Thursday, 12, 2012
Exhaustion has taken over my body this week, that and a small case of malaria…I’ve made it to my classes, but not much else. I am fully inclined to blame my sister for passing me her cold but when the aches, fevers and chills start coming in waves I decide there might be a small chance this was not what she’d had. I’m still not ready to admit what my intuition is suggesting, but when I feel
like death warmed over worse on Tuesday I drag myself to the clinic, silently kicking and screaming. I barely make it, my eyes were watering profusely and uncontrollably – not exactly a good look, unless you like the whole puffy-eye thing. I walk past a few of my students on my way, my brain registers a small, indifferent hope, that they don’t think I’m crying and wait for a nurse to see me, in my haze I remember a dog* in the clinic too, just chilling out, covered in flies. I can barely answer her questions, I can’t remember what or if I’ve eaten today, I can barely keep my eyes open, I just want to be back in bed… She takes my finger prick, ‘we’ consult with the doctor. I’d been able to get out the words ‘dengue,’** ‘Vietnam,’ and am hoping he puts them together. They must because they call around to find out if they do a dengue test here, they don’t. She draws blood instead. I text Chris to see if he can meet me at the clinic and drive me home. He shows up a few minutes later and thank goodness, it’s literally less than a kilometer but I don’t think I could’ve made it with my eyes open. I crawl up my stairs and into bed, again.
The thing with malaria is it literally zaps you of all your energy, I couldn’t even be bothered to take the drugs they’d given me until I’d had another nap. You know you should, but it seems like too much work to get a glass down, fill it with water, lift it to your mouth and take the medicine. It only takes a few hours for the drugs to start working and the worst of the symptoms go away.
Chris and I share nearly all the same classes this semester and so as we are discussing student late work today and different cultural approaches to lateness in general, we talk about illness. I know that I was sick enough to stay home, but having been gone the previous week I didn’t want to miss more. In addition, I could, technically, make it in. I want to set the right example for the students.
Our conversation turns from student late work, to sickness, efficiency, value of time and productivity. In ‘my’ culture, the term ‘productive‘ has a good connotation and generally refers to accomplishing things. Here, it doesn’t. I don’t think it has a bad connotation, it’s just neutral. There isn’t a benefit to being more or less productive. But it’s not really that simple. It’s that, what is considered ‘a good way to spend time,’ is, well, different. Spending time with people is time well-spent, doesn’t matter what you get done, you’ve spent that time well.
Students don’t just skip when they are sick, they also skip when a brother / a sister / a cousin / a friend is sick and has to go to the hospital. This is important to them, it’s time well-spent, time supporting someone in need. I can’t help it, but I see it slightly differently. I think it’s an excuse, I think there must be someone else to take them, someone who didn’t have a class (or a class I’m not teaching) that could take them.
Chris was at work when he came to help me at the clinic. That time, he tells me was, ‘productive.’
*there seems to be an increasing dog epidemic on campus…and they are EVERYWHERE, untamed, covered in sores from their continuous fighting and who knows what else…
**I learned in Cambodia that the whole region has been having an extremely high number of cases this year…