Tuesday, October 22, 2013

In sickness, in Balykchy, and in the ass

July 5, 2013

This has been a wasted week.

Sunday evening, after I last wrote, I began to develop a sore throat. Sunday night I came down with something very flu-like: fever, chills, aches all over, nausea (so that I couldn’t take a NyQuil), and an extremely sore throat, such that swallowing was quite painful. I spent most of the night tossing and turning and feeling thoroughly miserable. I did not teach on Monday, and instead spent the day in bed.

Tuesday morning I felt mostly better, although my throat was still sore. I taught classes, although by my second class I was starting to lose my voice. About twenty minutes into my third class, Rita knocked on the door. The family was going to Balykchy to use the banya, but if I wanted to go I’d have to end class early because they were going right then. I didn’t really understand why we needed to leave right away, but Rita was the school’s director, I hadn’t showered in twelve days, and my throat was killing me. We ended class early.

I grabbed my shower stuff and a change of clothes (although I neglected to toss in deodorant in the mistaken thought that we’d be headed straight home after banya-ing) and we promptly set out for Balykchy. Balykchy is a former industrial and fishing town located at the western tip of Issyk Kul, about half an hour’s drive from Bar Bulak. The fish and the factories have left, leaving a community struggling to figure out what to do with itself. I have to admit, it didn’t look as depressing as it did five years ago (or in the photos on the Desolation Travel website), although I wouldn’t go so far as to say it seemed prosperous.

It turned out that we were picking up Kuban and Rita’s son, Sabyr (8) from summer camp, and the camp closed at noon – there really was a reason why we had to leave so urgently. After picking up Sabyr, we hit up one of the Balykchy banyas, and by 1pm I was squeaky clean. It was a wonderful feeling. It didn’t last.

When we left the banya, we headed for a TV repair shop. We then spent an hour and a half sitting in the car while Kuban took their TV inside to be repaired. Granted, we had the doors open, and it was only about 75 or so outside, so it’s not like sitting in a car in Florida in early July for an hour and a half… but by the time we left I was definitely regretting not bringing along any deodorant.

Once the TV was fixed, we visited Kuban’s mother. She’s the same age as my mother, and like me and my mom, she is a teacher (although she teaches math). We got along great, even though I could tell I was losing my voice as I spoke with her. After leaving Kuban’s mother’s house, we went to the Balykchy bazaar. Normally, setting me loose in a bazaar does bad things to my wallet, although I have to admit that the Balykchy bazaar is not a happening place at 4pm on a Tuesday. Most of the stalls were closed. I couldn’t find anything I wanted to buy. In contrast, Rita and Kuban hit up the home-goods section where they spent several hours (!!) and dropped a small fortune on things like a meat processer and a microwave. While at the bazaar, I began to feel headachy. And seriously lacking in deodorant. When we finally loaded back into the car, I thought for sure that we’d be headed home, but alas… we stopped at someone else’s house for dinner. It wasn’t until 7:30pm that we began driving back towards Bar Bulak. I really wouldn’t have minded the delays (well, the 2+ hours at the bazaar was a bit much) had I felt better, but between how I felt and my lack of deodorant, well, I was ready to be on the road.

By the time we started heading home, I had a splitting headache, had almost completely lost my voice, and of course, promptly began feeling carsick. Aaaargh. Then, halfway home, we stopped at a farm that Kuban either owns or manages (they grow some kind of plant that’s made into some sort of medicine), and we waited in the car there for a good half an hour while Kuban spoke with the workers. By the time we got home I was seriously feeling rough. I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say that things became very unpleasant for me health wise, and I had to take one of my two remaining Imitrex as well as a lot of Imodium.

When I awoke in the morning, I couldn’t speak at all. Nothing above a whisper. I could barely communicate with Rita, much less teach. If I my students were more advanced, I could give them written assignments, but given their low levels there’s no way we could have a class in which I couldn’t speak. It would be a waste of everyone’s time. So, no work for me until the voice returns. Unfortunately, I’m prone to losing my voice when I get sick, and it’s been known to stay gone for a week or so. Crap.

Rita insisted that I see the village nurse in the tiny village clinic located pretty much directly across the street from our house at the foot of the barren, scree-covered hills. She was a kind, older woman who diagnosed me as having laryngitis and who prescribed cough drops, throat spray, and a twice daily injection of ampicillin mixed with novocaine into my ass for the next five days. Wait – what? Yep. Shots to the bum to be administered twice daily by Rita. Also, I must wear socks at all times (except for when I’m soaking my feet in hot water, which for some reason I must do) and I must drink hot milk before going to bed. (I think the hot milk is worse than the shots, as straight up milk makes me gag, whereas the novocaine numbs the injection site pretty rapidly).

I’ve been spending nearly all of my time in bed with Котчик and my kindle, even though aside from a bit of a cough and some sinus stuffiness I feel fine, because there’s not much else I can do – especially when I’ve essentially taken an entire week off from work. I’ve done some lesson planning, but as most of what I need for class I already created when I was in Toguz Bulak, there’s really not much to do until I get better and can get back to work. Besides, the nurse also told me that I needed to stay in bed until I recovered my voice, and everyone seems intent on making me follow all of her instructions. Sigh. So here I am, with my socks on, waiting for another shot in the ass…

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