Getting Sick in Addis

The First Week of My Internship otherwise known as “Getting Sick in Addis”
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I’ve been in Addis for three weeks now and you guessed it, the roosters are still going strong. Every morning, I wake up to their potent cock-a-doodle-doo and wonder how they manage to be so consistently energetic no matter what day of the week it is, whether or not it is raining, or if it is, you know, the weekend, no big deal, 4 AM, at your service. Many mornings I have wished that a stew was being planned in their honor. But three weeks in, I’ve changed my mind about the roosters. Their songs kept me company on many nights here in Addis as I laid sick and sleepless in my bed. In fact, I became jealous of their relentless energy and ability to start a new day without a new spell of diarrhea, vomiting, sneezing, congestion, bronchitis or that one time I woke up with a sharp pain in my head and a swollen eye.
My internship thus far has included visiting two clinics and many pharmacies. The pharmacists in the Gollagul Mall in our Hayahulet neighborhood smiled awkwardly at first as I would waltz in and self-prescribe, generic names memorized. Perhaps they wondered if this Farenge had a drug habit, but soon they realized that Addis and I were having a strange game of ‘who will surrender first’ and were happy (happy? Cautiously concerned? Using me for free comedic relief?) to see me staggering in for more Oral Rehydration Salts and the like.
A Comprehensive List of Purchased Medicine:
1. Oral Rehydration Salts x6 (a quick note, LemLem rhymes with PhlegmPhlegm, avoid at all costs and instead indulge in the Orange flavor)
2. Ibuprofen x2
3. “Medicine to help you with Stomach Cramping” Undisclosed Name x1
4. Claritin x1 (take at night, drowsy, U.S.A)
5. Ciprofloxacin x1 (advised not to take by Ethiopians, Ethiopian manufactured)
6. Ciprofloxacin x1 (preferred by Ethiopians, German-made)
7. Zinc Tablets x10 (never again! disgusting!)
8. Mucosol, Cough Syrup #1 x1 (Pediatric Syrup? Pharmacist insists is good for adults, made in Egypt, cannot understand translated drug facts sheet, did very little but I must say you are in for a treat with this delicious Pineapple flavor!)
9. Cough Syrup #2 x1 (Made in Cyprus, horrifying Cherry flavor, only slightly more effective than delicious pineapple)
10. HORF Throat Lozenges x12 (the least comforting cough drop you will ever consume, instead eat a box of chalk and pretend things will be okay)
11. Azithromycin x1 (Also know as Z-Pack, this is the Bronchitis Game-Changing Heavyweight Champion of the World)
12. Ventolin Inhaler (Things got strange with the Pharmacist when I admitted to not being an Asthmatic while swearing up and down that it would work, which it did)
13. Vitamin C Effervescent Tablets x1 (similar to teacher-endorsed Airborne tablets)
The clinics were enlightening experiences themselves. When Getting Sick in Addis, it is difficult to decide if the Ethiopian clinic or the Farenge Clinic is going to get you healed. Let’s begin with the first of the two.
Getting Diarrhea Sick in Addis @ the Ethiopian, Catholic-run St. Raphael Clinic
The first thing they did was weigh me. Weighing is a big thing here, not only in clinics or for medical purposes but also on the street where little boys work, asking passerby’s if they would like to be weighed. Ellen Degeneres was on the T.V. The second thing they did was ask me for a poop sample. No problem, if poop was what they wanted, they were asking the right girl. I was strangely excited, in all my international travel this was probably the fastest a clinic had ever asked me for a sample and I felt Like I had come to the right place. The man working in the lab handed me…wait for it…what looked like a bottle cap on a Poland Spring bottle and a toothpick. I stopped for a minute to analyze the physics of what was about to happen. I needed a strategy, I needed to be a well-aimed, stool sample pro if this was going to work. I mustered up my courage and headed for the bathroom where an older man said Selam to me about ten times before opening the metal door to stall for me. But wait, what was this place? I had been in bathrooms where the toilet was a hole in the ground before but never for a stool sample. I surveyed the floor that was covered in water and considered the high risk of cross-contamination for my sample. I went for it. No soap, toilet paper, or water either. Fifteen minutes later I was deemed parasite free and given a pack of LemLem and Ethiopian-made Cipro (view above warnings). Cost: 150 Birr (less than $10 for the whole shebang). Cost of being Diarrhea-free: Habesha Priceless.
