2008 Roadtrip Our first few days in La Paz, Bolivia

Thursday night Dimitri had a very bad time. He was getting cramps in his legs that were excruciating. He was throwing up. He had diarrhea. When he would get up he would be dizzy. Once during the night, when he got up to go to the toilet, I watched as he slumped to the floor, face forward. When I got there he said he was bleeding. We carefully turned him over and his face looked like it had been through a meat grinder.

We put ice on his nose (which he had evidently fallen on) and got him back to bed. The next morning Casa Grande Apart Hotel called a doctor and he came to our apartment. He said that Dimitri had a bacterial infection. He prescribed the normal antibiotic called ciprofloxacin, a rehydration drink and a third pill for diarrhea. For the cramps he prescribed a cream. Dr. Mario Tejada Campero charged Bs480/ US$69.56.

All day Friday and Saturday Dimitri barely moved. Aside from going out to buy water (no more tap water for us) and takeaway (and to go to the gym), I stayed in our beautiful apartment and looked in on Dimitri from time to time.

On Sunday, he was feeling pretty good. So we went downstairs to breakfast. He had lots of food, including eggs and cheese (forbidden for people with a bacterial infection, we later learned). The rest of the day, he was in bad shape.

When on Monday, he still was not well, we ratcheted up the ante, going from a doctor of internal medicine to a gastroenterologist. Carlos Handal, the general manager of our apart hotel, found us Dr. Ciro Portugal Jemio. He also came to our apartment at the hotel for Bs 300/US$43.48 (as did the lab to take a stool sample for Bs80/US$11.60). Dimitri apparently has Giardiasis (microscopic parasite) and has new medication. He is weak and has lost 10 lbs in 5 days. We will stay in La Paz longer in order to experience the touristy things as well as the medical.

Ministering to Dimitri during his malady had not been too boring. At Casa Grande Apart Hotel, I have great Internet, great magazines in English and a great space to hang out in with a great view .

Of course now we are realizing what we should have done (and not done) when we arrived in La Paz. On our first day, after our errands, our salad and the tap water, as we said in our first posting about La Paz, we went to the gym (sweated), sauna (and sweated some more), and Turkish bath (and continued sweating). So by the time Dimitri started getting diarrhea and vomiting, he was already dehydrated and probably had a bit of altitude sickness. No wonder he was getting cramps and was dizzy.

Of course we should not have had a salad at home or drunk the tap water (although we have been in Bolivia 3 weeks at this point in cities where we were told the tap water was safe). Of course, at 3600 masl/ 11811 feet in an environment of only 20% humidity, we should not have exerted or sweated so much on our first day before we acclimatized. Of course, we should have given Dimitri rehydration salts as soon as the diarrhea anf vomiting started (or at least given him a banana for the potassium). And, of course, we should have continued drinking the Infusion de Coca/coca tea that the hotel has free in the lobby for altitude sickness.
I've been using our kitchen these days for making chicken soup--no more uncooked vegetables for us! It's now 6 days later and Dimitri is feeling better (and getting the correct treatment).

Much to our alarm there was an article in Reuters UK on July 8, 2008 entitled "Antibiotics can harm tendons, FDA warns". One of the antibiotics named in the article was ciprofloxacin, the one the first doctor had prescribed for a bacterial infection (that Dimitri didn't have). Oh geez.