It happened at midnight after having gone to bed an hour earlier. I was agonizing with pain for six hours before waking up my Swiss friend, who happens to be a medical assistant. She had wanted to see the sunrise, so in tears, I said please wake up and see the sunrise, and then take me to the hospital.

We took the taxi an hour's painful drive to the nearest hospital where M* and I had to learn new Spanish such as rinyon for kidney and piedra for stone. (Every experience has its opportunity for learning.)

Four doctors attended to me along with a radiologist and nurse. With my Swiss friend to be my companion, the kindness of the medical staff, including a urologist who drove an hour to consult on my condition, I was in good hands. I had an allergic reaction that they had to quickly counter with a hydrocortisone shot.

I was in the hospital about seven hours and spent five hundred dollars. Cheap if you ask me, because I would have let them take anything to relieve such pain. The x-ray confirmed a 1.2 cm kidney stone, up from the 7 mm stone I had 10 years ago. They gave me some pain killers, some anti-inflammatory drugs, and an antibiotic, and Claritin E and said I could finish my vacation and take the surgery or other resolution to the problem when I return home. The urologist said my only risk would be more pain and not damage to my health.

.... my friends from Switzerland and Mexico just found me here in the internet cafe and are ordering me a banana smoothie with milk. The girls picked up some medication for me from the pharmacy and brought me some chicken, chili peppers, broccoli, and other items for us to barbecue on the beach tonight.

Life is good and even out of the dark comes light.



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