Monday, August 21, 2006

Amoebas in our midst

The Host Organism speaks
Kathmandu, Nepal

Today I went back to the CIWEC clinic (no one seems to know what these initials stand for) to give a specimen. CIWEC, located in a new building in Lazimpat opposite the British Embassy, is the kind of place that would never be allowed to exist in India: a fully modern clinic staffed almost entirely by foreign doctors and dentists (with a few foreign-educated Nepalis). The clinic and doctors are clean, friendly and efficient. The receptionist (usually a British or Australian volunteer) is welcoming, with no haughty attitude. The nurses are foreign volunteers here on student visas. Other than Dr Kishore Pandey, who describes himself as "a pukka Nepali," all the doctors are from America and various European countries.

Amazingly, they are able to analyze the specimen while you wait - and the wait is never long. They have this wizard of a Nepali guy doing all the lab work and he's very accurate.

In India, such a clinic would be either taken over by the government or (much the same thing) shut down within weeks. The official reason would be trumped-up, but the real reason is that the foreign doctors, with all their friendliness and efficiency, make Indian hospitals and doctors look bad. And they would be right.

I like walking to CIWEC, because I get to stroll through some quiet backstreets from Thamel to Lazimpat. There's a vacant lot where, on dry days, kids often gather to play soccer. Now it's muddy and full of puddles, and dingy-yellow sheep graze there innocently. There is no fence and the sheep are not tied; when the day is over their keeper, who lives down the block next to the video store, just kind of comes and herds them home.

On this same street (which is smack in the middle of the city's Embassy district) people keep goats and chickens by the side of the road. I have gotten to know the regular street dogs whose universe is divided into corner domains.

Lama's Food Shoppe is one of the only places I can find my favourite orange popsicles. By the time I've reached Lainchaur I am hot, so I always sit on the concrete stoop with the lounging street dogs and try to eat the popsicles before they melt. Other regulars come by, and buy soda pop, candy and cigarettes. Lots of school kids in uniform hang out there after 3pm, procrastinating on the way home.

Turns out I have not only giardia, but 2 types of amoeba and something called Blastocystis. I seem to have picked up some travelling companions along the way. This explains my weird weight gain, bloating, loss of appetite and general lousy feeling.

I have to take Tinidazole, which makes you feel like crap (okay because I already feel like crap and can't do much) for a few days and it's up to me whether I want to give another sample. The doctor was $50 and the sample lab work was $17.

Tinidazole should (should!) help the Giardia. I don't know what will get rid of amoebas. I have picked these up some time in the past year; last year at this time I had only ("only!") Giardia and the Blastocystis.

1 comment:

Scott Carney said...

Watch out for Tinidizole. A couple months ago a friend of mine took a combo pill with that and cipro and had really terrible halucinations that made her a lot worse for the wear. Most of the time it's safe, but evey now and then it can be dangerous. -s