A faraway hospital stay
By Marv Kohlbeck
I recently have read and heard a lot about the increase of hepatitis C cases throughout the state. No hepatitis is easy to manage.
Medical information indicates that the C form often occurs when dealing with drugs and dirty needles. The A form generally ties in with consumption of impure water or food. I cannot relate to the C form but have personal experience with hepatitis A.
Exactly 54 years ago this week I was lying in a hospital bed in Lima, Peru, recuperating from hepatitis A, which medical personnel concluded was the result of consumption of impure water or food. I apparently did not heed the warning to only drink pure water.
Scanning my diary I kept during my six-month stay in Peru as part of a 4-H youth exchange program in 1962 and 1963, I spent considerable time working on haciendas and attending 4-H and agricultural events. I recall attending a 4-H meeting and picnic where treats included “chichi,” a drink similar to Kool-Aid.
I had been living in the beautiful mountainous area near the city of Huaras, Peru, and my next assignment was near the capital city of Lima. I was not feeling well but wanted to stick to my schedule and agreed to prearranged taxi transportation. With seven people in the car and 11 hours of travel down scary mountain roads, it turned out to be a very stressful trip.
When we finally arrived at our headquarters hotel, I felt miserable and literally had to crawl up the steps to reach my room on the second floor. My early morning medical appointment and diagnosis the next day revealed I had hepatitis A, and I was confined to the hospital for two weeks.
I had excellent hospital care, and during that time a backlog of mail caught up to me. In fact a bundle of 52 Christmas cards and letters kept me busy reading and responding during my stay.
Initially, I had been placed in a room with four other male patients. Their constant chatter caused me to request a private room.
Overall, my written diary comments were complimentary of the medical care and numerous visits by Peruvian friends, including a Peruvian who eventually moved to Florida and communicates with me even now on a monthly basis.
Peruvian medical recommendations included following a strict diet that would exclude spicy foods and no alcohol for six months. I followed those recommendations to the letter and have not had any symptoms since then.
The one disappointing result is that a hepatitis patient can no longer donate blood due to medical restrictions. Previously, I had donated blood nine times but never since that setback.
As for hepatitis C patients, it is my understanding that those who are affected have a costly and long recovery period. After my experience with hepatitis A, I would not want anyone to experience any type of the affliction.