Wednesday started a typical day; I awoke at 6 to finish my lesson plan then grabbed a quick breakfast before walking to the TEFL office. Passing all the rickshaw drivers and sellers that drive me insane – NO I don’t want a taxi, NO I don’t want bananas, NOOOO I don’t want to buy tiger balm, hmmm let me think – NOOOOOO I don’t want a wooden violin!!!! I start the journey being polite and answering, but after 5 minutes of bombardment I ignore them and hide behind my sunglasses. I have been in Kathmandu for 4 weeks, you’d think they would recognise me by now. Grrrrrrr!!!!
On arrival to the TEFL office we get whisked off to our school to teach a ‘basic’ lesson (not so basic for the teacher I tell you :oS). Since this was a new type of lesson and so many steps to remember I was very nervous about today’s class. My lesson was about pets and I had to teach the class a 6 sentence dialog. Once they know the basic conversation you introduce new vocabulary using picture cards and then change some words in the original conversation. Somehow I managed to finish my class 10 minutes early, so I had to think on my feet. I got the class all excited by playing tic tac toe and hangman. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and I was in very good spirit.
As part of the course you also have to observe the other teachers, so today Maggie and I watched the Nepali English teacher. His class was calmer and the children a lot quieter than mine :oS One of the children screwed up her sentence and said “I play my aunty”. For some reason it sent Maggie and I into giggles at the back of the classroom. I was trying so hard to suppress it; tears were running down my cheeks and had my head low to the desk pretending to write. We were half expecting Dipendra to send us to the headmaster’s office. It was very immature of me :oS
After class I head back to the TEFL office on the back of Kamal’s motorbike, hanging on for dear life as we dodged the cows lying in the middle of the road. Yet another basic lesson to prepare for; working out the dialog and 27 pictures to draw – as one student put it he didn’t realise he was enrolling in the Walt Disney art academy.
Back at the TEFL office my friend next to be seemed to be in a strange mood. She appeared to be struggling with getting the vocabulary items. I tried to help her but she said she was OK. She started looking up a word in the dictionary but she couldn’t work out what letter came after what. I guess at this stage I should have realised something was wrong, but it didn’t register. About 10 minutes later, I started to notice she was shaking a little and gazing into space. I thought maybe she was stressing out over the exercise. I asked her if she was OK with her lesson plan, but she said “I’m OK”. The other two students did not notice her strange behaviour. I decide to go and get her some water. Another 5 minutes pass, the shaking is getting worse, but again she tells me “I’m OK”. I’m getting really worried now, to me she looked far from OK. I decide to go and speak to one of the TEFL staff, GC. He checks on her, but yet again she says “I’m OK”. He agrees with me, that something is definitely wrong. This now has attracted the whole class’s attention. GC tells her to stop working and says she needs to lie down. Again she says “I’m OK”. We get a pillow and try to help her to the floor; we had to hold her up because she can’t walk.
I know she is type 1 diabetic, so I started wondering whether she had too much or too little sugar in her blood. I ask her about her sugar levels, again she says “I’m OK”. I then realise “I’m OK” is the only words she has been saying the last half hour. I ask her what hotel she is staying in and she just looks at me blankly. One of the other students calls her friend who is a doctor to find out what we should do, she says she probably needs sugar. I dash out to the nearest shop to buy juice and some chocolate. On route I try to call a friend back in Sydney who is also diabetic, but I only get her answer phone. I get back to the TEFL classroom, but she refuses to eat and pushes away the juice. Not knowing much about diabetes, we wondered maybe her natural instinct was telling her she didn’t need sugar. I try again to call my friend in Oz, still answer phone. By now she is starting to lose consciousness, so it is decided we should take her to hospital. Unfortunately the TEFL office is up 6 flights of stairs, so it was pretty tough helping her down to ground level. She almost fainted after the first flight. Somehow, we manage to get her downstairs and in to a cab. In the taxi, I start having a nose bleed. The Irish guy started teasing me, telling me I can’t be centre of attention all the time. I have to use a piece of A4 since no one had any tissues.
At the hospital we take her to the emergency room and she is placed on her bed. I think we got here just in time since she started losing consciousness again. It was scary looking at her; I was so worried for her. About 8 doctors and nurses gather around her. They start asking lots of questions, we tell them about her diabetes. They discover her sugars levels were too low at 70; her normal range is between 120-150. They put her on a drip. Within half an hour it seemed to do the trick and she was coherent again. She was pretty scared waking up in hospital since the last thing she could remember was coming back from lunch. She had lost about 3 hours of her life. The doctors were very concerned since she said the day was Tuesday, so they thought she had lost over 24 hours. However, as a backpacker you do lose track of days.
Her sugar levels were now too high as a result of the drip. The doctor wanted her to stay in overnight, so they could monitor her sugar levels. After doing her urine sample over a squat with no sinks to wash her hands, she refused blankly to stay at the hospital. I too would be petrified at staying in a foreign hospital, so I suggest she stays with me tonight and agree to check on her through the night. She happily agrees. I phone my friend, Gele, who organises with my hotel a room with two single beds.
At 5pm we leave the hospital. Not to go home for the evening, oh no – we still have to finish our lesson plan for tomorrow. Even my friend, who had been on a drip and oxygen only an hour ago, came back to class to continue working. At around 9 o’clock we had all finished.
I get to my hotel to find they had given me two single rooms, since the room with two beds had a blocked toilet. My friend will have to share my bed with me, luckily it is king size. I had a terrible night sleep; I was so worried about her, and it did not help that I have a terrible cold and was sniffing most of the night. She has some gadget that beeps if her sugar levels get too high or too low. Every 2 hours it beeped, I kept waking her up so she could check her levels. At one stage her sugar levels got as high as 303, double her safe range, so she had to take more insulin. Very concerned, I asked her what happens if they get too high. She replies, I was not to worry unless she starts throwing up. That did not help at all. I had images of her vomiting in her sleep and choking. I was relieved when 7am came and she was still very much alive next to me.
What a long day and even longer night, but thank goodness everything turned out OK. She has lived with diabetes most of life, so I guess this is normal to her. She is a remarkable woman, today, only a few days later she has gone canyoning. To me it was an eye opener and I didn’t realise how dangerous diabetes can be.