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    Posted December 25, 2013 by
    Taif, Saudi Arabia

    Poison on Christmas

    IT HAS BEEN EXACTLY A YEAR, yet i couldnt get over with what had secretly happened to us here in Saudi Arabia. While everybody was celebrating Christmas last year,our families back home didnt know we were in agony, in severe pain, in undeniable distress.

    On the 25th of December 2012, we were in the hospital, not because we all had duties, but because we were all ill. Thirteen beds crowding the actual five-bed capacity of ER High Dependency Unit were occupied by nurses, this time, as patients. All of us had the same history- eating contaminated food.

    On Christmas eve just about ten hours ago, we went to a colleague's house to eat dinner altogether. After that, she wrapped foods to give to those who were not able to come. We gave it to the hospital staff, to those friends of ours who were on duty that night.

    It was 12 am when i arrived home after that dinner. I slept for a few hours. At 4am, my stomach growled. I had like seven trips to the bathroom, vomiting and diarrhea at that. I turned to see the clock and it was 7am already. I decided to go to the hospital to get a check up. The service bus to the hospital fetched us in housing, and i was surprised to see one friend looking groggy as i am! I thought maybe all of us suffered the same thing.

    We arrived at the hospital. Me and my friend went straight to ER HDU. There were already two of my other friends on the first two beds, both on IV fluids. They were pale and weak and grunting in pain, just like me. I secured my own bed and laid there. In a few minutes, there were a few more like us coming in. The head nurse had arranged to put up thirteen beds on that very small area so that we were all clustered together. We were diagnosed with Amebiasis traced from the food we had eaten, and based on the symptoms of abdominal pain, watery diarrhea and vomiting. When all of us were settled in, we heard ourselves moaning of pain in unison. We were in bed altogether in guarded positions. There are times when we managed to get out of bed and really run to make immediate trips to the bathroom. Almost every hour, we did that toilet routine! In the latter part, we grew weaker because of the trips so we convinced ourselves to use adult diapers. It was so difficult to manage the physical pain that we felt and the emotion that we dealt seeing our fellow nurses in pitiful conditions. Personally, I did not bear witnessing my pregnant colleague suffered as we did, another friend in more distress because of this poison on top of her thyroid problem, and even another friend almost in iminent danger when she suddenly turned very pale and hypotensive. It was a dreadful scene to remember.

    A lot of people came in to see us in our most disorganized and displeasing situation. We were glad about their sympathies but we never had the chance to acknowledge it then. Not only our fellow nurses visited us, but also the other hospital staff, the doctors, the administration, and our hospital director. Everyone was supportive. All departments worked together to help us cope up during our stay in the unit. We were provided everyday with fresh scrub suits to wear and food we wanted to eat. Our unit nurses didnt only give us pain medications and intravenous fluids, but they also give us their supportive presence and assistance even in the most simple things we could actually do on our own. I was also grateful when i saw our Saudi ambulance drivers coming in to visit me in the unit. They gave me lots of chocolates (which should actually be avoided). My supervisor would always come by to check on me and would bring me pajamas, extra covers, fruits, etc.

    Three long days were like a month of agony for us. Everyday was another day to hope that we will feel better and be discharged soon. During that time, we got thinner, more pale and more weak, but we pretended and insisted that we had improved. We never really had a good sleep, nor the good appetite to eat. But we were dying to go home and rest where we thought we will be more comfortable. So after several more medical assessments and laboratory investigations, we were finally discharged with home medications.

    Our families are our strength, but what if they are not there in our weakest moments? We were then struggling from physical pain, emotional distress and loneliness in a land far away from home. Worse, our loved ones have not had a single clue about how we had endured the tragedy during the supposed-to-be happy holidays. We, the victims, were silent about it. It took some time for us to let it go. And now, we had the courage to reveal it. Consequently, i realized that it could become a notable experience to share with everyone.
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