Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ground Zero

I just this minute got back from the hospital. I went to the nicest private clinic in San Jose as I felt like this was something that I could not screw around with, and I am glad that I did. It was not cheap but it was an extremely nice hospital and I received top notch treatment, however the news was pretty much abysmal.

I have developed some ulcers on my skin that have become infected with some pretty nasty stuff. They aren't sure exactly what all is in there yet but they did some tests and have got me on some heavy doses of antibiotics. They are fairly sure these are tropical skin ulcers which are pretty terrible from what I have learned. I have had a painful rear end for pretty much the entire trip, and so I figured it was just something that I would have to live with. The pain has gotten a lot worse in Central America sometimes causing me to even cry out while riding at the end of the day, but I accounted that to the heat and humidity, and just thought I would have to push through it until I got to the Andes where I would gain elevation into a cooler, drier climate. I guess you should not ignore pain like that.

I told them what kind of trip I was on and asked them a million questions about how it would affect me and apparently these ulcers are caused by a combination of factors, most importantly are open wounds on the skin that come into contact with contaminated water sources. The infection then breaks down soft tissue, eventually causing the tendons and bones to become exposed and damaged resulting in permanent scaring, further infections, fibrosis, and all kind of other terrible maladies including skin grafts if the ulcers grow too large. Worst of all, if left unchecked it often leads to cancer and possibly death. Apparently it is very rare, but people that are constantly exposed to dirty water, have a lowered immune system due to fatigue or malnutrition, and inadequate hygiene or medical care are most susceptible. I fall into pretty much all of those categories while cycle touring.

I am out of immediate danger, but I have to stay here for two weeks minimum while they continue to monitor me and clean the wounds. They think that since the bacteria causing most of the damage should be killed by the antibiotics, that I should begin healing normally, however they warned me not to even think about a bicycle for the next three weeks minimum as if I try to ride before these ulcers are fully healed I run the risk of a new breakout.

They are pulling my medical files from America apparently and I have to go back on Monday to see what the final results of the tests and what not are.

This is obviously pretty sobering news and I am really just reeling from it right now. I do not know what to think or do, but I am going to hang tight until Monday and see what they have to say then.

I am sorry to everyone reading this, there will be a little bit of a pause here in the action as I try and decide what the best thing for me to do is. I knew coming into this that some sort of disease or infection was a possibility, but the idea and the reality of it are two totally different things.


Anonymous said...

Hey Reece, really sorry to hear this news. I hope you can get well soon and keep cycling! I will keep you in my thoughts! Best, Sonya

Anonymous said...

Wow reece, sonya just forwarded this to me, that really sucks for you. I really hope it gets better. Grab a few books while youre there and try not to dwell on it til u hear more from the doctors.

take care, lizzie

Zee said...

Oh Reece, it sounds horribly painful. I'm glad you took the time and spent the money to get quality medical attention. Relax and feel are in my thoughts always, prayers too..

Dickson Family said...

Hey Reece,

Sorry to her the news. If anybody has the immune system to battle this kind of thing it's you my friend. Soak up the down time and just try to relax. Doctors always have to give you the worst case scenario. Hopefully all is well on Monday. Here's Natalie....

Hey Reece,
That's such a bummer about your bum!!! The boys bed time stories are not going to be quite the same with their adventurous Uncle Reece out of commission for the next 3 weeks. Hope you get well soon. Love ya, Natalie

HM said...

Hey Reece, if you need a place to stay while you're there... I just shot an email off to my in laws to see if we still have family in San Juan. Let me know if its something that you could use- email me at lesandkim at gmail dot com, and hopefully I'll hear back in the next day or so from them to see if they're still in CR.

Take care of yourself! Kim Brubeck

Anonymous said...

Reece, it is important to keep things in perspective. I know that you are upset now, but you are on the mend and still have plenty of options ahead of you.

You always said that you may well stop in a place, such as Costa Rica, to live simply and pursue your passion of writing. Maybe this is an opportunity to do that... Sometimes the pain from the hurdles life throughs at us can be the gretest inspiration.

Keep your head up.


Anonymous said...

hmm, "throws at us" makes more sense, f

Jeremy said...

No need to worry my friend you fended off the good old dirt and grime of the Fraternity house for years and I'm sure that same immune system will go full speed ahead to attack this infection. In the meantime kick back relax and enjoy the one thing you have that none of us here in the rat race have and that's leisure time!
Here's a cool quote I read the other day that is very fitting for you,
"You must have long range goals to keep from being frustrated by short range failures." Charles C. Noble

Keep your head up and you got three weeks at least to rock the mullet!!

Much love,

Anonymous said...

Hey Reece,

Keep your head up bro. Look at the bright side, you will be chilling for couple weeks. rest up, soak up the sun. Remember life is not a sprint but a marathon.


Lisa in Louisiana said...

I concur will all those who said make the most of the down time! Take the necessary time to heal and then some! Why not spend a couple of months in Costa Rica and wait out the rest of the hot summer months? In the meantime, get a part-time job at one of the surf shops on the coast to put money back into your cofers - read books - write books - soak up the culture - learn to cook your favorite dishes - expand your Spanish speaking skills! The possibilities are endless! (unless you are homesick for home right about now - very understandable) Either way, don't be bummed (pun intended - ha!)get well soon and don't even think that you are disappointing any of your blog readers in any way! My favorite personal reality show just got TOTALLY REAL. Mucho amor, amigo! Como es la vida!

TP said...

Look at the bright side my friend, at least you don't have road rash on 30% of your body in an exotic location like Corfu...that would really suck! Or what if you got the worst case of food poisoning in a party city like Barcelona where your friends would stay out partying all night long only to come home in the morning covered in a thin film of sweat, smelling like barnyard sexcapades and finding you hugging the "hasn't been cleaned in a few months" toilet...that would really bit the big one.
These are the stories though, that made our travels more real. They, in realm of ultimate freedom, put us in touch with the limited abilities of our bodies more than ever before. They forced us to think in a way that we had not, and about things we were to busy to recognize. At the end of the day these challenges are merely just time; time that gives us the opportunity to establish our own limits and discover our own fortitude. Time to just relax and enjoy the simple parts of life that often fly under our every day radar. Like always, I wish you the best my friend! Much Love

Bobby said...

Sounds like you have been in pain for some time... It is hard to slow down when you are living out loud on your bike, but it is necessary!

Reecius said...

Thanks a ton everyone for the support, I really appreciate it. I am in a hotel very close to the hospital which is fine for me right now, its pretty cheap so I dont mind, and I would hate to impose on anyone while running back and forth to the hosiptal, but thanks a ton for the offer.

Again, thanks for the support, it means a lot to me. I hope everyone is well back home.