Getting Bronchitis Sick in Addis @ The Suisse Clinic
The first thing they did was have me fill out a form, name, contact, emergency contact, health insurance provider. This felt familiar. There was a waiting room filled with the most recent Vogue, New Yorker, People Magazine, etc. The furniture looked very IKEA. The second thing they did was weigh me, the sickness magnet of the IFP had already dropped five pounds. A doctor came in, American, blue eyes and all and checked my ears, throat, breathing and rubbed my tummy and came to the conclusion that I “still had some friends in there.” Friends? Who do you roll with, Doc? I told the Doctor that I thought I had bronchitis, he told me that I was fine. I told him I wasn’t. This went on for awhile. He sat me down, looked me in the eye and said, “Let’s talk about Diarrhea and Pollution.”
Cost: 2,000 Birr ($100 USD). Cost of being told you are ‘OK’ When you’re not: Farenge Pricey.
Getting sick when you are faraway from home is always challenging. You want your mom’s chicken soup, you want to watch something on TV that isn’t Aljazeera (our TV is stuck on this channel, at least it’s in English), you want to be in your bed and to take way more than the recommended dose of NyQuil. So what’s the moral of the story? I have two simple ones. First, make friends with the pharmacists, they are the key to your salvation. Second, love your roommates, they will be the only ones there when you are choking, vomiting, pooping, having body aches, shaking with the chills, not able to drink the Tej and in an overall state of depression because you flew halfway across the world to be sick for three weeks straight. I’ve since recovered and things are looking up, here’s to a new and improved immune system.
I’ve been in Addis for three weeks now and you guessed it, the roosters are still going strong. Every morning, I wake up to their potent cock-a-doodle-doo and wonder how they manage to be so consistently energetic no matter what day of the week it is, whether or not it is raining, or if it is, you know, the weekend, no big deal, 4 AM, at your service. Many mornings I have wished that a stew was being planned in their honor. But three weeks in, I’ve changed my mind about the roosters. Their songs kept me company on many nights here in Addis as I laid sick and sleepless in my bed. In fact, I became jealous of their relentless energy and ability to start a new day without a new spell of diarrhea, vomiting, sneezing, congestion, bronchitis or that one time I woke up with a sharp pain in my head and a swollen eye.
My internship thus far has included visiting two clinics and many pharmacies. The pharmacists in the Gollagul Mall in our Hayahulet neighborhood smiled awkwardly at first as I would waltz in and self-prescribe, generic names memorized. Perhaps they wondered if this Farenge had a drug habit, but soon they realized that Addis and I were having a strange game of ‘who will surrender first’ and were happy (happy? Cautiously concerned? Using me for free comedic relief?) to see me staggering in for more Oral Rehydration Salts and the like.
A Comprehensive List of Purchased Medicine:
1. Oral Rehydration Salts x6 (a quick note, LemLem rhymes with PhlegmPhlegm, avoid at all costs and instead indulge in the Orange flavor)
2. Ibuprofen x2
3. “Medicine to help you with Stomach Cramping” Undisclosed Name x1
4. Claritin x1 (take at night, drowsy, U.S.A)
5. Ciprofloxacin x1 (advised not to take by Ethiopians, Ethiopian manufactured)
6. Ciprofloxacin x1 (preferred by Ethiopians, German-made)
7. Zinc Tablets x10 (never again! disgusting!)
8. Mucosol, Cough Syrup #1 x1 (Pediatric Syrup? Pharmacist insists is good for adults, made in Egypt, cannot understand translated drug facts sheet, did very little but I must say you are in for a treat with this delicious Pineapple flavor!)
