Got sick – again. Caught a cold, most likely from Fahim, and it decided to turn nasty and interfere with my breathing. Ever have asthma? Yep, like that. Wheezing, shallow breathing, feeling like I’m suffocating. It’s terrible.
I had so many problems breathing that it was all I could do to make sure I didn’t pass out. When Fahim got home from work, we went to see an Ayurvedic doc – one that Fahim has been to for his eczema and such.
So this is what, my third, maybe my fourth cold since coming to Sri Lanka? Yeah, this is my life. . .
Anyway. Fahim and I go to the doc’s office. It’s really close by – closer than Food City, and that’s really close. But I’m having such a hard time breathing that, honestly, I don’t know if I could walk that far without passing out – I already feel like passing out. So poor Mervyn, we call him and get him to drive us such a short distance. I say "poor Mervyn" because it means that he’s potentially missing out on longer, and therefore more lucrative for him, trips. But I’m really not doing well at all and I have to get to the doc’s office without passing out, so we take the trishaw.
We sit in his waiting room. There are two cane backed chairs and three plastic and metal chairs. Fahim and I sit in the two cane backed chairs. The doc has a patient already, so we have to wait until he’s done. I take a look at the newspapers on the coffee table, but they’re all in Sinhalese – all the last stinkin’ lot of them. Well, not really THAT surprising, I guess. The signage on the window is all Sinhalese, no English. This should be my first clue that I won’t actually be talking to the doc, but Fahim will tell him everything for me.
We wait for perhaps twenty minutes, and his patient walks out. We’re beckoned into his office. In front of me are worn and dusty shelves stacked with glass bottles of all sorts. There’s a small Sinhalese man wearing a white shirt and a white sarong and worn flip flops sitting at an old and worn office chair in front of an old wooden desk, also worn. There’s a plate of glass covering the top surface of the desk, and various papers strewn about. Beside the desk are two chairs, and Fahim sits in the one closest to the doc, and I occupy the other. Fahim and the doc start talking, presumably about Fahim’s medical problems first.
Fahim has had a rash for the last couple of weeks, and it’s been bad. Really bad.
Ayurvedic doc thinks that Fahim’s eczema, his colds, and this rash are all the same problem just manifesting itself in different ways, and so gave Fahim some medicine a week or so ago. Fahim was given liquid medicine, some pills, and this black oily substance to put onto the eczema. Ayurvedic doc wanted an update. Well, since Fahim saw the doc, this rash that Fahim had spread to pretty much everywhere except his back and chest. But his legs, arms, face, were all covered by tiny red bumps, which later swelled up and turned into straight red with no normal skin in between, which in turn became really really itchy and drove Fahim nearly up the wall.
More than you wanted to know?
Then the conversation turned to talking about my medical problem. I could tell when they were talking about me because that was the only time the doc even acknowledged my existence. That is, he’d glance at me on occasion. Otherwise, he didn’t look at me at all, and as far as I knew, I was invisible.
Keep in mind that everything – absolutely everything! – discussed with the doc during the entire visit was in Sinhalese. The only English spoken was as a translation or to ask or answer a question.
So they’re discussing me and the fact that I can’t breathe, and the ayurvedic doc says that I shouldn’t be eating beef, dairy, green gram (mung beans), or a whole bunch of other things. But yes, oranges, limes, and ginger are very good for me. Great, cuz I’m pretty much living on ginger tea, lime tea, and oranges at the moment.
Doc then goes into this tiny cubicle. It’s something like three feet by three feet. I can hear him pound and mix the medicines in this tiny cubicle room, and five minutes or so later, he comes out with the medicine. Fahim’s medicine bottle – with liquid medicine, dark brown to black in color – is topped up. It was one of my water bottles but got called into service. See, here, you have to bring your own bottle to the doc. He doesn’t keep a supply of them or anything. So last time, when Fahim got medicine from the doc, he had to come home in the middle of his visit to get a bottle for his liquid medicine to be consumed by mouth and another, smaller bottle for the black oily substance to be put onto his eczema. This time, knowing this, we brought along a Sunkist cordial bottle for my liquid medicine. Doc filled it with a liquid, dark brown to black in color. Doc had more pills for Fahim to take, plus he had a small paper bag filled with powder for me to take, individual doses twisted into pieces of paper. Fahim paid him 350 Rupees, for medicine and visit. That would translate to $3.50 USD.
We take the trishaw home, but Fahim goes on to get some more witches brew stuff from a store down the main road. Basically, it’s a back-up in case the ayurvedic stuff doesn’t work as soon as I need it to. I mean, seriously, I’m worried about my breathing, and if this medicine doesn’t start working pretty quick, I could wind up in the hospital, and I really don’t want to be put on all sorts of medication if I can prevent it.
I take the liquid medicine, and it’s kind of revolting, but not overly so. Fahim’s smells much much worse, and I’m glad I have mine instead of his.
The powder that I was given has to be mixed with honey, and Fahim picks some up at the same place he got the witches brew. The honey is, guess what? medicinal grade.
Yeah, am I kidding you? Nope. I know, I know, I’ve never heard of medicinal grade honey before either, but c’mon, we’re in ayurvedic medicine land. It’s in a dark brown glass bottle that reminds me of cough medicine bottles. I pour a bit of honey into a bowl along with the powder, mix it, and taste it. It’s not great, but I can manage. It’s also got a bit of a bite. Medicine that bites back.
A while later, it feels like I’m breathing easier, but I’ve been told – by Fahim, who else? – that Ayurvedic medicine doesn’t work quickly. At all. So I wonder if this is just my imagination? We’ll see.
The good news is that my breathing is definitely NOT getting worse. This would be good news in and of itself.