Day 23 – Joanna

This morning after teaching, Kristy and I took Michele to a local town called Abure. She hadn’t been feeling well over the last few days and more than a couple locals have told her that the fever like symptoms could a sign of malaria. They told us that it would be better to be safe and get her blood tested at a clinic than to risk it getting worse. Although she was really nervous, Michele agreed and we left Eguafo in a cab.

When we arrived at the clinic, a huge wave of nerves hit Michele. She walked up to the counter, wrote her name on a wait list, paid 5 Cedis, and within seconds was called by the doctor. As she began to walk behind the curtain separating the waiting room from the labs, she quickly turned around and asked Kristy and I if we could come with her. Of course we didn’t mind at all. The reason we were there was to give her some support, although I was nervous for her as well. We got up and trailed in after her. Behind the curtain was a little whole in the wall with a counter top and a doctor sitting at a small desk. He started laughing when he saw us all march in and was confused as to who the ‘sick one’ was.

Michele had a seat and instantly the doctor opened a needle head out of a plastic package. Michele’s face just went pale and she began to start asking a lot of questions. “Is the needle sterilized?” “Do you dispose of them properly?” As she was talking, the doctor was waving the needle around and cracking jokes like, ‘Why? Do you not want me to use a clean needle?’ Michele continued with the questions and the doctor continued setting up at such a fast pace. Without anyone even noticing, he swabbed Michele’s finger and with no warning, he pricked her. It all happened so fast and Michele yelled out an ‘Ouch! …..Wait, that’s it?’ The doctor pulled out a little glass slide, squeezed her finger and took a sample. He told us to come back in an hour for her malaria results. Michele, Kristy and I walked out of the clinic laughing hysterically because the whole time we were nervous about getting a vein blood test in a Third World Country. No one ever mentioned the fact that it was just the prick of the finger.

We walked around for about half an hour in the blistering heat, discovered that there wasn’t much to do in the area, and walked back to the clinic to wait. As we sat there, we watched as peoples’ names were called and they received their results to various tests. The lady at the front desk was given a piece of paper from someone in a white lab coat and the paper was folded into three and stapled shut. Patients would step outside the clinic to rip open their piece of paper to find out their results in that bizarre fashion. It reminded me of a vile version Ryan Seacrest reading the final results on American Idol or something. I couldn’t imagine the suspense of opening that piece of paper.
The lady at the front desk could see our reactions to how the results were being given and laughed and told us that she wouldn’t staple Michele’s paper. Waiting in the clinic felt like much longer than it was, I could only imagine what was going through Michele’s mind. Finally the lady leaned over the counter and said that although her sheet has not been printed yet, Michele tested negative for malaria. We were so happy and decided to wait for the print out so we could bring it back to Eguafo. It was definitely a load off to know that our malaria pills were working properly and that she probably just had a simple fever or minor sickness that she could get over on her own.

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