9. Cough Syrup #2 x1 (Made in Cyprus, horrifying Cherry flavor, only slightly more effective than delicious pineapple)
10. HORF Throat Lozenges x12 (the least comforting cough drop you will ever consume, instead eat a box of chalk and pretend things will be okay)
11. Azithromycin x1 (Also know as Z-Pack, this is the Bronchitis Game-Changing Heavyweight Champion of the World)
12. Ventolin Inhaler (Things got strange with the Pharmacist when I admitted to not being an Asthmatic while swearing up and down that it would work, which it did)
13. Vitamin C Effervescent Tablets x1 (similar to teacher-endorsed Airborne tablets)
The clinics were enlightening experiences themselves. When Getting Sick in Addis, it is difficult to decide if the Ethiopian clinic or the Farenge Clinic is going to get you healed. Let’s begin with the first of the two.
Getting Diarrhea Sick in Addis @ the Ethiopian, Catholic-run St. Raphael Clinic
The first thing they did was weigh me. Weighing is a big thing here, not only in clinics or for medical purposes but also on the street where little boys work, asking passerby’s if they would like to be weighed. Ellen Degeneres was on the T.V. The second thing they did was ask me for a poop sample. No problem, if poop was what they wanted, they were asking the right girl. I was strangely excited, in all my international travel this was probably the fastest a clinic had ever asked me for a sample and I felt Like I had come to the right place. The man working in the lab handed me…wait for it…what looked like a bottle cap on a Poland Spring bottle and a toothpick. I stopped for a minute to analyze the physics of what was about to happen. I needed a strategy, I needed to be a well-aimed, stool sample pro if this was going to work. I mustered up my courage and headed for the bathroom where an older man said Selam to me about ten times before opening the metal door to stall for me. But wait, what was this place? I had been in bathrooms where the toilet was a hole in the ground before but never for a stool sample. I surveyed the floor that was covered in water and considered the high risk of cross-contamination for my sample. I went for it. No soap, toilet paper, or water either. Fifteen minutes later I was deemed parasite free and given a pack of LemLem and Ethiopian-made Cipro (view above warnings). Cost: 150 Birr (less than $10 for the whole shebang). Cost of being Diarrhea-free: Habesha Priceless.
Getting Bronchitis Sick in Addis @ The Suisse Clinic
The first thing they did was have me fill out a form, name, contact, emergency contact, health insurance provider. This felt familiar. There was a waiting room filled with the most recent Vogue, New Yorker, People Magazine, etc. The furniture looked very IKEA. The second thing they did was weigh me, the sickness magnet of the IFP had already dropped five pounds. A doctor came in, American, blue eyes and all and checked my ears, throat, breathing and rubbed my tummy and came to the conclusion that I “still had some friends in there.” Friends? Who do you roll with, Doc? I told the Doctor that I thought I had bronchitis, he told me that I was fine. I told him I wasn’t. This went on for awhile. He sat me down, looked me in the eye and said, “Let’s talk about Diarrhea and Pollution.”
Cost: 2,000 Birr ($100 USD). Cost of being told you are ‘OK’ When you’re not: Farenge Pricey.
Getting sick when you are faraway from home is always challenging. You want your mom’s chicken soup, you want to watch something on TV that isn’t Aljazeera (our TV is stuck on this channel, at least it’s in English), you want to be in your bed and to take way more than the recommended dose of NyQuil. So what’s the moral of the story? I have two simple ones. First, make friends with the pharmacists, they are the key to your salvation. Second, love your roommates, they will be the only ones there when you are choking, vomiting, pooping, having body aches, shaking with the chills, not able to drink the Tej and in an overall state of depression because you flew halfway across the world to be sick for three weeks straight. I’ve since recovered and things are looking up, here’s to a new and improved immune system.